“An LMS is a web-based software application that enables organisations to create online reading material, administer courses, document and track learning, assess learning and provide training for the said courses and reporting. Through an LMS; higher education institutions and corporations alike, aim to enhance learning and identifying training gaps”.
In the earlier blog, I wrote about Learning Management System and why a higher education institution needed one. With hundreds of LMS software in the market, choosing the right one for your college might be trickier than you would have thought. To help you choose better, here is a list of 15 definitive features that you need to have in an LMS for your Higher Ed. College:
Gone are the days when the only way of knowledge transfer was through a traditional classroom setting. Blended learning as a concept, relies on using digital media with a classroom setting to improve learning. The difference lies not on the course content, but the delivery of the said content. If the LMS you are looking for doesn’t support blended learning, then it is not an LMS, to begin with.
While often used in conjunction with blended learning, self-paced learning is a definitive feature in its own right. It involves the learner setting up the pace at which he wants to learn. In an ideal scenario, self-paced learning would even do away with a faculty. A good LMS would even provide small tests or quizzes at the end of each topic to assist the students to track their learning progress.
Give a boy a broccoli to eat and chances are that he would end up hating it. But, sit him beside a kid who likes eating broccoli and you would see the results almost immediately. The broccoli experiment is the simplest example of collaborative learning. Try arranging the students of a class into small groups and assign them tasks where each of them depends on and is accountable for one another. The results would be faster & improved learning and better team coordination. A good LMS should allow for that and a similar more.
Mobile assisted Learning
Various studies say that millennials spend close to one-third of their entire day on their mobiles. I wouldn’t be surprised if the same group also preferred mobile apps for newspapers. Mobile phones have become the preferred medium for consuming information. Wouldn’t it be actually beneficial if students were actually using this technology to access reading material and relevant videos? Needless to say, a state-of-the-art Learning Management System should rightly be able to do that.
Testing and Assessments
An unmissable feature in an LMS is assessment. Incidentally, it is also a feature that most software systems lack. Assessments allow you to judge the performance of your student better. It could be through quizzes, assignments etc. Once the student has submitted the assignment, you should be able to evaluate them in the system. Based on the mapping of learning outcomes, the system would then be able to tell you their attainment levels, individually.
Customized assessment management
With customized assessment, instructors should be able to assess individual students’ learning attainment levels. Better yet, a top-shelf LMS should allow you to customise tests for students with different attainment levels. This will allow instructors to focus on weaker students in a much better way.
Integration with Course Schedule
A good LMS platform should be able to integrate the Scheduling feature with the LMS to help instructors and students alike to track topics better. Isn't it great to imagine a student being able to access course information missed due to absenteeism? This would also help the college management track whether the courses are being completed as per the schedule.
A good LMS should allow instructors to upload and create content based on relevant data. Earlier, the course material was only available in text format. The need of the hour has demanded that an updated LMS should allow one to upload lecture videos, share relevant PDFs, PPTs, website links, and even Youtube videos, which ours does.
Discussion forums & messaging
A bit of Google search would allow you to see the number of time students spend on social media. Sites like Quora and Reddit are amazing discussion forums for peers to help out each other. Your LMS should allow the same. Probably a discussion forum or message board that allows students to post questions, polls, and documents to the faculty and the students. Not only will it be a faster prognosis, but will also foster Collaborative Learning.
Student learning tracking
An LMS should not only let you upload content but also show you analytics on how many students are accessing your content. This will also allow the instructors to engage themselves in a better way to improve the course content. After all, online learning is a way to go!
Student performance tracking
Your LMS should help you track student performance on quizzes, assignments, and exams. It should also provide useful analytics and AI to do this.
A user-friendly LMS isn't enough if it only drives students interest in using it to its full extent. In addition, it also should have a good user interface including elements of game playing to make learning extra fun and interesting experience.
Another definitive feature needed is real-time reporting. Instructors and college management alike should be able to generate real-time reports not only for purposes of better campus management but for Accreditation too. Why spend additional time to prepare reports before the Accreditation team visit, every time? Let the LMS do it for you and store reports for years to come.
Customization and branding
Each student is distinct and so is each college’s needs. Why would then, a simple open-source LMS be of any benefit to your college? They are not bad, but they don’t know your specific needs. The system would be stiff and more often do not accommodate your internal process flows. The solution is thus a cloud-based LMS that keeps you stay up-to-date with the fast-paced technology. Branding in such a case would become the icing. Additionally, a friendly Chatbot can assist the instructor and students alike to utilize the system better and provide access to relevant training material.
Distance learning support
Why should colleges restrict themselves just to a classroom environment? Isn’t it entirely possible, that a good candidate situated in a different geography might find a better use with online courses? With dwindling admissions and/or the need to reach out to more students, colleges are now more open the idea of distance learning. A good LMS coupled with an online Admission and Enrolment System would allow a college to provide their content in the form of e-learning courses.