A Learning Management System (LMS) makes online-learning possible; this technology allows educators to track, and deliver courses in a blended/hybrid or online learning environment. As a result, the LMS market has exploded; there are now thousands of free and premium learning management solutions to select from. But not every LMS on the market is a suitable learning tool for teachers, students, or parents.
Educators, parents, and students are the core users of this technology. And, they have specific ideas of what features an LMS should include. The Teacher Convoy believes these ideas are worth exploring to help schools sites and districts choose an appropriate LMS for their users.
Foremost, classroom teachers want an all-in one management solution. Many instructors feel that many LMSs are “single focused programs.” Some learning management systems only emphasize social networking and collaboration such as Edmode.com and Kidblog.org. While other programs are simply file or information sharing work-spaces such as Wikispaces and Google Groups. Teachers are looking for an LMS that offer them a package deal such as DiplomaPlus.net, Schoology.com, and Haikulearning.com.
Classroom teachers are particularly seeking an LMS that allows them to:
Author Content: Educators want to easily create and edit courses anytime and anywhere. Therefore, the LMS platform should be a cloud or a web- based program. In conjunction with content authoring tools, teachers want to use third-party app integration -such as Google Docs, Movenote, and other learning apps- to enhance the course content design.
Generate Assessments: Instructors would like the option of creating assessments within the LMS. They would like the assessment generator to give them different “design options” such as formative, summative or authentic assessments.
Evaluate Learning: The LMS should include an internal grade-book and a data dashboard. The grade-book would allow teachers to assign grades and export them for report cards. The centralize data dashboard should assist instructors in tracking and measuring students learning in each course. It also provides analytics in order to examine and identify areas of improvement or growth in learning.
Sync to a Student Information System: The LMS’s platform needs to be capable of Student Information Systems (SIS) integration. The integration process would allow the LMS to transfer and sync users’ assessment data such as grades, assignments, and enrollment information to any SIS.
Build a Virtual Learning Community: The LMS must include social networking, online collaboration capability, and a drop box. Using these features within the LMS, instructors can facilitate group projects and classroom discussions. Teachers can give instant feedback to their students on their work. Conversely, students can also communicate with their teachers and their peers to discuss grades and course work. They can as well submit their assignments using the dropbox feature.
Personalize Learning: Customized learning is another highly sought after feature in an LMS. Teachers want the ability to differentiate content for individuals within the system. For specific students, teachers would like to tailor their course sequence, while simultaneously allowing mainstream learners to continue with the prescribed curriculum.
While teachers are more interested in the administrative functions of an LMS, students are interested in its:
Mobile Capability: Students use a variety of mobile devices (i.e., Smartphones, tablets, and laptops) to get access to their course work and learning materials. As a result, it is important that the LMS is cross-platform compatible and available anytime and anywhere through a learning app platform.
Social Networking and Collaboration Tools: Most young people use the internet to learn informally and formally. To them, an LMS should reinforce that learning style. They want the ability to pursue their learning goals by tagging or rating content, participating in discussions with their peers and teachers, and posting comments or feedback about their own work or their fellow classmates.
Content Creation Features: Many of digital learners are fond of designing content using multimedia. They use a range of apps to record, write, or produce interactive content to prove their understanding of learning standards. It is important to them that the LMS allows them to use third-party programs to author content or offer alternative within the system. Additionally, they want a portfolio space to showcase their work in each course and their activity online.
Personalization Range: Students like to personalize their work space in the cloud to fit their personality. The LMS’s interface should be easily configured to match personal preferences and learning needs.
Parents, on the other hand, are concerned with:
Privacy and Security: A number of parents are concerned with their child’s information being compromised. Many learning management systems do not encrypt data or follow encryption protocols. Parents want to make sure that any learning management system used at their child’s school guarantees adequate security and privacy.
Simple Navigation: Parents want a system that is easy to learn and navigate. Parents simply view the LMS as a monitoring tool to get access to their child’s grades, report cards, and assignment submissions. Therefore, they prefer a clean interface with limited gadgets and pages.
Mobile Capability: Some parents can only access the internet via a Smartphone. Thus, many of them would like an LMS to be available via an app.
Overall, these users want an LMS that is effortless, convenient, and functional to each of their roles and learning environments. With more and more LMS providers to choose from, it is important that districts and school sites find an LMS that is a good fit with their core users, which are the primary consumers of this technology.