Learning Management Systems now come with a whole suite of features, and so investing in or upgrading training software might initially seem a little daunting. Adopting an LMS for your business is a smart move, but only if it’s well-designed and is helpful to your company goals and your staff’s career paths. Are you confused by the LMS marketplace? Here’s our run-down of the ten best system features so you can pick the right LMS for you.
Strong Authoring Tools For Courses, Manuals & Quizzes
Coming in at number one on our list are robust authoring tools. Content is king when it comes to rolling out successful e-learning programs; you’re going to want a Learning Management System that offers you plenty of ways to create custom course content. Check that your LMS provides a broad sweep of functions that allows you to set up the kind of courses, reference manuals, tests, or quizzes you need.
Strong authoring tools should make it easy to offer video modules, bite-size microlearning courses and plenty of library content for learners to refer to. Ease of use is paramount here. If the interface is a total nightmare, your e-learning content isn’t going to grow with your business, and the result is that the courses you’re offering become irrelevant or stale. Take a good look at your prospective LMS. If the authoring tools are simple to use and provide the opportunity for course content variety, then you’re onto a winner.
Next up, here’s a key technical consideration that your IT department will thank you for. SCORM support is a feature your LMS should offer. What’s SCORM? It’s an acronym for ‘Shareable Content Object Reference Model’ and is essentially a collection of standards and specifications for web-based electronic educational technology. Without getting too complicated, it defines communications between client-side content and a host system, which means it sets out how ‘sharable content objects’ are made so that these can be reused in different systems and contexts.
In a nutshell, SCORM ensures all your training and e-learning content ‘works’ across different systems and contexts. Things can get pretty tricky without it, and the last thing you want is to have to keep recreating the same courses repeatedly when you could be building your online training offerings instead. Data migration should be a piece of cake, and with a SCORM supported LMS, it will be.
Do I Need Gamification Features?
Elearning should be fun, and there’s a whole host of studies out there to suggest that dynamic, enjoyable online courses encourage uptake, continued engagement and result in more highly skilled workforces. So, your chosen LMS must offer ways to introduce gamification to modules and lessons. Mobile compatibility is essential now more than ever since remote working and learning have become far more common due to the pandemic.
Look for e-learning platforms that offer fun elements you can set up to encourage folks on their learning journeys. These might include leaderboards to stimulate a little healthy competition, plus stars, points, and badges to earn that can help motivate your workforce. Also, some of the best LMS’s out there enable VR simulations to help train people online by walking them through real-life scenarios, which work well for learners who like to build their skills through immersive experiences.
Also, look out for Learning Management System features that let you build quick games as part of a microlearning unit. This is an attractive option for trainees with short attention spans or heavy workloads, which might not take up longer online training modules time constraints.
Discussion Boards Boost Learner Engagement
As your people progress through their online training, there’s bound to be a few questions. Here’s when discussion board features come into their own. Learners can reach out to colleagues or SME’s (Subject Matter Experts) for help or feedback, and you can set up topic-specific forums to support e-learning in certain areas. Ensure the LMS of your choosing offers ways for folks to reach out, help each other, work through stumbling blocks, or even provide feedback on course quality to administrators.
If communication channels are wide open, you may also find learners recommending courses that they’ve found helpful or fun to each other, and you’ll be able to set up mentoring opportunities for those who need them.
Tracking & Reporting Within With Your LMS
If you’re investing in an LMS, you’re definitely going to want to see how it’s all working for your learners and what that means for your company overall.
Excellent tracking and reporting tools are essential. These should be easy to use to keep your administrators aware of the big picture while also well thought out enough to allow data pulling to drill down into the nitty-gritty for managers and those setting out learning goals. Weekly or monthly reports on progress company-wide or within teams should be deliverable to the inboxes of those who need it. Pay attention to how your LMS sets this information out too. Hard to interpret formats aren’t going to be as valuable to you as clear metrics, which you can use to spot trends and allocate resources.
Plus, great reporting can also help flag any weaknesses in courses (confusing content might mean many people might be struggling to complete a module, for instance) and ensure you continue to build a quality culture of learning.
Is API integration Important?
We’ve already touched briefly on SCORM support, but another technical consideration you should be looking at in a prospective LMS is API integration. API stands for ‘Application Programming Interface’. Think of it like a software middleman that allows two applications to talk to each other.
For example, each time you use an app like Facebook or check the weather on your phone, that’s an API working away to make that action happen. In terms of Learning Management Systems, you should consider API integration as standard since it will help your e-learning portal talk to your other systems – perhaps that might be your company blog, your social media, and so on. API integration gives you the flexibility to grow your LMS to include all sorts of outside apps that can support and interest your learners without the IT headache for admins.
Your Learning Management system should represent you and your company, so you should be looking at a Learning Management System that gives you the option to customise the look and feel of online training to reflect your brand. Colours and graphics go a long way to improving user experience and make sure you can create vibrant and exciting interfaces.
Additionally, superb customisation tools can help you personalise e-learning for different employees or departments, which is a convenient asset if your business has multiple operation areas.
On-Demand Course Libraries For E-learning
Corporate learners are a varied bunch, and so your Learning Management System should let your folks choose how they want to build their skills. Some trainees respond very well to on-demand reference materials and prefer to work through these at their own pace. The beauty of e-learning is that it’s all available 24/7 from any location, and course libraries are a must-have feature when picking out an LMS.
Course libraries encourage personalised learning, offer content such as manuals to support employees in their day-to-day tasks and lend a sense of self-directed training to independent individuals. We definitely recommend you choose an LMS that offers library features for both the courses you have available and for company materials you need to make accessible.
Custom Certification Through Your LMS
As your learners move forward through their online courses, you’ll want to be able to offer them a return on their investment. Choose an LMS that gives you the option to generate custom certificates upon course completion. These might be industry-standard certificates – for instance, a food hygiene certificate if you’re a catering business – or in-house acknowledgements of module progress to encourage continued learning online. The former is a great boon to your business reputation and can help staff build their careers, while the latter is brilliant motivation to stay on the e-learning straight and narrow. We think this is an oft-overlooked feature, but the benefits are clear to see, particularly when it comes to compliance or an audit.
Automation Made Easy
And lastly, your chosen Learning Management System should make it easy for your administrators to keep your eLearning strategy running smoothly. While they’ll absolutely have to wade in and manage things, there’s also no point in introducing repetitive tasks. A substantial piece of online training software should offer automation tools across the board, making it simple to set and send out alerts, emails and reminders automatically, for example. A great LMS shouldn’t generate too much extra work!
So, that’s our top ten must-have features in an LMS. Ultimately, all of these functions work to make your online training a success that will go from strength to strength.
We’ve highlighted components that stimulate rewarding experiences for learners as they progress through courses, features that make administrating your e-learning programmes easy, and those that provide flexible future-proofing to build great courses. Keep our shopping list handy, or if you’ve already got an LMS that doesn’t seem to be working for you, take a closer look and see what’s missing. It may be time for an upgrade.