A learning management system can come in all kinds of shapes and sizes and has many different features. One thing they should all have in common, though, is making it easier for school administration and teachers to engage students and their parents in the learning process by keeping things organized and easy to use. A great LMS goes beyond just the standard features of class assignments and homework and is truly an all-in-one system for various classroom and school needs.
Here are five learning management system features that you, as a teacher or administrator, won’t want to live without once you’ve got your hands on them:
- Simple gradebook and report card system.
There are more educational philosophies than can be counted on how students should be graded, what kind of scale should be used and what students should get as feedback. A good LMS will allow for input of grades and flow-through of term-end data into a report card. A truly great LMS will include customization to allow your school to use the grading scale or rubrics you’d like to use to provide the educational experience you and your school believe in. Many schools settle for a separate SIS (student information system) to handle this task, but having it integrated into your LMS makes it easier for students, parents, teachers, and staff because they won’t have to log in to two separate systems.
- Attendance reporting and tracking
Student absences are one of those things that affects all aspects of a school, from the classroom to the cafeteria. One thing you want your learning management system to do is to simplify this process for all staff members. A great LMS will have an attendance reporting feature that allows teachers to input and submit student absences and will forward that information on to administrators, cafeteria managers, parents, and anyone else who needs to know. Having this information all in your LMS, rather than an SIS, will streamline school processes.
- Student portfolios
Most teachers have probably experienced the struggle of helping keep students organized while assembling student portfolios. Papers go missing, binders pinch tiny fingers, and the stack of final portfolios threatens to reach the classroom ceiling. With a learning management system, these problems become a thing of the past. Students are able to add their work to a digital portfolio, control who in the class can see it, and turn it in to teachers as a consolidated piece. With the increase in popularity for project-based learning, having a simple and easy to use portfolio system is a game-changing feature for students and teachers alike.
- Small group discussion areas
One of the great things that all schools have in common is the various clubs, teams, or activities that get students active in their school community. A feature that makes a huge difference in this area is the ability to create and post to small groups. These groups make it easy to make sure that member of the debate team and their parents get all the information about the next competition without having to distribute it to everyone in the school. Administrators can also create groups for staff member announcements, professional learning communities, or just about anything that warrants its own area.
- Parent access
In the K-12 world, communication with parents is crucially important. As a teacher or administrator, this feature might just be the thing that will make your learning management system an invaluable tool. A great LMS will allow parents to track the progress of all of their students across different grade levels, teachers, and courses and make it easy for them to see grades, attendance, and upcoming calendar events at a glance. You can even share summer reading lists or other important announcements when school isn’t in session. The goal is to keep parents involved and engaged with the school community and a learning management system can make it easy for them to keep track of it all.