MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching
Vol. 4, No. 2, June 2008

Guest Editorís Introduction

This special issue of JOLT, focusing on exploring next generation learning/course management systems (NG-L/CMS), is indeed special and for more reasons than the decision to focus an issue on a single, pressing topic for the JOLT community. To better address the topic, JOLT chose to step outside its framework in a number of ways:

  • Special in focusing an issue on NG L/CMS
  • Special in using guest editors with expertise in NG-L/CMS research
  • Special in being an invited issue, with the editors reading and selecting a collection of diverse proposals regarding tools, research and predictions for next generation learning
  • Special in enacting a belief that NG L/CMS will be defined by the collective and that the ideas and response of JOLT readers are an intrinsic part of the possibilities ahead.

For the first time ever, JOLT is asking readers to respond. After exploring the ideas within the issue, JOLT readers are invited to visit the Arizona State University wiki (, and share your vision of NG-L/CMS.

The readership of JOLT is daily experiencing a steady transformation in the technology-infused learning experience. Youíre seeing evidence of change driven by a digital generation, new tools and more intuitive technologies. JOLT is asking you to participate in the research by sharing your observations, reactions and understandings.

Like Florence Martin, perhaps you have evidence of value in the richer and more research-driven use of tools embedded within the standard CMS. Similar to the observations of Patricia McGee and Marybeth Green, you may find the traditional L/CMS container no longer fits a post-fordist world and youíre now searching for a system with more flexible process, dynamic innovation, and authority of the user. If this is the case, youíll be interested in the research sabbatical results of Farhad Saba in examining new requirements placed on educational institutions in designing specifications for the next Educational Management System.

Those unwilling to wait for the next generation container may be, along with Mark Frydenberg, experimenting with wikis as a tool that better allows students to participate in the process of course management, information sharing, and content creation. Like Sarah Hurlburt, perhaps youíre using blogs to construct a community that takes ownership of the learning in ways not possible in the current L/CMS. Or, as in the observations of Gary Brown and Nils Peterson, youíre finding that learners, when encouraged and taught to explore the affordances of diverse tools now available will construct their own, context-driven personal learning environment.

Perhaps youíre a dreamer and, like Bryan Alexander, already have a vision for what may be ahead if we replace current learning containers with the possibilities already available in the collaborative, social tools of Web 2.0 and gaming environments. Like Frank Vander Valk, you may understand or have experience in avatar-based learning and have ideas regarding the potential and the limitations for learner self-definition and independent exploration in virtual worlds like Second Life.

No matter your experience or expertise, itís unlikely that youíve joined Shalin Hai-Jew in looking ahead, beyond next generation, to the infotocracy educational environment where identity and knowledge track us through time and space and become an inherent part of our portfolio. We invite you to join us in the adventure of exploring Shalinís future world, just as we invite you to discover the fascinating research, reporting, advocacy and discovery of all the authors found within this very special issue.

When youíre done exploring the diverse and stimulating contents within the issue, please join the authors, editors and fellow readers at to continue our exploration of one of the most exciting, transformative issues in higher education: defining the next generation learning/course management system and the collective creation of a new understanding of the learning environment.

Colleen Carmean
Guest Editor, JOLT special issue on NG L/CMS
School of Global Management & Leadership
Arizona State University

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Last Modified : 2008/6/15