Learning Management Systems 101
Learning Management Systems, or LMS, are methods that provide a platform for teachers, students, parents, administrators, and other stakeholders to provide services and keep records for a set of learners.
An LMS has three major components: it delivers information, it keeps records, and it facilitates communication.
Let us walk through the day of a student at an ordinary pre-Covid-19 school where an LMS is in use. It could be one of several K-12 management systems. Let us call our student Mike.
Because Mike lives across the railroad tracks from the school, he rides a bus to school. When he boards the bus, the driver’s assistant checks him off on her Bluetooth tablet. At school, Mike goes to breakfast, where the lunchroom attendant notes that he has three days left on his meal plan. An alert is sent to central operations. Mike meets with his pod for home room notes, then goes to math, language grammar instruction, then to history. Grades for completed work go into the central system. Mike’s mother logs into the online access during her lunch hour, sees the meal ticket note, and sends money from her checking account to cover another month. She sees that he has a perfect score in math, took a book quiz in language class, but had a low score on his history quiz. She ticks a box that will alert the instructor that she is aware that there might be a problem. After lunch, Mike has a physical education class, music, and finally art. He gets sent to the office for painting his face instead of paper. A note is made in his disciplinary file, which has extra security. A request goes to his mother and father for a parent to pick Mike up after school. His father responds, and will meet with the art teacher.
Now, let us walk through a day with students who are learning at home. This describes many children in 2020, as parents scrambled for safe, effective situations for their children, and the platform could easily be a one similar to Pedagogue. At 7:30, Jenny’s mom and dad leave for work. Jenny is sixteen, and is providing childcare for her niece, who is nine. Jenny makes breakfast for herself and Emmy, her niece. Then she helps Emmy log into her interactive reading class before booting up her own instruction on a different laptop. Jenny and Emmy have the same instructional supervisor, and their work goes to her. The instructor also has contact information for both Jenny’s parents and for Emmy’s mom. Jenny helps Emmy with math problems, then messages her instructor that they are having trouble with a science experiment. The household does not have all the equipment necessary. The instructor suggests an alternative project that involves items easily found in the kitchen and can be eaten for lunch. The instructor then uses the virtual classrooms online white board to help Jenny check her math homework, and to set up a household survey to use later in the evening. Then Emmy has free playtime, and accesses an edutainment game. Jenny uses the LMS to meet with her after schoolbooks discussion group.
These two models of learning management systems are by no means exhaustive. A good LMS can encompass most of the software requirements of a school, help homeschool parents with enrichment lessons and tracking software, or even be incorporated into a business’s online assets to educate employees or customers.