Review on “Makeshifting the LMS: Strategies and Tactics in the Digital Classroom” by Eric C. Smith

This is a review I wrote to complete an online course:

Smith uses Michel de Certeau’s theoretical framework to outline the situation of online pedagogy. The Learning Management System (LMS) is depicted as the overarching structure (“strategies,” according to de Certeau). It has caused much uneasiness to theological educators who are transiting from traditional, non-digital classroom teaching. Smith outlines various shortcomings of LMS which affect the quality of teaching. Among them the lack of a sense of engagement, LMS’ potential over mediation, and the teachers feeling controlled by technology. Contrary to the common belief that digital classroom is an equalizer, the experience of LMS users is also determined by their technological, social, and economic background. Smith then proposes examples of “makeshifts” by using what Certeau calls “tactics.” Unlike the overarching structure, tactics are used to maneuver the structure and make it work for the users. In the case of LMS, Smith proposes the tweaks of user interface, method of delivery, use of forum, and the use of a hybrid of compensating tools. For those who are looking for a way to “survive” LMS in their institution, having been asked to use it, Smith’s paper offers the following. First, Smith is sensitive to the psychological state of educators who are struggling with LMS. This paper acknowledges their plights and offers help. Secondly, Smith’s use of Certeau’s framework is helpful, as it gives a clear overall picture of the situation, pitching the LMS on one side, and the educators on the other. They are described as entities within a same system. Educators should use “tactics” to navigates themselves through the waters of the strategies set by the LMS. Finally, Smith helpfully provides some real life examples on how makeshifts are made by educators to “game” the LMS, effectively making LMS work for them.

Smith’s paper can be found here:https://www.ats.edu/…/2019-theological-education-52-2.pdf