MIT's OpenCourseWare was a ground breaking event in the Open Content movement. Begun in late 2002 the OpenCourseWare web site now offers course materials from over 1300 MIT courses. And the number is growing. But there has always been something missing in OpenCourseWare.
Educators and learners know that how something is taught is as important as what is taught. The same content in Linear Algebra or Management Strategy might be taught in completely different ways by two instructors. How can we capture that (both the how and the what), share it with others, modify it, and collaborate around it?
The launch of the LAMS community extends the Open Content concept in an important new direction by making it possible to collaborate around learning design or the "how" of learning.
LAMS stands for Learning Activity Management Sequence. Developed in Australia under the leadership of James Dalziel at Macquarie University, LAMS is first of all a visual authoring environment for designing sequences of learning activities. LAMS also provides a "run-time" environment for implementing the learning activities quickly and easily. But Dalziel and his team have begun to integrate LAMS with learning management systems such as Moodle and dotLRN, thereby separating the learning design tool and the specific learning sequence from the delivery engine.
So now we have a new way of sharing a course. An educator designs their course using the LAMS visual tool, saves it as a LAMS file, and shares that sequence directly with a colleague or with other educators through the LAMS community. Of course, every educator will want to modify the learning design for their own course. This can then be done easily once again using LAMS. As the integration work proceeds, educators should be able to "deploy" their learning sequence within their own learning management system environment such as Blackboard, WebCT, Moodle, and dotLRN.
Hats off to James and his team from down under. And James thank you for using dotLRN as the platform to support the LAMS community.