In a distance learning environment, your school’s Learning Management System (LMS) is key. It’s vital that your school adopts a single system for organizational consistency. This ensures that all faculty and students will know where to go to access their classes, accompanying materials, and activities.
There are many LMS available, each with its own features and problems. Typically, we recommend that schools spend 1.5–2 years evaluating, choosing, and rolling out their LMS.
However, 2020 has been anything but normal, and you probably need to make choices more quickly today. Here’s what you should know about choosing the right LMS for your school’s needs.
Should You Invest in a New LMS?
If your students and teachers currently use an LMS, we don’t recommend making a change this year. There are many unknowns to overcome; don’t add to your faculty or student stress. Instead, continue to use your system by expanding your knowledge of what it can do.
If you do not have an LMS, explore your options. Now that hybrid and distance learning have been broadly introduced to the education system, our bet is that we’ll continue to see these elements for years to come. It’s in your school’s best interest to invest in a system that teachers and students can use for the foreseeable future.
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How to Choose an LMS
If you are not already using a Learning Management System, we recommend that you look at the following criteria to help you select a viable platform.
- Consider the user experience and ease of use. Your system’s capabilities should match the skill sets of your teachers. If your faculty loves new technology and technology education is a central tenet of your mission, keep this in mind when considering your options. On the other hand, if your teachers are timider when it comes to new technology, consider a more basic platform that allows for ease of use.
- Ensure the platform is specifically made for the K–12 setting. Many systems are designed for higher education. Your chosen platform should cater to the needs of K–12 schools and your students’ unique needs.
- Provide for integrations. If you plan to use this platform for years to come, you're going to want to add other systems and functionalities. Ensure the system you choose allows integrations, such as videoconferencing.
- Make sure the LMS has accessibility features. Look for options for students or teachers that are hearing-impaired, vision-impaired, or require other support.
- Check the system’s security, privacy, and data management features. It’s vital to protect your school’s, students’, and teachers’ privacy. Look for an LMS with database redundancies and ensure you own the data kept within it.
- Verify that it fits your budget. This line item should fit into your school’s plans for academic tools over the coming years.
A quality learning management system provides predictability and support for teachers and students. When everyone involved in distance and hybrid learning has a single place to go to access school materials, it reduces stress and makes the learning experience a more seamless one.
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