In the second part of our series on Learning Management Systems (LMS), we will particularly focus on the benefits and long-term leveraging for learners and instructors. A recap of what LMS are: they are electronic learning and development platforms used by organizations/corporations, schools, and tertiary learning institutions to deliver learning materials, courses, and programmes to people. In the 21st century, LMS are cloud-based, i.e. they are managed and hosted online so they are live and dynamic.
Cost and Efficiency
LMS have been in use for decades and have been popular with companies as they have proven to be a cost-effective way to help staff develop new skills and provide training for new business needs. The efficiency of a corporate LMS is that staff can do training and courses onsite, from their desks – there is no need for staff to leave the office to attend lectures or seminars at another location, this saves time which can be used productively for work; a trainer/instructor does not need to be contracted to deliver seminars; many more users can attend training without causing disruptions to the business and attendance can be staggered without needing to consider the availability of an instructor; managers and the human resources team can access attendance records, participation information and see grades. For people upgrading their skills using an LMS, there is much greater control over when and how you study. Your timetable is not dictated by the operating times of the learning institution or when an instructor is available. There is no need to travel to a training venue which saves time, energy, and cost. Your ability to track your learning progress, record feedback, and re-do parts of courses that you struggled with or didn’t fully understand the first time all greatly improves. LMS allow the student to have greater control over their learning pace and strengths.
With LMS such as the one hosted by Amazon Web Services (AWS) – see part 1 of our LMS series – the smart design is geared towards helping you plan, manage and observe your learning journey to align to a career path. Previously, where you may have sought the help of a career guidance counselor or mentor, you can now work with your LMS to plot a training journey to develop the skills you require for your chosen career or vocation. With a system like AWS, which is connected to various other cloud platforms where new data and information is constantly becoming available, your options will be informed by the latest developments in the field you are interested in, in real-time. This is an exciting prospect, still relatively new in how LMS are designed, where the Internet of Things and unprecedented access to knowledge assets allow us to intelligently plot our continuous learning journeys.
More schools and universities are utilizing LMS, catapulted by the need to have low- and no-contact learning environments as required by the global lockdowns in 2020. While many schools and institutions have long had LMS to manage course resources, there has been a major shift in how reliant they are on their LMS and the extent to which they are being used. We have seen up to 100% of classes being conducted on LMS such as Google Classroom, with all lesson presentations, learner interactions, virtual face-to-face time with the teacher, assessments, and student results conducted on the LMS. This fundamental and fast shift, driven by necessity, has been a period of rapid prototyping, provided a laboratory for understanding how artificial intelligence can be utilized in every day, for things we consider mundane.
For learners and students, and where parents and guardians are involved in the learner’s performance, there is a greater measure of control and accountability from all parties involved. Learner participation, engagement and delivery of work is managed and recorded on the LMS. Teachers’ lesson presentations are available for use even outside of the lesson time and the class session can be recorded. Assessments are conducted, marked and graded, recorded and made available on the LMS for all stakeholders to review.
One of the best benefits to students and instructors working on a LMS is that they are engaging real-world practices. More and more professional work is shifting to a cloud-based, fast-paced, virtually connected global environment where people are interacting more frequently through virtual spaces and platforms. The soft and technical skills required to perform in such an environment used to be learned at university or on the job. However, more and more we are seeing young learners mastering this way of working in the world. With suitable access to data, we will see the opening of spaces and opportunities for more people from different backgrounds to quality education and accredited and professional programmes. What we will need to see in South Africa, for this to be made a reality that is equally available to all young people, is a strong political will in the government to drive digital equality and integrity and innovation amongst tech and telecommunications companies to deliver cheap, reliable data across geographies and demographies.