WITH the rapidly changing technology and the constantly changing needs of today's learners, the traditional face-to-face approach is swiftly losing its significance and becoming less feasible in the new normal.

Using technology to enhance learning is an extremely exciting idea. Educational concepts like blended learning, flipped classroom strategies, mobile learning, customized learning experiences, bring your own devices policies, virtual laboratories and other trendy ideas all owe their existence to technology.

But the reality is that the tools and facilities of most public and private learning institutions in the Philippines are less than cutting edge. One of the most common tools used in education today includes web-conferencing apps like Zoom, Google apps, open educational resources and learning management systems, or LMS.

While most schools are content with delivering teaching and learning via Zoom, this is not online learning. For a time, that was enough as an "emergency remote teaching" response, but learners do not learn that way anymore. Online learning has been on the rise recently and learners are beginning to see the advantages that this digital learning platform can offer. However, online learning would probably not be possible without one essential tool: the LMS.

What is LMS?

An LMS is a software tool that enables students to receive learning content and educational resources to continue their educational endeavors online. The use of LMS in education is a smart choice for educational institutions in today's world. It allows teachers to deliver customized learning content, leverage different pedagogical models and engage their students much better than before.

Despite the significant improvement in how technology is used in the learning process, the unfortunate reality is that significant work needs to be done in understanding how the LMS can function to enhance learning.

There are quite a few LMS options to choose from. In education, we have the top LMS in the likes of Moodle, Canvas and Blackboard Learn, each one boasting of its own set of features. Generally, there are three main categories of LMS: cloud-based or installed, open-source or proprietary, and free or commercial. There are many issues to consider when choosing an LMS. Though commercial LMS costs more, schools using this kind of LMS are provided with access to support and are offered enhanced features.

Why is LMS essential in education?

The LMS is a platform that education and corporate learning institutions can use to deliver online and blended learning. It typically possesses a wide range of essential features.

The LMS allows students to learn anytime and anywhere. Students can have access to courses whenever they like rather than during a set time, enabling them to learn at their own pace and get the most out of their education. Even those who may not have time for traditional learning can benefit from it.

Students can just log in to a web interface using any mobile device and start learning. They can complete and deliver coursework, have the power to track their progress and keep an up-to-date calendar of assignments and tests. They can also learn and interact with the best professors and subject-matter experts located anywhere in the world.

Teachers can upload course materials and create tests that can be reused over an infinite period. Teachers and instructional designers can deliver educational content to students in real time and can provide immediate feedback based upon their desired grading system. Teachers can also communicate with students and can track and analyze their progress using the reports and analytics features.

One unique feature available to LMS is "multi-tenancy," which allows schools to form consortiums by pooling their financial resources and to share the costs of implementing an LMS. Despite using the same platform, participating schools can have their own identity and branding incorporated in their respective sites and may choose to collaborate and share resources, processes and practices with each other.

Why use LMS in corporate learning?

In addition to the features and benefits available to education, companies can maximize their human capital by using LMS to track their people's development. One benefit unique to corporate learning is that learning and development professionals can use specific data elements to ensure individual learners are meeting the desired learning objectives or competencies.

All learners have different successes and struggles, whether in a traditional or virtual learning environment. The use of key data elements that are tracked and analyzed within an LMS can help improve learner adoption. This is particularly crucial for companies operating in highly regulated industries such as in banking, health care, aviation, energy, pharmaceuticals, and more. Providing employees with the needed tools and competencies to succeed while staying compliant is of paramount importance.

LMS is the future of learning and offers endless opportunities for both teachers and learners alike to bring education to the next level. Like the question on whether "lugaw is essential" as a commodity, the LMS is an absolutely essential tool for schools and companies to successfully deliver remote education to their learners.


As published in The Manila Times, dated 02 June 2021