How to Build a Synthesized LMS Solution for Your School

Technology is evolving too fast for decades-old learning management systems to keep up.

Over the last 15 years, learning management systems (LMS) have transformed from a novelty to a mainstream teaching tool. In fact, not only are LMSs no longer the newfangled technology they once were, but many schools are starting to recognize that the LMS they adopted a decade ago (or more) is now unable to keep up with the pace at which other educational technologies are developing.

Educators are running into a growing number of problems with their LMSs, most of which are rooted in the systems’ lack of interoperability. Whether they’re trying to integrate an LMS with newer, cloud-based software, keep track of a running list of passwords, or deal with a textbook publisher who only posts content to their own proprietary LMS, educators are being forced to jump through too many hoops just to continue using the LMS that once promised to simplify their work.

As such, it’s time for a shift in districts’ approach to LMS installation and implementation. This shift will require substantial time, money, and (re)training, but it’s an investment that will save districts bigger headaches down the road.

Building a Strong Foundation

Before districts begin the process of updating their LMS, they need to keep two things in mind. First, there isn’t a “silver bullet” LMS that will solve all of their problems. While adopting a single new LMS may seem like the easiest, most streamlined way to address a district’s problems, such an approach will only compound the issues down the line. Relying on a single platform restricts a district’s future growth by limiting its ability to adopt new software and technologies developed by different vendors.

Second, districts should avoid the temptation to augment their current tech stacks with an “add-on.” If you remember the story of the Little Dutch Boy who put his finger in a dam to stop it from collapsing, you’ll understand why this solution simply isn’t sustainable. Districts need to think bigger than bandaging the problem — they need to think total overhaul.

To that end, districts should consider adopting an integrated best-of-breed LMS solution. The first step in doing so is establishing a vision, and administrators should start by drawing up a list of goals that their ideal LMS would accomplish. To ensure that their list reflects a well-rounded understanding of their district’s needs, administrators should not hesitate to solicit input from teachers, parents, principals, and even students.

Based on the parameters these various stakeholders establish, an IT technician can narrow down hundreds of possible LMSs to a group of 20 or so right-fit options. An administrator can then request more information and/or a demonstration from these select providers, helping them settle on the best fit for their district’s needs.

Preparing for the Transition

After choosing a system, it’s time to begin the implementation process — but not all at once. Before launching a new LMS across an entire district, it’s usually best to test it out with middle school students. Middle schoolers are old enough to take advantage of the system’s range of features — they have homework to complete after school, they take standardized tests, they regularly receive grades — but unlike high schoolers, they’re not already attached to the district’s old LMS (meaning they’ll have an easier time adapting).

However, training students is far from the biggest obstacle to an efficient LMS rollout. Most of the resistance to the new system will come from educators, who will need to be trained in entirely new teaching methods. This will require a comprehensive professional educational program, complete with documents and cheat sheets to assist them during the transition.

Remember, this isn’t just a redo of the initial LMS installation that took place years ago. This transition should be far more exhaustive and carefully considered, ensuring that the new software is easy to build upon and sustainable over the long term.

Picking the Right Partner

For many districts, the best way to ensure the long-term viability of their new software — and ease the transition for students and teachers — will be to partner with an experienced IT management group like Epiphany.

With the expertise to assist you in both choosing and implementing your new software and the 24/7 support your district will need during its transition period, Epiphany Management Group is ready to help your district get ahead of the curve.


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