How necessary is a Learning Management System (LMS) for teachers? Some claim that it is an essential foundational element of e-learning, whereas others believe that the concept of an LMS is oversold.
An LMS can do a lot for a teacher. In addition to being a repository for learning content and materials, organized in a way that they can easily be retrieved, an LMS manages learner engagements and results, and provides teachers and school managers with useful learner and class management information.
The problem is that many teachers feel that an LMS is way too complicated and that it takes too long to master all its functionality. So how do we solve this problem?
Let me use an analogy. As a philatelist I started collecting stamps many years ago. My first schoolboy collection consisted of about twenty stamps, which I kept in a cigarette box. As the number of stamps increased the small box was no longer good enough and I needed a way in which the stamps could be displayed easily – that’s when I discovered a wonderful tool called a stamp album. When the collection developed into country and theme sub-collections, one album was not enough. Eventually my study had to be refurbished, installing rows of shelves for the albums and specially designed drawers to store duplicate stamps in catalogued envelopes.
The point of this is that I did not require an elaborate system at first; the need developed progressively, and so did the solution.
I would argue that the same is true of teachers and an LMS. Initially, when starting to use technology at school, teachers may only need a simple digital folder to store lesson plans and perhaps a spreadsheet to keep record of learner scores. As they continue using technology and come to realize they can do new things, they discover new needs and would be looking for better storing and reporting systems. Then – one day – they realize: the solution is an LMS! And once they get the hang of it, they will never do without it again.
NOTE TO e-EDUCATION IMPLEMENTERS: Don’t force an LMS down the throats of teachers … grant them the time, space, training and technology to grow into the adoption of a Learning Management System.