This is the second of our four-part post on learning management systems. Read Learning Management Systems: Your Opinion – Part 1, where Donna Lubrano from the Northeastern University in Boston shares her opinion with our readers.
In this post, Kathy Walter, Educator and CEO at Nsoma, reveals her thoughts on Learning Platforms and their contribution to student learning.
Learning Management Systems (LMSs) are used in a number of schools to deliver online learning content in a structured way. As opposed to gather random search content from search engines, learning management systems do just that – they manage learning based on the subject, teacher and curricula being taught. Like all technology, they work only as well as the people or person loading them with content. Most technology solutions for learning do not come with content and those that do need to have that content licensed separately.
Learning Management Systems are great for delivering content to students for a number of reasons.
1. Different paces, steering together: because you can control what content students see, but students do not necessarily know where other students are in their learning path. So, for instance, one student may be far ahead in a lesson and another may be far behind, but unless the lesson plans for them working together on a topic, each student proceeds at their own pace.
2. Anytime, Anywhere: LMS allows students to log in at school or at home. So if they are sick or miss an assignment, want to review for the day ahead or want to go back and review a concept they did not understand, it’s all possible.
3. Flexible Delivery: Most LMS render on a computer or laptop, but also on mobile phones and tablets. So it does not matter what device a student has, they can learn from anything.
4. Special Needs Handled: When students require additional mechanics like braille readers, color blind screen adaptors, text readout, etc, many LMSs link with other technology tools to help all learners.
As with any technology, there are also drawbacks:
1. Training: LMSs are more prevalent these days, but many schools and teachers still have not learned to use them. And schools may change their LMSs as contracts expire and new bids have to be issued. It takes a long time to train staff and students to use them when it’s not something they are familiar with.
2. Let me in! LMSs require logins and when they are not sync’d with other login systems and a student forgets a password, it takes valuable learning time to get them up and running
3. Technology changes: LMS companies deliver a lot of technology changes each year, but not all LMSs have the same functionality. Some can vary widely. And some functionality works more intuitively than others. This can be frustrating for users when they expect to do something quickly and wind up with more work – for instance, teachers trying to load in lessons and assessments. People usually adapt well, but when a new round of changes comes out, companies still have a habit of not always understanding classroom and school processes, and it can lead to user frustration. Too much user frustration, particularly by teachers means some will stop using a system all together.
Bottom line: every school should have an LMS. The types and cost vary widely, but technology runs our world. Not introducing our school kids to technology in all aspects puts them at a severe disadvantage. It’s worth the time and effort to deliver at least part of their education via online content.
Kathy Walter, CEO at Nsoma, is responsible for conceiving and delivering innovative solutions that support the instructional and educational agendas of school districts and edTech companies. She recently served as the Executive Director, Product Strategy & Innovation at the NYC Department of Education and prior to that as Director, Product Development at a start-up online learning solution.
Kathy has a BA in Applied Math from Union College, an MBA From NYU’s Stern School of Business, and a Graduate Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). She’s currently completing her JD at Fordham Law School in Education and IP law. Kathy has been an ESL Educator at Northeastern University and Cambridge Learning Center; an ESL curriculum consultant with the YearUp program in Boston; and a program developer for several teaching projects in Uganda.