LMS Product Guide

5/30/2014 By: Shannon Mersand

As elearning continues to grow in popularity, teachers and administrators alike are asking what they should be looking for in a Learning Management System. While cost is one factor in the decision-making process, it should not be the only factor. Identifying how you intend to use the solution—for blended learning, a classroom supplement, 1-to-1, flipped or fully online courses—is also incredibly important. What follows is a comparison of some of the many LMS solutions on the market. Each school has its own needs and must decide what are the most important areas to address. Each of the solutions explored offers Web-based hosting, with secure SSL. All solutions offer a gradebook with the ability to export as CSV, and all except Desire2Learn offer parent access to courses and grades.

Is Google Classroom the LMS We’ve Been Waiting For?

By Carl Hooker

A bomb was dropped during Teacher Appreciation Week when Google announced the arrival of its much-anticipated app, simply called “Classroom.” This new app promises to fold in all the tools of the Google Apps suite, including Gmail.

By helping teachers “create and organize assignments quickly, provide feedback efficiently, and communicate with their classes,” Google promises that this new app, which is free for GAFE schools, could mean the death knell for platform monoliths like Blackboard and Canvas. Google also hit the nail on the head for the timing of this announcement as it arrived during the budget cycle process for many school districts, many of which are in active discussions about adopting new LMS systems.

Before we exude complete adulation for this gift from the Google gods, the following questions still remain:

■ How will “Classroom” tie into existing Student Information Systems that carry Fort Knox-style protection for student data?

■ Who will own all the course content?

■ Will higher education institutions embrace this platform in the future?

■ Will there be a whole new marketplace of “Classroom” apps by third-party companies?

While these questions remain, the bigger question is how will all of those Learning Management Systems out there survive?

Carl Hooker is director of innovation & digital learning at Eanes ISD in Texas and a 2014 Tech & Learning Leader of the Year winner.

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