With every year, education in schools, businesses, and corporations becomes more digitally focused and more integrated with technology. Central to the digitization of learning are Learning Management Systems: the backbone of any eLearning or blended learning curriculum. But what exactly is an LMS, and why are they so useful to educators regardless of industry?
What is an LMS?
A Learning Management System (LMS) or Course Management System (CMS) is a platform that integrates technology, teaching, and study. It is a digital environment where course administrators lay out the structure, syllabus, and guidelines of a program. An LMS is a space for educators to set lesson plans, host content, track progress and attainment, and directly teach. For students, an LMS is the place to study, complete assessments and assignments, and interact with their peers. In short, an LMS is a hyper-accessible, flexible eClassroom, which moves and adapts to the needs of educational organizations.
What is an LMS used for?
The function of an LMS is determined by its users. Are you part of a globally mobile organization that provides training around the world? Then your LMS is likely to be used to connect course members and integrate their learning within one online space. Does the subject of your course require intensive discussion and consideration of classmates’ views? Then your LMS will provide the main platform for debate, through discussion forums, video chats and project work. Essentially, an LMS encourages the engagement of students in connected online spaces, but the nature of that engagement can take a number of forms depending on your exact needs. Because Learning Management Systems do away with the restrictions of physical classrooms - constraints of time, space and geography - an LMS is invaluable as a way of increasing educators’ abilities to assist and support students.
What are the features of an LMS?
Learning Management Systems are appropriately named - they are systematic tools for use by educators in the creation and management of courses. An LMS functions by a user interface, through which users select the applications they require to build their course modules and assignments. Integral features of an LMS include:
The ability to customize the user experience for students, in terms of branding and course navigation.
A variety of appropriate learning tools, whether that’s a place to create written responses, a social/collaborative platform, or the possibility of gamified learning.
An engine for tracking student attainment and progress, which expands on traditional assessment by providing data-driven analytics and insights.
Who uses LMS?
In terms of the everyday functioning of Learning Management Systems, an LMS requires interaction from three main roles:
Image source: Lopes. (2014). Learning Management Systems in Higher Education.
The close interaction between students, teachers, and administrators is one of the major advantages of using an LMS over a traditional classroom setup. Students gain a clear and transparent understanding of their overall syllabus and requirements. Administrators can quickly understand how teachers are implementing their curriculum. And Teachers can optimize their classroom management and oversight. This dynamic is present whether an LMS is being used within a school, a post-secondary institution, a business, non-profit, or other corporate environments.
What are the different types of LMS?
While early iterations of Learning Management Systems came in the form of costly software that required extensive installation, 2019s LMS are web-hosted applications that are either self-hosted or cloud-based. Cloud-based management systems remove the need for user maintenance and upkeep, while self-hosted systems allow users total control. Self-hosted LMS can also be open source, giving users the option to fine-tune the code of their LMS features. Depending on the extent to which an LMS is used within an organization, different financing models may be more or less relevant. A stripped-down, free LMS might be preferable for occasional use, whereas those in need of the full capabilities of an LMS can choose from a paid-license or a per-user proprietary model.
What are the benefits of an LMS?
Beyond the flexibility and access offered by learning management systems, an LMS provides educators with continuous insight and development. Instead of relying on individual teachers to optimize and improve their processes, LMS opens up access to learning data across entire organizations. This is a huge departure from traditional management, where the task of collecting data on student progress may seem insurmountable. With an LMS, users have the ability to produce compelling visualizations that inform curriculum development. Many companies find these analytic reports so helpful, they choose to extend LMS capabilities with tools such as Zoola Analytics. Zoola creates deep-dive reports from LMS data to produce actionable insights, which can be used to increase revenue, adoption, and engagement, optimize staff efficiency, and aid partner or student satisfaction. To see the difference that an analytics-based approach to learning management can make, take a look at these Zoola Case Studies.
Are you looking to install a new LMS in your company? Let us help! Lambda Solutions specializes in helping companies streamline and revolutionize their eLearning and open source LMS-related processes. Contact us to learn more!
Or, to get started with Moodle or Totara Learn, download our user guides to get the most of your LMS:
Disclaimer: This article was contributed by guest blogger Joe Hitchcock. Joe is a content writer from Vancouver BC, interested in culture, education and fiction. The views and opinions expressed belong to the guest blogger alone, and do not necessarily reflect the official policies or opinions of Lambda Solutions.