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What General Features Should I Look For in an LMS?

What General Features Should I Look For in an LMS?


This lesson outlines the capabilities and features of LMSs that are of particular concern to teachers.

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Video Transcription

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Hello everyone, and welcome. I hope you're having a great day.

In this lesson, we will identify some general features of learning management systems that may impact your selection. Let's take a look at what we have.

A common feature of learning management systems is that they give teachers the ability to organize the content that they wish to teach into units, chapters, or lessons. These may be presented as playlists to students. In most instances, like with TenMarks, you can even organize playlists by standards. Teachers are not bound to pre-determined lists and can include a variety of individual content items to complement their existing curriculum. For example, they can include text to readings, charts, tables, other graphic sources, multimedia pieces, animations, and even interactive tools.

Learning management systems allow teachers to create individual accounts with different restrictions and privileges for different users. With so much attention being given to protecting information, most-- if not all-- management systems require the use of some sort of password to gain access, whether you're a student, teacher, parent, or administrator.

As students are becoming more and more independent, and asked to take more ownership of their learning, many systems allow teachers to post announcements to small groups or entire classes of students. Furthermore, teachers can conduct a class discussion through discussion boards or forums. I recently took a course at the postgraduate level, and this was the case. But I've also seen fifth grade classrooms conduct book talks this way.

Some other features that have become quite popular in learning management systems are online quizzes or exams created by the teacher, the use of Dropbox, so that students can submit assignments for review. This can be done through Google Classroom as well. Teachers may choose to incorporate an online grade book, which many families find extremely helpful. Some management systems have an email function that has the ability to interface with external school email systems.

As we continue to move toward practices that reflect learning in the 21st century, teachers can create wikis, blogs, and use other web 2.0 tools to create timely and authentic learning opportunities. Learning management systems are versatile enough to support group and project work, as well as give teachers the ability to individualize students' learning by developing personalized learning paths based on their progress toward mastery of selected objectives. Some systems may offer the function of collaborative documents and presentation tools, so that students can work together easily. This is a skill that will most definitely be needed in order to be college and career ready. Google Docs is probably the most common one found in schools today.

Producing high quality video has never been easier for students, and some management systems contain the tools that teachers and students can use for instruction, or for students to demonstrate their learning.

In this section, we'll take a quick look at what to think about in terms of interface operability of learning management systems. Some systems work better on some browsers than others, so you'll want to be sure that what you have is compatible. If the intent is to extend learning outside the school, you'll want to choose a system that has multiple device accessibility, for example, for smart phones or tablets. Services such as Remind, formally known as Remind101, are becoming very popular for educators, since you can send a message out and the recipient cannot reply. So another feature you might think about is the integration of SMS and texting.

Whether or not you like it, today's schools are driven by data, and it can be overwhelming. Luckily, we don't start like this anymore. You'll want to find out if your management system that you are considering has the ability to build custom reports for assessment purposes and if you are able to view those reports easily. Also, can those reports be exported into multiple formats for sharing.

Record keeping and documentation is extremely important in education. The right information passed from one teacher to the next in a timely manner can make all the difference. That's why you should consider a system that gives you the ability to write and manage such legal documents as IEPs, 504s, and RTI plans. Whichever system or systems you go with, be sure to remember the rules set forth by FERPA, and how the learning management system supports them.

So to summarize this lesson, we introduced the general features you'd want to look for in a learning management system. We talked about interface operability and reporting features that you might find in these systems.

Here's today's food for thought. Consider what other tools your district or school already has in place to help perform some of the tasks that were mentioned in this video.

To dive a little deeper and learn how to apply this information, be sure to check out the additional resources section associated with this video. There you'll find links targeted toward helping you discover more ways to apply this course material.

As always, thanks for watching. We'll see you next time.

Notes on "What General Features Should I Look For in an LMS?"

(00:00-00:13) Intro

(00:14-03:06) General Features

(3:07-03:45) Interface Operability

(03:46-04:40) Reporting & Documents

(04:41-05:20) Summary/Food For Thought

Additional Resources


This is a website for a LMS; however, the planning questions provided in this white paper are relevant when selecting any LMS. The questions assist in evaluating the general features that you may be considering as you select an LMS.

Checking Under the Hood: Choosing a Learning Management System

This article by Mary Burns walks you through questions to asks and features to consider when selecting an LMS. This article includes important questions to consider and breaks the questions down into specific elements.