Congratulations – you’re finally on the other side! After months (or maybe years) of agonizing over software options, convincing stakeholders and drawing up fraught implementation plans, your school-wide learning management system is here and ready to rock. Now is the time where you sit back and let all your hard work come to fruition… well about that.
As you may be quickly realizing the work doesn’t stop here. That new shiny LMS you have just implemented is really the engine fueling your path to more efficient digitally enabled classrooms – and for it to achieve your dreams it needs constant management.
Let’s dive into the brave new world of post LMS implementation and what you can do to ensure that the digital transformation you worked so hard for is as successful as it deserves to be.
— Kami (@usekamiapp) October 8, 2019
Why do LMS systems need ongoing management?
‘Off the shelf’ or ‘plugin and play’ solutions are popular software marketing taglines. Sadly the world of large software applications is rarely so straightforward.
LMS’s are by nature large software applications that hold an awful lot of important school resources. These applications need careful maintenance and supervision to ensure maximum functionality, full integration with the other school systems, continued user/ teacher benefit and data security. Some of the key maintenance steps will include:
- Maintain your application ecosystem: Your LMS does not work in isolation. It is part of the wider software ecosystem and school network. Therefore any broader system changes or alterations to classroom applications will affect your LMS. Make sure you are on top of these integrations to avoid unexpected downtime or reduced functionality. Remember that it may be necessary to work with your LMS system provider when making big changes that will affect the eLearning system or how users interact with it.
- Provide ongoing LMS training: The right LMS will be user-friendly and intuitive, but even if the basic features are accessible, not all teachers will know how to employ all the useful functions available to them. It may take some training to get the whole school excited about the LMS and regularly using it. Remember to provide refresher training when needed and also fully onboard educators who are new to the school/district.
- Asses your LMS’s success: One of the best ways to maintain an effective LMS system after implementation is to collect constant feedback from teachers and pupils. This helps you to know what is and isn’t working within the LMS and also areas that need improvement in your overall digital strategy.
— Kami (@usekamiapp) September 30, 2019
What to prepare for after your LMS implementation
The best way to guarantee system-wide success is to stay one step ahead. The following are events or tasks after your LMS rollout that you can prepare for.
1.What new tech do you need?
Many schools buy their LMS with the idea that it will solve all their current digital problems. But as with all journeys (especially those to digital transformation), you must start with the first step. Your LMS is the first step, and it will likely highlight many other gaps and issues in your digital processes that were previously invisible.
A common example of such an issue is bridging the gap between ebooks and your LMS. LMS’s provide the revolutionary ability for teachers to grade work digitally and record student’s progress in an easily navigated and accessible online portal. Equally useful is the introduction of ebooks which allows teachers to send out required reading material to student’s devices. But here comes the crutch, what happens when students need to interact with an ebook? Or a worksheet or a PDF for that matter? This is where the process unravels. Teachers have to manually scan and print the relevant ebook pages, hand them out to students and then collect up all the finished sheets, scan them back into the system and in order to mark them within the LMS. Exhausting right?
Fortunately, there are some fantastic edtech apps out there that will help you to solve these growing pains. For example, Kami allows you to take any existing document, including scanned PDFs, and write, draw, type, annotate, comment, augment, enhance, and otherwise bring it to life – all within your browser. Students can then turn in their assignments straight into any of the LMSs Kami integrates with.
— Eve Heaton (@atechcoachlife) September 11, 2019
2. Content migration preparation
Your LMS may have all the features you want, but moving content onto it from your existing systems can be a tricky task. From the start of your implementation keep a keen eye on what existing data will need to migrate to your LMS and make the process as easy as possible by ensuring your tools are compatible with the new system. You will also need to plan your preferred content formats so the data is still easy to read and accessible to everyone who needs it.
Planning steps could include:
- Making a thorough list of your resource types and formats.
- Decide which resources you want to bring along and which you will bin or archive.
- Find a list of the formats or file types your LMS supports.
- Find methods or tools to convert any resources if needed.
3. Continuous compatibility checks
For your LMS to function as it should it needs to work with third-party systems such as administration software or security arrangements. If compatibility is not ensured for every new system put in place, then you risk having to pay for replacement tools or add-ons to achieve the desired outcomes.
To achieve true compatibility you will likely need to use or even create your own API. For this to work effectively your new LMS will need a well-built user interface to facilitate data flow between software applications. These days you can avoid having to pay developers to encode integrations, by using application brokers like zapier.com, which has existing plug-ins to most commercial applications that allow you to “stitch together” apps to implement your own processes.
— Kami (@usekamiapp) September 24, 2019
4. Missed deadlines
Deadlines are a good way to timeline your efforts and set measurable goals, but make it reasonable! Delays can cause frustration and unforeseen expenses so it’s crucial to create a realistic timeline for your LMS roll-out. That being said, it is wise to prepare for the likely possibility of a narrowly missed deadline. Plan how you will put the extra resources to getting efforts over the finish line and who is responsible for each part of the process.
5. Unreasonable expectations
You, or your boss, may have a very uncompromising idea of how your brand new LMS will function and the dizzying heights it will achieve. But make sure that your expectations aren’t above the realistic constraints of the resources and manpower at your disposal. As we have seen, fully utilizing a school-wide LMS requires a seamless digital classroom system that will take much longer to implement than a single LMS. In most cases, there will, in fact, be a period where life seems harder than it was before. It is essential to help everyone to get through this time and to actively prevent progress stalling.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t be excited about the potential an LMS and accompanying edtech offers, but make sure that your goals are reasonable and reflect the reality of your situation.
An LMS is the key to a resilient, digital educational future. Find out how the Kami app could help you to create a more collaborative, creative and interactive learning environment today!