Managing all aspects of student learning to ensure the best possible educational outcomes! This is a laudable goal, and an increasingly achievable one in this tech-infused education era. Learning management systems have grown in sophistication during the last 20 years, to the point where they are incredibly rich in features and capabilities, and yet still manageable in and of themselves. At least, if they're well-designed. It's a good thing too because, as a nation, we are quite appropriately laying higher and higher expectations on educators at the school, district, and state levels to improve the quality of teaching and learning they are providing. All the tools that learning management systems now offer can be an enormous help in managing those expectations and in meeting them.
So for this issue, we've asked our regular Tools for Learning author Victor Rivero to scan the landscape and bring you up-to-date on learning management systems offerings. “The basic idea,” he notes in his introduction, “is to be able to create, distribute and track learning anywhere on any device.” And he points you toward LMSs that can do that. See Next-Generation Learning Management: Improved Systems for an Improved Educational Experience on page 4.
Then jump to our reviews section, where this month we cover three LMSs in deeper detail: Skyward Student Management Suite, Gaggle Safe Classroom LMS, and Modular Management System for Schools. Reviews start on page 14.
Columns to Close Out the Year
Our November/December columnists may be writing at year-end, but they are clearly both thinking about the future. Stephen Abram advises on strategy, tactics, goals, change, and how you can work in your schools and libraries “to make the future different and better than today” (The Pipeline: Strategies Make a Difference, page 8). And Carolyn Foote uses the founding of ALA's Center for the Future of Libraries to introduce a column on ideas that will help keep school libraries firmly focused on being change agents, “willing to examine their practices and constantly evolve” (Idea Watch: Far Beyond Makerspaces, page 12).
David Hoffman, Editor