How does a Learning Management System work?
You may have some idea of what a Learning Management Systems (LMS) is by now along with its usage. LMS can be used to train your employees and the education sector can use it to train students with access across multiple devices.
“Educational institutions today take advantage of technologies to cope with modernization and enable institutional transformation. In the latest Global Education Census Report (New Global Survey, 2019), it was revealed that the usage of technology in schools worldwide continues to grow, with 48% of students using desktop computers in the classroom, 42% using smartphones, 33% using interactive whiteboards, and 20% using tablet devices.”
That’s fine from a student’s perspective. But do you know how you can use an LMS to leverage its multifaceted features in eLearning? That’s where user roles in an LMS are needed.
User roles provide an appropriate level of access rights and privileges in a system. The User role depends on the needs of the user in working with the application. As part of an organization deploying an LMS, you can have different people configured as learners, instructors, and system administrators each with their own set of interfaces, access levels, and permissions.
Importance of User roles in LMS
Do you know why user roles are very important in the LMS? Let’s take a simple example.
Imagine you as a teacher are giving an assessment test to your students. You have prepared the question sets for a series of exams to assess student’s knowledge and provide grades based on their performance. If all have the same access, your students may see the questions and answers before the exam and the test results would be unfair and flawed.
A user role in an LMS enables restricted access according to the user’s required privileges. This enables each ‘user role’ to have a different experience based on the interfaces and modules accessed.
It helps the users focus on their important tasks to get their work done without being aware of functionalities that power the LMS in the background, though the features may not be accessible to them. So what are the types of users in the LMS? Let’s take a look.
User role types in an LMS
There are typically 4 main user roles in an LMS application. You have the –
1) LMS Administrator role
An administrator in LMS (admin) is a user role with the highest number of privileges. They have access to the admin dashboard. That’s where you can find all settings and features. Admins can modify the LMS configurations, create users, and manage content in the LMS.
The administrator in the LMS is a very powerful role. You can create course workflows, manage payments, change the branding look and feel, integrate with other applications, and create and delete users.
Feels like Superman right?
Yes! So you must give the administrator role to a limited set of responsible people who are well trained in its functionalities.
2) Manager role
A manager role in an LMS application will be limited compared to the administrator role capabilities.
For example, one manager may be entitled to oversee all eLearning content related to Science subject groups. Another manager may be entitled to oversee online learning content over language subjects – English, French, Spanish, and the like.
Your manager role in an LMS may be able to access some functions like running progress reports or enrolling learners in relevant courses. You may be able to manage multiple courses or student groups as well. It all depends on the LMS configuration done as per your requirements.
3) Teacher role (Instructor)
The ‘teacher’ role in an LMS is oriented to teaching. You as a teacher can create course content. Courses can be managed and you can receive assignments from students online. You can schedule instructor-led classes where an instructor will be present for assistance in the eLearning session.
As part of course management, you as a teacher will be able to monitor courses, manage reviews, answer student questions, enrollments, and run relevant reports for insights. You will be able to mark courses as ‘completed’ for students who have completed the courses.
Some of the LMS’s enable limited access for external trainers.
For example, they may be participating in specialized training and may have access to only mark students who attended an Instructor-led training course.
4) Learner role
We’ve all been learners at some point in time – at school, college, or even corporate training at work. This role will have the highest number of users in the application usually.
The learner role will have its dashboard that will show access to courses enrolled. It also shows your progress in the courses. You as a learner just have to focus on completing your courses and learning paths.
So that sums up the typical roles in an LMS. Based on the further scope of responsibilities there could be additional roles with minor variations too.
The Course Lifecycle – How a typical e-learning course works
Let us assume that we have an LMS application and we want to conduct a course using it. Now we need users with relevant roles to do this activity. We will need an LMS administrator, a teacher, and a student at a minimum. These roles will be basic ones configured by the LMS vendor. These roles form and will constitute a minimal e-learning ecosystem.
Everything has to start with the basic configurations by the LMS administrator.
LMS administrator activities
The admin has to do necessary configurations in the LMS so that it is enabled for creating relevant distance learning courses. Admins dashboard can offer the following:
– Access all relevant settings from the admin dashboard.
– View, open and closed courses in the LMS.
– Monitor the progress and performance of teachers and learners on courses.
