In the previous post, I reflected on various attributes of blended learning. In this and the next post I will focus on tools that can help K-12 teachers organize their classroom content and implement a blended learning model.
About Learning Management Systems
There are many different names for the organizational systems that teachers can use to structure their course content: classroom management systems, learning management systems, and virtual learning environments. Each of these systems does basically the same thing: organize classroom content and learning through the use of online learning objects, discussion forums, and even interactive assessments.
Learning Management Systems, or LMSs, are essential tools for blended learning.
Some LMSs emphasize the organization of content, and others prioritize social networking functions, even going so far as to mimic the look and feel of Facebook. There are also sites that do one thing well, focusing on grading systems, or tracking progress and assessing students based on standards.
Implementation Models of LMS in K-12 Schools
There are several ways that teachers and schools can implement Learning Management systems. Some schools mandate which platform teachers must use to ensure consistency, while other schools give teachers freer reign. Here are some of the most common ways these systems are implemented:
- Teacher creates her own system for her class to address specific classroom needs
- Group of teachers create a shared system for their division or department
- School or district provides consolidated system for ease of use & consistency of student experience
- Teachers or administrators facilitate students’ independent progress on an online course taken for school credit.
Evaluation of Classroom and Learning Management Systems
In order to best evaluate learning management systems, I have developed a criteria based on the most common and expected functions of LMSes. I used the Joomla LMS Learning Management System Comparison as a basis for this evaluation. The evaluation includes a weighted column so that teachers can track important software functions. This evaluation is a work in progress, and I hope to revisit this document in future months.
Examples of LMS
Below are just a few of the Learning Management Systems currently available for K-12 schools. These systems range from all-in-one content management resources to systems specializing on a specific function.
District or All-School Managed Solutions
These LMSes require district, or school-wide adoption.
||This industry-standard company offers a variety of solutions for multiple educational markets. Ideal for district-based solutions, or schools willing to invest heavily in a learning management solution
||This open-source learning platform is the major competitor to Blackboard. Ideal for district-based solutions, or schools looking to implement a consolidated system.
||This LMS company offers a variety of services to a variety of markets, including K-12. “Canvas K-12 is a single, integrated system that bundles attendance, assessments, grading, state standards tracking, messaging, learning analytics, and more.”
|Desire 2 Learn
||This LMS company offers a variety of services to a variety of markets, including K-12. Ideal for districts or schools looking for specific services.
||This LMS, specifically designed for K12 institutions is another competitor to Blackboard and Moodle.
||This LMS is designed specifically to facilitate project-based learning, allowing teachers to monitor progress on student work. Ideal for schools or districts hoping to implement a consistent experience.
||Sakai is a community based “Collaboration and Learning Environment” that provides a core set of functions. Additional modules, such as an eportfolio solution can be installed. The software can be accessed through a hosting services, or managed on in-house servers.
Systems with Varied-Management Options
These LMSes allow for different levels of implementations. Schools or districts may implement these tools to provide a standard system for all teachers and students. Teachers could also use these tools individually to create their own course management system, independent of their school.
||This LMS allows teachers to create their own free course. The site offers paid solutions for “a variety of learning settings”.
||Edmodo is a social-based LMS, allowing for discussions, collaborations and online grading. While Edmodo is designed for teachers to create and manage their own courses, Edmodo can also be configured by districts and schools for central management.
||Schoolology is a social-based LMS with a variety of features. Teachers can create and manage their own courses with Schoolology, although schools and districts can also implement Schoolology to ensure a consistent experience.
These LMSes allow teachers to create their own customized courses, independent of a district or school-based solution. Many of these systems are new to the market, or in beta form.
||With Collaborize Classroom, teachers can create an online LMS with a strong mobile presence, emphasizing social networks.
||Diipo is in beta, and allows teachers to create an LMS for their particular course, implementing an interface based on social networking sites.
|Lore (Formerly Course Kit)
||While seeming to focus on the higher ed market, this startup allows teachers to create and manage their own courses.
While the above listed LMS tools have a variety of options, the below systems incorporate some, but not all, functions of an LMS. Many of these systems would be best used in conjunction with another LMS.
||Offering a variety of services, School Loop focuses on achievement management systems, to enhance student learning. They also provide a gradebook system.
||This online grading system helps teachers keep track and share assessment information with students and families online.
||This standards-based grading system is designed to help teachers collect effective feedback and manage their classrooms.
||This real-time behavior management system advertises a boost to classroom engagement.
||With this system “teachers can effectively assess core standards, monitor student performance, and report student mastery to parents and administrators.”
What’s Coming Next?
Learning Management Systems have been growing and changing since the advent and mass adoption of social networks. In the upcoming years, many educators expect that much will change in this industry. Many of the new LMS companies focus on higher education, with subsequent roll-outs for K-12 and other markets. With more and more competition from various publishers and start-ups, some of the K-12 web sites listed on this blog post may not be around for long.
Bates, Tony. “e-learning outlook for 2012: will it be a rough ride?”
Joomla LMS Learning Management System Comparison
Watters, Audrey. “Why Every Education Company Needs an API”