Instructional Technology/Learning Management Systems/Benefits

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Learning Management systems (LMS) such as Blackboard and Moodle are excellent tools that can be used in the K-12 classroom to promote the school and its curriculum.

Benefits to Students and Parents

A learning management system allows students to download and upload files, participate in chat and discussion boards, as well as take assessments. Students are also able to view grades as well as contact the teacher and classmates. An LMS is a step above a classroom website which is a more static approach to giving classroom information. These systems utilize tools similar to those that tech savy students already use outside of the classroom. Although most educators think of an LMS as being limited to older students it can help younger students in the elementary grades to organize their work while simultaneously keeping parents in tune with what is going on in the classroom. An LMS allows teachers to tutor and build skills by placing reusable learning objects, documents, video, practice exercises, and assessments on the system. Using an LMS allows parents to review the course curriculum, classroom calendar and monitor their student's progress. If the instructor posts samples of student work and rubrics, students and parents can see how other classmates are performing and have a clearer idea of academic expectations. The use of a learning management system gives the teacher the opportunity to promote classroom activities and course expectations. However, once an LMS is implemented there is pressure on the instructor to keep the content up to date and located in such a way as to be easily found by the students and parents. Once parents and students have ready access to certain information, for example grades, that information must be kept up to date. An LMS system also allows for distance learning for students that are out of school due to illness or suspension.

Benefits to Teachers

The use of a learning management system also allows for teacher collaboration at grade level or by subject in the design of learning objects to post on the system. Given proper planning time teachers can design thematic units using reuseable learning objects and perscriptive activities for groups of students based on test data. The Amarillo Independent School District in Texas uses the Blackboard learning management system with a set of add-ons to support teacher collaboration and curriculum development.(Waters,2007) This allows teachers across the district to work independently and contribute to the team effort asynchronously without having to attend district wide meetings.

Waters, J (2007,March). Curriculum Unbound. T.H.E. Journal,34, 40-48.