A learning management system is a software platform which allows any business to document, administer, track and report training or educational courses. An LMS is designed to help make delivery and management of training programs easy and hassle free experience. This invaluable web-based technology is versatile in nature and supports different forms of learning. It can be used for supporting classroom learning, offer online training and other hybrid forms like blended learning and flipped classrooms.
You can consider it like a car. While the core ‘functionality’ and ‘purpose’ remains the same irrespective of the model you buy, but the benefits, design and robustness may vary from one model to another, depending on the user’s needs.
Basic Components of LMS
There are several Learning Management Systems available online, with a unique set of feature to meet the specific requirements of trainers and learners. However, you should know about some of the basic components so that it is easier for you to choose the most befitting one, of course as per your professional needs.
Summarizing- LMS that helps learners in summarizing the key strategies and ideas about the subject is generally preferred. Using such an LMS, trainers can inform their learners about the course in the beginning, and the type of information it is going to deliver. Thereby, promoting in-depth learning.
Assessments- Assessments are an ongoing activity. They not only help learners to know how much information they have retained after going through the entire course, but also motivate them to perform better in their future. Trainers, on the other hand, can track real-time learning activities of their learners and provide feedback on the same with the help of an LMS.
Grading and Scoring- Based on the assessment results and overall performance, learners are provided grades and scores. This way, learners get to know about the areas where they need improvement. They can also take the same test multiple times to sharpen their memory.
Smooth and Effective Communication- Most LMS offer smooth and effective communication which means if the learners felt confused and lost or had queries while going through the courses, they can take peers suggestion and clear their doubts in the real-time space. In fact, educators can exchange their ideas and views among themselves on any topic based on their personal experiences. Sharing experiences can be motivating too.
Multiple Device Access- All web-based LMS provide multiple device access, which means users can take their courses anytime, anywhere on any device be it a smartphone, desktop or tablet. Thus, providing convenience and delivering better learning experience.
Interactive Resources- Trainers can incorporate multimedia into their online courses for both the reasons, to engage their learners and to promote better knowledge retention. Multimedia can be used in different forms such as audio, video, GIFs, tweets and so on. These interactive resources not only make the course effective and engaging but also help in delivering a better learning experience.
Key Features And Characteristics
Although, the LMS market is flooded with over 600 LMS options that can support the needs of different solution seeker but every platform usually has a unique set of features. The below mentioned ‘standard’ features will help you understand the most basic use of an LMS for someone eyeing to create training programs and report on the completion of training.
Create courses - Develop elearning content and support training with the help of videos, docs, PPTs, tests, exams & quizzes.
Track & report - Easy access to reports and trends. Keep a close eye on the performance over a tenure or large group of learners.
Analytics - In-depth reports of completed, pending and in-progress attempts for every learner to ensure that learning is effective. It is a simple and effortless means of performance measurement.
Document management - Uploading and reusing existing content to save time and resources.
Safe and secure - Data safety and confidentiality is a major concern for everyone these days. Hence, mostly LMS’ offer password settings, privacy control for maintaining data security.
Autonomy and self-reliance - Learners can be their own teacher. LMS inculcates self-support and competency among the learners.
Anytime, anywhere access - LMS’ that allow the users to access the platform from a location of their choice as per their convenience makes it a sought-after option for learning and development.
Supports peer-to-peer learning - With user-generated content (UGC), sharing knowledge and experiences right across the organisation becomes easy.
Gamification - This key feature helps to motivate and engage the learners based on their achievements.
Social - Nowadays, everybody wants to be ‘socially’ relevant and allowing learners to share their certification, achievements on the social media channels remain the top priority.
Who Uses Learning Management System and Why
Educational institutes (Colleges and Universities)- Educational institutes use LMS to create online courses for distant learners and teach their regular on-campus students and staff. A cloud-based LMS not only increases engagement and student collaboration but also provides flexibility to learn the courses from the comfort of their own home.
Healthcare- Online training is crucial for the healthcare sector to train their staff and employees about compliance, medical procedures, device usage, and much more. Hospitals use learning management system to train their interns, track real-time job performance and career goals of their employees.
Pharmaceutical/Research/Biotech- Training and Research are ongoing processes in pharmaceutical companies and biotech institutes. These companies comply with strict regulations to ensure that the products and research conducted are safe, secure and effective. Therefore, to make the workforce aware of such rules and regulations, it becomes important to conduct rigorous training sessions.
