Navigate 3.1.4 Tools within the LMS

The tools within an LMS can be divided into three categories: communication, assessment, and evaluation.
Communication: Common tools found in LMS’s are Email, Notification System, Discussions, Instant Messaging, Blogs, Social Profiles, Calendar, and Alert Systems or Agents. Most of these tools can be turned on or off as needed. Email and Discussions are asynchronous, which provide the learners time to compose their thoughts before responding. Instant Messaging tools such as Google Talk, Facebook Chat, MSN Messenger, and AOL Messenger, etc. are synchronous, which provide instant feedback. Instructors can post upcoming dates/events or reminders via Calendar and Alert Systems.
Assessment: Dropbox, Discussions, Quizzing/Testing, Self-Assessment/Surveys, Integrated Rubrics, Gradebook, and Learner Progress/Class Progress are some of the LMS assessment tools. Their purposes are very similar such that learners participate in activities or submit work required by the instructor for grading.
Evaluation: A gradebook is used to calculate graded items throughout the course. In general, a gradebook consists of functions such as: Report Generation, Commenting/Feedback, Rubrics, Data Import, and Weight vs. Percentage. Each LMS system has a different function and capacity in regarding students’ course evaluation.
I think Email, Notification System, Discussions, Instant Messaging, Dropbox, quizzing/Testing, and gradebook are all very valuable in online classrooms, in fact, they are fundamental to e-learning. As for what is least valuable, it would depend on the courses, the instructors, and the students’ accessibility to the technologies.

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