Video Debate: The Learning Management System should be replaced by a Social Networking Site

Fellow debaters,

Below you will find our video submission for Assignment 2 – Role-play Debate (Pair) for the course LRNT523 (Blended) – Foundations of Learning and Technologies.

The subject of our debate is:

The Learning Management System should be replaced by a Social Networking Site

The debaters are:

Gavin Sturgeon (Pro) versus Darin Faber (Con)


Debate Summary: The Learning Management System
Should Be Replaced By A Social Networking Site


Darin Faber
Gavin Sturgeon

An assignment submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the course

LRNT 1523
Dr. George Veletsianos

Assignment Due Date: October 2017


Debate Summary: Con

           The Learning Management System (LMS) cannot be replaced by a Social Networking Site (SNS) (Staines & Lauchs, 2013; p.294). The LMS is a digital tool used for academic purposes, and aids in the delivery of curriculum, provision of feedback, and exchange of communication (Lai & Savage, 2013, p. 4). The LMS is also designed as a stable and secure platform that should aid in the education of the learner.

Both an LMS and SNS allow users to acquire accounts, communicate with others, disseminate information, and share digital media (boyd & Ellison, 2007, p. 211; Piña, 2016, p. 3; Cambridge Dictionary, 2017). However, an LMS is designed with academic-specific features. Piña (2016), Lai and Savage (2013) outline these features as communication, content creation, assessment, and administration tools. An LMS also provides a secure digital learning environment for communication, submission of work and review of feedback (Valova, 2015, p. 241; Piña, 2013, p. 3).

A social networking site offers no control (McCarroll & Curran, 2014, p. 740) over the flow of curriculum due to the lack of academic administration, assessment, and feedback tools (Gray, Annabell, & Kennedy, 2010, p.976; Loving & Ochoa, 2011, p. 129). Educational institutions must provide a secure method for submission of assignments, communication, and feedback (Algonquin College, 2013; University of Toronto, n.d.; G. Veletsianos, personal communication, October 23, 2017). The institutions must also provide technical support and training for the LMS. It is therefore not feasible for academia to provide support or training for the hundreds of SMSs available on the market.

Social media networks allow users to communicate, post comments, messages, images. SNSs may also support digital literacy, and appeal to digital natives. However with the availability of hundreds of SNS, how would only one be selected? If a unique SNS is selected for each course then the student must adapt to possibly five or six SNSs per term. The focus of the student is then taken away from the curriculum and is set upon the multitude SNSs (Roy, Taylor, Cheston, Flickinger, & Chisolm, 2013, p. 136; Bartosik-Purgat, Filimon, & Kiygi-Calli, 2017, p.182). A single LMS provides a uniform, stable, and secure platform that the student only has adapt to once.

The purpose of the LMS is to deliver a secure systemic digital learning environment and to allow access to academic material, interactive forums and evaluation feedback, from anywhere at any time (Lai & Savage, 2013, p. 4). An LMS is also designed to be used as an educational aid and allow the student to focus on the intended academic curriculum instead of a multitude of SNSs. SNSs does not meet the mandatory requirements of today’s academic institutions. Therefore the learning management system cannot be replaced by a social networking site.


Debate Summary: Pro

            Learning Management Systems (LMS) are defined as software applications for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting, and delivery of educational courses or training programs (Wikipedia, 2017). What this shows is that LMS are hierarchal and transactional environments and designed for administrative efficiency rather than a platform for substantive teaching and learning activities (Kirkwood, 2010; Ryan, Magro, & Sharp, 2011).

Social Networking Sites (SNS) are networks of social interactions and personal relationships (Oxford, 2017). They are dedicated websites and applications that enable users to communicate with each other by posting information, comments, messages, and images, all in real time. While similar to Facebook, Instagram, and other Social Media applications, an SNS differs due to being about nodes and networked learning. It takes the collaborative and ubiquitous approaches of Social Media and incorporates them into a learning environment which is on demand, authentic, media-rich, supporting of digital literacy, student-centered, fosters participation, appealing to digital natives, and highly constructivist (Buzzetto-More, 2012; Özmen & Atıcı, 2014; Tsai, Shen, & Chiang, 2013).

