Learning Management Systems: Get the Most Benefits from These Key Features
Learning management systems graced the scene as early as the 1990s. But in recent years, this software has become more robust out of both necessity and natural progression of technology. The world of education’s digital shift has made learning management systems a necessity for in-person, hybrid, and remote learning. As schools learn how to choose and introduce new technology , finding the right features for a learning management system should take top priority. Let us simplify your search as we walk you through the essential learning management system features your school needs.
What is a learning management system?
A learning management system (LMS) is a platform that streamlines the way learning experiences are created, carried out, and tracked. LMS software allows students to access educational content, virtual lessons and engage in class discussions. Teachers can use LMS software to record attendance, grade assignments, and keep in touch with students and parents. The integration of various educational tools and resources has made LMS software a necessary part of the modern classroom.
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Benefits of learning management systems
Whether you’ve used LMS software in the past as a student or teacher, you know that the right system can make a huge impact on the way education is delivered. Consider some of the benefits listed below as you search for the LMS made for your unique classroom.
Unify the classroom
As an educator, you may be smitten by certain features—but have you considered whether they will directly benefit students? Choose a learning management system that’s mutually beneficial to teachers and students. With software that meets the needs of both parties, students and teachers can foster greater unity and respect in the classroom.
Save trees and stay organized
A lot of time and money go down the drain when teachers produce paper worksheets, manuals, and other educational materials for their students. And unfortunately, many of these wind up lost or in the trash after students get a hold of them. Eliminate waste and create a safe space for files by putting all the documents your class will ever need on a learning management system.
Adapt to your learning environment
Learning doesn’t look the same for everyone, and neither should your LMS. Depending on a school’s curriculum requirements, learning format (e.g., in-person, remote, or hybrid), and the accessibility needs of students, each user will need tools and resources specific to them. LMS software enables users to receive a customized education through integrated portals and systems.
Key learning management system features
There’s a lot of perks that a learning management system can offer. But if you want to go beyond good perks and tap into the best of the best, look for LMS software that has the following features.
There’s a lot of valuable content that lives in an LMS. Prevent precious information from getting into the wrong hands by making sure tight security features are in place. Choosing LMS software that integrates with a multifactor authentication app should be your first defense. These apps require users to provide at least two pieces of information to access their accounts. This could take the form of a password, a code from a physical device (like a phone), or biometrics (like a fingerprint or facial image).
Another vital security feature you need is the ability to grant users permission to the right people. For example, teachers should be able to create classes and view and update student grades, while students should only be able to access their personal information.
Let users easily flow between different applications and systems without entering login credentials at every move. Systems integrated with a single sign-on feature are set up so that users only need to sign in once to access all of the educational tools and portals they need. Not only does a single sign-on feature offer convenience, but it also provides added cybersecurity by eliminating opportunities for hackers to tap into multiple login credentials that most likely share the same predictable password.
Checklists and calendars
Users may find themselves overwhelmed with the many files, links, and discussion boards that live in a learning management system. Users need a spot to review upcoming assignments and events quickly. Some systems display this in the form of daily, weekly, or monthly checklists or calendars that feature links directing users straight to the assignment or relevant information.
Keep the class up-to-date on upcoming assignments, grade updates, and any class discussion or feedback with email notifications. Of course, some users need all the reminders they can get, while others prefer not to be bombarded with countless notifications. Luckily, many learning management systems let you choose the type and frequency of these notifications. This customization gives users the power to determine what they want to receive in their inbox.
Mobile and tablet-friendly
Most people don’t carry a laptop or desktop computer with them wherever they go. However, people rarely leave the house without their phones or tablet. Help users access assignments and class files on the go by choosing an LMS that can be easily accessed and used from multiple device types. Look for systems that have a separate app. LMS apps can be handy for those who like receiving notifications on their phone or tablet.
Ease of use
Good user experience (UX) design is essential in an educational setting. Users shouldn’t have to go on a treasure hunt every time they need to find something. Instead, select a system that has an organized, intuitive layout. Some systems even have templates that you can use to design assignment instructions, quizzes, lessons, and so forth. Before committing to a set LMS, take it for a test run! Most software companies let you experience a trial or demo before you buy. Feel free to try more than one to make sure you pick a super user-friendly LMS.
Every user comes with their own style of learning and personal needs for accessing and interacting with LMS content. Make sure your software can accommodate those with special learning needs or disabilities. Features like captions and transcriptions for videos, alt text for images, screen reader accessibility, and the use of high contrast colors are a must. Also, learn how to create an accessible course for online learners to ensure every student receives the help they need.
How to use LMS software to its fullest potential
LMS software can be a huge investment for schools. If students and staff are expected to essentially live and breathe in this system, you want to ensure it gets used to its full potential. Here are some ways to get the most value out of your system and its helpful features.
Educate LMS users
Educators will fail to teach their students anything if they don’t know how to use their learning management system. Similarly, students will struggle to learn if they don’t know how to access and interact with LMS content. Get everyone on the same page by training teachers and students on the software’s various tools and features. Just as important is training users on cybersecurity. Though you should already have security features in place, make sure that users know how to create a strong password and how to spot phishing scams .
Keep your whole school consistent
If you share the same LMS as other teachers within your school, try to have a unified approach to using the software. Nothing is more frustrating for students than having to log on to multiple different sites or use separate software to complete their work. Make sure everyone is committed to posting assignments in the shared LMS to help remote and hybrid students stay on top of their education. Also, try to use the same templates and format for naming folders to simplify navigation for students and reduce uncertainty.
Related: Choose the Right Tech for Your Hybrid Learning Classroom
Stick to a grading schedule
Gone are the days of waiting weeks or months before a paper report card showed up in the mail. Instead, LMS software allows students to see their performance and progress in real-time. But there’s a catch–teachers need to actually grade the assignments and give feedback for students to know where they stand. So help students succeed and avoid facing a full inbox of ungraded assignments by sticking to a regular grading schedule. You give students deadlines, so why not give yourself a set timeframe to deliver the feedback students need.
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