“Don’t get me wrong,” a teacher told me after I completed a presentation on the benefits our new learning management system (LMS) offered faculty, “I think what you presented was amazing.” I could sense there was a major “BUT” coming, and she delivered: “But there’s just no way I have time to do it all!”
Ah, the crux of the matter. She wasn’t the only one to express the sentiment, and through well-documented research (Sheninger, 2014; Schrum, 2012), we know that one of the key reasons teachers don’t implement educational technology is the perception that it will take time they don’t have.
Having spent 20 years both in the classroom and as an administrator, I can attest that teachers don’t have enough time, but I don’t mean for technology. They don’t have enough time—period. The three biggest time stresses are typically 1) grading, 2) lesson planning, and 3) extra duties. All of which leads me to one simple conclusion:
Teachers don’t have enough time NOT to implement technological solutions.
Using an LMS can actually save teachers significant amounts of time in grading, lesson planning, and extra duties. With a little training, faculty members will realize time savings that will multiply with continued use of the LMS. Below are time-saving examples for teachers from the “ON” school management products.
Save Time Grading
Keeping up with grading is an albatross around most teachers’ necks! These tools that will help.
- Online tests and quizzes. Create assessments in your class pages, and you will realize the following benefits:
- Automatic grading: online assessments will auto-grade all objective questions and leave the subjective portions (essays, short answers) for you to compete. No more stacks of ungraded papers to wade through, waiting for a block of time to grade them!
- Bulk gradebook entry: Assessments given online can be exported to gradebooks with one click—no paper forms, no manual online entry. This makes students and parents happy while making you look organized and in control (and did I mention it saves time?).
- Reuse assessments: Once an assessment is set up, it will always be available for you to tweak and reactivate the next time you teach the class.
- Online grading. Using the Annotation feature, faculty can save time by eliminating a number of steps in the grading process. Electronically write (and highlight, underline, circle, etc.) right on the assignment, apply the grade, and you’re done! No more gathering papers, handwriting grades to the students, re-entering in your gradebook, then returning to students. The assignment can then be viewed with the added teacher comments by anyone with access at anytime.
- Report cards. Tabulating, weighting, entering, dropping lowest grades, inserting extra credit, and entering in the grade reporting software—this is all automated in Blackbaud Learning Management System™ (formerly onCampus®) and Blackbaud Student Information System™ (formerly onRecord®). There’s nothing like saving time by avoiding busywork!
Save Time Lesson Planning
- Why sort through files to find last year’s class materials? Why not have your content be permanently associated with your class? With a couple clicks, faculty can import all class content from their colleagues, other classes, and previous years. This information can be updated and made available at any time, and even show up automatically! The Topics section of class pages is a great way to save time: organize content and never have to do it again.
- No more handouts. Save time fighting the printer and copier, and avoid tracking down students who missed class or lost their handouts. Once you put class content on your class pages, it is there for everyone to access from anywhere. The responsibility is on the student, not the teacher.
- Grab content from former faculty or team-teaching colleagues. Keep the content as-is, or customize without changing the original.
Save Time in Extra Duties
- Is the grind of the weekly newsletter getting you down? Use the bulletin board on class pages instead. Simply build on the previous week, adding the latest content. This inbound communication method is way less time consuming than having to package all your class information into one piece and emailing or handing it out. Just update content in real-time, and the parents come to you. No re-creating every week, no re-designing, no sending emails!
- Email distribution lists: use your Class Roster to send bulk emails. No more need to laboriously create a distribution list, which inevitably becomes out of date. Let the system update your parent and student emails, and all you have to do is click a button to send a mass email!
- Tired of tracking down forms from students and parents? Field trip forms, community service forms, absence forms, handbooks, dress code information, daily schedules, and so much more can be housed in the Resource Boards portion of the LMS. There’s no need to constantly search for this information.
- Automatic calendar feeds. Give parents the option of receiving email notifications or not. If not, simply let the calendar feed directly to your community pages and avoid sending email reminders all together!
This is just a sampling of the time-saving tools available to your school community. It might seem like there’s never enough time in the day to do everything you want to do, but if you use your LMS effectively, it can save enough time to make a real difference.
Schrum, L., 2012. Educational Technology for School Leaders. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
Sheninger, E. 2014. Digital Leadership: Changing paradigms for changing times. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
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