This post has been updated on February 16, 2020.
Learning Management Systems were probably created for institutions of Higher Education. Colleges and universities were among the first to reach a number of students so high, they simply needed the power of a software in order to manage all the learning and other data points that came along each student.
People alone could not parse, sort and analyze all that data, and make the best decisions based on it. Such systems could and still can. And they can actually do so much more: all faculty members can use them to create and deliver online lessons.
The development of learning management systems for HE institutions started with meeting the needs of administrators (which student is enrolled in which course, got which grade, or paid which part of the tuition), went on to meeting the needs of professors (to allow them to create engaging lessons online, assess their students and better communicate with them) and continued to go along the path of meeting the needs of the students
5 LMS benefits for HE students
The sheer existence of students was the reason LMSs were created. It took a while, but many systems today can offer student-centered learning experiences. And they continue to be developed to reach constantly higher levels of personalized learning.
Here are five benefits that an LMS brings to students of higher education.
Various and engaging learning content
Learning as a student means so much more than attending lectures. Sometimes a lecture can be amazing and the professor holding it can be memorable. Sometimes. Most of the times though, students are not highly engaged with the linear setting of a lecture.
But an online course accessible through an LMS can include a variety of learning materials — from a recorded video of a lecture to visual graphics, interactive learning scenarios, and even AR or VR elements and 360° simulations. (These last ones may not be mainstream just yet, but the future of ed-tech will continue to surprise us.) What’s more, even the most dull online course can be made more engaging for students if gamification techniques are implemented during their design phase.
Even K-12 students need to have at least some agency over when and how much time they spend learning. This degree of choice is higher in the case of HE students, as they have more control over how they spend their time.
Many systems allow for the creation of self-paced courses, meaning that students have even more control over their learning process. What’s more, if they don’t have to be in the same class at the same time with all other students, there’s less peer pressure to manage. And if they don’t always have to be in the same competitive learning environment of a face-to-face class, more students will have higher participation rates.
Some students are actually working adults who need a HE degree in order to advance professionally. They have to balance so much more than the ratio between study time and leisure time; their “leisure” time often translates to working time and family time.
For these busy students, being able to enroll in a course that values mastery over the time spent on it is more than great. A university LMS can be the best platform for competency-based courses, which allow students to skip the content they already know (because they probably practice it daily at their job) and spend more time on those parts of the course they have not mastered yet. This helps them have a better balance between study time and other type of time.
Online collaboration tools
Instant messaging doesn’t have to belong just to social media. In fact, most (if not all) HE students today not only grew up surrounded by technology, they got to immerse in it in its rather developed stages. Professors definitely remember what the world was like when floppy disks were around; today’ students consider PCs obsolete.
An LMS makes it possible for students to contact other students — and their teachers — whenever they need something, through a platform that is obviously used for learning-related activities. By reaching out to professors or TAs through the system they are almost always logged in, students can develop and nurture better relationships with the people they are learning from.
Holistic view of own performance
HE students are supposed to be self-directed in their learning process and work towards clear learning goals. There may be exceptions, but the majority of students are like that. They want to know exactly where they are on their own progress bar and what to do next.
So when they log in their university LMS and check their learning analytics, they can take the best action in order to meet those goals. They don’t have to wait until the end of the semester to steer back on the right track if they happen to get adrift. Therefore, by having access to their full personal learning performance they can make better learning plans and stick to them.
Read more: The PROs and CONs of competency-based education
All in all
An LMS for Higher Education brings in plenty of benefits for university administration and faculty members, but most of all, for students. Being able to access various learning materials, to enroll in self-paced courses and competency-based ones, to contact the person of need at the moment of need and to have a bird’s-eye view over their own progress are just five of the benefits an LMS can give HE students.