Many LMS have the option to set Service Level Agreements (SLA’s). For example, if a student has to take the assessment within 48 hours of completing the eLearning course, the administrator can set that up to ensure the timed completion of the course element. They should also be able to manage billing details and payments both inwards for course fees and outwards towards LMS vendor and others.
Data-driven reports are another important feature. The admin role should be able to get reports on which are the popular courses and those that have less engagement. Administrators should be able to see which courses are generating more revenues and take decisions based on cost/benefit analysis.
This can involve crucial decisions like re-launching the course in subsequent semesters, locking in the instructor for more courses, or restructuring other courses in light of popular courses to maximize learner engagement. You can say an LMS administrator is entitled to a 360-degree view of activities in the system.
Let’s say, we need to conduct a course on –“Improving basic computer skills” that may have 10 modules and has an assessment after course completion. On successful completion, a course completion certificate will be awarded to the student.
Assign roles: As an admin, you will create user id/login details for the teacher and learner. The user ids will be mapped to respective ‘user roles’ of teacher and learner students. The login details will be mailed to the teacher and learner’s email IDs upon creation automatically.
Course creation: The admin will have to configure the course on the LMS. You will then have to upload the necessary eLearning courses on to the LMS. The content may be sourced from elsewhere and procured in a relevant format. Course creation can be delegated to a teacher role and can be approved by the administrator role too.
The LMS administrator has other responsibilities like user creation and role mapping, reviewing e-learning content, technical support, troubleshooting, and maintaining the LMS system among others.
You as a teacher will have your dashboard view. You can manage your courses, schedule, and grade assessments and view course analytics. With a competent LMS, you have a dedicated studio to create your courses from scratch. The LMS provider will usually assist with instructional design and course authoring to help you seamlessly deliver an engaging course online. You can also choose between various delivery methods like synchronous, asynchronous, or blended learning.
Besides access to managing enrollments to your courses, you can also manage discussion forums, moderation, and monitoring course progress. Access to data analytics for insights on course statistics and learner analytics will be helpful for improving courses in the future.
Coming back to our example, the teacher sets up the course, enrolls learners, and configures the start and completion dates. Then the teacher will monitor and assist students as and when required.
As a learner, once you log in, you can see your dashboard. It will show you courses that you have been enrolled in and your assignment due dates. You can view the progress of your courses in a visual representation of a progress bar or a percentage of the total components of the course that have been completed. A learner may be shown courses of their interest as part of marketing campaigns with a call to action to register for the courses.
On course completion, you can submit your assessments and view results online with some LMS having advanced integration capabilities for delivering results through mobile SMS too. When you successfully complete your course, you will be awarded an e-certificate in the LMS that can be downloaded and printed.
Yay! Time to celebrate! You can have the certificate displayed on your LMS profile too.
Configuring Learning Models: Fully online vs blended learning
The teacher role can configure the course to be a fully online eLearning course or have a blended approach. LMS gives us the flexibility to prioritize the online class or the physical class for a course. The blended learning approach combines e-learning with traditional learning experiences like – a lecture or a training session. You can configure instructor-led training “Units” within the LMS courses.
In a fully online course on the LMS, digital technologies help to deliver the complete learning program along with other online resources like videos, eBooks, webinars, and other tools.
The blended learning approach is dependent on circumstances. A part of the learning occurs online so that students can learn and manage at their comfortable pace. We have instructor-led sessions that are conducted through webinars that help remote learners.
We can have options like a mix of having some onsite instructor-led classes with online assignments. Alternatively, you can have lectures delivered online, but assignments have to be completed onsite to maximize learning opportunities. An LMS should be flexible and feature-rich to incorporate blended learning approaches in courses. To learn more on this, read our article on “Why Blended Learning is Bound to Grow (No Matter What)”.
The Final Word
We can see how an LMS works with powerful user role-based access. From configuring users to creating courses, and supporting rich media, the modern LMS drives highly interactive classes with help of eLearning content. Configuring blended learning models enables flexibility in learning by offering choice to all stakeholders involved. LMS provides optimized and flexible teaching and learning saving time, cost, and resources.
An LMS is a very powerful tool with integrated features for all stakeholders to perform their specific activities without distraction in a single platform. You should choose an LMS that has the latest features to deliver flexible and user-friendly learning based on your goals to capitalize on benefits to L&D administrators, teachers, and learners because everyone stands to benefit immensely from a well-designed solution.