Does your learning management system (LMS) make you feel like you’re using chalk on a blackboard instead of pushing the boundaries of teaching? Then it’s probably time for a change.
In today’s digital learning space, your LMS needs to do more than simply manage content. It needs to be a central part of your learner-centered ecosystem, and it should use best-in-class integrated technology to meet the needs of everyone in your institution and be constantly improving to help you overcome challenges and reach your goals.
Sound too good to be true? Trust us, it’s not.
If you need a bit more convincing, here are five reasons it’s time to move on from your current LMS provider.
The Complete LMS Evaluation Guide
Get details on four common phases of an LMS evaluation so you can choose the best fit for your institution.
1. It’s Not Integration or User Friendly
With the rise of online and hybrid learning, it’s essential that your LMS integrate easily with other tools, data and file types to make your academic institution adaptive to all learning environments. If your current LMS acts as an independent structure from your other tools, it’s time to consider switching to one that supports and encourages integration.
It’s also essential that your LMS include application programming interfaces (APIs) to make learning simple and straightforward for all users. APIs are sets of protocols that allow communication between various software components. This includes the integration of third-party programs like plagiarism checkers, document readers and course catalogs.
Another factor to consider is whether your LMS offers single sign-on (SSO) capabilities. SSO is a user authentication tool that enables users to securely access multiple applications and services using just one set of credentials. SSO authenticates users on one designated platform, enabling them to use services without having to log in and out each time.
Your LMS should not only check all your requirements but supply them in a way that’s easy to learn and use. Your LMS provider should give options for users to learn the new system—like a community resource, walkthrough documents, videos and responsive options for support—and offer support check-ins to make sure the process is meeting your expectations.
Another simple but powerful user-friendly LMS feature is the ability to see content through multiple roles—instructor, student or admin—in one user profile. Users should be able to easily switch among roles to best access the information they need, when they need it.
2. You Don’t Get Personalized, Timely Support
Let’s face it: Technology can be tricky. And sometimes small issues result in downtime. But an LMS with constant technical difficulties directly impacts student learning. On top of this, if your provider’s response time is slow and its ability to help with technical issues is too general or doesn’t include a fix, it’s probably time to make the switch.
Having a reliable LMS should be a priority for your academic institution. Ideally, you want your LMS provider to use a continuous delivery model that pushes releases, fixes and new features on a recurring monthly schedule with no downtime. This service model not only ensures that you have no disruption to your use of the system, but it also frees up your internal staff from constantly maintaining and troubleshooting your LMS.
When problems do arise, you should be able to easily contact a staff member of your LMS provider to help you quickly find a fix. You should have a dedicated contact who understands your institution and its needs and can provide personalized support.
3. Your LMS Provider Isn’t Innovative
Have you been using the same version of your LMS for years? Or when your provider does innovate, do you feel like you’re stuck learning how to use a completely new LMS with little to no benefit? If you’re being pushed to learn a new LMS, it might make sense to make a change to a provider more suited to your institution’s needs and goals instead.
Your LMS should be listening to your needs and making innovative updates and changes to meet them. From making sure the platform is accessible to incorporating updates based on trends—artificial intelligence, anyone?—your LMS should be able to keep up with the times.
Your provider should also share a clear roadmap that outlines the direction the LMS is headed. This shows the provider has a desire to continually improve and innovate.
4. It’s Not Tech Savvy
Completing tasks using your LMS—like embedding content into a course instead of relying on links—should be simple. Your provider should also be partnering with the right vendors and always looking for new updates to keep its offerings top of the line.
Another factor to consider is whether your LMS offers asynchronous learning. Today’s learners have grown up with tech and have high expectations. They also expect to be able to access information at a time that’s convenient to them. Enter the importance of having an LMS with offline capabilities.
This feature not only lets users download material such as homework and assignments, but it also allows learners to complete tests and quizzes without an internet connection. Once the student has access to the internet again, the activities they’ve completed offline are synced to the LMS. It also creates an inclusive learning environment, as it engages those with slower connections and older devices.
We live in a multiscreen society, which means that students are no longer restricted to using their desktops—they may also have access to tablets, phones and/or laptops. If your LMS doesn’t have a responsive design to integrate across platforms and devices, that’s another red flag.
A responsive LMS keeps the integrity of your content but adapts it in a way that fits the specifics of different devices. This allows learners to access material from any device without losing the user learning experience.
5. It Lacks Secure Data Collection and Reporting
Is your LMS lacking extensive data access for course- or admin-level reporting? Your LMS should be providing you with this crucial information to help make your courses and content strong and to better support students who may need help. Not only should this data be provided to you, it should be delivered in a secure manner. Student details and information about academic performance can be the target of data leaks and must be properly protected.
When measuring the effectiveness of an LMS, it’s not enough to know whether students are passing or failing classes. You need a system that can provide you with detailed analytics based on the specifics of your learning programs. Your LMS should be providing you with timely reports to measure the effectiveness of the instruction, such as:
- Learner performance: Educators should be able to view student performance by looking at grades, discussions, activities and progress toward objectives.
- Course effectiveness: Instructors need data reporting tools to see what content is being accessed and how learners are progressing. This data enables instructors to tailor course delivery to the needs of learners.
- Learner outcomes: Admins also need data reporting tools to measure overall LMS adoption across courses with course-level views into system activity and usage. These help them determine what additional tools are required to continue improving learner outcomes.
Tracking progress is essential when it comes to delivering learning. Your LMS must have robust data collection, analysis and reporting abilities.
Get Started With an LMS Evaluation
Your LMS functions as the heart of your academic institution—it not only enables you to host and manage learning material, it also helps students successfully hit learning goals. If your LMS no longer serves your institution’s needs, it’s time to consider switching to a system that does.
Change can be scary, but with careful planning and the right approach, you can make an efficient and smooth switch. The first step toward understanding your needs is to complete an LMS evaluation. Not sure how to get started? We’ve got you covered. Check out our LMS Evaluation Guide for the steps you need to take to find the best system and provider for your needs.
Zeina Abouchacra is the EDU Content Marketing Specialist at D2L. She has worked in the higher education sector in various communications positions as well as a researcher and a teaching assistant. Specifically, teaching undergraduate-level communication university courses. Zeina is currently working towards completing her Master of Arts Communication degree at the University of Ottawa.
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