Evaluation of Learning Management Systems
In the era where the eLearning industry is growing at such a high rate, the online learning providers are left with no choice but to opt for a Learning Management System (LMS). An LMS may be defined as a software that is exclusively designed to facilitate the creation, distribution, and management of how educational content is delivered (Öztürk & Gürler, 2020). The rapid growth and profitability of the industry have in the recent past resulted in more and more players entering the market. With hundreds of LMS options available to choose from, training institutions may have a difficult time choosing the right system for the delivery of their training and learning programs. However, there are some evaluations that can be made to determine the LMS that has the features that best fit the needs and scope of the program. These may include creating a needs assessment, prioritizing the LMS needs, defining the must-have features in the system, and understanding the learning needs, among other considerations (Ajimuddin et al., 2020). In light of this, a comparison of three different LMS systems is herein made to inform the process of deciding whether the current LMS is recommendable or should be changed.
The comparison entails assessing the features of the three main open source LMSs, namely Open edX, Sakai, and Moodle. It is key to note that an LMS can either be proprietary or open source. By definition, proprietary LMSs are those whose licensure is under legal rights, is restricted from modification, and in which license costs per user apply. On the contrary, Open source LMSs are those whose operations are governed by the GNU General Public License. This is to mean that they guarantee freedom for a user to change or share the program as it is freely accessible for all users. To start the comparison with the Sakai LMS, it is a learning solution that is suitable for small to medium size group of students. It has a wide array of lists and modules that can be easily customized to meet the needs of both students and teachers. Being an open source, the LMS is manageable and can be fully utilized by an institution that has exceptionally skilled IT technicians, for assessment tracking, automatic report generation, and feedback tracking. However, one of its limitations, according to customer reviews, is the complexity of its calendar, and the process of setting up email notifications.
Moving onto Moodle, it is an LMS which offers free basic learning solutions, but the advanced functions come at a price. It satisfies the needs and requirements of online standards, thus making it suitable for medium to large educational institutions. It has the SCORM, LTI, and API features whose performance has been highly rated. It also provides a wide range of extensions which are available to users at no subscription fees. Besides, it has video conferencing tools, chat tools, and customizable reporting, among others. However, some of the shortcomings of the system include excessive time consumption at the implementation stage and the requirement for customers to develop add-ons and plug-ins on their own (Öztürk & Gürler, 2020). On the brighter side, though, Moodle can be such an effective system for an institution that has heavily invested in IT skills and personnel.
Lastly, the Open edX is a learning system that was developed from a joint venture between Google, Harvard, MIT and other technological giants. The system is widely adopted across the globe by various educational institutions and companies (Öztürk & Gürler, 2020). It capitalizes on the XBlock technology, which facilitates easy customization, content creation, and management. It is also easily scalable, a feature that makes it fit for online learning as it has virtual laboratories for experiments, chat tools, grading technology, automatic report generation, and assessment tracking.
The current LMS, Canvas, is a simple system that is mobile-friendly, easy to use, and highly customizable. It is most appropriate for small to large institutions, especially considering its convenience in tracking progress and student collaboration. From the survey data, some of the features of Canvas that need to be improved are those that facilitate posting and organizing materials, video conferencing, and video and audio feedback features. From the survey, these features received high percentage rates of dissatisfaction from the teachers included in the survey. These features may be improved by providing a detailed set of instructions at the homepage to direct the use of each feature. This would make it easy for students and teachers to follow the steps and easily mitigate any challenge they may encounter while using the Canvas LMS.
My recommendation would not be a shift to another LMS but rather invest on the upgrade of the current LMS. This is because, it is easy and effective to deploy educational content on Canvas since it is mobile-friendly, has discussion boards that are easily accessible, and a speed grader for easy and automatic generation of report cards. Although the video conferencing feature in Canvas may not be as effective as it is on other LMSs like Open edX, Sakai, and Moodle, it can be modified to suit the needs of the institution. This is because it may be more costly to purchase and install a whole new LMS as compared to investing in an upgrade of the current one. As a matter of fact, the data obtained from the survey shows that the majority of the participants agree that Canvas is easy and intuitive to use, and is also beneficial to both students and instructors.