What is a Learning Management System?
While there are a variety of learning management systems on the market, every learning management system can be easily accessed anywhere with an internet connection. Generally speaking, a learning management system, or LMS, as it is often referred to as, stores and organizes data. It can also be used to create a digital learning experience for teachers and students. Blackboard, Edmodo, Clever, Canvas, and Google Classroom are a few examples of both popular and widely-used learning management systems in education. An LMS can boost both efficiency and pedagogy in classrooms and schools. When used effectively, a learning management system can improve student success and increase student retention.
Advantages of Learning Management Systems for Professional Learning
Learning Management Systems can be most effective when providing professional learning opportunities or professional development for teachers. One of the greatest advantages of using a learning management system for professional learning is the flexibility and time-saving aspect provided for teachers. A PD module can be accessed anywhere at any time, which is most convenient for a busy educator. Modules can be created by presenters and easily accessed by teachers through a district-purchased learning management system dashboard. Just as the LMS is effective for student learning, Google Classroom can also be used for professional learning. Mini courses can be created by a presenter for grade level or content-specific information. Teachers are provided with a certain code to gain access to their material; they can also be provided with the opportunity to post comments and submit assignments. This format is a creative and efficient way to give teachers the recertification points they need while receiving professional learning at their own pace. Finally, blended learning or the flipped classroom concept can be used in teacher PD. In this format, teachers complete independent reading on their own before gaining the hands-on, practical learning thereafter.
How Teachers Can Use Learning Management Systems for Student Learning
Learning Management Systems create virtual learning spaces for students across grade levels and subjects. Now that many schools and districts have implemented a one-to-one device initiative, learning management systems are much more commonplace in the classroom. However, there are even greater opportunities for teachers to use learning management systems in a manner that truly supports, guides, and accelerates student learning.
The greatest benefit of an LMS is to provide a differentiated learning experience to meet the reading and math instructional needs of every student in the class. Based on assessments, teachers can develop and provide lessons that support students with individual practice of any skill or objective. Blending learning is a 21st century educational approach that combines the use of online interaction with real-time practical instruction in the classroom.
While Blackboard has been utilized in higher education for at least a decade, Google Classroom is creating a strong presence in K-12 classrooms nationwide. The free and easy-to-use system can organize assignments, assessments, and links for students of all ages to access. Teachers can upload leveled e-books and learning games to teach particular skills. Rather than making copies of worksheets or locating class sets of books, teachers can provide the learning materials on an LMS that students can easily access from anywhere. As a formative assessment, online quiz games also increase student engagement.
In addition to these online resources, secondary school teachers can also include blended learning or online courses to enhance their teaching and student learning. Flipped classrooms at the secondary level are also beneficial for student success. Students can read assigned text at home prior to the lesson so the teacher can focus on bringing the text and lesson to life with manipulatives, experiments, collaboration, and further explanation or clarification of content. Their understanding of the assignment can be assessed through a webquest. This instructional technique saves time in the classroom while allowing the teacher to personalize and adjust their teaching to match student comprehension.
How Administrators Can Use Learning Management Systems in Their School
Administrators can use learning management systems for a wide range of tasks including academics, curriculum, attendance, assessment, and communication. Edmodo is one example of a learning management system that was developed to be a free communication tool for educators to communicate with administrators, colleagues, teachers, and parents in their school community and across the district. Administrators are able to create specific groups by grade level or subject matter in order to share information that is pertinent to a certain group of teachers rather than an email to the entire staff. Administrators can also organize data in a way that allow the staff members to view, input, sort, and access assessment data anytime. When an administrator implements a learning management system in their school, they decrease the amount of paperwork for their teachers.
Administrators can also help their teachers save time by turning faculty meetings into flipped meetings. When this happens, teachers view a power point or slide show on their own and the meeting is used to answer questions, share concerns, or provide a learning opportunity for teachers. Teachers appreciate the flexibility, pacing, and time-saving aspects of a well-developed LMS when it allows them to focus on the reason they entered the profession, which is simply to teach.