REIMAGINING THE ENTERPRISE | A ZDNet Multiplexer Blog What's this?

Taking the cloud to school

A look at how learning management systems improve student engagement and streamline teachers' chores.

Anything that can help teachers spend more time on education is surely a good thing. That's why step forward learning management systems (LMS) are so exciting. The best of these can help teachers to boost student engagement and reduce administration.

In simple terms, an LMS is a specialist application that helps teachers manage the documentation, reporting, and delivery of educational courses or training programmes. The same software is used in corporate environments to help train employees. Teachers use LMS technology to deliver online courses or augment classroom-based learning.

Research from MarketsandMarkets says the ever-increasing adoption of e-learning is leading organisations from all sectors to invest in LMS. The software creates economies of scale, reducing the cost of learning and development, according to the researcher.

LMS applications can be found in a broad range of businesses, yet it is teaching staff who seem most eager to reap the benefits. Academic organisations are more optimistic than corporate firms about the effects of LMS software, according to research specialist Capterra. The firm says academic users refer to a significant impact on student satisfaction and course completion rate.

LMS software allows teachers to offer consistent courses from a single, centralised point of delivery. Course content can be easily upgraded to all users at the same time. Education performance, meanwhile, can be tracked and traced across the length of a course, making it easy for teachers to direct special attention to students' strengths or weaknesses.

MarketsandMarkets says the convenience of flexible learning, and the choices for curriculum creation and delivery will create more demand for LMS software in the next few years. The researcher predicts global spending on LMS software by corporate and academic organisations will grow at an annual rate of 25 per cent through 2018 to reach $7.83bn.

It is also important to recognise how the cloud is changing the way users take advantage of this learning technology. Capterrasays 87 per cent of organisations use a web-based LMS, while only 13 per cent have an on-premise or installed system.

Many teachers and pupils are benefiting from the implementation of LMS technology. But there is also room for further improvement. While many academic institutions are already taking advantage of LMS software, researcher Capterra says 26 per cent of users are dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their current system.

Further changes to the LMS market are already on the way. Analyst Gartnersays many organisations will eventually need to invest in a dedicated e-learning suite, rather than standalone applications or services. But for now, most organisations are still looking to deploy an LMS as their primary e-learning software application.