A Learning Management System (LMS) is a must-have for any school district today. But have you thought about the specific abilities you should be looking for in your next LMS?
With the growing demand to effectively track and manage the learning progress of students, implementing a responsive, results-oriented LMS is crucial. The LMS and eLearning industry is constantly evolving and growing. With the myriad of choices available, how can executive leaders select the LMS option that will help achieve the best results for their district’s students?
To begin the search – whether this is your district’s first or fifth attempt – your administrators should ask key questions about the functionality of LMS options in the running: What are its capabilities? Does it provide easy data analysis? Will it help increase student engagement?
If your answers to these questions leave you feeling uncertain about your district’s current system, maybe it’s time to look for another option. If you’re just beginning the search, asking these questions now will help keep you and your district on track during the selection process.
To further ease your first search or re-evaluation process, here are five must-haves every district should require from an LMS…
1) Integrates with assessments and gradebooks
A definite must-have for any LMS is the ability for your solution to integrate. Your system should simplify the process of evaluating skills and tracking student progress. It should incorporate assessments and gradebooks to provide efficient entry and tracking of information, while supporting the unique academic needs of your district.
With a high quality LMS in place, your teachers should no longer spend valuable time creating or entering basic student demographic data. Make sure your system saves your district time and money by allowing access to the most current student information without the use of third party applications.
Bonus: Your LMS should include the capability to send emails with real-time progress reports to families and post grades for mid-term and semester report cards automatically. These integrated processes improve communication among parents, students and teachers, while streamlining assessment and gradebook tasks.
2) Ties standards to assignments
No more guessing or time spent figuring out which lessons meet certain standards. The second must-have for your district’s LMS is an application that maps district curriculums. The system will allow teachers to see all activities, assignments and resources needed for lessons, and how those lesson plans fit into the big picture and meet key standards. An LMS that links lesson plans to important district benchmarks and required standards saves time and helps ensure complete coverage of materials is given, so that state and federal curriculum standards are met.
Bonus: Make lesson planning from year-to-year more efficient by choosing a solution that allows you to store suggested activities, assessments and available resources for each unit. A system that also allows administrators and principals to view teachers’ daily plans will help keep everyone in your district on the same page. A curriculum-mapping application with these extra features helps align lessons with your district’s goals, while meeting required educational standards.
3) Easy access to analytics
Data-informed decision-making is becoming more and more important for today’s district leaders. The ability to easily access and then communicate such data is even more important, and a clear must-have, for a district’s executive team. Learning analytics can make it easier to identify trends in student outcomes and areas for opportunity and educational growth.
Accurate and up-to-date information is necessary for administrative leaders, like you, to do their jobs effectively. Make sure your district’s LMS provides access to important analytics and data, so you can make informed decisions and enhance communication with stakeholders.
Bonus: An LMS that includes Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in its analytics application will help direct students by providing greater insight through statistics, tracking features, course reports and learning progress reports. Make sure your system allows access to group and individual progress through drill-down and overview analytical capabilities. Your LMS analytics should also allow you to easily generate real-time reports to accurately monitor student progress and success.
4) Increases student engagement
Say goodbye to stacks of papers and handouts. Your district’s LMS must increase student engagement by including a course learning center that keeps all assignments, handouts, reading materials, and paperwork together in one place. Your system should allow all course information to be stored online where students can browse through projects and notes anytime, anywhere.
Students can also learn from each other through an LMS that supports online class discussions. Choose a system that simplifies group work by making the sharing of video and audio files, spreadsheets, and other documents easy. There’s no better way to get your district’s students involved and enhance classroom engagement.
Bonus: What about when it’s time to turn in homework? The ability for students to easily submit assignments through a digital locker is another must-have feature. Teachers can even control when homework is due. Allowing parents to keep up-to-date on their student’s coursework, grades, assignments and academic progress through your system is another feature to consider in your LMS.
5) Develops digital literacy
The final must-have for your district’s LMS is the ability to include online elements into daily activities. Promoting digital literacy inside and outside the classroom is becoming increasingly important. Integrate online assignments, tests and quizzes for learning at home and on the go.
Use your LMS to create a class blog for students to contribute to, or practice email etiquette in the classroom. By choosing a solution that promotes digital literacy, you’ll make sure your students are keeping up with tech advancements, so they are better prepared for higher education or the workforce environment.
Bonus: Your solution should promote educational advancement and learning during the summer months or break periods, too. Promote online reading or facilitate class discussion groups. Make an investment in advancing education for your district’s students by creating a space for learning to continue outside the classroom walls.
An LMS is a must-have for any school district today, and choosing a system is an extremely important decision. The right LMS will help you and your district get the most out of your investment. Whether your district is beginning its first search for a system or considering making a switch, be sure to choose a comprehensive solution that includes customizable integration that meets your district’s unique needs, simplifies processes, provides key analytics, increases student engagement, and fosters digital literacy.
Make an investment in a technology solution with these must-have features, so your students can achieve a high level of success now and in the future.
Skyward's LMS: Course Learning Center
Skyward's Course Learning Center is the only Learning Management System designed specifically for districts using the Student Management Suite. Contact us today for more information on this valuable classroom resource.
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