While an LMS is housed internally within an academic, information and communication system environment allowing for regulation, integration, and designing LMS course shells (Lai & Savage, 2013), this tight control negates the benefit of Learning Management Systems when compared to Social Networking Sites. An LMS is weakened due to courses disappearing at the end of the semester; courses being walled off from each other and the wider web thus reducing network effects; limited opportunities for students to own and manage their learning experiences within and across courses; encompassing rigid/non-modular tools (Mott, 2010). These limitations can be overcome by using a Social Networking Site as they encourage motivation, personal interaction, and collaboration (Veletsianos & Navarrete, 2012).

While Learning Management Systems have deep roots in academia, their limitations make it archaic and difficult for today’s learners and instructors to build virtual communities (Lester & Perini, 2010). Learning Management Systems are Web 1.0 and similar to a rotary phone. Imagine going back to that form of communication. It works but is very limited, structured and inflexible. Social Networking Sites are like Smartphones and Web 2.0 where communication is highly interactive, connectivist, mobile, and encourages collaboration. Ironically Learning Management Systems have had to incorporate the social architecture and functionalities of Web 2.0 and evolve into a Social Networking Site to remain relevant. Therefore not only should the LMS be replaced by an SNS, they already have been.


Algonquin College. (2013). Directive aa42: Learning management system. Retrieved from

boyd, danah m., & Ellison, N. B. (2007). Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(1), 210–230.

Bartosik-Purgat, M., Filimon, N., & Kiygi Calli, M. (2017). Social media and higher education – an international perspective. Recent Issues in Sociological Research, 10(1), 181–191.

Gray, K., Annabell, L., & Kennedy, G. (2010). Medical students’ use of facebook to support learning: insights from four case studies. Medical Teacher, 32(12), 971–6.

Lai, A., & Savage, P. (2013). Learning management systems and principles of good teaching: Instructor and student perspectives / Systemes de gestion de l’apprentissage apprentissage et principes d’un bon enseignement: Perspectives de l’enseignant et de l’eudiant.’  Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology / La Revue Canadienne de Lapprentissage et de La Technologie, 39(3).

Loving, M., & Ochoa, M. (2011). Facebook as a classroom management solution. New Library World, 112(3/4), 121–130.

McCarroll, N., & Curran, K. (2014). Social networking in education. In Management Association, Digital Arts and Entertainment: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications Social Networking in Education.

Piña, A. (2013) Learning management systems: A look at the big picture. In Kats, Y. (Ed.),  Learning Management Systems and Instructional Design (pp. 1-19). IGI Global.

Staines, Z., & Lauchs, M. (2013). The use of Facebook in tertiary education. Interactive Technology and Smart Education, 10(4), 285–296.

Roy, D., Taylor, J., Cheston, C. C., Flickinger, T. E., & Chisolm, M. S. (2016). Social media: Portrait of an emerging tool in medical education. Academic Psychiatry, 40(1), 136–140.

Social Networking Site. (2017). In Cambridge dictionary online. Retrieved from

Valova, I. (2015). Facebook or learning management system. International Conference on E-Learning, 237–243. Retrieved from

University of Toronto. (n.d.). What is a Learning Management System? | CTL – Educational Technology. Retrieved October 21, 2017, from

One thought on “Video Debate: The Learning Management System should be replaced by a Social Networking Site

  1. I see LMS and SNS as being sets of features, not discrete services. A website could have the features of both an LMS and an SNS. Courses in LMSs don’t need to be “disappearing at the end of the semester” or “walled off from each other and the wider web”, as these are institutional decisions, not impositions of LMS software. Courses in LMSs can be open to the world and can remain available after they end. For example, the courses at are open to the world and remain open.

    A course could run in Moodle and allow meaningful access to the public. When people are accessing an open Moodle site, their access can be controlled through fine-grained permissions. When people visit an open Moodle site they are considered as connecting using the ‘guest’ role, as opposed to student or instructor, and permissions can be modified to limit guest access to only what makes sense for guests to access to, just like students have access to fewer features than instructors in a typical course. For example, guests could be given read-only access to forums, but have to use self-registration to elevate themselves to a visitor role to post in the forums.

    Here some questions to ponder: If there are benefits to the features provided by an SNS, what features provide benefit? Are these features already available in LMSs? If not, can these features be easily added to existing LMSs?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *