What is a learning management system?
A learning management system (LMS) is a software used to create, deploy and deliver courses online. Most LMS today are cloud-based, allowing 24X7 access to course content from any location worldwide. The instructors and course admins can upload courses, assignments, homework, calendars, learning resources and more on the LMS. They can also create forums and chat rooms to communicate with the students. Educators can also track student learning outcomes and access automated reports to analyze the effectiveness of a course and course delivery.
Educational institutions are increasingly adopting LMS tools to reach geographically dispersed learners and enable anytime and anywhere access to learning materials, allowing students to pursue full-time or part-time employment to pursue their degrees. An LMS is also the ideal platform to disperse relevant supplemental material to students to enhance the education and training received in the classroom setting. Besides, it can also be used to deliver blended learning solutions combining classroom learning with online learning.
There are some learning management systems that specifically address the needs of K-12 students. The main use of these LMS is to streamline learning in schools. Students gain access to additional online resources and can revisit topics and learn at their own pace. The teachers spend less energy on creating learning resources and on administrative tasks and have more time at hand to spend with students. LMS for K-12 education also offers tools for online assessment in the form of tests and quizzes, which can be graded online based on predefined metrics.
Also Read: K-12 Education in the Post-COVID Era
Here, in this article, we discuss the 5 best LMS for K-12 education.
Google Classroom: The Google G Suite Platform is an LMS with several interesting tools and features. Students who are familiar with Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, and other Google tools will find it easy to use and transition to online learning. The software is free to use, requiring minimal IT resources to set up and keep it running. Educators can use it to post course material, set assignments and carry out quizzes. Students have to set up their accounts since they can’t use their personal accounts to access the services. This limits access to the virtual space and keeps data secure.
The LMS supports compliance with industry regulations and best practices. However, Google Classroom is more about providing students a personalized learning experience rather than managing it. Also to keep in mind, Google Classroom is not a full LMS but it can be used as an add-on with other LMS such as Schoology and Edmodo. Besides, it also meets the Learning Tool Interoperability (LTI) standards. The LMS works on iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, Chrome and other browsers.
Alma: This LMS for K-12 education provides learners an intuitive learning experience based on their learning data. It also empowers educators to make data-driven decisions. This flexible and scalable solution can fit in with all school needs and budgets. Alma neatly combines a student information system and LMS, allowing all stakeholders to access timely and meaningful information.
Its modern and intuitive design makes it easy for administrators, teachers, students and parents to easily and quickly access relevant information and take appropriate action. The LMS also offers schools a flexible technology infrastructure which can easily be integrated with their existing systems for a customized solution.
Blackboard Learn: This is a proprietary solution, which means hosting rights can only be provided by BlackBoard or it can be leased to users. The platform is exclusively designed to increase student engagement, boost teachers’ productivity and increase learners’ achievements. The LMS includes both synchronous and asynchronous learning tools, and can also be integrated with productivity tools such as Google and Microsoft.
It has a responsive design and offers offline access to courses, thereby providing anywhere and anytime access. Blackboard Learn also has real-time data analytics and visualization to provide all stakeholders the information they need to improve students’ learning outcomes. Students can also personalize the setting of the LMS interface to align with their personal preferences.
Canvas: This platform includes a complete range of learning tools to enhance the students’ learning experience. It has assessment tools to understand a student’s or class progress. Besides, it also helps to meet the students’ social and emotional needs. Canvas also includes the Canvas Parent App to allow parents to monitor progress of their wards. This app is available on all mobile platforms including iOS and Android.
The app enables greater parental engagement in learning as it allows them to view course grades, assignment grades, and course announcements. Canvas is an open source LMS, which means the admin users can access the source code and make enhancements. Its features support easy video uploads, one-on-one student-teacher communication, and web conferencing with a larger audience.
Hurix LMS: This proprietary LMS can integrate with existing school information systems for a seamless learning experience. This cloud-based, best-in-class solution for content integration and curriculum management is designed to meet all 21st-century eLearning initiatives including microlearning, mobile learning, social learning and blended learning. This LMS platform meets all instructional needs of educators including content development, course delivery and instructional activities, student assessment, data analysis, and reporting.
Teachers and school administrators can view student performance based on auto-generated data. This LMS is designed to allow K-12 educators to create interactive lessons and provide instructions in a highly visual and contextual setting. Students can also collaborate with peers and teachers, and thus, enjoy a highly engaging and immersive learning experience.
K-12 educational institutions are increasingly using LMS platforms to deliver learning to students. The ongoing COVID 19 pandemic has prompted much interest in the LMS as a means to keep engagement open between students, teachers and the educational institutions. While the current situation is still evolving, it is becoming increasingly clear that online education is here to stay; while it will not replace traditional classrooms, it will definitely be used to supplement classroom teaching and equip students with the latest skills.
A learning management system is a perfect platform to deliver remote learning. Students can access resources 24×7 and study at their own pace. Teachers are freed from administrative tasks and can focus more on imparting quality education. The school administrators can benefit from its analytics and insights and make data-driven decisions. This being said, there are several LMS for K-12 education in the market. It is a good idea to first identify your needs, do some research, study competition and then make an informed decision to choose an LMS that fits your requirement and budget.
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