It’s back-to-school time for teachers, administrators, students and parents all across the nation. As always, effective communication among these groups will be a key element of a successful school year. One way many school districts are improving their communications capabilities is through the increased integration of unified communications platforms and learning management systems.
Learning management systems (LMS) are software or web-based applications that create a central, integrated space for everything from documentation and tracking to the delivery of online education. Platforms such as Blackboard, Google Classroom, Canvas and Brightspace help students by providing a portal for accessing assignments and grades. Educators and administrators use the solutions to conduct assessments, manage grade books and track attendance. For parents, the LMS provides convenient access to a wide range of resources and information about their kids.
The market reflects the efficiency and popularity of these systems. According to Insight Partners, the LMS market will more than triple by 2025, reaching a total value of $18.44 billion.
Nevertheless, many school districts aren’t realizing the full potential of their LMS solutions. Using application programming interfaces (APIs) to integrate LMS with a unified communications (UC) platform can create a range of communication and collaboration efficiencies that benefit staff, students and parents.
A key value of such integration is making parent-teacher communications more efficient and effective. According to a recent survey by Project Tomorrow and Blackboard, parents would like information to be conveniently pushed directly to them instead of having to seek it out. With LMS and UC integrated, administrators and staff can share student updates according to each parent’s preference — email, text message or phone call.
From an educator’s standpoint, such integration enables more personalized interactions with parents. When a parent calls or sends a text message, educators can instantly review student information directly from their phone or a dashboard on their desktop in order to answer questions quickly and accurately.
Integration also opens the possibilities of using audio or video conferencing to replace or enhance the traditional in-person parent-teacher conference. Scheduling conflicts have always led to high rates of no-shows for in-person conferences. When parents can’t make it to school, the ability to share files from the LMS solution with UC conferencing tools can be highly beneficial.
UC tools also enable less formal conferencing. If a child has been ill or is simply having difficulty with a particular assignment, collaboration tools allow quick, ad-hoc communications. This enables a teacher to provide meaningful help beyond the classroom. When course materials are stored on the LMS, students can also access homework assignments at any time, and can even collaborate with fellow students on after-school group projects.
Integrated messaging also improves administrative efficiency by allowing quicker responses to time-sensitive inquiries. It streamlines emergency notifications and community outreach through one-click mass notification capabilities that can also feature website and social media messaging.
In many ways, effective communication is the very essence of the educational process. Integrating UC and LMS technology can help schools enhance interactions between administrators, teachers, parents and students in ways that foster learning, improve collaboration, increase efficiency and keep everyone engaged. IPC Technologies has become proficient at delivering such solutions in tandem with key partners such as Mitel. Contact your IPC sales rep to learn more.