What is Learning Management System (LMS)?

Mam Sary
Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
September 05, 2020

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An invitation to submit proposals for research grants was extended to the public earlier this week by Cambodia’s Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS) in an attempt to foster a research culture in the Kingdom. Among the three prioritized areas listed on the announcement (MoEYS, 2020) was a focus on 21st century pedagogy and virtual classrooms, a form of Learning Management System (LMS) that can receive funding support from the government. Individuals and groups who are interested in this research area are invited to present their research proposals which will be reviewed and selected for funding through a scheme worth 300 million riels (about US$75,000) allocated to fund research that aims to produce a comprehensive learning management system.

In this unprecedented time of COVID-19, educators and students in Cambodia have turned to modern technology to continue teaching and learning while keeping themselves safe from the COVID-19 pandemic. Taking advantage of a technology-supported learning system such as Learning Management System in schools is therefore necessary to minimize the disruption caused to Cambodia’s public and private education.

LMS is an important contribution to education. It was first introduced in 1924 to both K-12 and tertiary education (Chaushi, et al., 2015). This tool is known for helping teachers and school staff to work more productively and effectively from a distance while making use of technology of our time. Given the COVID-19 crisis making face-to-face education a health risk, Cambodia’s education system needs LMS more than ever before to allow teachers to provide their students with education opportunities.

Existing examples of how LMS works have been witnessed in schools with international education programs in which students acquire curriculum content and technological knowledge through teaching and learning facilitated by LMS. However, in general, due to inadequate infrastructure and human resources, LMS had been ignored until the nationwide closure of schools and universities across the country in March. In what follows, the article aims to explain what LMS is.

LMS refers to a software application designed to set up, share and administer the delivery of educational content (Zheng, 2018). It can be designed and hosted on an institution’s server or it can be on a cloud-based platform hosted by a software company. Making teaching and learning more productive, cost-effective and tractable, LMS enhances and accelerates students’ progress. This system operates with administrators or teachers uploading learning content, delivering lessons to students with notifications and sharing data with authorized users. LMS mostly runs on a web browser, giving students and instructors access to ongoing courses, while learning progress is constantly monitored to assess students’ learning.

Various types of LMS, such as Enterprise, Individual, Free or Commercial, Licensed Product, Cloud-based or On-premise and Integrated or Built-in are different platforms and resources which may not be replaced with one another. The particular type of LMS chosen for an institution should be carefully piloted before putting to use. For this reason, the learning content should be well developed before instructors start to import it into the learning system.

A wide range of learning materials such as PowerPoint presentations, pictures, videos and interactive lessons can be used with LMS. Outstanding benefits students can receive from this platform are that they can adapt easily to their learning regardless of the nature of the lesson. Also, they can easily interact and cooperate online with their peers and teacher. Students are exposed to corporate culture and become increasingly aware of branded presence while their teacher can always integrate the system with other tools to scale it up as the education institution continues to grow.

Features of LMS are available and can be adjusted for extra purposes such as making notes. A built-in analysis segment for checking students’ performance is also available. Depending on users’ need, LMS is designed to make learning accessible, interesting and engaging.

There are other features of LMS that keep different user population interested. To illustrate, the learning product for primary school students are completely different from that for secondary school students. Whatever type of LMS is adopted in school, its functioning features should be cost-efficient. Choosing the right LMS for long-term needs is highly important.

According to Zheng (2018), certain LMS features may include:

  • A central user portal for all users, administrators and course creators to securely login and complete tasks.
  • Experience an application programming interface (API) compliant content management system built-in for authoring content and adding elements.
  • LMS training system that involves event management and scheduling capabilities that direct users through specific learning plans.
  • Certificates, learning badges and profiles that learners can share to prove their knowledge.
  • Automated test scoring and performance management systems based on users’ behaviours.
  • Live classroom and webinar environments for remote instructors and students, client presentations and more.
  • Technical and course development support, including built-in tutorials and lesson plans.

Schools with LMS in place can provide all learners with an equal learning opportunity, regardless of their different learning styles. Although investing in LMS can be costly and time-consuming, the benefits are clear. It does not only provide easy access through mobile devices, but it also makes setting up of any learning pathways or training programs fast and orderly. In addition, it can gather learning resources from different sources while providing a progress analysis of every learner. Additionally, the system can be used to inform future events such as scheduling or invitations and giving follow-up support.

In short, LMS can keep students on track in spite of school closures caused by the pandemic. Even schools with poor facilities can start using built-in LMS such as Google Classroom or free software such as Schoology. Alternatively, they can start to develop their own LMS system. School administrators in Cambodia should, therefore, support instructors or teachers to design digital learning content and update their pedagogical skills by learning how to use features of LMS to ensure students’ active learning so that they won’t fall prey to technology. The adoption of LMS or technology should continue even after the pandemic.

The Author

MAM Sary has been working for the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport since 2007. He was a joint World Bank-MoEYS scholarship awardee for his Master in Educational Studies from 2014-2016 at the University of Canberra, Australia. He also holds a Master of Education from the Royal University of Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

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