Learning management systems (LMS) are a hot commodity in today’s corporate world. According Global Market Insights, the LMS elearning market is expected to reach $1 trillion by 2027. With so much demand and so many players, it can be hard to select the right solution and provider. In this blog we provide insights into what is an LMS, why are LMS’ important and how to choose the right LMS for you.
- What is a learning management system
- Why an LMS
- What can an LMS do
- What to look for in an LMS
- Examples of learning management systems
- Before you choose an LMS
- Making content creation efficient
What is a learning management system (LMS)?
A learning management system (LMS) is an application typically used to deliver and host online courses for learning and development (L&D) programs. They are the interface that connects instructors and learning content with learners – employees, customers and partners. This means that learning management systems are an important application to help drive a company’s growth and success and allow it to scale effectively.
Why an LMS?
Given what has been taking place over the last few years, companies have rapidly chosen to administer training via online methods such as eLearning, microlearning and remote instructor-led sessions. However, for companies experiencing rapid growth with huge leaps in the number of employees, customers and partners being trained online, individual training or running instructor-led courses with one small group at a time may no longer be viable.
LMS’ provide companies with a scalable way to train a large number of people efficiently and in a cost-effective way. Another learning management system benefit is that it allows organizations to deliver customized training for different audiences in an easy and efficient way.
58% of organizations prefer to use on-demand learning while 25% prefer in-person learning (Chief Learning Officer Magazine, 2020)
What can an LMS do?
Learning management systems are very versatile and come with a host of benefits which make them desirable for training. But what exactly can an LMS be used for?
Onboard, train and engage employees:
Large companies often need to train large volumes of new hires at once, or need to be constantly training hires as other employees change positions. It is much more resource efficient to train through an LMS, where the training only has to be created once, as opposed to constant workshops and training sessions that are expensive and can be time consuming. Trainers can also more easily monitor large groups of new hires and track individual progress with the help of an LMS, thereby reducing the amount of oversight required. Employees gain a consistent, programmatic experience, which enables leaders to have specific expectations on what skills and knowledge employees gain once they successfully complete a specific training path.
International companies, or companies that are spread across regions, often are unable to use conventional training due to distance, time zones and costs. Using an LMS to train remotely allows them to connect with an employee.
The pandemic has increased the prevalence of work-from-home policies. An LMS allows companies to connect with remote workers and accommodate these preferences.
Due to their efficiency and lower costs, companies can use an LMS to help teach skills or knowledge to customers as well. By using an LMS, a company can cut down on the time requirement for onboarding customers on how to use their product or service, and can instead reserve trainers for advanced or custom training engagements. Customers will also see a similar benefit: always having training materials available to be consumed on their schedule instead of a few busy employees to train them will allow them to learn the necessary skills without having to wait or cause massive disruptions by needing to collect a team for in-person training.
Since an LMS is an online resource, it is easily accessible by anyone who is provided with it. This allows companies to not only train internally, but also share training to external sources, like business partners. Not only is the training itself shared, so partners can also benefit from the training material, but editing capabilities can also be shared, which will allow other companies to improve on existing content or add their own training.
Compliance training can also be done with the use of an LMS. Having one centralized system allows companies to easily give retraining or recertification courses to large volumes of employees at a time and allows them to track individual progress on a large scale. Any mandated courses can also be created once on an LMS, and then distributed as needed, to minimalize time and resource costs.
Another usage for an LMS is sales training. As the market changes, salespeople constantly need new training or updated information to maintain their competitive edge. An LMS can train salespeople much faster than conventional training and can keep up with the changes in the market. Preparing salespeople is as simple as making small edits to courses on an LMS, as opposed to rushing to schedule meetings and book time for courses for large groups of people within a narrow time frame.
What to look for in an LMS:
There are many LMS’ on the market, so it can be hard to choose the one that is right for your company. However, when selecting an LMS, we recommend looking for the following key functionalities:
Ease of use:
Users must be able to easily use the interface when training and should be able to navigate the course without much effort. Ideally, the LMS chosen should also be mobile-compatible, as that will accommodate for busy schedules and allow new hires to take the training courses wherever they may be.
Simple learning content uploading:
Uploading content to it and downloading content off it should also be easy and hassle-free. Choose an LMS that supports learning content packaged according to interoperable standards such as SCORM, AICC, and xAPI.
Of course, the LMS must be easy and straight forward to manage. Instructional designers and trainers should be able to modify and remove content without trouble, quickly navigate the course, filter the content or plans that they need, and change advanced settings as necessary, all without taking excessive time.
Simple and configurable training path management:
Most learners are going to require more than one course to gain the skills or knowledge they are seeking, so it is critical that your LMS allow you to do this well. We recommend ensuring your LMS will let you combine multiple courses together to create a learning path that is easy for users to find and navigate.
With online training, it is important to break up long text sections with other media types such as interactive courses, videos, audio and images. This ensures the training doesn’t become a long, tedious reading exercise. When looking for an LMS, you want one that you are able to integrate these aspects into for a more immersive training experience.
Quizzing and testing:
Knowledge checks and quizzes that accompany a training course can help with information retention and can let leaders know how well a learner grasps the content. An LMS should be able to provide tests and record data on assessment performance.
Reporting and analytics:
This capability is one that is often overlooked or an afterthought, but is a very important aspect of an LMS. Gaining the right information from your LMS will allow leadership insight into customer success and engagement, employee skill development, and/or partner engagement just to name a few. Reporting capabilities in an LMS can be extremely powerful if they provide the insight needed to measure success. Be sure to consider what reporting will be most valuable to your organization and ensure your chosen LMS provides it.
