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Let me ask you a question. What is an LMS? Put simply, an LMS is just a learning management system. More realistically, it's a course management system. It's a centrally administered service offered by your institution in which you can manage a course or group of courses, their files, students' grades, and so forth. Sound an awful like a web site, doesn't it? Well, no, it's actually quite different. See, rather than having you remember the web site addresses for each course web site that you own, the LMS uses a single web site with a single sign-on, which is much easier to remember, and once you get into your learning management system, your username and password get you access not only to the learning management system, but also to all of your LMSs' course sites in which you're an instructor or a student. Once you get into the courses, you are going to notice that there is a uniform look and feel across all courses. Notice here we have got navigation on the left-hand side, content on the right. Let me go into a different course. I want you to notice that it's going to look almost identical, in fact, exactly identical, and this is really helpful for students, because having the navigation and content areas in the same place makes it much less likely that your students are going to get lost. Once you are within your course, you are going to notice that there is an integrated system of core instructional tools, kind of a toolbox, built into the LMS. Announcements, email, roster, grade book, they are already sitting there waiting for you. You don't have to download or install anything. In fact, what you are going to be doing within your course in your learning management system is going to accessed and modified through a graphical user interface, through your web browser. You don't have to know HTML. You don't have to use FTP. In fact, if you know how to attach a file to an email message or upload a picture to Facebook, you already know how to upload files to your LMS. Best of all, your learning management system is centrally administered and supported. Usually, there is going to be automated course and user provisioning that's tied to your institution student information system. What that means is that when a course is scheduled at your institution, it's very likely that a learning management system course is also going to be created at the same time. When you are assigned to teach that course in your student information system, you will automatically get assigned to that course in your learning management system. When a student is given an account, that account usually will get them into learning management system. You don't have to do anything. And if your learning management system is really tied to your student information system, what happens is when a student enrolls in the course, they are automatically enrolled in your learning management system course. You don't even have to touch or modify your roster. It's done for you. Best of all, there is someone at your institution is going to be available to answer your question and your students' questions. With a web site, you are kind of on your own. Finally, out of the box, a learning management system is a secure, private, FERPA-compliant environment. FERPA here in the United States is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, sometimes know as the Buckley Amendment, and that pretty much rules what can and cannot be shared when it comes to student information, student-grade non-directory information. Your learning management system actually offers three levels of access control and security. System access, meaning that not anybody in the world can get into the learning management system--only people with user names and password can get in. There is course level access-- we have a list of courses here. You can't access all the courses on your system, only the courses that you have permission to access. And then most importantly, once you get into a course, as an instructor, instructors have access to certain tools, such as the course management area here, but students don't. Students can only be participants in the course. They can't make any changes to the course. So that's what a learning management system is. It's pretty much just a centrally administered service offered by your institution in which you can manage a course or a group of courses, its files, students' grades, and so forth. What exactly is Blackboard? Well, Blackboard is just a popular learning management system that grew out of the Business School at Cornell University back in 1996. You may have heard of other LMSs like Moodle, Desire2Learn, SACI, Instructure Canvas, but in this title we are going to be focusing on Blackboard 9.1.
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