Choosing the right Learning Management System for your business is an essential step toward delivering quality eLearning experiences. Whether you’re currently scanning the marketplace for the first time, or you’ve already adopted eLearning software and are looking to switch to something that better suits your online training needs, we understand how complicated it might feel.
A Learning Management System can be a significant investment, so we’ve put together a handy list of LMS features you should look for, and things to consider when evaluating which one might be the best fit for you.
Read on for our ultimate guide to choosing an online learning platform!
Defining eLearning Goals
One of the critical questions you should be asking is, what do I want my LMS to do for my company? Essentially, ‘why do I need an LMS?’ Do you need to deliver compliance courses and certification regularly, offer a ready-made onboarding method for new hires, or create and disseminate ever-changing niche content for your area of business?
Make sure that whichever LMS you’re looking at, ask whether it’ll suit your business now, and in the nearish future. You might want to invest in an LMS to support your present area of business with refresher courses for staff, or you might be looking for one to help you move into new markets. When shopping around for eLearning software, keep an eye out for features that will serve you well.
LMS Course Authoring Tools
A great Learning Management System should allow you and your teams to create custom courses easily, as and when you need to. These can include dynamic multimedia elements like videos and quizzes. If an LMS looks like it will offer a wide variety of ways for you to deliver eLearning modules, perhaps via features like tests, forums or linked resource libraries, then it might be a good bet. Direction over how your employees learn is a great thing, but do ensure these courses aren’t overly complex to create.
Searchable Content With LMS’s
Another consideration when it comes to content is that an LMS will also support your employees in their daily work. Aside from teaching, you can also use it as a storage and dissemination platform for company information. If your firm handles brand books, style guides or manuals of any kind, you might want to explore Learning Management Systems that allow you to build large searchable libraries of documents. Some platforms handle this kind of content better than others.
LMS Tracking and Reporting
eLearning software that provides a good variety of reporting tools will also be something you’re going to benefit from enormously. The ability to assign courses to different individuals or groups and then monitor their progress is at the heart of a robust online training strategy.
A Learning Management System that gives you the option to filter, export and analyse eLearning data for your operations is vital. Remember that while insights are great, they should be easy to generate and interpret for peak effectiveness.
Online User Experience
The LMS you ultimately select should encourage a high rate of user uptake. No point in investing in software nobody wants to use, right? Some LMS features you’ll want to weigh up include accessibility, eLearning support and course attractiveness.
A way to encourage feedback and correct errors in a course is an essential part of user experience as well and helps you collectively build an excellent online training programme. Check how a prospective LMS might allow you to do this effectively.
One factor among accessibility concerns might include language options. A great LMS should be multilingual if you’re running international operations. Also, consider how your workforce will be engaging with their online training; compatibility with mobile devices is an absolute must these days. Do you need to offer training via laptops and tablets too? How does it look across all these devices? And what happens when users run into difficulties? It’s critical to choose an LMS that gives learners a way to contact course administrators directly with any issues they might have.
Encouraging eLearning Uptake
Support and feedback for those following online courses is essential, but so are features that will encourage them to engage with their eLearning journey. Look for an LMS that offers gamification such as the ability to earn badges, or points, and enter into friendly competition on leaderboards. Most people enjoy learning when there are rewards on offer, so do make sure the ability to produce fun, game-like modules is there.
Sustaining LMS Engagement
Customisable graphics and logos also help build an attractive eLearning interface, (and can also strengthen overall brand awareness among your employees) so consider Learning Management Systems that offer plenty of options in this department. Images, video, and social media plug-ins all work to sustain eLearning engagement which is why the LMS you choose shouldn’t be too limited in this area!
Online Training Preferences
When choosing an LMS, bear in mind that your student’s abilities and learning preferences will vary quite a bit. Some people are naturally self-directed learners who might prefer to complete their online training via on-demand libraries during downtime. Others will be happier engaging with social learning in groups and will appreciate chat rooms or discussion groups.
Micro-learning modules, where courses are broken down into smaller chunks, will be appealing too. Multiple options for question types also help you tailor eLearning, and keeps things interesting. The LMS you choose should have features that let you reach out to all users and offer a way to group learners according to their ability level, learning preferences or course topic.
On a practical level, you should also be factoring in who will be overseeing the LMS regularly. Administrators play an important role in the success of a Learning Management System, so select training software that suits the abilities or capabilities of your Learning & Development team. If you end up outsourcing administration or paying for additional support from your LMS vendor because your LMS choice is hard to manage, it could cause you problems in the future. Similarly, if your LMS requires a vast amount of training to get to grips with, then you could be incurring costs or delays that you might not have the budget for later on. The possibility for automating tasks, alerts and notifications genuinely lifts the burden on admins too, so keep your eyes peeled for these kinds of tools when you’re shopping around.
Integrating Your LMS
Do ensure the eLearning platforms you’re considering will integrate seamlessly with any existing software your company uses. Not paying attention to this potential problem area is more common than you think! Be sure to consult your technical team when choosing a Learning Management System to avoid any potentially expensive problems either at the installation stage or further down the line.
What LMS Hosting Options Suit My Needs?
LMS hosting is another technical area you’ll need to look at. Consider whether a cloud-based, server-based, or an open-source LMS will serve you best. There are pros and cons to all three, so it’s wise to include your technical team again here to make sure you plump for the right option.
Elearning Software Support
Excellent support from any potential LMS vendor is essential for troubleshooting, particularly at the setup stage. Do your research and make sure any possible contenders have a good reputation for customer service if things go awry.
SCORM and xAPI Compliance
While we’re on the topic of technical considerations, your chosen LMS must be SCORM compliant. SCORM, which stands for ‘Shareable Content Object Reference Model, is critical for eLearning interoperability. Essentially a set of technical standards for eLearning software products, SCORM lays out how programmers should write code so that it can “play well” with other eLearning software. xAPI is similar, and if you want your content to be viewable, accessible, launchable and trackable, then your LMS should be compliant.
While it may be tempting to plump for an expensive high-end Learning Management System with all manner of bells and whistles, do be careful about shelling out for software that is more complex than your needs. Cost-effective investment in online training means selecting an LMS that offers what you actually need – not what you think you might potentially want. One tactic is to request a live run-through of features. If you can see your company making use of nearly every element, and the cost of future plug-ins seems reasonable, you may well have found your ideal platform.
At the end of the day, making a checklist of what you genuinely need from a Learning Management System is a smart move, and it may include some or all of the things we’ve highlighted. Ensuring any potential online training software offers plenty of opportunity for custom, engaging content for users, and is supported by straightforward, easy to handle reporting tools is kind of the bottom line.
Lastly, if you make sure integration won’t be a nightmare, and that any certification you offer is industry compliant, then you should be largely insured against investing in an LMS that gets ignored, doesn’t work, or offers irrelevant courses.
Market research is essential, so explore plenty of avenues before you commit, and hopefully, your first choice will be the right one.