LMS (Learning Management System) integration is naturally an important topic here at NEO, and we have blogged a number of times previously about the key steps to take in successfully integrating an LMS into your school or district.
Establish your goals. This may seem obvious, and the answer may seem even more obvious: “Teach students better”, but you may be surprised at what comes out of a comprehensive survey of teaching and other staff. This is also a helpful process when it comes to collating and understanding the diversity of views and skills among the teaching unit.
Gather a team. Choosing and integrating a school-based LMS is tricky and time consuming. Ensure you have dedicated human resources, who have diverse organisational and technical skills, to see it through to completion.
Develop a plan. Your team should all agree and input on system selection and a roll-out plan. The biggest part of the plan will undoubtedly be content management and development. This is a daunting task, and requires careful project management, as well as a continuous focus on learning goals. There is no point transferring old or dysfunctional content or lesson plans into the LMS. This is an opportunity to review and adjust every single lessons plan’s steps and outcomes.
Train, Train, Train. Teachers will have varying degrees of enthusiasm for LMS implementation. Ensure that everyone is not only on-board but provided with sufficient resources and time to really get to know the software. Most LMS software vendors will offer a wealth of training material, and will happily deploy their training teams to your school for as long as it takes to get every teacher up to speed.
Review. This is an imperative step, and one that is often not taken, or done in a half-hearted fashion. It is, after all, exhausting to get a school-based LMS up and running in the first place, and you may find that enthusiasm flags once it is done. Resist the urge to disband your team, or downgrade the LMS on your agenda, and agree on a significant time period for review and adjustment. Be sure to get on-the-ground feedback from students, parents and teachers - you will find that the incremental changes you make in this phase, could make or break your integration process.
5 Secrets that could unlock your school's LMS
In today’s blog we drill down further into these steps, and unearth some important micro-steps and tricks that you can employ in your integration process to truly make it a success.
- Develop teacher “super-users”. Invariably you will have teachers that take more readily and easily to the LMS. This is a great opportunity to deepen the professional development for the rest of the teacher complement. By “awarding” certain teachers super-user status, you can leverage the well-known capacity of teachers to rely on, and lean on, each other for technical - if not moral - support during the transition.
- Remember specials needs students. A well-designed LMS will have a number of accessibility options that your team needs to know about, be sure - when selecting an LMS - that you keep your special needs students in mind. Technologies such as voice-to-text, eye-tracking and more could make a world of difference to students with special needs.
- Your vendor does not have all the answers. When setting up an LMS, keep in mind that vendors will ask you to take far-reaching decisions about the set-up, permissions, security and administration of the system. These things may not always be easy to change after-the-fact. In addition, the vendor cannot know your system and requirements as well as your team. Ensure that every one of these initial set-up choices are made with the future in mind.
- Continuous LMS training. It would be a mistake to abandon the LMS training once the majority of teachers have assimilated their lesson into the system. Congregating your PD activities around the LMS, as an ongoing activity, has many advantages. Not only does the LMS become an integrated feature of the learning and teaching environment, but teachers can share and develop their growing understanding of the system with each other in formal PD sessions. Let your LMS become a forum for broader discussion among teachers.
- Keep it clean. Regularly cleaning and purging your databases of old users, defunct lessons, and archiving old projects is an essential process, that will not only keep the system operating correctly, but minimizes confusion and replication in your reporting and assessments.
All in all
Deploying a LMS at your school is naturally an enormous undertaking, it costs both time and money and no small amount of frustration and good management; it is seldom welcome to add further steps to the process. However, if you decide to include some or all of the five tricks mentioned above there is little doubt that your LMS will function better for it, and will be better able to deliver the results you intend. Good Luck!