5 Ways Your LMS Can Help Enhance Professional Development
Many schools are moving to iPads and Chromebooks or some type of individual device. With this technology appears the use of an LMS (Learning Management System). An LMS is greatly beneficial for student work, including assignments, quizzes, and projects, but what schools and administration forget about is the use of their LMS for staff professional development (PD). Below you will find 5 ways you can start using your LMS to support the development of your teachers and enhance professional development.
Collaboration is a big buzzword in schools across the country. At our school, we’ve even developed Professional Learning Communities (PLC) to help facilitate collaboration within courses. An LMS allows the sharing of documents and data in one central location. For instance, I share an English 9 teacher class on our LMS where we share assignments to give the students.
In this manner, I can create a test or project and the other teachers that share the same course can just copy it to their own classes. We also share data about tests, quizzes, and projects using our LMS, so there is one place for all the data to be collected and stored.
Within a PD class or folder on an LMS, you can share tutorials about new technology and templates for emails. Imagine completing a progress monitoring for students who have 65% or lower in every class and using the same template corporation-wide. Parents would receive valuable information, and teachers could save time by using an approved email template. Having one place to share and collect information is great.
2. Personalized Learning
There are always areas for teachers to improve. An LMS can be used to assess the areas where each professional could benefit from improvement and then provide the right training material for the job.
This would be a great way to make sure staff know how to use the different elements of technology within your corporation. A brief course overview and assessment could be created to show how to use even your LMS. Once the assessment is passed, the entire staff would be knowledgeable in how to put it to use within the classroom.
Courses created by staff or technology department could assess teacher skills in areas like writing assessments, classroom management, or individual skills based on the department. For example, a teacher might struggle with knowing the rules of grammar, yet they are required to teach it to students. A short assessment followed by lessons could boost that teacher’s knowledge and confidence in teaching the material. Using an LMS in this fashion would allow teachers to grow their knowledge without having to pay to take college courses or miss school to attend an all-day conference.
3. Teacher Comfort
There are teachers in every school that are hesitant to use a new piece of technology. When we first started using our LMS there were teachers who still required students to print out hard copies of essays instead of using the technology to turn in essays. Years later, some of these teachers are still afraid of the technology that is available at their fingertips. One way to help teachers gain comfort with an LMS is to have them use it as part of PD. It is a low-stakes way for teachers to practice sharing information, creating assignments, or even taking brief quizzes to build their confidence in using it in their own classrooms. This would even be a great way for teachers to take individual courses and earn digital badges for their work. These courses could be over creating content on the LMS or adding content area knowledge. These badges could even be shared corporation-wide so that other teachers can find an “expert” in an area with which they need help.
4. Reduced Time and Cost for PD
Professional development in the past has been a time where teachers gathered together in one room and received the same training. It might have even required a teacher to get a sub for one day in order for him or her to attend a conference. Using your LMS, you can provide courses and assessments for your teachers that can be completed in a shorter amount of time and save you money. For instance, someone in-house might create a course over CPR using your LMS. Teachers could take the course in a shorter amount of time, take a short quiz, and be certified to perform CPR. This would also be beneficial for select teachers because not everyone has to be certified at the same time.
This ties in nicely with earning digital badges within individual courses. The English department might need someone who is an expert on writing thesis statements. One short course can help them be certified according to your department’s standards. This would also be great to train teachers to use the technology. Every department could have a technology specialist who has taken a course on the LMS to be certified and helps others with using the LMS and create department content.
Lastly, modeling is always important when teaching students, but it can also be beneficial when teaching teachers. In our school, we have a shared folder on our LMS where the technology department has created tutorials about how to use the LMS, our gradebook, and other helpful technology elements. We also use e-learning for snow days in the winter, and there are example lessons and lists of different ways to create the elements of a good elearning lesson. Teachers then know what is expected from the corporation as part of an elearning day. Modeling for teachers how to use the technology at their fingertips is a great way to encourage them to use it within their own classrooms.
Hopefully, with this information, you’ve discovered some great ways to use your LMS to help enhance professional development.
Does your institution use an LMS to support PD in other ways? Tell us all about it on Twitter @Schoology!