It is easy for online training to become repetitive and boring, so gamification is often used to increase trainee engagement. Implementing games, interactive activities and quizzes into online training makes the overall experience more enjoyable, and makes learners more inclined to take more training courses in the future. As such, it is important that the LMS chosen can include these types of features.
Globalization and localization:
If your organization is global, your LMS should be accessible globally and should also be able to adjust to other areas’ localizations. Language and domain access should all be accommodated by the LMS.
Learners should be able to interact with instructors to ask questions or seek clarification on material. Another consideration for companies is the ability to connect with other learners for collaboration, however this is heavily dependent on the content and skills being taught.
A benefit to an LMS is the ability to use it on a mobile device. This gives users a more flexible training schedule by allowing them to access it wherever they are.
Automated admin tasks:
To ease the workload on instructors or admins, an LMS should have many simple tasks automated, like group enrollment/deactivation, sending notifications and activating recurring course activities.
An LMS that offers third-party integrations and plugins with other platforms, such as Salesforce CRM, enables it to become part of your organization’s enterprise tech stack. WordPress LMS plugins allow organizations to create and run online courses with WordPress.
Look for solutions that offer videos or knowledge articles to get started and troubleshoot issues.
Examples of learning management systems
If you are looking for an LMS to start using, here is our guide to LMS’ that may be worth exploring:
- TalentLMS: An LMS often used because it is simple to use for both the trainer and the learner and highly customizable.
- Moodle: A secure, open source LMS that can be integrated with many other external products, like other platforms or additional plugins.
- Looop: An LMS that focuses on performing well while wasting as little time as possible.
- 360Learning: An LMS that allows for lots of collaboration between trainers and learners that is often used for teaching additional skills to employees.
- Adobe Captivate Prime (now Adobe Learning Manager): One of the LMS’ that is very mobile compatible, and is usually used for training both employees and partners.
- Cornerstone Learning: An LMS that takes a personalized learning approach, that connects learners to opportunities and other content.
- Skillcast: A cloud-based LMS that can be preloaded with course libraries or other elearning apps and then used offline or on mobile devices.
- Docebo: An LMS that can be easily scaled to larger companies for training large volumes of learners.
- Easy LMS: Another simpler LMS that is good for training that includes assessments or tests.
- iSpring Learn: An LMS that also focuses on a very fast launch time for last minute needs, and that requires very little to create courses.
- Absorb LMS: A flexible LMS that focuses on course management and can be used for internal and external training.
- Thinkific: An LMS that allows companies to create their own branded site for training, while maintaining a quality service.
- SAP Litmos: A versatile LMS with good integration with other systems and many of its tedious processes and tasks automated.
- Rise: Another easy-to-use LMS that takes very little time to learn, and contains plenty of prebuilt content so that course creation is not as time consuming.
- Teachable: A cloud-based, mobile-compatible LMS that is usually used by high-volume companies.
- LearnDash: An LMS that offers a large variety of elements and an advanced course editor for huge customizability.
- Podia: A reasonably priced, cloud-based LMS that provides easy editing and a website builder.
- SkillJar: An LMS often used for external training (e.g. for business partners) that works with a variety of add-ons and other tools.
Keep in mind that there are many other options on the market, so don’t limit yourself to an LMS you see here. Focus on your company’s goals and training objectives, and then look for an LMS that satisfies those needs while providing the best service possible.
Before you purchase an LMS…
While we are sold on the benefits on an LMS, organizations should do a little planning before they purchase or upgrade their learning management systems.
An LMS helps organizations produce, publish and deliver courses. However, it will NOT create the learning content for you. Organizations should first plan how they will generate their learning content first before investing in an LMS.
Things to decide on before purchasing an LMS includes:
- Map out your learning strategy – Who do you want to train? What do you want to teach? What kind of courses do you want to offer (100 percent online learning or blended learning)?
- Assign responsibility for learning content creation – Decide who is going to be tasked with creating the content and what resources will be available to them. Don’t forget to find resources for the creation of images, animations and videos.
- Decide how courses will be produced – Once you have the content, you can then import it into an LMS. Decide who is going to be responsible for producing the courses, what will be the style of the courses (flow, branding, etc) and the basic framework for each course.
- Provide learning support – Decide who will be responsible for administering the courses in the LMS and answering any questions from your learners.
Failure to do the above means that you may be paying for LMS license fees without gaining the benefits of an active training program.
91% of HR professionals find the planned learning journey approach using elearning tools as more effective in employee development (HR.com, 2020)
Making content creation efficient
Our experience has been that people underestimate the time it takes to build the content for a course which can hinder the success of an LMS-enabled training program. Many organizations still use a traditional process where learning and development staff are interviewing subject matter experts (SMEs) and then translating their knowledge into course content using word processing tools (like Word or PowerPoint). This is a long and manual process that requires time and expertise that should be done before working with an LMS.
To increase the speed and success of course creation, we decided to create LEAi, our learning content creation tool. This AI-enabled tool allows companies to use the material they already have to create well-structured knowledge-sharing and training programs.
Key benefits of LEAi include:
- Use content that exists in your organization to automatically create the learning objectives, learning content and test questions for a course
- Be guided by best practices with our LearnAdvisor
- Repurpose content easily for different modules and courses
- One-click microlearning
- Automatically create test questions to assess how well the content was understood
The output from LEAi can be used to produce the content in an LMS. It will significantly reduce the course creation process by as much as 50 percent and help you capture the benefits of a learning management system more quickly. If you are in the market for an LMS, come talk to use before you make that commitment. We will be able to save you lots of time and money!