Choosing a Learning Management System
Finding the right learning management system to meet your educational needs starts with a clear vision of your overall goals and objectives. A variety of learning management systems are available, both free and commercial. Although they share many of the same tools, each one offers a unique set of features and user interface.
Use the questions below as a starting point for evaluating and choosing an LMS.
- What types of user “activities” does my LMS need to support? Access to digital curriculum? Communication between students? Teachers? Parents? And so on.
- What types of LMS tools will support my planned purpose and objectives?
- How is licensing structured with the LMS? How about file storage or data streaming? Some LMS pricing contracts can be complicated.
- Where are files stored? Will I have to find file storage space on the school’s computer system or does the LMS provide a “cloud” for remote file storage? How much storage will we need?
- Have any of our teachers worked with LMS systems before? What kind of pro or con opinions do staff members have about available systems?
- What are the biggest hurdles for student access to technology at my school?
- Will my students be able to access the required technology?
- Does my district have an Internet filter? Will this limit my ability to use a particular LMS?
- What is my budget?
- Can I accomplish my goals with an open source, free Learning Management System?
- Do the teachers want to be able to post online quizzes and exams?
- Does the school require an online grade book? If so, are teachers required to use the one provided or can they choose their own?
- What kind of reports do I expect to receive on student performance and usage?
Can we create customized reports? How easy/difficult is that and what are the limitations?
- What assessment features am I looking for? Do I want self-scoring assessments that pull questions from a question bank? Do I want automated feedback for each question?
- Do I need anti-plagiarism tools?
- Do I want to simply transmit information to students, or do I want to create an online community?
- Do I want videoconferencing capabilities?
- Do I need file sharing?
- Do I need community discussion forums?
- How much use of asynchronous communication tools do I expect?
- Does the LMS support internal messaging services, or will I need to provide e-mail accounts?
- Do I want an RSS feed feature to ensure that new messages and announcements are sent directly to student and teacher e-mail boxes?
- Can the user interface be customized? How much? School logo and colors?
- Is the user interface intuitive, or will our users have a hard time navigating the space to find what they need?
- Do my students need mobile access to the site?
- Is the online platform compatible with smartphones?
- What support resources are available if I have questions about the Learning Management System?
- Who can I contact for technical help? What is their availability?
- What are others saying about this particular LMS solution?
- Who can I call who might have some inside knowledge to share about the systems we’re considering?
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