The higher education industry is changing, and there is a need to provide more personalised e-learning opportunities for students. This requires an institution to be more flexible and, in doing so, change how they have always done things, which is often easier said than done. So how are higher education institutions making this possible? The answer lies in Learning Management Systems (LMS).
What is an LMS?
Within the education sector, you will often hear mention of the term LMS. The LMS meaning relates to the use of Learning Management Systems to facilitate teaching and learning in educational institutions. This is usually a software application or web-based technology used to plan, implement, and assess a specific learning process.
An LMS is central to the teaching and learning ecosystem, especially in higher education institutions. This software solution often provides access to a wide range of tools and services located within and outside of the LMS. These tools assist with managing and facilitating teaching and all operations associated with this within an institution.
According to Gartner, an LMS system guides learners to learning resources and other content, as well as tools to develop and track assignments and assessments, and some reporting and analytics capabilities. In many cases, this software is also used to manage online interactions and facilitate collaboration through interactive features that include threaded discussions, video conferencing and discussion forums. This software is also often integrated with student information systems to streamline processes and enhance operational efficiency.
From an educator’s perspective, this solution facilitates the creation and delivery of content and allows for the monitoring of student participation and assessment of student performance.
What is LMS in E-learning?
From the above, it is clear that LMS software is necessary to facilitate teaching and learning within higher education institutions. This software has become increasingly popular in facilitating e-learning in recent years.
Undoubtedly, e-learning, often referred to as online or distance learning, has gained massive popularity due to its flexibility. This form of education allows students to learn and participate in courses and classes while not being physically present on campus or in lectures. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the need for e-learning, which has seen higher education institutions incorporate more of this type of learning into their educational ecosystem.
LMS is key to making this a reality as it puts the framework necessary for this learning to occur in place. An LMS helps higher education institutions bridge the gap between online digital learning and instructor-led learning. There are a number of other advantages to utilising a LMS e-learning platform:
- Enhanced efficiency – LMS creates a centralised platform that contains all course material needed for a course. Having one consolidated platform where students can access course content, upload assignments, take assessments etc, enhances operational efficiency and the overall learning experience.
- Better engagement and retention – an LMS allows for collaboration and interaction through gamification, messaging forums, video, personalisation and more. This enhances student engagement and enhances their learning experience, which ultimately improves student retention.
- Saves time and money – research has suggested that e-learning through an LMS can save up to 45% of your organisation’s time in comparison to on-campus learning. This is based on the concept that students can learn at their own pace and at different times. Both students and educators save on both time and cost of commuting.
How does an LMS work?
From the above, it is clear that there are many advantages to an LMS, but the question remains how does it work?
An LMS system can either be an on-premise software solution or a cloud-based solution. The difference is that a cloud LMS is hosted on suppliers’ servers and is often offered as a service, while installed LMS is offered as a product and is run on servers owned by the institution. The choice of which kind of LMS system is a better fit for an institution, is based on its specific needs.
In terms of the actual system, there are several different roles that users of the LMS fill. These include:
- Admin – this user can create course workflows, manage payments, change the look and feel, integrate with other applications, and create and delete users.
- Manager – is able to access functions that include running reports or enrolling learners in relevant courses.
- Lecturer – will be able to create online courses, add assignments, communicate with students and track their progress.
- Students – will have access to course work, forums and chats, progress reports, and tracking.
It is important to note that LMS systems have several different functionalities to suit different learning environments, including fully online, blended or hybrid learning models.
How to choose an LMS?
From the above, it is clear that an LMS system fulfils an essential role in helping transform higher education institutions to include e-learning. With so many LMS systems on the market, choosing the right one is often a challenge. We are here to help with three tips for choosing the right LMS software for your institution.
- Define – Take a look at your organisational needs and define the requirements for your LMS system.
- Explore – Explore the market and take the time to research different LSM options, for example, LMS Moodle and what it offers.
- Think long term – When making a decision, make sure you consider the scalability, accessibility, time to implement, functionality and flexibility of the software and if it meets your long-term goals for success.
With e-learning and hybrid learning becoming a necessity for higher education institutions many are looking at an efficient way to implement this. An LMS is an answer to this as it facilitates the creation of a single robust, secure and integrated system to create personalised e-learning environments. With an LMS solution, higher education institutions can be more flexible, appeal to more students, and ultimately enhance enrolment numbers and overall growth.