Classroom Technology

What Do Teachers Want From Learning Management Systems? We Asked

By Lauraine Langreo — September 23, 2022 4 min read
Illustration of laptop with checklist on the screen
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The majority of K-12 school districts use a learning management system, especially after the pandemic forced schools to find tools that would help teachers deliver instruction online.

Many of the educators who spoke to Education Week said they like using their LMS now, even if the implementation during the pandemic was rocky.

In fact, a small majority of educators (52 percent) said the learning management system their district uses makes instruction easier, according to an EdWeek Research Center survey of more than 1,000 district leaders, principals, and teachers conducted in late July through early August.

But even so, some educators and experts told Education Week that there’s not yet an excellent K-12 LMS tool out there.

“In order for any LMS system to be efficient and to be relevant, it needs to continue to evolve,” said Tanna Nicely, the principal at South Knoxville Elementary School in Knoxville, Tenn.

So what would educators like to have in their ideal learning management system? Here’s what they said.

1. Shared or seamless use with other ed-tech tools, also known as interoperability

Almost all educators who spoke with Education Week said they want a learning management system that works smoothly with products that they already use.

They know from experience how problematic it can be when tools don’t interact well with each other. For example, a few teachers said they were disappointed with the LMS their district uses because it didn’t communicate well with their online gradebook.

“We have run into the situation where LMS systems don’t always integrate with other technology, which can be frustrating,” a New York middle school teacher wrote in the open-ended response section of the EdWeek Research Center survey. “So we end up grading everything twice.”

See also

edtech sept 2022 learning management
F. Sheehan/Education Week and Getty Images

What educators want is a LMS that is a one-stop shop—a system that consolidates all the tools they and their students use.

“One thing I’m hearing out of my teachers and colleagues across the nation is it needs to be an all-in-one [tool],” Nicely said. “We need to have one and done, almost like an Amazon of [learning management systems].”

“From a budget standpoint, that would be a really nice thing and from a teacher-friendly, user-friendly standpoint, instead of having all these different systems to log into,” she added.

Jessica Maynard, a 1st grade teacher at South Knoxville Elementary School, agreed.

“It would be nice if [the LMS] could fully integrate [with other tools] and you could go straight there,” Maynard said. Students “can do their assignments—everything—in one, because a learning management system should be the one stop for everything.”

2. Effective communication and collaboration tools

Another feature that educators want is a more streamlined way to communicate and collaborate, with students, with colleagues, and with parents.

“My ideal learning management system would have a lot more collaboration and [group] editing tools built into the system,” said Ryan Orilio, director of technology and innovation for upstate New York’s Herkimer Central School District. “So if I, as a teacher, want to distribute an image to everybody, and I want everyone to be able to annotate and draw on that image at the same time, I don’t want to have to go into a different platform to do that.”

See also

edtech sept 2022 culling tools
F. Sheehan/Education Week and Getty Images

Dan Weber, the principal of Wilson High School in Reading, Pa., said his ideal LMS would allow parents “to go to one spot and see where everything is” and allow them to participate in their child’s education.

And for Sandra Rose, social studies supervisor for Maryland’s Prince George’s County Public Schools, being able to collaborate and build course curriculum with other staff members simultaneously in the LMS would be a “game changer.”

3. Flexibility and differentiation

More flexibility and differentiation are other features that educators said they would like in a LMS.

“I would like it to be a little bit more pliable, where maybe there’s a version that’s better for younger learners and a more intense version for older learners,” said Heather Lyke, the teaching and learning content lead for the Minneapolis Public Schools.

Lyke would also like the ability to turn features on or off for specific students to help them learn responsible use.

“Right now, the way learning management systems exist, you either can turn a feature on or you can turn the feature off,” she said. “But sometimes, you want to turn the feature on for 92 percent of the kids, but there’s a couple of kids—that 8 percent—that have been misusing it and you want to turn it off just for those kids, so that they can learn and grow and then turn it back on when they’re ready.”

Other features educators want:

  • Student portfolios: “I want to store things for students that want to have a profile,” Weber said. “If a kid is looking at post-secondary school or an internship, they have the ability to just share that resource.”
  • Audio and video capabilities: Teachers said they’d like the ability to do video and audio conferences with students right within the system. They’d also like a way for students to turn in assignments using video or audio tools available within the LMS to accommodate different learning styles.
  • Cost-free: “In education—where we are, in my opinion, underfunded—[in order] to support our youth for the future, free is important,” Lyke said. “Open educational resources are critical. So I would love a learning management to be free.” (Dover-Eyota Public Schools in Minnesota, where Lyke was the teaching and learning director for two years, used Google Classroom as its learning management system, and it was free.)


Curriculum Webinar Computer Science Education Movement Gathers Momentum. How Should Schools React?
Discover how schools can expand opportunities for students to study computer science education.
School & District Management Webinar Fostering Student Well-Being with Programs That Work
Protecting student well-being has never been more important. Join this webinar to learn how to ensure your programs yield the best outcomes.
Reading & Literacy Webinar 'Science of Reading': What Are the Components?
Learn how to adopt a “science of reading” approach to early literacy to effectively build students’ vocabulary and content knowledge.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Classroom Technology Spotlight Spotlight on Balanced Screen Time
This Spotlight will help you understand responsible online behavior, what schools can do to prevent the overuse of technology, and more.
Classroom Technology Opinion Virtual Reality Looks Cool, But Can It Actually Help Schools Teach Math?
A VR company founded in 2019 to offer a learning solution for math now serves over 20,000 students.
6 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Classroom Technology Computer Science Education Is Gaining Momentum. But Some Say Not Fast Enough
The number of students taking computer science education courses continues to increase modestly, but not fast enough for some.
3 min read
In this 2015 photo, third grader Iyana Simmons works on a coding exercise at Michael Anderson School in Avondale.
Girls are largely underrepresented in high school computer science courses even though overall participation is increasing.
Nick Cote for Education Week
Classroom Technology Q&A How Technology Should Influence Learning for This Generation
A seasoned ed-tech expert puts student engagement, equity, and the tech-curriculum connection high on her priority list.
10 min read
edtech sept 2022 q&a
F. Sheehan/Education Week and Getty Images