The Learning Management System or LMS as it is popularly known is an integral part of the digital learning experience. Top-quality eLearning content can still fail to resonate with the learners if the medium of delivery – the LMS or learning app is not optimized properly. Hence the learning content and the medium of eLearning delivery are equally important in ensuring the success of a workplace learning program. In this blog post, we will offer a quick introduction to the LMS and give you a detailed checklist that you can use when looking for the ideal LMS to deploy your employee training programs.
Why Do We Need an LMS?
Before investing in an expensive software to deploy your eLearning and digital staff training programs, you need to ask yourself this question – “Does my company need an LMS?” If you are a small team of, say 10 to 15 persons, and you can easily get your employees trained or upskilled in a specific skill from a program available on Coursera or Udemy; then there is no point in spending your money on getting an enterprise-grade LMS, and deploying training content on it.
An LMS or an LXP is something that is a requirement for large companies with hundreds or thousands of employees working in different parts of the world. The employees work in different roles in different departments and each department has its own specific learning goals and budgets that add up to the overall organizational goals.
What Does an LMS Do?
An LMS offers a wide variety of features. At its core, an LMS is a platform that allows learners to access a wide variety of eLearning content and the LMS administrator / employer should be able to assign new programs to learners / employees, and be able to track their progress across the different stages of learning.
The presence of an LMS and structured learning paths for employees to polish their existing skills or learn a new skill is a quality that organizations should make a part of their learning culture. Successive LinkedIn Workplace Learning Reports have stressed on the importance of providing an atmosphere or environment that fosters learning and allows employees to learn new skills. Organizations which invest in the learning and development of their employees and allow them to try out new professional domains are dominated by happy and motivated employees. These employees are the ones who become influencers and advocate the growth of an organization and its products or services.
The LMS vs LXP Argument
Craig Weiss is one of the most reputed names in LMS analysis and runs a resource portal named Find an LMS that allows people to search for and analyze different learning platforms. Over the last four to five years there has been a steady shift towards what is being touted as a more advanced form of an LMS and called a Learning Experience Platform or LXP – but the definitions of these platforms varies and one is never sure of what exactly one is getting when one signs up for a new LMS or LXP.
One of the key differentiators between an LMS and an LXP is that an LXP Is able to support both internal and external learning content and when a learner accesses external content via the LXP there are no firewall-based restrictions and all learning is tracked. An LMS On the other hand is a closed learning delivery platform designed to only run content that has been approved and hosted by the employer or training organization on to the official LMS or intranet.
Types of LMSs
Learning management systems can be classified as open source, proprietary, and cloud-based software. There are proprietary LMS platforms that are cloud-based and also on-premise server-based. Typically, a cloud-based LMS allows you to scale as the number of your learners grow and help an organization keep its operating costs low. One can also look at an LMS from the end-users’-perspective. It can be for corporate learners or for school and college students.
Open-source LMS platforms like Moodle and Totara are extremely popular in academic institutions and Moodle has been the default LMS for many years in institutions with a limited budget. The problem with a product like Moodle is that the learning curve can be high, the features are limited, and transition from Moodle to another LMS can be frustrating and time-consuming.
Proprietary LMS platforms like Blackboard, Brightspace by D2L are gaining a lot of popularity and used a lot in the USA and Europe. A proprietary LMS offers some benefits upfront when compared to an open-source LMS. The proprietary LMS comes with a dedicated support executive who will help you configure the LMS in your organization and based on the subscription plan that you opt for will provide support services via email and phone for a fixed period of time. Modern LMS platforms come with dedicated mobile apps for iOS and Android and make the learning experience seamless on smartphones and tablets as well.
Ready-Reckoner Guide to Choose the Right LMS
The following checklist can work as a ready-reckoner guide for your L&D team to shortlist and choose the right LMS to deploy training content in your organization.
Is the LMS cloud-based or dependent on server-based on-premise hosting?
Does the LMS offer a dedicated mobile app for iOS and Android?
What is the minimum number of users needed to sign up for a subscription plan?
What is the level of support offered by the LMS-service provider and what is it priced at?
How detailed is the analytics dashboard built into the LMS?
What are the content formats supported by the LMS?
Does the LMS allow for seamless integration with your existing ERP and CRM platforms?
Does the LMS allow for easy transfer of learning content and certification data from your existing LMS or learning portal?
What is the level of flexibility offered to learners and learning administrators by the LMS?
Can you trigger learning alerts to your learners via SMS and email from within the LMS?
This is by no means an exhaustive checklist, and each organization has its own specific set of learning requirements, and the LMS has to be selected based on detailed research and a needs-based analysis.
At S4Carlisle we can help you choose the right LMS and configure it for your employee learning or product training initiatives. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more on how we can help you find the perfect LMS for your learning needs.