Not only do Learning Management Systems do different things, they are also designed to meet the needs of different groups of people in different ways. As we discussed in our post on Learning Management System Comparisons, a local school board will have different technological requirements than an individual course seller who wants to bring their course about dog training online.
Generally speaking, Learning Management Systems like WebCT or Blackboard are used for larger educational institutions like colleges or universities, while LMS’s like the one we offer are used more by individual course sellers.
ENTREPRENEURS: IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT THE LEARNING MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS
If you’re someone from a school board, college or university then this post will probably not be valuable to you. However, if you’re an individual subject matter expert, teacher or entrepreneur then this post will help you sort out what you should be looking for in a Learning Management System.
First of all, different Learning Management Systems do different things, and the things they can do that are the same are often done differently. For instance, two different LMS’s could have integrated and internal email communication for teachers and students to chat privately back and forth. However, the design, technology and integration of that feature could be handled different on both platforms. Again, using integrated email as an example, maybe one system automatically sends notifications to a student’s personal email address when they get a note from their teacher through the LMS. In another system, on the other hand, notifications might not be sent out. This is of course, a simple example, but you get the point.
The features that most Learning Management Systems have built into them are:
- Student profile pages
- Grade books
- Progress tracking tools
- Grading forums
- Blogs and wikis
- Integrated email communication
- Conferencing technology (text, video, audio)
- Screen-sharing platforms
- White-boarding platforms
- Class calendars
- Community activity streams and much more
Of course the list can go on. However, it’s important not to get overwhelmed by the features of different Learning Management Systems. As we discuss in this podcast, sometimes all you need is the digital equivalent of two chairs and a table for a student and teacher to exchange ideas and work.
We believe it’s better to start with the question “what are my students’ goals”. From this point you can start working backwards to find ways for your LMS to help support those goals. Otherwise you risk having gratuitous LMS features for the sake of having the features… not for the sake of the advancement off your students. If the features aren’t necessary for your students’ educational progress then they end up just taking up space.
AN LMS IS ONLY ONE SMALL PIECE OF THE PUZZLE FOR THE INDIVIDUAL COURSE SELLER
If you’re an educational entrepreneur looking to sell a course online, you’ve probably been told you need a Learning Management System to deliver your course to students. And while that is true, it’s really an oversimplification of a much more complex process.
Not to scare you away from your idea about bringing your course idea online, but in order to be competitive you’ll need much more than an LMS. You’re going to need an entire eCourse business framework.
That framework needs to do many things including hosting, security, email marketing, affiliate marketing, eCommerce integration, content analysis, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) monitoring and tracking and much more.
Having the technology to teach online is great, but without these other features, you’ll have no students to teach. If you’re an educational entrepreneur you should watch the video below to learn more how you can get your Online Course Software as well as all of the other pieces of the eCourse business puzzle!