You are a 21st century teacher. You are a gadget guru and you are all too familiar with the world of EdTech. All of a sudden, you get this brilliant idea of setting up your own online school. You stumble upon thousands of LMS out there. But wait here, what is this? A common name cropping up everywhere. Oh what the heck! It’s free. You go for it!
Sooner than you thought, you find out what a mess you have got yourself into! For all you online teachers out there about to venture into the labyrinth, be forewarned:
It is absolutely free! But get ready to empty your pockets because the spending comes only after the free thing is on your system. It’s like buying a car chassis and then buying every other part individually, and assembling it yourself too. Now you have neither time nor money to do anything else than teach online! How wonderful!
Enroll for a computer engineering degree, get a masters, and perhaps a PhD too while you are at it. You need to be a technical whiz-kid/nerd to figure this one out. If it’s too late in life for you to do all that, hire a developer! (Oh look, more spending!)
If you are planning to manage a lot of students, you are in for a terrible surprise. The administration is difficult and not at all user-friendly. The flexibility quotient is missing. It’s like a stuck up course management system. Good luck finding the ‘happy learning’ part.
Don’t even think of settling for the help material available within the system. Please let me know too if you figure it out. I’d rather memorize Stephen Hawking’s Big Bang theory!
When I think of open source LMS for online teaching/learning, I can’t help but think of them as using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. Things can be a lot simpler and there is absolutely no need to spend ridiculous amount of money and time to set up something so complex. Open source is good as long as it promises to remain so throughout the process.
For Corporations/Educational Institutes/Schools
Most corporations don’t prefer to keep their LMS open for reasons of intellectual property rights. They have no option but to host the LMS (if open source), on personal servers or their party vendor servers. In such a case, how can EdTech boast of reducing costs of training when the setting up of the LMS is going to cost the company almost the same amount? Online training solutions for corporations and education institutes should be able to save them money and time. Open source LMS that requires setting up and administration costs fails to deliver on that aspect.
For individual teachers
I he you have an enlarged brain size. For all the extra layers of plugins and functionalities you add to your open source LMS, you might have to turn into Scarlett Johansson from Lucy. Not to forget all the course keys that you might have to memorize too. And god forbid, if you get stuck somewhere, you are your own tech support manager too! Nothing like a challenge you think? Think again!
What is my point in all this?
It all comes down to these basic points which you must keep in mind when looking for the ideal LMs for your institution:
SECURITY is a huge deal when it comes to online training and instruction. While the school book material might not amount to much for cyber thieves, the same can’t be said for corporate training material. An LMS must first of all be secure and safe. What happens in an LMS, must stay in the LMS!
FLEXIBILITY is all the rage these days. How flexible is a new app or how far can a new operating system stretch? It’s almost as if we were looking to incorporate the traits of an acrobat into technology. But flexibility in technology is so much vaster than flexing of muscles. Hence, a flexible LMS is mobile, cloud-based and can store huge amounts of data. It caters to all the needs of instructors and learners; regardless of the kind of institution or the purpose of using that LMS. Such an LMS can be easily molded to be used for blended learning too.
COMPREHENSIVE is another thing you should be looking for. Does your present LMS ask for too many plugins? If the answer is yes, you are probably complicating your life. A comprehensive LMS packs in all the essential components of online teaching and learning, without wanting external plugins or APIs. Imagine getting a brand new car chassis, and having to buy every other part and assembling it yourself. It might sound as if you will have all the control, it’s a short lived illusion!
SIMPLICITY is hard to come by. Often it’s a trap-word. But if you know where to look, you’ll strike gold. When it comes to an LMS, the only simple you need is that of design and usability. A simple design makes it simpler for the instructors as well as the learners to adapt to technology easily. It also makes it an effortless transition for digital migrants. Usability has to be simple so that teachers can concentrate on teaching and learners on learning, instead of figuring out how to start a discussion or submit an answer or how to launch an online class.
AFFORDABLE sounds like a friendly handshake and a deal made in heaven. An LMS that costs nothing often ends up robbing you for all the extra maintenance and development costs. ‘Free’ is tempting but may I suggest going for a low cost, affordable and comprehensive LMS, that costs you nothing extra than you have already paid, and promises to give you so much more.
ONLINE is where the world is. And online is where your LMS should be too. The advantages of a cloud-based LMS are far too many. For starters, the data never gets lost. The LMS can be accessed from anywhere, anytime. The classes can be delivered in real time, online. The possibilities are endless!
Cloud Based LMS is the Future
How about I tell you that a cloud based LMS may not be free, but it does eliminate all the unnecessary steps and hassles of set-up, administration and management? Well, it does!
The new and powerful WizIQ LMS encapsulates all the essential aspects of an ideal LMS. On top of that, the mobile WizIQ apps make it possible for instructors and learners to access their teaching and learning from their Apple or Android tablets as well.
It is time to step in to the future of online learning management systems. It’s time to go Cloud-based!