7 Striking Insights About Learning Management Systems (LMSs)
Did you know that the majority of educators are satisfied with their current learning management system (LMS)? Or that educators who use an LMS report higher levels of student engagement? Interestingly, the more they use it, the more engagement they report?
These are a few of the results from Schoology's recent Global State of Digital Learning in K-12 report, a study that examined the challenges, priorities, and strategies of nearly 3,000 K-12 education professionals. One of the variables we found interesting was the presence and the use of an LMS.
More than just another tool, LMSs often represent a cultural shift in education. It can become the go-to tool for online teaching, resource management, scheduling, communication, and other everyday activities. Because of this, LMSs can have a far-reaching, multifaceted impact on education.
Below are seven insights from our digital learning study about the role and impact of LMSs in modern education. Before dive in, however, some of you reading this may be wondering, What exactly is an LMS?
What is a Learning Management System (LMS)?
In short, a learning management system, also known as virtual learning environments, is an online platform that enables blended and fully virtual learning. It is designed to streamline course management (resource management, communication, due dates, grading, etc.), so teachers can spend more time enhancing learning experiences and addressing their students’ needs.
LMSs can also play a vital role in the regular operations (scheduling, communication, reporting, etc.) of entire institutions. They are commonly used to deliver professional development to teachers, connect faculty into collaborative groups, and offer ongoing instructional support.
Okay. Now that we are all on the same page, let’s dive into the seven LMS insights, shall we?
#1 Nearly Half of All Instructors Have Access to an LMS
46 percent of respondents to the Global State of Digital Learning survey report having a learning management system. Just over one-fifth (20.4 percent) of schools don't have a learning management system, while 33.6 percent are unsure whether they have this software. That includes both institutions and individuals. This represents a big change from only a few years ago when the LMS was still a lesser know term in the K-12 lexicon.
#2 More Than Half of Those Who Use an LMS Use It Every Day
Schools that have a learning management system tend to use this software on a frequent basis. For instance, nearly 57 percent of survey respondents who have an LMS say they use a it every day. Another 26 percent use this software on most days.
Only 9 percent of respondents with an LMS report using it once a week, 5.5 percent use it once a month, and around 2 percent of say they never use their LMS.
#3 Small Schools and Districts are More Likely to Mandate LMS Use
The Global State of Digital Learning report found a possible correlation between school size and whether or not LMS use is mandated. According to the data, small schools and districts are more likely to require staff to use a learning management system than larger institutions. Over 54 percent of schools with fewer than 2,000 students require the use of their learning management system.
Compare that with the nearly 40 percent of institutions with more than 50,000 students that require the use of their LMS. That means just over 60 percent of these larger institutions make LMS usage voluntary. This could be due to the effort it would take to enforce a mandate with such a large educational population.
#4 Instructors Who Use Their LMSs Most Often Also Report Higher Levels of Student Engagement
In our digital learning study, we found a possible correlation between the frequency of LMS use and student engagement. The respondents who use their LMS every day report observing the highest levels of engagement, with the reported engagement lessening in lockstep as the the LMS usage decreases.
Now, we recognize that simply having an LMS does not improve student engagement, and we didn’t survey how respondents used their platforms. Also, the question of whether or not respondents’ students are engaged was a subjective one based on observation.
All that said, it’s hard to ignore the clear trend in our survey data. It makes sense that those instructors who use an LMS more frequently tend to be better at using it to engage their students. But that would be less about the impact of the tool itself and more about the impact of instructional expertise with such a tool.
At the same time, the LMS itself does play a role. If it is too challenging to use, many of you reading this have firsthand experience with just such a platform, then that can seriously hinder its positive impact.
Either way, we found this cross analysis very interesting and hope you do too.
#5 The Majority of LMS Users Are Satisfied
On the whole, schools and instructors that use LMSs are at least somewhat satisfied (90 percent) with this software. In total, 37 percent of respondents reported being very satisfied with these programs, around 49 percent are somewhat satisfied, 10 percent are somewhat dissatisfied, and just over 3 percent are very dissatisfied.
#6 Nearly Half of Institutions Don’t Use Their LMSs for Professional Development
Of the institutions who have an LMS, just over half of them (54 percent) use it for PD. That means nearly half of those instructors, who may be required to use their LMS in the classroom, don’t get formal guidance on how to use it effectively for teaching and learning.
The cognitive leap these instructors have to make from the high-level best practices they’re learning in PD workshops to actually applying it in the classroom using their LMS is massive. It speaks volumes about the instructors who have figured out how to use their LMSs well despite having little guidance.
#7 Instructional Coordinators Could Increase LMS Satisfaction
Instructional coordinators—professionals who walk the line between curriculum, IT, and instruction—could play an important role in LMS satisfaction. As you might guess, the more dedicated your instructional coordinators are (many institutions have teachers fill in part time), the more support they can provide faculty and the more satisfied faculty tend to be with their LMS.
According to our data, over 40 percent of respondents at an institution with dedicated instructional coordinators are very satisfied with their LMSs. On the flip side, just over 24 percent of those without access to an instructional coordinator consider themselves very satisfied with their LMS.
It appears the hands-on role these coordinators play in helping educators tie teaching, technology, and content together into a cohesive strategy is having a big effect.
Which of these stats are most interesting to you? Share your thoughts in the comments below.