The Learning Management System. You want one until you get one, and then you desperately work, work hard, to figure out the features. You need to identify if the features are just cool or if they provide a benefit for your classroom.
The work you don’t expect is trying to fit the Internet into your LMS.
“Internet, this is my Learning Management System. LMS, this is the Internet.”
I mean, have these two met?
Assessment, please make it more difficult for me to assess my students. No, just kidding.
I want to be able to import question banks I already have or use files already created. I do not want to enter questions and multiple choice answers one by one. And if I find time to enter questions in this painstaking fashion, I had better be able to export these questions easily. Teachers want to do this work once and in an easily sharable, editable format; do not ask teachers to do the opposite, if they do it, they will not do it happily.
Choice of notification preferences.
An in-system notification system is good for when we are all logged into the LMS. However, if the use of your LMS is to expand the asynchronous reach of your content it has to offer choices of ways to reach participants outside too. Who is better positioned to decide how they receive notifications that the end users themselves? Allow students, parents, and teachers to choose the method of notification. While I am not crossing my fingers to receive a Twitter DM to that certain student from third period, if that is what s/he needs to be aware of the content I say it is worth the risk of being trendy.
Choice of submission preferences.
Along the lines of not worrying about how students receive notifications of course communication, I do not care how they submit work. I can open URLs as easily as word processing files. So why would any self-respecting LMS try to limit submission choices?
The SIS hijack. Let’s agree that your Student Integration System is good at something. However, teaching students is not that something. It is not copying and pasting your class list into a LMS which is taking up all your time as a teacher. It is the endless paperwork. Let us have an up to date users list in the LMS and concentrate less on pre-organizing, and removing students from rosters when they change classes. Frankly SIS, you’re not overly burdened by the reality of which smiling faces show up in my classroom, so let me handle that please.
Older LMSs held SCORM packages for. a. living. Instructional Designers specialized in specific Rapid eLearning softwares as if they were exclusive German automobile mechanics, it certainly felt like they spoke a different language when they changed between talking about one software and/or platform. Newer LMSs may not even turn on SCORM uploading without a request from a client. The newest platforms take advantage of the simplicity of their functionality to multiply the creators of content, instead of expecting a few, very highly trained creators and making the content.
It is always pleasant when content provides an embed code easily, but sometimes it doesn’t and then you need to figure out how to embed on your own … you know, because of all that HTML you picked up during your undergraduate education courses. Check out a service like embed.ly for an easy way for you to just select the URL for which you want embed code. You can generate your own embed code, easier than writing your own HTML code, however you require a HTML mode to paste your embed code into – – if your LMS cannot provide that you need to change LMS immediately.
With the democratization of writing content, this can be the most crucial aspect that those in the technology department could over look, how to include as many classroom teachers as possible in the creation of the content.
Proprietary solutions when you could just let us use a simpler tool. Yes, I know what BlackBoard Collaborate is, and yes I still would rather use a Google Hangout. Please do not tout as a feature a cumbersome program which requires downloads and lag time from click to play. Students are not sitting at their desk looking at their desktop, they are at the soccer field logging into the class discussion on their phone. The more open the solution, the better!
Here is hoping that the features you identify in your LMS are useful and not overly cumbersome to develop stellar content to complement your classroom.