This article appeared on Learning Light on July 15, 2016.
“The itslearning LMS is like a digital school… All of its functions interlink to provide a holistic and comprehensive learning platform”
itslearning are a learning company from Scandinavia which has been established for 17 years. They are a market leader in Scandinavia and from that success they have become a market leader in Europe. This expertise and experience in learning has enabled them to create a dynamic and comprehensive learning management system.
Learning Light has long recognised the expertise of many Scandinavian elearning and learning technologies companies. We have seen these countries pioneer the development of learning technologies for many years. itslearning is particularly notable due to its well-developed learning system and its recent acquisition of the school-specific LMS, Fronter.
itslearning have recently redeveloped their LMS and so we were delighted to get a look at the platform and share with the market what the secret of success is from Scandinavia in learning technologies.
itslearning are an education and training orientated vendor and this is reflected in the overall design approach to the LMS. Accordingly the platform is designed with the learner in mind and the re-designed platform is all about ease of accessibility and usability.
From the very outset the platform is replicating the familiar approach of the social media world that today’s learners inhabit by employing a newsfeed-style homepage, complete with Twitter updates and plenty of images. This is done simply end effectively and seeks to commence a journey of learning from the outset.
The platform is clean and simple which is excellent as learners can quickly grasp where they are in the process with a good degree of detail about activities. The navigation is simple and clear, with plenty of support and direction which encourages learners towards the appropriate areas. The user interface presents no barriers to the immediate use of the platform, which is great to see.
The platform consists of a number of different functions and areas which are initially presented as tabs. These functions all intertwine to create a unified experience.
Resources uploaded by users are the bread-and-butter of the itslearning LMS.
The platform uses resources such as word documents, powerpoints, videos, and the national curriculum, throughout its various features. For example, in the below picture we can see a plan for the BTEC Business course which maps the available resources to learning objectives and the activities required to meet them.
Each unit of the above matrix comes with a simple visual metaphor to provide an understanding of what is meant in each case and it is possible to hover over the Learning Objective to read what is required of each learning objective.
Resources can be prepared and aligned to the course very easily and can be managed very effectively.
The library is a collection of all the resources which have been uploaded by learners, parents and teachers.
It is easily searchable using a familiar ‘google-style’ search box and various filters, and all of the content can be indexed, tagged and rated. This makes it an extremely useful tool for learners who are looking for something on a specific topic.
The search function and immediacy of the results of the library replicates the benefits of a google search, and so this is not only an excellent feature of the LMS, but it mirrors a method of research to which learners are accustomed.
The ultimate aim of any LMS is of course to provide good quality courses. The itslearning LMS does this by pulling together all of its other functionalities: resources, planner and learning plans, timetables, groups and assignments.
All of this information is presented in a simple tab format which is easy for learners to navigate. However, the best feature of the courses is the newsfeed which provides learners with up-to-date information relevant to their courses from other learners, teachers and parents. This is not only an informative resource; it is also a place for social collaboration where users can share their experiences. This is excellent as it is a dynamic way of providing learners with additional resources, help and feedback, as well as motivation to complete the course as it replicates the social classroom environment, rather than isolating individual learners whilst they are using the LMS.
Creating and managing assignments is very well thought through and remarkably easy to execute. Each assignment is again a comprehensive function, with tasks, deadlines, criteria, reports, plagiarism controls and resources all included and available.
However, where the LMS really excels in terms of assessment is with the excellent marking rubric and strong management and reporting of assignments. The ability for teachers to create strong feedback with an editor that include images, videos, audio files, attached documents and a WIRIS – latex editor for maths and other symbols really aligns this platform towards both education and workplace training such as apprenticeships.
This is one of the most comprehensive marking/assessment environments we have seen.
For the tutor or teacher the itslearning LMS is a really useful platform that is designed to make learning aims achievable and minimise the hassle of reporting. The mentor function, which enables a teacher to manage users, is a simple and effective mechanism for teachers to set learning aims, record and report learning, and provide support with added parental involvement if required.
The mentor function is built through the creation of individual learning plans, which is as simple as it is powerful. Learning plans set out goals and skills that a learner is aiming for in conjunction with activities to achieve these goals. Teachers and parents can then provide feedback on the learner’s activity. It is this base level of sound pedagogy upon which the itslearning LMS is built which makes it such a comprehensive and effective LMS.
The depth of design expertise to support the teacher/tutor in ease of usage and learning effectiveness is exceptional. It was a delight to evaluate an LMS that is populated and we able to enact a variety of learning journeys from the tutors perspective easily and effectively.
Through this approach strong relationships can be built by tutors with students covering activity, assessments, attendance and learning plans.
This approach for learner engagement is simple and effective and it is easy to see how it could be used to support a learner both in the educational establishment and the learning and development process of an apprenticeship.
Student management, as seen in the mentor and assignment features, is one of the strongest points of the itslearning LMS as it allows close and effective learner progression to be seen and patterns of activity to quickly become apparent to the tutors and teachers using the reporting and assessment tools.
The itslearning LMS is like a digital school. It has everything from lesson plans, to timetables, resources and courses – and you can even easily communicate with other learners. All of its functions interlink to provide a holistic and comprehensive learning platform. The beauty of this LMS is that it not only comprehensive, but it is easy and intuitive to use, and this is in-part thanks to its use of familiar features such as a social media-style newsfeed and Google-style search box.
For tutoring staff it is designed to make life easy by being effective in creating and managing courses, providing feedback and monitoring learner progress, and further student management.
This is a platform we would recommend for schools, colleges of higher education, sixth form colleges, universities and for serious training providers delivering skills in the workplace such as BTECs and Apprenticeships.