Learning management systems (LMS) are excellent ways for teachers to integrate technology into the classroom. Instructors are able to develop and present content to their students, monitor what their students are doing and how well they are participating, and use that information to grade the students’ performances. Many systems even allow students to have access to features such as video conferencing, forums to discuss the material with peers and teachers, and threaded discussions.
While these systems allow for a smooth integration of learning and technology, there are many varieties of LMS available, and it can be difficult to determine which fit the needs of a particular school. Here are some criteria to keep in mind as teachers look for the best tool to facilitate their students’ learning.
A good LMS is designed to make the teaching process easier and enhance communication and integration. However, learning management systems that create barriers or unnecessary steps for those who work in the administrative functions of education will not benefit users.
An LMS should allow human resources employees to add or change information in the HR system and integrate that data seamlessly into the learning management system. It should be easy to set up new employees to receive any required training and to schedule existing employees for specialized trainings.
Along the same lines, administrators should be able to use the LMS to manage the profiles of users and regulate and define curriculum, roles, tutors, courses, payments, and other administrative functions without inconvenience. Learning management systems should help the organization keep track of standards regarding finances, government regulations, healthcare, test scores, and other guidelines. Administrators can then check one place to learn what they need to know.
One of the primary uses for LMS involves the content that teachers, students, and others can access online. Teachers use the system to provide students with online activities, to monitor student participation, and to assess their progress. It is therefore critical that an LMS offers strong content management.
The content should be easily accessible by both teachers and students on a variety of platforms, including videos, interactive projects, and online sites. Instructions for accessing and using content should be straightforward and simple to understand.
Teachers should be able to develop content for their classrooms. They should be able to store and reuse content at later dates and have control over how the content is managed.
LMS content should also be easy to integrate with third-party courseware. Some systems only offer compatibility with its own courseware. This feature should be examined closely by any school that is purchasing a learning management system. With content integration from third parties, teachers are able to find suitable courses from other places and upload them into the system without any problems.
Learning management systems are designed to help teachers evaluate the progress of their students. Therefore, a good LMS will allow teachers to do skill assessments in a variety of ways. There should be some assessments included with the software, as well as the ability for the teacher to create more as needed. Assessments available should evaluate the skills of the students using a variety of means including peer reviews, feedback tools, or even fill-in-the-blank or multiple choice sections. The managers of the system can then determine how they want the different features to be weighted when determining a result.
Since the systems are designed to assess students, it is important that there are also quality security features on the system. In the very least, an LMS should offer encryption and password protection to keep information confidential.
Learning management systems are important features of integrating learning with technology. They help teachers manage their classrooms and help students learn their way around online. By grading the available systems on the above guidelines, they should be able to make a selection that will work well for their institutions.
For a list of the best LMS platforms available (as of 2019), please visit our resource guide about integrating technology in the classroom.