Businesses - Regardless of their industry vertical, every company wants to train and keep their workforce up to date on the latest programs, utilities and company practices. Many corporate entities use an LMS to integrate with other tools (such as Salesforce, employee training software etc) to keep track of employee progress and performance goals.
Professional groups – Trade societies (that are engaged in verticals like medicine, engineering, and financial services) leverage these platforms to achieve compliance training or speciality training.
Entrepreneurs – An LMS allow the next gen entrepreneurs or business mavericks to make their resource crunch teams achieve more productivity in short time span.
What Are The Deployment Types
Cloud-based - Also known as Software as a Service (SaaS), the solution providers host the software on their servers which the users can access online. The variant usually includes a monthly fee depending on the number of users the features offered.
Hosted - The solution seeker needs to buy the software from the LMS vendor or download and install it on their computer. In most cases, the users need to purchase a license every year to continue the use of this platform. The platform is hosted on the user’s servers, hence they are responsible for maintaining the system, making upgrades and resolving technical issues.
Since hosted LMS are time-consuming and expensive to manage, many businesses have switched their enterprise applications to the cloud variant.
Advantages Of Using A Cloud LMS
There are innumerable advantages of using a next-gen cloud-based learning management system. Here are some of them -
- It offers immediate and quick training access. Learners can login and access content instantly as per their convenience. Issues related to knowledge sharing and skill gaps can be addressed as and when needed.
- No need to wait for a group to form for training the new workforce. Every single employee can be trained as and when they join. Users can take training at their own pace from anywhere in the world. All they need is access to the Internet, which ensures better resource management and time utilization.
- Businesses bag competitive edge by launching products faster in the markets since this platform offers flexibility to upgrade the sales professionals knowledge about new products/services.
- It trains more learners at one go and hence curtails the delivery costs for the course taken. Moreover, content created once can be reused as well in an LMS. This is most beneficial for businesses that have high turnover.
- It brings greater value to businesses for the investment made in training. It results in improved performance and higher business outcomes.
- It provides immediate training access. Employees can login and access training content instantly and that too as per their convenience. Knowledge or skills can be updated as and when required reducing skill gap.
- An LMS allows the learner-centered approach to work in the right direction and ensures an engaging experience for a long lasting impact.
Technical Standards Governing LMS
The industry technical standard for developing elearning content is SCORM (Shareable Content Object Reference Model) with the newer Tin Can Compliant LMS that is successfully making online learning widely acceptable.
SCORM is the language most elearning content is written in and is used by nearly all. Tin Can API, considered as SCORM’s successor comes with the capability to draw a clear and fluid picture of how the learners are progressing.
Want to know how is TIN CAN API different from SCORM, read here https://www.proprofs.com/c/lms/scorm-vs-tin-can-api-the-difference-between-compact-discs-and-itunes/
LMS Pricing Models
Subscription- Once you have finalized the LMS you want to use; the next step is to decide which subscription model best suits your needs. The subscription models either grant access to all the LMS features or relies on a pay-per-user-model. There are some LMS vendors who offer different price brackets, for instance, the fee covers up to 20 active learners. LMS subscription is a great solution for small businesses who want to cut down the training costs and at the same time scale as their company expands.
A few reputed LMS vendors offer transparent pricing options with their clients. By saying that, we mean that vendors offer different LMS packages have different features, depending on their costs to clients. for example, some has collaboration, forum and learner communities in a definite price bracket while others provide enterprise level features like self registration, compliance features, reminders and announcements, unlimited group admins, premium integrations and onboarding customer support in their enterprise packages.
Licensing- Instead of paying after every quarter or per user, this pricing plan involves a one-time licensing fee. It is similar to annual fee that you need to renew on an annual basis. The major benefit of this type of pricing plan is that you get unlimited access to all the LMS features. However, if the technology advances, you might need to purchase the replacement software or upgrades (in some cases).
Freemium- Freemium plans are the best for those who want to try the basic features of an LMS that they have chosen. Either this freemium plan lasts for fifteen days or a month depending on the vendor you choose. If you want to try its advanced functionalities, you need to opt for a paid version.
What The Future Holds for Learning Management System
I would say that the future of the LMS is not just secure but it’s golden bright.