Stop Treating Your LMS Like a Digital Filing Cabinet
What is your learning management system (LMS) to you? Is it a digital filing cabinet used to house your syllabus or a critical part of your day to day workflow?
The reason I ask is because there's an epidemic in higher ed—an epidemic of LMS 'adoption' without actually integrating it into the day-to-day processes of learning, time management, communication, etc. And this is nothing new.
Click here to learn how to transform static resources, particularly PDFs, into engaging content in 3 easy steps
According to the EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research, in 2014 99% of higher ed institutions had an LMS but only 47% of faculty actually make it a part of their daily routine (pg. 8). Interestingly, 74% of faculty "say that an LMS is a very useful tool for enhancing teaching."
This says two things to me. Some faculty see the benefits but just don't capitalize on them. Others use their LMS sparingly and see positive results, but they don't integrate it into their day to day.
One major factor that must be considered in this is the quality of the LMS. If the potential benefits of an LMS are buried so deep under challenging interfaces and technical hurdles, then the lack of deep and consistent adoption is understandable.
But barring that, it’s hard not to notice the quality of learning experiences, the engagement of students, and the number of opportunities for learning in courses where an LMS is a thoughtful part of the strategy versus those where it isn't. And even though few faculty and students ever use these platforms to their fullest capacity (EDUCAUSE, pg. 4), they can still benefit from them.
To LMS, or Not to LMS: That's Not the Question
Using an LMS is not an all or nothing situation. What tends to happen, as with most adaptive challenges, is you wade into it slowly by utilizing one aspect of the platform. Then, as you become more comfortable, you begin to explore more features and the benefits snowball.
But it goes without saying, if you never take that first step or risk having an activity flop, then you won't experience the benefits your LMS has to offer. There are so many too, such as time savings, increased student engagement, and mobile anytime, anywhere access.
The point is, if you have access to an LMS that you and your students actually like, then you might be surprised at what happens when you thoughtfully incorporate it into a course or two. And if that experiment turns out positive, consider taking another step. Chances are your students will thank you, and who knows, you might even thank yourself.
I'll leave you with this 2 minute video created by Lucas Langworthy, a former digital film instructor turned Motion Designer and Video Producer. It illustrates what your LMS can really be when it’s a core part of your strategy. Hint: it’s more than Lucas's digital filing cabinet.