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Strategies for implementing LMSs

Page history last edited by Xuan Nguyen 10 years, 7 months ago


Like any other educational technologies, being aware of the limitations as well as the possible challenges is central to making a strategic plan for its successful application. This section attempts to identify the challenges and put forward a number of strategies to address them in the hope to yield better improvement and effective implementation of LMS. 




In application of an LMS, there are a number of inter-connected challenges that need to be well addressed. A 2009 Learning Circuits survey on LMSs found the followings as biggest challenges:


  • Customization, 46.6%
  • Content integration, 37.5%
  • Employee buy-in, 35.2%
  • System maintenance and administration, 33%
  • Integration with legacy systems, 26.1%
  • System performance, 25%
  • Vendor management, 23.9%
  • Management buy-in, 21.6%
  • Vendor selection, 14.9%
  • Standards, 12.5%
  • IT buy-in, 9.1%

(Ellis, 2009)


Additionally, the eLearning Technology 2007 Survey and the EDUCAUSE 2009 Review and also confirm these barriers by pointing at acquisition strategies, IT support, adaptation to local needs, management of rising costs, maintaining system stability and integrity, integration with other systems (tools, data, HR, etc.), (Karrer, 2007; Agee & Yang, 2009).


As these findings suggest, the most challenging issues involve expertise of institution resources, especially human resources. This implies a careful preparation of ICT knowledgeable staff including both teachers other support staff, which requires related professional development and other associated investment of time and capital. As technology advances, this demand gets higher, and the challenge gets tougher.


Notably, a more recently increasing problem, also due to technological development, is the enormous poll of hundreds LMSs from varied and fragmented suppliers with differing evolving technical and functional capabilities (Gautam, 2010; Sampathkumar, 2012). This doubles the difficulty as selecting an LMS involving a great deal of technological and institutional forecasting is already a high-risk decision (Coates, James, Baldwin, 2005).  This confusing disruptive market of LMSs seems to make it impossible for forecasting, which accounts for the common phenomenon that educational institutions are not loyal with any particular LMS, planning to switch or operating additional LMS (Jones, 2006).




Followings are a set of vital steps that an institution wishing to use an LMS to take:


  1. Determine the pedagogical approach, learning strategy, learning architecture, and specify functional requirements in order to make the right decisions on what is next
  2. Research LMS providers to find what would suit best their context, needs, available resources (including both material and human resources), and the above-defined issues
  3. Schedule and pilot demos to see what works and what does not 
  4. Constantly observe and evaluate to inform better adaptation or adjustments

(Ellis, 2009)

There are also a number of crucial points to note:


LMS selection


In choosing a suitable LMS, key features that educators are recommended to take into careful consideration includes: suitability with pedagogical approach, integration with human resources, administration tools, content access, content development, content integration, skills management, assessment capabilities, standard coherence, configurability, security, and cost effectiveness (Ellis, 2009, pp. 2-3; Left, 2011).


Added to this, though it all depends on various factors mentioned above, it might be helpful to consult the criteria for a good LMS. 


Criteria for the LMS preselection activity based on a review in the literature Mendoza, Pérez, Díaz-Antón, & Grimán (2006, p. 4)


Sampathkumar (2012) also proposes top 10 characteristics of a good LMS:


  • Interactive learning environment
  • Administration capabilities
  • Good authoring tools
  • Communication facilities
  • Media support
  • Scalability
  • Database cap
  • Inclusiveness
  • Security
  • Cost effectiveness 


LMS implementation


Since the full-fledged implementation of an LMS, requiring significant change-management, is expensive and support-intensive (Katz 2003), it is probably more sensible to shift certain efforts away from LMS selection and towards issues related to adoption and implementation (Black, Beck, Dawson, Jinks, & DiPietro, 2007). Thus, implementing an LMS as part of a holistic learning environment allows more flexibility and control for educational organizations to move in various paths which are driven by learning needs rather than any particular LMS design (Siemens, 2004)


At this point, in order to transcend the limitations of LMSs, it might be a good idea to consider a more open networked learning model propounded by Mott (2010):

     A Full-Featured OLN (Mott, 2010)


Above all, it is of paramount importance to engage with other (advisably open-source) Web 2.0 and, if necessary and possible, Web 3.0 tools in the building of an LMS as well as to utilize these tools in supporting more meaningful social collaborative learning and more creative knowledge generating. This is not to follow the fashionable trend but, more importantly, to maximize the potential of the formula made up of an LMS and a PLE, by adding more social functionality (Mott, 2010; Morrison, 2012), so that it could bring out the more enriching learning ecologies as well as experiences for not only learners but also teachers. To conclude, what matters is a collaboration system rather than a learning system; and it is worth considering Pontefract’s (2009, para. 11) thought-provoking and valuable advice:


Blow up your LMS. Find a way to integrate it into your collaboration platform.”


N.B.: For more ideas and guidelines on LMS practice, it might be useful to refer to:


Bates (2012) for a helpful introduction to Contact North’s series of LMS guidelines

Demski (2012) for ideas on rebuilding the LMS for the 21st century

Ellis and Calvo (2007) for minimum indicators to assure quality of LMS-supported blended learning

Gautam (2012) for how to evaluate an LMS using case scenarios

JISC. (2012) for a comprehensive inforkit on effective use of VLEs

Mott (2010) for further explanation and instruction on how to develop the OLN model

New Zealand Ministry of Education (2012) for a brief on LMS and the initiatives under way with the LMS development partners

Phoebe Pedagogic Planner: a comprehensive guide to selecting e-learning tools.

The Australian Flexible Learning Community (2004) for a brief instruction on choosing an LMS


--> Image Credits of LMSs


References of LMSs


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