Wish List for a K-12 LMS Set Up

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February 5, 2022 by Dr. Robbie Barber

How do you want your Learning Management System (LMS) to be set up? This is different from the discussions of what an LMS should do (post materials, turn in assignments, grade assignments, etc.). This is about the issues for teachers, teacher-librarians, and administrators that will make or break an LMS system in your K-12 setting.

For the past two years, my building has not used the district LMS but has focused on Google Classrooms due to the limitations in the old system. Most of the online classes have another person in the department assigned to them so that when a teacher is out, another can post assignments. (I personally am a co-teacher in several online classes including weight lifting 🏋️. No, I can’t help there! 🤣🤣 I’m just the emergency backup support!) As we start looking at the new product, I am thinking about where we are right now in education. We are short-staffed(!) with little notice, substitutes are rare, and students are popping in and out of virtual situations.

In my position as both a school librarian and an edtech instructor, I have different needs from a classroom teacher. But my job is supporting and teaching everyone – teachers, students, and administration. Based on my position and my knowledge of the other positions, here are the things I want from a district-wide LMS. Note: This does not include the parent’s needs from the LMS.

  1. The ability to have co-teacher in a classroom with full access to post assignments, reminders, review work, etc. (I actually think it should be a requirement for every online class, but see #2 first.) While the Special Education teacher has a list of students s/he is responsible for in the larger class, it shouldn’t be separate classes unless they are fully mirrored. Online classes do provide assignments and due dates, etc. But they also have helpful materials that all students need access to. The subject matter expert teacher should know the special education students too, what they are capable of and what help they need. Separating them online but merging them in person does a disservice to both the teachers and the students.
  2. The ability of the administrator to enter all of the school’s online classes. To post assignments, reminders, review, etc. The reality over the past two years is that teachers or their families get sick. Someone needs to have access to their online classes so that their students can continue, even if a physical substitute teacher is there. The substitute can make sure students work on the assignments. As a side note, requiring teachers to turn in weekly lesson plans to yet another location just adds work to the teacher that is not frequently reviewed by others. The teacher can have a location in their LMS with their weekly lesson plans and admin can either visit the teacher’s room or be given a direct link.
  3. The ability of school administrators and the school’s teacher-librarian, to communicate with students by school and by grade in a school. We shouldn’t have to get students to sign in to another program (Remind, Google Classroom Class of 20xx) to get updates and information for their grade level. It should be part of the LMS system. Although, to this point, see #4…
  4. The LMS should automatically assign every student to the “Class of 20xx” classroom to be run by teacher-librarian and head counselor of the school. This gives us a way to provide information, by grade-level, to all of the students. It will also continue with the student as long as they are at the school, not by semester. My seniors get extra material online about ‘adulting’ and college applications. My freshmen get more ‘how-to’ information on doing basic and advanced research.
  5. The LMS should have an online Media Center / Library. Every student should have access to their area to see books – online and physical – available in the Media Center. I need to be able to set up a space where they can access their online books and databases easily. They should have helpful handouts (like how to access your email) and database information with passwords.

What are the top five things you want in your K-12 LMS?

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