I vividly remember my first experiences as a student in college. We were told to log in to this website, then this other website, then another; visit this building, then that building, then the other; use this learning management system (LMS), try this other LMS, or no LMS. I could not help but think: there has got to be a better way!
The ambiguity and conflict felt by new students when trying to orient themselves to the platform(s) where students and faculty converge can be overwhelming. Unfortunately, many students empathize with the lack of consistency from one professor’s use of an LMS to another, making it even more challenging to navigate the university waters. This ambiguity and conflict only exacerbates universities’ pledge to graduate students on-time. The most encouraging aspect of these accounts is that it does not need to be this way.
Years ago, I was fortunate to work with a faculty mentor that had a positive vision for the use of a course LMS resulting in a superior student experience. Rather than jumping back-and-forth between email, multiple LMS platforms, various ancillary websites, and additional course components, it is best to have a place where students can go for all course activities. We refer to this as our one-stop-shop.
"The ambiguity and conflict felt by new students when trying to orient themselves to the platform(s) where students and faculty converge can be overwhelming"
The one-stop-shop LMS concept began from an analysis of the top fifty business schools across the country. The analysis concluded that the majority of the top programs were utilizing a single LMS, whereas my institution allowed faculty to make the distinction which platform to use—if any at all. Imagine what it is like to be a student taking five classes; two classes use LMS x, one class uses LMS y, one uses a hybrid of both, and one uses none. If you are a first-time-in-college or transfer student, this could be overwhelming. The ensuing result at my institution: we would all operate from the same LMS platform.
This only partially solved our problem, as certain instructors still refused to use the agreed-upon LMS in lieu of their archaic and all-too-familiar teaching tactics. The one-stop-shop approach used by my colleagues and I proved to be a success when compared to our counterparts who were utilizing a myriad of instructional techniques that did not integrate and communicate with one another. Our LMS approach houses the syllabus, course schedule and calendar, messaging, access to assignments, discussion boards, exams, and all ancillary applications used for the course all in the same place.
The benefits are at least two-fold. For students, they are able to digest all of the course content from one central location, which means they do not have to remember URLs and multiple usernames and passwords for various accounts, spend unnecessary time navigating dissimilar platforms, or get bogged down trying to figure out the instructors’ mystic methodology. For faculty, they do not have to bounce around from site to site, checking multiple inboxes for messages, or spending unnecessary time away from providing exemplary customer service to their students.
Some may scoff at the idea of the one-stop-shop LMS. My challenge to those naysayers: have you ever tried it? If not, try it. Get feedback from your teaching assistant and students on the difference between the current methodologies you are employing and this revolutionary tactic. I guarantee you and your students will be pleased with the results.