The use of learning management systems (LMSs) in schools can be a great advantage for both teachers and learners if implemented correctly. For this reason we encourage prospective LMS users to consult professionals before implementation, in order to make sure that their LMS is optimally utilised within their unique environment from the start, before initial setup. Consultants should advise on how to overcome the main challenges from the technical and curriculum management side, but can also give advice on change management for the staff.
One can implement an LMS in a school environment in two ways: as a course repository, or to complement face-to-face classes.
1. Course repository
Teachers can upload course material or class notes onto the LMS for students to download at home before the class starts, the previous evening or at the school facilities. This enables teachers to track who downloaded material and when. This also gives the students more ownership of their content and the opportunity to work through the notes before the class starts.
2. Complementing face-to-face classes
An LMS complements face-to-face class sessions by utilising online assessments. For example, by setting up multiple-choice questionnaires teachers can test the knowledge which learners have obtained from the curriculum through online formative assessments. Using this method allows teachers to spend more time in the classroom attending to learners with specific needs or focusing on the more difficult content.
Unfortunately there seems to be a great resistance to change from teachers, because they do not know how to use an LMS to their advantage. To overcome this challenge you could encourage change amongst teachers by emphasising the advantage of using the LMS for optimising processes and improving their teaching quality. Be patient to help them transition from being a content teacher to a facilitator of learning.
Encourage your teachers by emphasising that an LMS will:
- Free them from manually marking paper multiple-choice or true or false quizzes, through online questionnaires that mark automatically;
- Improve communication to learners by providing the means to do so through online calendars and forum postings;
- Give them easy access to individual learners’ learning records and profiles;
- Free up more time to spend with learners with special needs and allow the others to advance at their own pace, through assessing learners’ knowledge online.
By optimally utilising an LMS within your unique environment from the start, and fostering positive change management amongst your teachers, you could successfully run an eLearning environment at your school, to the benefit of all.