On campuses around the country—both physical and virtual—more and more instructors are being asked to increase course loads and to manage their workloads with fewer administrative resources. Driven by decreases in government and donor funding and increases in tuition discount rates, administrators have been forced to reduce the number of full-time teaching positions. At the same time, instructors are being asked to adopt new or expanded outcomes-based policies and assessments, to redesign courses, and to move more of their sections online. It is no wonder that many of them are looking for ways to streamline the course preparation process, use their learning management systems more efficiently and effectively, provide more opportunities for automated assessments, and avoid unnecessary duplication of effort.

The latest generation of homework solutions and other course content from publishers is more flexible and tightly integrated with the Learning Management System (LMS) environment than ever before, thanks to the IMS Global Consortium’s LTI standard, as well as the efforts of publishers and LMS vendors to extend the standard.

The full value of this “deep integration” can only be achieved today via a series of LMS-specific custom development projects, leveraging the application programming interfaces (APIs) of each LMS vendor. Benefits include gradebook exchange with assets that lie both inside and outside of the LMS, a streamlined course customization interface at the course, chapter, topic, and granular activity levels, and a similar user experience across all LMS environments. The investment on the part of publishers and LMS vendors is not trivial, but the pay-off—a vastly improved user experience—is significant.

If you’re responsible for choosing digital content for your department or campus, you may be wondering what to look for. One guideline:

Look for support across a wide variety of LMS environments — publishers that have expressed commitment to provide the same — or a similar — user experience, across a wide variety of learning management systems.

Interested in reading more? Our whitepaper The New Rules of LMS Content Integration explores this topic in detail and provides a list of what to look for when evaluating offerings from publishers and LMS vendors.

Do you have some tips to share on using the LMS more effectively? We would love to hear from you. Please share your experiences using the comments section below, or by sending us a message at thinktank@cengage.com.