My First Learning Management System

Hans MundahlI’ll never forget my high school math teacher Ms. Olson. Not only was she an inspiring teacher, but she was also an adept logistician. Tests were always graded quickly, assignment sheets were passed out Monday morning without fail, and major assessments were always scheduled in conjunction with her husband Mr. Olson to make sure students weren’t saddled with two big tests on the same day. The day-to-day business of being a teacher was no trouble for Ms. Olson.

I often wonder how much of Ms. Olson’s time was spent with those day-to-day tasks? How much time did she spend at the photocopier preparing those weekly assignment sheets? How much time did she spend grading tests? I’ve come to realize that a successful teacher is one who can manage the mundane to allow space for the remarkable.

If successful teachers manage the mundane, successful schools are the ones that master it.

Many years ago there were three tools schools used to manage the classroom: a photocopier, a white board, and a paper gradebook. The teacher was the hub: assignments were written on the board and paper went in and out. Yet these tools struggled to meet the needs of all students: What happened if a student lost an assignment sheet? How to keep track of both soccer practice and tests? How do students get help if they are struggling? How do students move ahead even if the rest of the class isn’t ready?

Today a whiteboard, photocopier, and paper gradebook are not the most effective tools for managing a classroom. The Learning Management System (LMS) has arrived as the digital hub of the classroom. The LMS can help make classroom tasks more efficient so teachers have more time for their students.

But choosing and launching an LMS can be difficult. I’ve found that if you start a conversation about an LMS by talking about features (“There are three buttons to create a new assignment!”) you will quickly convert a polite group of teachers into an angry mob. A better strategy is to brainstorm all the tasks teachers spend time on that don’t directly enhance teaching and learning. If an LMS can help make those tasks easier (or even make them go away) the LMS will be successful.

Are you interested in learning more about how to select, pilot, roll out, and assess a Learning Management System? I’ve just written a free eBook on that very topic! Chapters include:

  • The benefits of an LMS
  • What an LMS is (and isn’t)
  • Selecting a solution
  • Developing the rollout plan
  • Stages of adoption
  • Success stories

I don’t think an LMS would have made Ms. Olson a better teacher: she was already pretty amazing. But I do think an LMS would have made her life easier and that’s something I’ll support any day of the week.

What do you think?

Do you have an LMS you love?

Are you thinking about adopting one?

Let us know in the comments!

Hans Mundahl is the former Director of Experiental Learning at New Hampton School, where he pioneered a 1:1 iPad program that led to NHS being named an Apple Distinguished School. His new venture, Hans Mundahl & Associates Inc., helps schools and non-profits develop technology integration strategy, build capacity within faculty and administration to deliver on that strategy, and helps celebrate outcomes through web, video and social media.

More Articles