BARRIERS AND ENHANCERS ON LMS INTEGRATION IN EDUCATIONAL CONTEXTS: WHAT DOES A (PORTUGUESE) NATIONAL STUDY HELP US UNDERSTAND?
In most European countries, the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in education has become a central goal of education policy and has resulted in substantial financial investment in equipment and connectivity infrastructures (European Commision, 2007). In that prospective scenario of ICT integration in educational contexts, learning management system (LMS) have been assuming a fundamental role (BECTA, 2009). In Portugal, since 2006, the Ministry of Education has made available for every public school the possibility of having a LMS platform, MOODLE, an open-source software package with a wide range of supporting services and resources to be used within and outside classrooms. In a progressive way, elementary and secondary schools get involved in that learning management systems movement and, at 2008, almost 92% of Portuguese public schools have their own MOODLE.
In order to (i) identify use patterns of learning platforms in national educational contexts and (ii) to discover the effects produced by these systems in schools management, teachers and students daily practices and to (iii) highlight the drivers and inhibitors factors identified by schools as actively acted in that process, a national study was conduct by the end of 2007-2008 school year.
The present communication will be focused on same of the results found in that national study. It was operationalized on an online survey, responded by 541 elementary and secondary public schools. The study assumed as main purpose to provide a dynamic and constructive view of the attained findings for the process of effectively integrate new technologies in educational contexts.
Strengthening the importance of schools and universities do embrace the opportunity brought out by today’s’ technological development and to use it as an excuse to introduce the necessary changes and promote the innovation that are truly required in the education field, the authors intent to present all the factors pointed by schools as working as barriers and enhancers in the educational use of LMS platforms.
The results will show that both barriers and enhancers factors could be grouped in five main categories: factors related with the selected tool, factors related with the users (teachers and students), factors related with the teaching-learning process, institutional factors and structural factors. The results will also be used to raise up import conclusion and a set of recommendations for the development of future strategies will also be present. Using Portuguese schools experiment, this communications will try to contribute will knowledge that can be relevantly use by schools, universities, researchers, educational advisers and policy makers to uphold a more generalized and productive use of ICT in education contexts, directing this process in the pursue of higher levels of quality in a truly 21st century educational system.
Therefore, for an effective integration of LMS platforms in specific, but also for ICT incorporation in school practices, it is necessary to consider in a joint and articulated manner: the educational potentialities and limitations of the tools, the previously existing skills and knowledge of the potential users, as well as their attitudes, representations and motivation; and school organizational dynamics, its infrastructures and equipment, its support initiatives, its level of investment, sense of development and its future vision.