How does a learning management system work?

The best way to imagine a learning management system is to think of it as a vast website, that only those people with a log-in will be able to access. Within this ‘gated’ website you can provide interaction with your students in two modes: online or blended. Online learning is similar to distance education provided by organisations like the Open University where students are based off campus and interact with tutors and other learners asynchronously. Blended learning is where teachers and students meet physically, but the LMS is used to support learning by providing a space where materials can be stored and organised, assessments can be given, and students and teachers can interact using blogs, forums, and so on.

A learning management system makes learning flexible, and you can deliver learning via computer, tablet and smartphone – the latter two channels are becoming increasingly popular as many organisations encourage mobile learning or ‘learning on the move.’

As the primary role of a learning management system is to deliver learning to students, typically, there will be three different types of log-in (there could be more, depending on your solution). These would usually be an admin log-in, a teacher log-in, and a student log-in.

The admin log-in will be for administrators; when logged in, it will present the user with the tools to be able to add content and users, remove content and users, and allow users access to certain areas of the learning management system so that they can change settings.

The teacher log-in will allow teachers to assign work, receive completed work and results from students, and also create courses (see below).

The student log-in will present the user with information regarding courses, outstanding work and links to resources. It will usually provide a way of contacting the teacher or course leader if they have any questions. Work can be submitted from the student log-in – which will then be picked up by the teacher or course leader from the admin log-in.