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As the world continues to fight with the COVID-19 pandemic, education has been among the many sectors profoundly affected by it. Due to the measures governments took in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus, 72% of the students’ population was told to stay home and not attend classes.

It was during this pandemic that we got to see for ourselves how necessary and useful online platforms are to educate students around the world. Even though the pandemic found most of the schools not prepared, learning management systems (also known as LMSs) and other online learning platforms proved to be useful for many universities in the world.

What Is a Learning Management System?

A learning management system is a dynamic software application that allows teachers to easily manage and deliver online courses, training programs, lessons, and tests to all their students. One way to understand how a learning management system works is to think of it as a vast website, where to enter, you’re required to log in. When your access is granted, there you can interact with your students or teachers in two modes: online or blended.

Online learning through an LMS is similar to distance learning, as teachers and students interact asynchronously with each other off-campus. Whereas, blended learning is when on-campus learning is combined with online learning. So students meet with their teacher physically on-campus and use the LMS to support their learning by having a place where they can store their learning materials, are assigned homework, assessed, and interact with their colleagues and instructors.

How Do Learning Management Systems Work?

Learning management systems were designed to bring students flexible and interactive learning. Teachers use these systems so that they can deliver their lectures and keep track of their students and their performance. Whereas students use it so that they can view learning content, turn in work, and exchange ideas with colleagues on the discussion boards. All these activities can be done through multiple devices, such as computers, tablets, and smartphones, making it easier for both students and teachers to access them at any time.

To join in on these systems, one must firstly log in. Depending on your function — teacher or student, you log in accordingly.

The logged-in student is presented with information on the courses available, links for learning resources, and discussion boards. Whereas, the logged-in teacher can create courses,  assign work, receive finished assignments and questions which they have to respond to. Through an LMS, students can turn in their assignments and then wait for the teacher to grade them. Not only can they collaborate with their fellow learners on discussion boards, but they can also contact teachers for any questions they may have related to the studying process.

Benefits of Learning Management Systems in Education

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Initially, learning management systems were created to meet the needs of school administrators to track the students’ classes and tuition payments. It continued to meet the needs of teachers to create more engaging lessons, assess students, and to communicate more effectively with them. Finally, LMSs considered the needs of students themselves by offering student-centered experiences. Here are some of the benefits of LMSs for higher education.

Various and engaging learning materials

The teaching method of lecture deliveries has been around for a long time. Sometimes they can be engaging and fun, whereas sometimes they can be a little bit repetitive and tedious. That is why teachers were on the lookout for new methods of teaching so that they can engage their whole classroom. An LMS is the learning system that helps teachers use different teaching strategies. Videos of the lecture, visual graphics, and interactive learning are just some of the content used by teachers in an LMS. They can help turn even the dullest courses into an interactive and engaging one.

Self-paced courses

Higher education students in comparison to primary and high school students have more liberty when it comes to the organization of the time they spend learning and doing other things. Knowing this, many LMSs allow the creation of self-paced classes, putting the whole learning process responsibility on the student. This might impact on the increase of student participation as they won’t feel the peer pressure being face to face with all other students in the classroom and finish their workload on their time.

A view of your performance

Most of the students of higher education are self-directed; they organize their learning processes and keep track of their classes and how much work they need to put on for each of them. An LMS is a great help in this aspect because it keeps track of the registered learners and their activity in each course. With a simple log-in, you can check the learning analytics and make a plan on where you should focus more to reach your goals. Knowing how your learning performance is will certainly help you in making better learning plans and stick to them.

Collaboration tools

While instant messaging is mostly attributed to social media, LMSs don’t lag on social-like features. The system allows students to contact their colleagues and their instructors whenever they need clarifications or to ask questions they may have related to the learning content. This regular communication with the professors may help in developing better relationships between students and those who teach them.

Around-the-clock access

Unlike on-campus lectures and exercises where the student needs to be present to listen to their instructor deliver certain information, an SML offers students access to watch the lectures, discuss and ask questions to the instructors at all times. This is done to come to students’ assistance to better manage their academic journey.

Timely feedback

It’s more beneficial for students’ learning when they don’t have to wait too long for feedback on their papers or other assignments. Not only will the student performance increase, but they also won’t lose the context of the work they did. This is where an LMS comes in. It allows students to submit their assignments in one collective location, simplifying in this way the process the teacher goes through to grade and give them feedback.

Top Learning Management Systems for Academic Learning

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As universities started to embrace online education programs as a way to cut down expenses, increase curricular flexibility, and give access to higher education for other categories of people, many learning management systems have come and gone. There are numerous LMSs available for universities to use. They just need to choose the one that suits them. The University of the Potomac has been using the Blackboard LMS for years now. However, we listed below some of the most used LMS by universities globally:

  • Blackboard
  • Moodle
  • Canvas
  • Schoology
  • Sakai

One of the appealing aspects of using an LMS as a higher education student is that you aren’t required to do things in the traditional way. You can do all the reading and writing on an electronic device on your own time. There won’t be any more notebooks that get lost or papers you forget to turn in. You’ll have them all stored in one place. You just need to find the will and the time to sit and study.

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