Is Claroline Connect The First Real LMS?

Claroline Connect LMS

At the beginning of the “noughties” the University of Lyon 1 developed Spiral, today known as Spiral Connect. Around the same time the Université catholique de Louvain created Claroline, which is globally distributed and supported by an international consortium comprised of several international partners.

Now obsolete, Spiral Connect and Claroline have decided to pool their efforts and expertise to create a new generation platform, making it possible to meet a variety of uses in a variety of contexts. Since 2008, many competing platforms have attempted to be converted to a 2.0 approach, but have often only succeeded in producing "2.0 look-alike" solutions. On the strength of this experience, Claroline Connect is poised to bring more transversality (among the different roles, resources, and tools) than platforms whose architecture has remained arborescent, linear and compartmentalized.

LMSs Are TMSs!

According to Marcel Lebrun, a professor at the Université catholique de Louvain, the LMSs (Learning Management Systems) are in fact TMSs: Teaching Management Systems. It is the activity of the teacher that is valued to a far greater extent than the activity of the learner. Some of the objectives of this new platform are: more versatility and flexibility, more user-friendliness, more intuitiveness, more stability, decompartmentalisation of courses and other activity areas, creation of fully-fledged training ecosystems composed of various resources, collaborative activities, involvement of students who themselves become the players and creators of resources alongside the teachers, connection with administrative applications of user organizations, deployment of a global network of interconnected platforms, the embracing of lifelong learning.

Claroline Connect: From Generic Ideas To Revamped LMS Features

  1. Moving beyond -but without ignoring- the concept of "course" towards "skills development".
    Current platforms are mainly built around "courses" created by teachers and users. Without shelving them entirely, we propose the concept of activity areas that would be more versatile in the current environment. A problem-based approach, for example, bypasses several "courses" and targets the development of skills – a fertile contextualization of a body of knowledge and resources. A portfolio is an activity area that is oriented and managed by the students as part of the validation of a curriculum. These capacities are steered and built via a program approach – the interactive combination of several teachers.
  2. Using external resources to better focus on the learning tool.
    Current educational reforms are geared towards developing autonomous and even self-directed learning (learning to learn) among students. The PLE (Personal Learning Environments) are going from strength to strength in the age of Massive Open Online Courses or MOOC (such as Coursera or EdX). We have therefore focused on the reservoirs of resources available through the TDU (Thematic Digital Universities) – even MOOC and digital editions of textbooks. Areas of activities, fully-fledged aggregators of knowledge, could thus be created by the students themselves as part of a clearly defined educational project.
  3. Working as a network to give new meaning to classroom courses.
    Collective learning, collaborative learning or, better yet, co-elaborative learning is where it’s at! Networks of learners (and we are all lifelong learners) are being created, which can mingle with networks of practitioners from the socio-professional world. "Traditional" universities are giving new meaning to classroom courses (the "campus") in the form of broad collaborations either regionally or internationally. The "Claroline Connect" platform will thus communicate (or be communicable) with other platforms within the framework of the sharing and building of established knowledge and training tools.
  4. Managing the collectives, the communities, the groups, etc.
    The collective again. Students, users, and researchers are registered individually or cumulatively on "courses," in programs, in teams, in groups, or they can work in pairs or even solo on a specific project. All these links are clearly difficult to manage and monitor within the user's desktop, so this need must be met through prioritizing by offering hoppers (filters) and allowing the desktop to reconfigure itself according to the most pressing choices: the work that I am sharing with a certain other student, the project I am working on with a certain team, my subscriptions to certain services or to the portal of the institution, and so on.
  5. Sharing teaching tools.
    To conclude this brief overview, a teacher or a trainer who has built an interesting scenario or a particular tool (think of a "peer review" between students) can abstract this tool by making it available as a model, a "template" for other teachers and trainers. The sharing of best practice is fundamental to the professional development of teachers – something that the new platform will make it possible to objectify.
  6. Mobile phones.
    Mobile devices, smartphones and tablets are increasingly used by our students to view resources, stay connected with their "groups" and share information. They have become the effective tools of lifelong learning.  Therefore, Claroline Connect must adapt to make use of these different screen sizes.

The 2 Important LMS Features That Distinguish Claroline Connect From Other LMSs

  1. Simplicity and intuitiveness across the board.
    While our  aim is to contribute to the professional development of teachers and to that of the education system on a broader scale, we feel it is important not to hinge the choice of platform on a long list of features or modules. All too often it is such purely IT-related considerations that drive the selection. A platform offering all possible modules, thus making it possible to perform complex tasks at a pedagogical level will often make it needlessly complicated to perform a simple task.
  2. Genericity and specificity.
    While wishing and encouraging the development and sharing of more specific modules requested by the member institutions or users, we feel it is important that the platform, through its core, allows the construction of shareable teaching tools from intelligent basic bricks, the tools of the platform.
Claroline Connect, the first real LMS!

Claroline Connect is the first real Learning Management System, dedicated to the learning process rather than the teaching process. Open source, responsive design and full mobile (with offline option), Claroline Connect is a real step ahead and not one more “2.0 look-alike LMS”. Claroline Connect works as an aggregator allowing any user to personalize its office both with internal and external tools, allowing to create, organize and share content, and allowing to mix resources from different courses or areas of activities.

You are more than welcome to try Claroline Connect and let us know your thoughts!