By its very name, a learning management system (LMS) sounds like a valuable tool – and it is.
LMS is a centralized online system that helps teachers track students and learning, and gives administrators a convenient, strategic solution to managing all the different aspects of their school.
An LMS can automate or simplify many tasks, meaning it will save you a lot of time. For example:
- Streamline record keeping and attendance
- Collect and assess student work
- Organize a calendar
- Communicate with all different users (students, teachers and parents)
- Share electronic materials and so much more…
Most importantly, an LMS can be the single most important tool your school needs to empower your students to learn and teachers to teach. It can connect your entire school community, and transform teaching and learning in the following ways.
An LMS makes things centralized, shareable and track-able, it has the ability to organize teacher and student data – schedules and grades are just the baseline. Taken to the next level and LMS can help organize classes, courses and content and can be managed by grade, department, subject or even standards. Actual content for classes can be uploaded so it's easy-to-find and share, meaning it can be simply re-used and adapted from year to year.
The next step to tapping the power of an LMS is thinking about what functions or tools an LMS can actually replace – with more efficient quiz tools the time spent before filing grades can now go towards feedback.
This re-thinking should be a school wide activity, not just the work of the administrators, IT or a select few. By engaging all departments and levels you'll develop the most functionality, but more importantly you'll engage everyone in the process of creating a model that works for all thus, increasing your success with adoption.
Connect, in more ways than one
A connected world demands connected teaching and learning. First, an LMS can simplify and expand communication. Parents are ever more connected and want up-to-the-minute information so they can keep track and validate their investment in their child’s education. This can be grades, but can also involve so much more like extra-curricular activities, fine arts, sports or even capturing special moments in the classroom. In schools where families are paying tuition fees this kind of top-notch experience is expected.
Our connected world brings with it new devices and access, new skills and literacies. The prevalence of mobile devices almost erases the line between formal and informal learning, at the same time as skills like critical thinking, collaboration and creativity are more needed than ever. An LMS can facilitate connected teaching by creating structured pathways for students to access and engage with information and close the loop with functionality, capturing the who/what/where/when and how of student activity.
With all of this functionality, an LMS can enable teachers to innovate their practice. This can include competency-based learning, blended learning, or "flipping" the classroom so key concepts are delivered online and classroom time is used for actually doing something with the material. With movements like one-to-one classrooms and personalized learning happening across education, an LMS can be an essential underpinning so that - like the name says - learning is truly managed in this brave new world.
With all this access, functionality and data in hand, an LMS can shine a spotlight on trouble spots, strengths and trends. But, all of the data means very little if teachers can't see it and apply it quickly in the natural context of their teaching. So, this information can be rolled up across a grade or subject area so administration can see what is happening in all of their classrooms, share information with school boards, and implement change where and when it is needed.
An LMS can empower student ownership of their learning. Just as an LMS can illuminate information for teachers and schools, an LMS can help students understand who they are as learners, see goals and progress, and also make their own choices and setting the pace of their learning in online lessons.
The functionality of an LMS can also empower students with tools like social learning where students have to express their voice in blogs, video or even Facebook or Twitter.
Teachers can also be the "students" as an LMS can be used to renew teachers' knowledge and practices.
Learning management systems are used by more and more companies to deliver learning in ways that are convenient, secure and engaging. Shouldn't we do the same thing for our teachers?
In our conversations with teachers, every single one wants to learn more, but struggles to carve out the time. This isn't fair and it isn't effective. With an LMS; school or district administration can develop, direct and share learning so it's easy for teachers, efficient for the system and good for everyone.
Organize, replace, connect, innovate, illuminate, empower, renew. An LMS is more than a valuable tool. A well-planned and thoughtfully developed LMS can transform your school, its culture and appeal to everyone in your community.
What problems are you trying to solve with an LMS?
About Babak Khosravifar
Babak aspires to create a world where students can enjoy learning, excel through an environment that’s personalized to them, become stronger learners and, ultimately, empowered individuals. This leads his drive to unleash the combined potential of technology and education.
Babak, is putting his academic research interests in intelligent tutoring systems, machine learning, game theory and data analysis to work at Mentorina R&D. As co-founder and managing director, he investigates how technology can help create better learners who can excel and enjoy the process throughout their lives. He earned his PhD in Computer Science at Concordia University, and held two post-doctoral fellowships at McGill University.