Integrating a learning management system (LMS) is the best way to bring your classroom into the 21st century.
What’s an LMS?
Not familiar with an LMS? A learning management system is like an online classroom. Different software offers different functionalities, but most applications allow teachers and students to upload content like lesson materials or assignments for grading.
They can be manual, or automated with quizzes, instant marking and handy hints for revision material. They can even involve gamification elements to increase student participation.
Open source, or service-based?
The functionality of your LMS will depend on the type of application you choose. An open source platform is free to use and customisable for any keen coders with experience in software development. If you’d like top-line functionality (and the hard yards done for you), a service-based application is probably best.
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Best open-source LMS programs
Moodle is a free-to-use, open source application with optional, easy to install plug-ins that allow you to customise the LMS for your classroom.
Suitable for primary, secondary and tertiary education use, the desktop and mobile app features tests, quizzes and assignment functionalities for maximum student engagement.
Chamilo is an easy to use, gamified platform that has the added benefits of video content capabilities, as well as tests, quizzes and assignment submission. Students receive badges and unlock achievements through their use of the app, making homework much more fun.
Best subscription LMS services
Brightspace is a subscription platform that maximises downtime for teachers by simplifying administrative processes.
Plus, the platform is designed with interactive features for different age groups. K-6, for example, have a pink monster on the screen to guide them through visual prompts e.g. to take photos of their work, or leave a verbal reflection.
Google Classroom integrates its popular suite of apps including Google Docs and Google Drive with plenty of new features and tools that streamline the submission and marking processes online.
Some of the Classroom-specific features include a gamified lesson on cyber safety, Be Internet Awesome and a collection of articles and videos on different cultural themes under Google Arts and Culture. Use it free, or upgrade your plan for extra features.
Why use an LMS?
The education system is ripe for disruption, and starting with classroom resources is the easiest way to modernise and streamline learning systems.
“All too often, learning is something kids must do,” says Mark Yaxley, Regional Director for Australia and New Zealand of D2L the makers of Brightspace.
“Teachers (and I know many are!) need to continue to flip the paradigm, and get kids really involved in and owning their learning journey if we are going to expect them to be lifelong learners.”
With today’s students expected to work in 17 jobs across five careers in their lifetimes, flexible and life-long learning is a no-brainer.
“Technology is key for this; the right technology can support goal-setting, scaffold learning, allow for different pathways to defined outcomes. The key is to get the right technology to support the bigger picture of outcomes-based learning, and spend a bit of time getting the framework right.”
So, how can you choose the right LMS for you?
Think about the outcomes. What are the practical problems you need to solve? Try not to get too caught up in fancy features and focus on what’s right for you and your classroom.
“Choose technology that is fit for purpose; the right tech is truly transformative,” says Mark.
Are you using an LMS in your classroom? Leave us a comment describing your favourite LMS!
Author: Eliza Brockwell
Eliza is passionate about creating content that encourages diversity of representation in STEM.