How to choose a Learning Management System ? Explained here

by Varun - Jan 13, 2021
LMS softwares - how to choose

Businesses have to understand their learning needs and then choose an LMS software for their business. Apart from learning needs, there are several other factors that businesses should consider while choosing software.

Who can use LMS Software

Before learning those factors, let us first understand who all can use LMS software and how they can embed in their daily business routine.

Large Enterprises:

Large companies use Learning Management System Software to monitor thousands of employees. Not to mention the deployment of multinational online training programs. In certain cases, they can also feature expanded market functionality so that you can keep franchisees and distribution networks in the loop.

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs):

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) benefit from this form of Learning Management Systems since less human capital can be used. These resources will also scale together with your company and respond to your ever-changing training needs.

Colleges and Schools:

During Lockdown (due to COVID-19), many Institutions offered online classes to off-site applicants. Educational institutions also use LMS to maximize their on-campus capacity or extend their student base by engaging people beyond their conventional territories.

HR Department:

They also offer training to personnel and administrators. Corporations typically use LMS courses to advance the expertise of their main employees or as a prerequisite to encourage them.

Technical groups:

Trade companies in regulated sectors such as pharmacy, manufacturing, and financial services use LMS either for regulatory training for their members’ licenses or specialist training.

Entrepreneurs:

LMS also offers business people with tools to provide crash courses in accounting, marketing/Internet marketing, blogging, and other short-term skills-based courses.

Hobbyists and Self Learners:

Hobbyists who wish to share their talents and expertise use LMS to provide modules on fields as diverse as photography, crafts, yoga, reading, gardening, cooking, and also carpentry.

Factors to Consider while choosing a Learning Management System (LMS)

1. Integration

The key factor in providing an optimal UI/UX for learners and staff is its integration.

However, integrations seem to be a significant problem for many companies. Brandon Hall found that 87% of large organizations and 75% of small to medium-sized (SMEs) organizations have listed this as a key development in their next LMS. So how can you ensure that the LMS Are you investing in has the integrations you need?

Each employee’s data must be added to the LMS so that they can access their training or program. Indeed, it makes sense to have a Learning Management system that integrates with your HR scheme. This will ensure that when a new member is added to the HR system, it will be immediately added to the LMS as well.

Also, preparation needs to be readily/easily available to workers. Setting up a Single Sign-On (SSO) will allow them to bypass the login screen and get them to the LMS by clicking the button.

By eliminating any obstacles to training, they will simply land on a personalized dashboard and be presented with course material that is important to them.

For customer education, you can also connect to your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and can add hundreds, even thousands, of users to the LMS, and indeed save your time. Or for live training sessions, you can simply integrate it with your favorite webinar tool.

You might also even think of connecting your LMS to social networks like Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, and gamification engines as well. LMS is the perfect opportunity to expand the reach of your audience.

2. Ultimate Understanding of its Need

Before you start exploring the LMS, you must also have a good understanding of what your customers hope to accomplish at the end of their learning session.

Say, for instance, a company is undertaking a simple training curriculum in a particular coding language for trainee workers. The trainees may be from around the world.

You will need to provide features such as account login and navigation through the lessons of the course, taking a quiz, setting up a timer, showing the progress of the course, granting certifications, and so on. It does not involve much personal interaction.

On the other hand, consider the LMS for a fashion design course or animation course. Where further contact details are required between the student and the teacher. In this case, the LMS can help with exchanging drawings, uploading assignments, and exchanging remarks.

Another concern is that the learner does not have access to the internet or Wi-Fi all the time! Besides, to have a download service, you can guarantee that you have access to learning materials offline. In short, an ultimate understanding of your learning needs is crucial.

3. Build your Team

You can’t manage all by yourself so you will need some people to help you in executing your project plan for your learning management system (LMS). The project team comprises professionals from a range of backgrounds. This team is typically made up of the following people: team leaders, project managers, eLearning experts, your in-house LMS administrators, IT administrators, and human resources workers.

Please note that not everyone on the project team has to be a member of your organization. The team can be made up of in-house experts, consultants, and third-party suppliers.

More importantly, while forming an LMS implementation team, make sure that the goals of each member are transparent. Each team member should be fully aware of the overall goals and their position in the project as a whole.

Besides, they should also know what each of their deliverables is and the expected date of completion for each. As a person in charge of planning your company’s LMS implementation, indeed, you have to select your members carefully. The implementation team can rely on a large part of the program’s performance.

4. Pricing/Licensing Model

Indeed, your budget plays a very important role in the selection of the LMS platform. LMS pricing models may vary from vendor to vendor. Particularly, surveys show that the purchasers are attracted by a well-defined price system (LMS Software) which has no hidden costs/charges.

The Learning Management System is also used by many companies, schools, hospitals, and much more. There are large variations between customers in these markets, so the pricing models for LMS solutions are also equally flexible.

