Finding the Right LMS for Your District - Tech Learning

Finding the Right LMS for Your District

Find out what these educators have to say about why they chose their LMS and how it’s working in their context.
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A learning management system (LMS) should support every aspect of your district’s digital infrastructure. How do you choose an LMS that will best fit the unique needs of your school or district? Find out what these educators have to say about why they chose their LMS and how it’s working in their context.

Students at Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation on their iPads.

Students at Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation on their iPads.

LMS: itslearning

District: The Evansville (IN) Vanderburgh School Corporation (37 schools, 1,600 educators, and 23,000 students)

A student at Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation

A student at Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation

What they love about their LMS: Tim Wilhelmus, innovation, curriculum, and technology specialist, says itslearning serves as a centralized hub and digital playground for teachers and students. The platform offers Google integration and its flexible architecture allows teachers to bring in “outside” Web tools and other functionalities, thus expanding the LMS and letting it “live outside of the itslearning space.” Wilhelmus particularly likes itslearning’s planner and pages features. The fact that it can be used with primary grades is also important for this K–12 district. 

A kindergarten classroom at DSBN incorporates Brightspace from D2L into their classroom activities.

A kindergarten classroom at DSBN incorporates Brightspace from D2L into their classroom activities.

LMS: D2L

District: The District School Board of Niagara in Ontario, Canada (109 schools, 3,000 educators, 36,000 students)

What they love about their LMS: Robert Dunlop, blended learning resource teacher, says, “we love that we have a platform that can grow along with the students and their needs,” documenting student learning with D2L Portfolio from kindergarten through grade 12. Primary teachers can keep parents informed and extend learning at home, while middle school teachers love that D2L provides assessment tools and houses learning materials that are accessible to students on any device. “In high school,” Dunlop says, “we use D2L for both blended learning and e-learning. With a district-wide voluntary adoption rate over 80 percent and improved workflow, Dunlop says, “D2L has changed the way that teachers teach … and many could not imagine not using D2L now.”

This Springfield Public Schools high-school student dropped out earlier this year, but he’s on track to graduate in May—thanks in part to weekly meetings with blended learning specialist Jeremy Sullivan.

This Springfield Public Schools high-school student dropped out earlier this year, but he’s on track to graduate in May—thanks in part to weekly meetings with blended learning specialist Jeremy Sullivan.

LMS: Canvas

District: Springfield (MO) Public Schools (54 buildings, 2,500 educators, 25,000 students)

What they love about their LMS: In a pilot, Springfield students unanimously chose Canvas for its clean design, mobile device capability, and user interface. “Canvas is so easy, even our teachers can use it!” one student quipped. The district uses Canvas for everything from their online school, Launch, to credit recovery, curriculum, digital libraries, professional development, and student courses. “Canvas is one simple package with all the tools and resources that a teacher needs. It’s an all-in-one, out-of-the-box solution,” says director for blended learning Dr. Nichole Lemmon.

An elementary student at Greater Essex County District School Board engages in a number-learning activity.

An elementary student at Greater Essex County District School Board engages in a number-learning activity.

LMS: Edsby

District: The Greater Essex County District School Board in Windsor, Ontario, Canada (70 schools, 36,000 students, 4,700 employees)

What they love about their LMS: John Howitt, Superintendent of Education, says Edsby is a K–12 solution “with menus and workflows simple enough for kindergarten but robust enough for senior students.” Integration with their existing SIS was a key factor. One key to success, Howitt says, has been to “limit the expectations of use.” While everyone uses Edsby for attendance and group communication, teachers in this district with a robust infrastructure to support BYOD use the many other available features at their discretion. This “authentic implementation model” means that the use of Edsby in each classroom and school will look different. “As the user(s) become more comfortable with Edsby,” Howitt says, “they grow into other uses.”

LMS: PowerSchool

District: Community (IL) School District 300 (27 schools, over 20,000 students, over 1,200 educators)

Anne Pasco, Director of Digital Literacy and Innovation at Community School District 300.

Anne Pasco, Director of Digital Literacy and Innovation at Community School District 300.

What they love about their LMS: “By creating an onboarding curriculum to orient students to the Chromebook and Google apps as well as systems for obtaining support, we were able to have students fully engaged in PowerSchool learning activities such as discussions, polls, and formative assessments during the second week of school,” says director of digital literacy and innovation Anne Pasco. Since they began the rollout in 2016, they’ve seen “an increase in teacher-to-student feedback, differentiated learning activities, student ownership of learning, and collaborative teacher innovation.” Pasco also appreciates PowerSchool’s intuitive interface, ease of use for learning analytics, and focus on K–12 environments.

LMS: Blackboard

District: Alpena (MI) Public Schools (9 schools, 3,800 students, and 195 educators serving over a 600-square-mile area)

Students at Thunder Bay Junior High School in Alpena Public Schools benefit from online classes through Blackboard Classroom.

Students at Thunder Bay Junior High School in Alpena Public Schools benefit from online classes through Blackboard Classroom.

What they love about their LMS: “This is our first year using Blackboard Classroom,” says superintendent Dr. John R. VanWagoner II. “Our staff looked at multiple LMSs and found Blackboard Classroom to be easy to navigate, yet comprehensive enough to do what we want. This includes the ability to adapt it to a competency-based education platform. Our junior high and high school students take over 900 online classes per year and Blackboard Classroom will allow us to be less dependent on vendors and empower our own teachers to blend their classrooms or offer 100 percent online courses.”

Science students at Elm Place School in North Shore School District 112 conduct an investigation.

Science students at Elm Place School in North Shore School District 112 conduct an investigation.

LMS: Otus

District: North Shore (IL) School District 112 (12 schools, 339 educators, 4,076 students)

What they love about their LMS: Eighth-grade science teacher Ida Fiore says, “After reviewing many different products, I felt Otus was the best tool to successfully integrate and incorporate all my instructional materials and resources into one location for my students.” Otus, with its graphically pleasing and intuitive interface, is “essentially the Apple version of LMSs.” Fiore says her students have become more organized learners with Otus. “Their executive functioning skills have improved significantly. Otus encourages students to be creative and active learners by allowing them focused access to instructional resources. As a result, they are also better researchers who work to critically evaluate the quality of various content. The Otus system has also increased learning accountability as my students are required to independently manage their own learning activities.”

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