An LMS needs to allow you to easily share different types of materials with your students, to receive assignments from your students, and to communicate with your students. All of these functions need to be easy to do. There should be a way for the instructor to structure the class so that it is simple for students to see what material is to be covered for the assignment and then to turn in the work associated with that assignments. Teachers need to contact students with comments and if work isn’t turned in. Students need to be able to contact teachers if they have questions. Those are the minimum requirements of and LMS.

In its learning I can set up a page, note, or assignment for each day as a way to organize student resources and work for each day. I have the date as a title and that is linked in a planner so that students can quickly access their resources. I didn’t see the functionality for gathering items in one location in the videos but did see a calendar function which looks like the its learning planner.

For each day I can gather together the google doc that was copied and turned back in filled out, links to websites, embedded YouTube videos, links to docs with directions, and any other written information that was needed. Pictures, lists of vocabulary for the day, and homework assignments were all contained in one location.

B2L looks like all of that information would be compiled into the calendar for that day which does necessitate more clicking. It would be possible to get around that by creating daily playlists in a program like LessonPaths which allows you to place all these items in order and the student then just clicks through. Here is an example of lessons that I created for middle school and high school Earth Science to bypass that problem in Angel. I found the students wouldn’t click on successive links but had no problem moving forward along a path. The link for the path can then be placed on the calendar along with the discussion or assignment where the work is turned in.

It’s always easier to post a class if more functionality is built into the LMS but there are so many programs available now that it is possible to work around most difficulties with some research and practice. Any LMS will have its quirks but, especially if you are working in an online environment, you need to spend time to figure out how the system works and how to present the material in a way so that students are most likely to access all of the materials you are sharing with them. If the system is difficult to use or students can’t easily figure out what they need to do, they just won’t complete the class and everyone will end up frustrated.

The functionality of an LMS will never be utilized if each teacher creating classes isn’t willing to put in the time required to learn the system. When we changed LMS systems I spent the entire summer learning how to use the system and was in almost daily contact with our lead ITS and developers. Consequently when the school year started I could easily set up my online classes so that students could access materials quickly and easily. It was a bonus that my brick and mortar classes had full access to most of the its learning features when the school year started and I could help others set up their classes.

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