LMS systems also use a software-as-a-service (SaaS) pricing model, which means that consumers pay a monthly fee for the functionality they use. Some LMS vendors often offer a one-time or annual license fee and can also provide a free version of their software.

Here we have listed out some typical pricing layouts for your reference:

  • Monthly/Annual subscription
  • Lifetime Licensing
  • Upper threshold limit on user or content
  • Per-user pricing
  • Batch Discounts

In-depth research is a must to identify hidden charges or extra charges on exceeding the limit and the cancellation policy as well before you finalize any LMS company.

5. Content Management Compatibility

The content is based on your LMS Software. All other features revolve around the content of the course material that is to be delivered. Having the right type of content in the right place decides the impact and effectiveness of the courses. Visual content is used for demonstration to assure a better understanding of the subject, whereas, to-the-point slideshows help to deliver precise information.

Consequently, the first step is to identify the type of content that you are providing. Requirements can vary from a Word document to PDF, XML to PowerPoint presentations, and video streaming to pure audio transcript also!

Be assured that your Learning Management System should provide you with:

a) Content that Supports OFFLINE:

In some cases a user’s device has no internet access, moreover, such content should be available offline for them.

As soon as their computer/device connects to the internet, any progress achieved by the learner while using the app offline will automatically synchronize to their domain.

Materials that are usable for offline:

  • Plain text
  • HTML text
  • PDF
  • Video
  • Images
  • All MS Office files (iOS only)
  • Tests that contain the following question types only:

- Drag-and-drop

- Fill the gap

- Multiple choice

- Test with shuffled questions and answers

- Tests with feedback in questions

  • SCORM (HTML5-based only)
  • SCORM content that doesn’t operate through a third-party server or contain content hosted on third-party servers (i.e., YouTube, Vimeo, etc.).
  • Discussions
  • Assignments
  • Show score option in tests

Note: SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) files that were uploaded before January 5th, 2018, have to be uploaded again to work on the mobile app.

b) Content supported ONLINE only:

To access the following content, the user should be connected to the internet.

  • Vimeo/YouTube
  • Slideshare
  • Units containing iFrames from external or third-party sources
  • Shared files
  • Messages
  • Password-protected tests
  • Wistia and H5P content

Note for Android users: MS Office files are supported online only (with partial PPT support) via the Google Docs viewer.

These requirements need to be taken into consideration while selecting the LMS platform since they are an integral part of every course. Once you have narrowed down your requirements, you can check for a specific LMS that is compatible with your content type.

6. LMS Configuration

LMS vendors are in the business of supplying their products to as many organizations as possible. The LMS provider will educate you about how their product functions and then expect you to make configuration management decisions based on your experience with your company and what you’ve learned about LMS.

The dilemma is that the vendor will ask you to make far-reaching configuration decisions, some of which might be difficult or impractical to alter later, without the benefit of hindsight and while you are still brand new to the system. While most vendors will do their best to educate you about your choices, it is not practically possible for an LMS vendor to learn all the ins and outs of each of their client organizations to provide the requisite customer service, advice or consulting and guidance.

Indeed, your vendors have expertise in their product and your core team’s knowledge of your organization’s needs must be met somewhere in the centre to achieve the best possible outcome.

The configuration decisions you will need to make involve (a) an understanding of your data and operations, and also (b) an understanding of the system’s data fields, functionality, and capabilities.

User Profile

You have to determine the demographic data of the user you will need, where it is currently stored and managed, and where to place it in the LMS.

For commercial LMS:

Demographic details may include a user name, contact information, work and organization roles, manager, employment status (e.g., part-time, full-time), current job time, current organization time, hiring date, etc.

For academic LMS: demographic data can include user names, contact information, grade or year level, graduation program, major, transfer credits, etc.

Domain and audience

Some LMS vendors allow you to access multiple domains for configuration. This method is especially useful when you need to train workers/employees and clients. You can position employees’ user accounts, internal courses, and administrators in one domain and place clients, external courses, and another group of administrators in another domain. The effect is like getting two LMS installations for one.

Within the domain, many LMS systems allow you to configure your audience based on user profile details. For example, you may define an audience that consists of people in the northeast region who work in sales, or people whose hire date was within the last three months. Audiences allow you to delegate training to groups of users in a self-organizing way.

To grant training to a list of named users, you must update the list whenever someone switches their job or leaves the business. However, when you configure an audience based on profile information, anyone who fits the profile will automatically be included in the audience. Many LMS products also allow you to limit the exposure of the course to people in the audience. For example, someone in sales may see a different set of courses, the offerings are better than someone in IT, finance, or manufacturing.

Security Administrator Positions

The security feature is a collection of permissions given to each type of LMS vendors. For example, your implementation can include one set of people who can run reports, another set of people who can build and schedule courses, and another set of people who can register users. To do this you will also have to set up three security roles and configure the necessary permissions for each role and allocate the roles to the users.

