Obstacles that can deter faculty from adopting a LMS can be overcome with the right strategy.
There’s a simple reason for why it’s important that faculty adopt their higher education institution’s learning management system(LMS)—it’s what students want.
According to a 2015 ECAR study, 56% of higher education students said they wished that instructors would use their institution’s LMS more
For faculty, however, adopting an LMS is often easier said than done. There tends to be five common challenges that deter them from LMS adoption, but there are also easy strategies for overcoming those challenges.
Lack of time
Faculty have many duties other than teaching courses and their time is at a premium as a result. That can lead to a perceived lack of time when it comes to adopting an LMS.
Adoption strategy: Using an LMS can actually save faculty time in the long run. There will be some “front loading” required initially—like creating and uploading learning content, and creating master courses and modules—but once that’s done, the streamlined approach to delivering learning will give faculty more time to spend on interacting with students, as well as on their other duties, than they had previously. Finding faculty who were early adopters and having them share their specific LMS time-saving strategies is key for unlocking all the LMS’ time-saving benefits.
Veteran tenured faculty might not be interested in adopting new tech like an LMS—they’ve had a process in place for years and it’s worked. However, while adoption might be a tough nut to crack for this cohort, it’s no less important for them than it is for other faculty—students expect it.
Adoption strategy: This is another situation where connecting with an early adopter can help. According to Roger’s Diffusion of Innovations, early adopters are often opinion leaders and change agents who tend to be respected by their peers. They can show their resistant colleagues how they use the LMS and what the benefits are. It’s about homing in on how the LMS works. Veteran faculty members will likely be surprised to find there are multiple useful applications that they can use to continue honing their craft.
Some faculty might worry that they’re being replaced by the LMS. The truth is that it’ll help them to better facilitate learning experiences by giving them the bandwidth to be more hands-on with their students. If anything, it makes their job even more important than ever.
Adoption strategy: A great strategy for overcoming the fear of being replaced is referring to best practices for a flipped classroom model, in which students use an LMS to interact with things like course content, video lectures, and online quizzes outside of the classroom. It’ll help wary faculty to see how the LMS lets them focus more on making students more productive by using classroom time to focus on reflective activities like exercises, group projects, and discussions.
Lack of quality training
Training is critically important when it comes to LMS adoption. Outside of innovators and early adopters, if faculty don’t know how to use an LMS they’re not going to use it.
Adoption strategy: The fact that there’s training involved in LMS adoption needs to be well understood and it should be approached with an open mind. There should be different levels of training to accommodate faculty at varying levels of familiarity with the LMS. Training should also be available at different times to accommodate different schedules. Having different kinds of training is also important—online, in-class, one-on-one, audio, video, and how-to guides and manuals—as faculty, just like students, like to learn in different ways.
It’s important to train in the LMS itself so that the benefits of the platform can be clearly demonstrated. It’s also important for faculty to see what students experience, and there’s no better way to do that than training within the technology. Closed “sandboxes” in the LMS, where trainees can and experiment worry-free, help. Training should also happen in piecemeal—like focusing first on how to create content in the LMS—so no one feels overwhelmed.
Lack of support
There needs to be top-down buy-in from an institution’s leadership if there’s to be true faculty participation in LMS adoption. Adoption will be a no-go if leadership doesn’t support the people ultimately responsible for running the platform.
Adoption strategy: Like faculty, leadership needs to be educated about the LMS. They not only need to understand the platform’s capabilities, but also how using it aligns with the institution’s strategic goals overall, and whether those objectives are being achieved if they are to provide the necessary investment in infrastructure and training. Regular executive business reviews can help with that process. Total support from leadership will lead to the kind of trickle-down culture that will ultimately foster LMS adoption across the entire institution.