Each theological school has a unique mission, style, mandate and focus, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to a learning management system. However, there is a methodology theological educators and their administrators can follow when choosing an LMS.
Consider evaluating LMS solutions using these criteria:
Most theological programs value community-building very highly, while others put the emphasis on individual reflective growth. So first and foremost, your chosen LMS should align with and support your program’s structure and goals. In considering the pedagogical features your school requires from an LMS, start by having a clear vision of your online learning program, understanding how those goals dovetail with (or translate to) classroom activities, and determining what LMS features and tools are needed to best support these activities.
At the mission level, it is also important to consider philosophical and values alignment. Does the LMS vendor share your vision and values? Is the vendor’s team philosophically aligned? What kind of support, counsel and expertise are they prepared to offer? This should be more than a vendor–client relationship. This should be a partnership for the long term.
Are you offering online programming or blended learning options? Who governs decision-making with respect to the LMS and its implementation? Do you have specific tools or integrations that are required for people to be successful with the LMS? What is your deployment strategy and onboarding plan for faculty and students? And do you have expertise in-house familiar with modern, e-learning course design? All are key considerations when selecting the right LMS platform and vendor for your school.
Size and Fit
Your LMS choice should fit with the size and scale of your institution, such as your student population’s size and distribution, hosting requirements, industry familiarity, requirements for flexibility, analytics demands, and of course, pricing fit.
As you prepare to evaluate various LMS options, here is a handy preparatory checklist to guide you in your decision-making. This can be useful for internal communication to bring stakeholders (faculty, staff, students) together and can frame vendor communications.
- What are the primary goals for this project?
- Goal 1
- Goal 2
- Goal 3
- What is the timeline for selection?
- What is the timeline for implementation?
- What are the qualities and characteristics that define a good vendor relationship?
- Quality 1
- Characteristic 2
- Quality 3
- Characteristic 4
- Are you a freestanding institution or embedded within a larger organization?
- What is your current learning model?
- Classroom only
- If classroom only, do you intend to move to an online or blended learning model in the next 6-13 months?
- How would you describe your institution’s learning focus?
- Practical training
- Theoretical foundations
- A mix of both
- Do you have specific hosting requirements for your LMS solution?
- How many users will you be supporting with the LMS?
- What key metrics do you track today or would like to track with the help of the LMS?
- Metric 1
- Metric 2
- Metric 3
- Metric 4
Selecting and implementing the right LMS is a big decision and big investment, so it needs to be navigated with care. D2L’s team can help guide you. To learn more about Brightspace and our exclusive package for Theological Seminaries, visit: D2L.com/your-seminary