First, though, some background about the problem as I see it: like Michael, I've been thinking about and working with LMSs since back in 1999, and I have to agree with Michael's overall verdict — "I find the topic to be equal parts boring and depressing." Also like Michael, one of my biggest frustrations is that the mainstream LMSs haven't changed hardly at all in the past ten years. For example, we've used Desire2Learn for almost ten years at my school, and it is virtually unchanged in that time. Oh sure, it is not Desire2Learn anymore; it's D2L Brightspace (yes, D2L BS)... whatever. The name may change, but the LMS remains essentially the same, as if the social transformation of the Internet had never happened.
I also agree that the problem is cultural, not technological. And here's where I would put more of the blame on the standard LMSs for perpetuating a conservative culture of closed by default, instead of open by default (see Martin Weller's nice post: Open by Default). When a faculty member uses some permutation of lecture-quiz-discuss in the closed environment of D2L because that is the only option they have, they do not even have the opportunity to experience the different kinds of learning that can happen in more open environments. So, when I show faculty members what I am doing with student web publishing in my classes, powered by some great aggregation and syndication tools, they like what they see, but when I tell them that D2L does not provide any of the needed tools, they shrug and move on. Would they like to do things better and differently? Sure, I think so; I am not so pessimistic as to say that faculty don't care or cannot tell the difference, especially when you show them some impressive student learning outcomes. But if the only tool the university offers them is completely inadequate to the task, it's understandable that they would just carry on with the same-old same-old. Even worse is the deceptive and dangerous way in which the LMS pretends to offer services and tools which are such poor imitations of the real thing: lousy blogging tool, lousy portfolio tool, etc. (On that, see Mike Caulfield: Maybe the reason people don't use LMS collaboration tools is the tools are not collaborative).
So, I agree with much of what Michael says, but where I disagree is when he wants to entertain the possibility of a "perfect system," as if the quest for a learning management system even makes sense. By way of contrast, let's look at the many different tools faculty use for their research (including a chemistry lab, for example, as Michael invokes in the post). When we think about research tools, it's clear that there is a whole wide range of tools that faculty use both to do research and also to promulgate their research. They don't expect there to be one "research system" that all the researchers will use to do all their research, some sort of Swiss Army knife for research that will "do it all" ... and anyone trying to promote such an approach for research purposes would be laughed off campus. There is no RMS. And so we do not have a decade of blog posts about the problem of the RMS. Faculty are instead busy using real tools for research, and they are also creating great new research tools all the time.
Sadly, to answer that question, I think we have to go back to the professional training that faculty receive. In graduate school the future faculty learn all about the research tools they will be using in their research. Laboratory tools, bibliography tools, computing tools, and on and on. They learn about those tools intensively as graduate students, and their success in graduate school depends upon their effective use of those tools.
But teaching tools...?
Uh, nope. It's just not part of graduate school training in any discipline: there is very little training in teaching at all (and thus most people teach as they were taught), and there is even less training in the wide range of digital tools now available to support new kinds of teaching that can be very different from how classroom teaching has been done in the past.
So, it's easy to mock the faculty for their limited and skewed perspectives as Michael does here in the bullet points near the end of his post, and as I have done likewise in my frequent moments of frustration. But if we step back and ask about the causes of the problem, I think we have to look at graduate school programs and the fact that preparation for a teaching career is simply not part of most programs. As a result, we end up with sophisticated scholars, experts in the research tools of their discipline, who are nevertheless inexperienced in the basic tools of teaching, a lack of experience that is most acute in the digital teaching world, new as that world still is. Combine that lack of experience with the poor quality of the LMS, and you clearly have a recipe for disaster.
A disaster for which students are paying the biggest price of all.
So, while I would like to vow not to write about the LMS for another ten years as Michael does here, and while I would like to stop caring about the lack of progress at my school, I cannot seem to make myself stop caring. Thanks to a new tool in my toolbox, Inoreader, I am actually enjoying the best semester I have ever had in my fifteen years as a college instructor. Does that mean I think everybody should drop whatever they are doing and use Inoreader? No, of course not. But since none of the concepts that drive Inoreader can even be glimpsed in an LMS like D2L (aggregation? syndication? nope), it's going to be very hard for me even to have a conversation with other faculty about this. Still, I can keep trying. And hoping.
I wait in hope.