...and when not to.
After working closely with schools transitioning from Google Classroom to a full LMS, we have identified eight indicators districts should consider before embarking on their own upgrade project.
When schools were in a COVID-19 tailspin, Google Classroom was a parachute. Free, fast, and frictionless.
Now, school leaders are cautiously approaching the idea of transitioning to a Learning Management System (LMS) with a deeper feature set more aligned to their academic priorities.
When proposing this idea to staff, a common question to expect is: “But isn’t Google Classroom an LMS?”
Google Classroom and Microsoft Teams are document management systems (aka productivity suites.) These systems are wildly effective at meeting the first of three pillars of online learning program: Access.
Students and teachers must have equitable access to devices, collaborative documents, web conferencing, and feedback tools. Google, Microsoft, or Apple thrive here due to the congruence of need with their core clientele, corporate workplaces.
This is also why these tools fall short in the next two pillars. Alignment, connecting curriculum, tech-enhanced assessment, and indicators of student mastery of academic standards, and Accountability, ensuring that parents and administrators have the transparency needed to support teachers and students.
These are areas where the traditional LMS shines, because they were built specifically for education.
The decision to add new technology should not be made flippantly, especially not when teachers are experiencing historic levels of stress. If you read the tips below and feel that your district is ready to consider looking into an LMS, here are two suggested prerequisites that will make your implementation more amenable to everyone involved.
Prerequisite 1: Make sure any LMS you evaluate is integrated with your productivity suite.
A fast way to alienate teachers is to choose a system that can’t take advantage of all the content they’ve created. Some LMS products are well-integrated into systems like Google Drive and can help to make a transition more seamless. This makes your implementation feel more like an augmentation, and less of a replacement.
Prerequisite 2: Prioritize interoperability with your Student Information System.
In a recent survey, 93% of school leaders believed that LMS features should be integrated into their SIS (OnCourse, 2020). Adding technology to stressed staff members won’t be palatable without picking up meaningful time-savings elsewhere. If your teachers have ever asked about getting Google connected to their grade books, now may be the time to start thinking about an all-in-one software. Most staff who convert to a SIS+LMS combo reported saving between 30 minutes to 2 hours weekly on manual data entry.
With those prerequisites in mind, here are tips for when you should and should not transition from Google Classroom to a full Learning Management System.
Now that the dust is settling, some communities have expressed concern about companies spying on student data.For many districts, the trade-off is well worth it. However, if the conversation about student data tracking hasn’t had a substantive discussion in your district, it’s a good time to make that happen.
For more information about the integrated OnCourse SIS and LMS, contact Sam Morgan at [email protected].