Despite most of today’s classrooms continuously relying on paper assignments, the market for the learning management system (LMS) is expected to triple by 2021 with a value of $16 million.
As the technology continues to integrate with the lives of students, it’s important that schools re-evaluate the implementation of their existing platforms. It’s typical for schools to use a learning management system, however, one in four are dissatisfied with their results and rely on third-party apps and services. Yet, when integrated properly, a learning management system has the potential for assigning, grading, reading and collaborating beyond the basic online bulletin board function.
However, by continually examining and evaluating the learning management system applications in the classroom, school administrators can avoid the common pitfalls.
Learning Management System Inefficiencies
In an education setting, it’s important that learning management systems fulfill all intended purposes. Instead of condensing capabilities to that of a website or directory, a learning management system should act as a desk, locker and library, serving as a home base for students. Students perform a variety of activities throughout the day, beyond reading textbooks and other materials. Submitting homework, waivers, permissions slips and other assignments all need to be considered when selecting an learning management system. If an learning management system does not fit all of a school’s needs, students, parents and teachers are required put in extra work to fill holes. If the entire scope of activities isn’t considered, administration ends up taking priority over basic education.
A poorly integrated learning management system is barely more effective than email. For example, students need daily access to a class assignment through learning management systems. If a student is unable to view their assignment through their learning management system, they’re forced to download and view through a third-party application, like Microsoft Word or PowerPoint. If a student doesn’t have access to his or her reading, he or she must turn to an externally hosted digital textbook. Unfortunately, similar materials are not subject to service-level agreements, causing the student to be denied access to the reading. In these cases, not only are the students affected, but teachers are then responsible for finding a proper solution.
As with any technology, it’s important to focus on integration and prioritize day-to-day tasks. In a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) system, files don’t always render the same, so expecting a student to use external apps to download and view documents can lead to miscommunications between teachers and students. Schools can’t guarantee students will always have access to coursework with so many parts, but by simplifying processes through a learning management system it’s achievable.
Education in the Digital Age
Today, most of our daily interactions, whether for business or social, take place online. Education is no different, yet many schools continuously rely on pen and paper. An outdated learning management system typically is the culprit of creating unintuitive and unnecessary processes and procedures. Since the educational system has traditionally relied on manual tools, many educators are not comfortable moving to new learning management system platforms.
In the transition process, it’s the responsibility of school leaders to be in constant communication to adjust any unmet needs. It may be time to abandon an outdated learning management system if school leadership finds the current system is unable to meet basic classroom objectives. In these cases, it’s not unusual for teachers, as well as students and parents, to require additional training before fully adapting to new learning management systems. Paper-dependence could stem from a deeper issue, needing training or an entirely new learning management system.
BYOD is growing as technology advances, and schools need to shift accordingly. Relying on a fully integrated learning management systems can alleviate many concerns regarding a BYOD education, like security issues or collaboration. Online document and textbook viewing within a learning management system can eliminate a dependence on third-party services. It also allows IT administrators to restrict internet access to the learning management system portal, addressing many security measures. In addition, to a more secure environment, teachers are also able to develop lifelong skills, like digital collaboration and project management.
Investing in a learning management system that supports a digital classroom is the most effective approach for creating tomorrow’s digital leaders.
Steve Wilson is the Vice President of Accusoft.