Some LMS service providers may allow for multiple roles to be played by a single user. Meaning, only one function per user is permitted by other systems. If your LMS supports multiple domains, you may also be able to assign a user to different roles in each domain.

Catalogue of courses and metadata

LMS course catalogue is usually a menu-driven method for users to search for the courses available on the platform. You will need to build your catalogue menu layout and then connect courses with catalogue nodes. Course metadata is a collection of properties and tags that define your course. For example, one property can be a mode of delivery. Values for this property also include web-based training (like self-paced, live webinars, recorded webinars, classrooms, etc.). The other property may be the language in which the course is offered. These metadata properties are very useful for end-users when searching and choosing course offerings from search results.

7. Reporting & Analytics

LMS Reporting is an important feature of every modern online course and it also shows the full advantage of Big Data nowadays. But admit it, just looking at the figures and metrics is of little use. As an eLearning specialist, you also have to understand how to translate your reported data into your company’s KPIs language.

According to Market Research Futures (MRFR), the global learning analytics market is expecting to expand by 26% CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) by 2023, driven by an explosion in smartphone usability across the globe. There is a strong need for organizations, especially the L&D (Learning and Development) teams, to understand if the workforce is effectively engaging with the training programs or whether any specific skills training is required to drive business growth.

Today, LMSs are far from just eLearning platforms; they are also growth platforms driven by data, mobility, advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Machine Learning (ML) technologies. All of these features are undoubtedly incorporated into the LMS to provide the best learning environment possible. Before choosing an LMS, you should have the following Integrated Reporting and Analytics features:

  • Should Generate Real-Time Reports
  • Also, Maximize Training Efficiency from Progress & Completion Score
  • LMS should Generate a Monthly Report of the course chosen
  • Should generate a perk medal for every achievement
  • Online Training Certification Tracking and much more

The reports can be categorized in the following manner:

  • Course Reports

Schedule, Enrollment and Assessment

  • User Reports

Active Users, Login activities, User’s progress, Performance Comparison

  • Organizational Training

Complete course report by location, batch, Certification, Curriculum

  • Custom Reports

Tailored to meet your requirements

8. 24/7 remote access with LMS

Depending on whom you interact with, you will also be advised that one of the most helpful aspects of LMS is to be a flexible guide, offering managers, teachers, and students 24/7/365 access to training and services. Instead of a software platform, LMSs look like websites with URLs and personal and private login credentials.

The best LMSs on the market deliver smartphone applications for phones, tablets, as well as with other devices that users have the ability to access the information as on the regular website. In the preparation of teachers and staff, lectures and job shops, and the management of a network of students in distant geographical areas of the world, most educational institutions see this as an asset. For instance, a multi-branch university campus may concurrently give students semi-long online courses on separate campuses. LMSs embrace versatile learning and also aim to move the emphasis on learning for educators, teachers, and students to a more adaptable manner.

9. Customer Support Service

Round-the-clock customer support from LMS vendors is important at the time of setup as well as in a regular run to resolve issues related to functioning and maintenance. Before making the final call on purchasing the LMS, find out the customer support quality and availability of the vendor from various possible sources like Quora, Facebook Groups, other online forums, or even talk to LMS vendors customer care for more and precise details. Instant chat, email, and phone lines are common customer support facilities.

Other than that, knowledge-based support like help guides and demonstration videos help in system installation. The support readiness and knowledge expertise of the customer support desk speak about how much they value their customers!

Here are some questions you should ask yourself when assessing a vendor’s customer support:

  • Will our team have a dedicated Customer Success Manager?
  • What are their support hours?
  • Are public holidays covered?
  • Do they provide email support, telephone support, or both?
  • Do they have a fast response time?
  • Are there positive reviews online referencing their customer support?

10. Security and Reliability

All organizations and institutions are overprotective of their confidential details. Security failure is the largest threat to the reputation and trust of the company. Ensuring the security of content along with protecting the personal data of customers is a responsibility while serving the company. You indeed have the right to know what encryption and authentication mechanisms are applied in the LMS, the use of firewalls and SSL plays an important role in tightening up safety.

The effectiveness of the LMS can be measured by understanding its downtime, emergency prevention, and also its contingency planning. Your LMS should not ditch your users in the middle of a vital learning point. Users lose concentration and patience as the machine goes down regularly. Moreover, owing to the technological problems of the method, they cannot afford to risk their jobs. A genuine insight into the value of the product can be offered through feedback from current and former LMS customers.

The LMS vendor should give them features like IP Blocker, Advanced Password Authentication, Anti-Spam, Domain-Based Registration, Anti-Virus, Back-Up Data Storage, Data Encryption, and also Mobile Security, and much more.

Lastly, make sure that you must conduct an LMS Security Check-up and also Ensure That Software Security Protocols Are Updated Frequently.


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