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Choosing a Learning Management System

The right Learning Management System can improve program success

Finding the right learning management system to meet your educational needs starts with a clear vision of your overall goals and objectives. A variety of learning management systems are available, both free and commercial. Although they share many of the same tools, each one offers a unique set of features and user interface.

Use the questions below as a starting point for evaluating and choosing an LMS.

Purpose

  • What types of user “activities” does my LMS need to support? Access to digital curriculum? Communication between students? Teachers? Parents? And so on.
  • What types of LMS tools will support my planned purpose and objectives?
  • How is licensing structured with the LMS? How about file storage or data streaming? Some LMS pricing contracts can be complicated.
  • Where are files stored? Will I have to find file storage space on the school’s computer system or does the LMS provide a “cloud” for remote file storage? How much storage will we need?
  • Have any of our teachers worked with LMS systems before? What kind of pro or con opinions do staff members have about available systems?

Technology Infrastructure

  • What are the biggest hurdles for student access to technology at my school?
  • Will my students be able to access the required technology?
  • Does my district have an Internet filter? Will this limit my ability to use a particular LMS?

Budget

  • What is my budget?
  • Can I accomplish my goals with an open source, free Learning Management System?

Assessment

  • Do the teachers want to be able to post online quizzes and exams?
  • Does the school require an online grade book? If so, are teachers required to use the one provided or can they choose their own?
  • What kind of reports do I expect to receive on student performance and usage?
    Can we create customized reports? How easy/difficult is that and what are the limitations?
  • What assessment features am I looking for? Do I want self-scoring assessments that pull questions from a question bank? Do I want automated feedback for each question?
  • Do I need anti-plagiarism tools?

Communication

  • Do I want to simply transmit information to students, or do I want to create an online community?
  • Do I want videoconferencing capabilities?
  • Do I need file sharing?
  • Do I need community discussion forums?
  • How much use of asynchronous communication tools do I expect?
  • Does the LMS support internal messaging services, or will I need to provide e-mail accounts?
  • Do I want an RSS feed feature to ensure that new messages and announcements are sent directly to student and teacher e-mail boxes?

Design

  • Can the user interface be customized? How much? School logo and colors?
  • Is the user interface intuitive, or will our users have a hard time navigating the space to find what they need?

Accessibility 

  • Do my students need mobile access to the site?
  • Is the online platform compatible with smartphones?

Technical Support  

  • What support resources are available if I have questions about the Learning Management System?
  • Who can I contact for technical help? What is their availability?
  • What are others saying about this particular LMS solution?
  • Who can I call who might have some inside knowledge to share about the systems we’re considering?

For More Information

Check out the IT resources page for hot topics, guides, tools, and checklists.

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