What is a Learning Management System, and why should you care?

In today’s rapidly evolving world, it is imperative for students, professionals, and people from different spheres of life to be on par with the change. This could be as simple as adapting to a new way of doing things or acquiring new skills. The rise of online learning has led to an increase in Learning Management Systems to make learning more convenient to the masses. 

Today, we uncover what a learning management system is, its purpose, and how to utilize it effectively. You will also discover all that you need to know before deciding to zero in on one for your learning requirements.

What is a Learning Management System (LMS)?

A learning management system helps you host and manage learning content and enables learners to access these learning modules. It provides a centralized hub that streamlines how learning is delivered to learners and makes learning accessible from anywhere. To put it in simple terms, an LMS is software where you can run your online university. It helps you tailor the learning experience, empowers learners to access the content you create on any device or platform, and enables you to evaluate their learning progress quickly. 

What does an LMS do?

As the name suggests, an LMS helps you organize learning content and deliver it to your learners. 

What an LMS does can be broken down into: 

  • Create learning content 
  • Organize it into learning modules 
  • Manage learners and segment them into learning groups 
  • Deliver learning to the right group of learners, internally or external learners 
  • Track and assess the overall learning journey 

To understand how a learning management system does this, it’s important to gather an overview of how it works, precisely what we will discuss next.

How does a Learning Management System work?

Now, every LMS satisfies two essential needs. It lets the trainers populate the learning content. It allows users to access the learning content added by trainers. And based on this use case, we break it down for you into two components. 

The Admin Interface: This interface is the server-side of things that lets teachers and trainers add their content to deliver the e-learning experience. Here’s where the admins add learning content, deputize access levels to members, and more. 

The User Interface: This is what learners will see when they log into the system through an app or, in most cases, a web browser. Instructors can add more learning modules, and learners can view all the e-learning materials uploaded in the channel, identify which one they can take up, and start learning.

Who should use a Learning Management System (LMS)?

From schools to enterprises, LMSs have changed the way learning and training are delivered to learners. It has become a successful medium to make learning easy, effective, and accessible to learners worldwide. 

This modern learning miracle makes content creation and delivery so easy that it caters to multiple industries: 

  • Educational institutes use it to teach students 
  • Corporates and Enterprises use it to train their employees and onboard new hires 
  • Businesses use it to host their how-to videos and resource pages for customers 
  • Government organizations use it to deliver skill-training courses to different groups 
  • Online Schools use it to run their long-distance core and certificate programs 

With so many sectors using an LMS, you may wonder what gives it an edge over traditional teaching methods? Well, by using an LMS, you save time and resources by automating the learning process.

How can an LMS help you automate learning?

By switching to an LMS, you save upon the time and effort involved in recreating the same classroom session repeatedly. Not just that, you also ensure that the learning delivered to learners remains consistent throughout. Here are some places where an LMS can be impactful:

Employee Onboarding

For organizations that induct multiple new hires at a given time, it becomes overwhelming for the Human Resource team to onboard each new member and craft a 1:1 onboarding experience. An LMS can step in place and provide a complete overview of the organization and the essentials that a new employee should be familiar with in an engaging format. The LMS can also deliver content crafted based on the team and designation of the newly inducted employee.

Employee Learning and Training

Continuous learning is a critical factor that improves productivity and upskills your team collectively. As part of your organization’s core values, you provide value-added training to your team members and encourage employees to spend time learning new things with an LMS. An LMS in delivering employee training helps team members adapt to new technology faster and improve their proficiency overall.

Compliance Training

With every new job, there lie several legal rules and practices that employees must adhere to. An LMS can help you educate your employees by bringing them up-to-date on different laws and regulations associated with their work. This enables you to eliminate poor conduct and maintain industry-approved standards that your team can follow while carrying out their day-to-day roles and responsibilities.

Channel Partner Training

In the world of sales and affiliate marketing, help your partners understand your business, products, and services much better. Give them a practical overview of how things work to increase their confidence in marketing your business, selling your products and services, and supporting your customers better.

Education

LMS also compliments educational institutions in satisfying the learning needs of remote learners and professionals who cannot take regular classes. Schools and colleges can use an LMS to offer self-paced certificate programs that learners can opt-in. Government organizations can also use an LMS to provide process training to the general public on special occasions like voting, booking an appointment, volunteering efforts, etc.

Knowledge Base

Businesses can effectively use an LMS platform to host their how-to videos, service walkthroughs and also communicate changes in their system. By hosting the knowledge base online, companies can empower their customers to access content on how things work and troubleshoot fundamental problems in a much more interactive format. This method of product training and onboarding reduces the need for customers to call-in for basic information. It helps your support team to focus more on clients who are experiencing critical issues.

Different types of LMS

Based on your requirement, there are different types of Learning management systems that you can choose from.

Open Source LMS

With every new job, there lie several legal rules and practices that employees must adhere to. An LMS can help you educate your employees by bringing them up-to-date on different laws and regulations associated with their work. This enables you to eliminate poor conduct and maintain industry-approved standards that your team can follow while carrying out their day-to-day roles and responsibilities.

SaaS-Based LMS

It is one of the most sought-after types of LMS to deliver learning. This LMS type is a ready-to-use platform that handles technical aspects of hosting data, security, and uptime. It caters to multiple industries, offers room for configuration, and gives you more time to focus on creating a practical learning experience. Opting in for a SaaS-based LMS saves you from hiring additional IT staff to handle server and data security.

Self-hosted LMS

This type of LMS lets you store your learning content on your server system. Unlike Saas-based, you may require additional IT team members to monitor uptime, server security and secure your learning content through advanced encryption. The benefit of choosing a self-hosted LMS is to ensure that your information is stored in a server that you’re familiar with, not some remote server that may be compromised.

Licensed LMS

This fully commercial LMS gives you the option for high-end customization per your learning goals. While you may end up investing significant capital in this type, it can be scaled up for your entire workforce. It can either be deployed on the cloud or on-premise. Licenced LMS offers you to add your branding, excellent architecture, and qualified technical assistance to get you started.

Content-Creation LMS

This LMS type lets you create your learning material like docs, videos, presentations within the platform. This type of LMS offers trainers and instructors to develop their courseware content through built-in content authoring tools and assessment modules. These platforms also provide the added functionality to distribute pre-made content hosted on popular platforms within the learning module.

Different ways to deploy your Learning Management System

Creating and adding learning content is one thing. Still, the way learners will access the learning content you have added is something you will need to put a lot of thought into before zeroing-in on an LMS.

Web-based LMS: This type of LMS requires your learners to create a profile and sign in online with their username and password to access learning content. Users are not required to install any software application on their device to start learning. 

On-premise LMS: Most licensed/ self-hosted LMSs require learners to log into the learning platform via a software application installed on the device. Content can be accessed only after they login through the app using the learner’s registered user name and password. 

On-premise LMS: This type of LMS is generally an extension of the web-based model. Here, learners can download an app to their mobile device and log in with their registered email address to start learning. This streamlined LMS can mainly be used only to read learning materials and watch a video. 

Now that we have explored different learning management systems let’s look at the most common ways, they are priced.

LMS Pricing

Generally, LMS pricing is categorized into three types: 

Licensing: This type of pricing generally involves a licensing fee required for using the LMS. The payment will either be a one-time payment or will be renewed based on the chosen billing cycle. This pricing model primarily offers lifetime access to the platform along with customization.  

This type of pricing can further be split into two models. 
Pay per User: This type of billing is popular among LMSs that cater to small businesses and enterprises. The pricing is calculated based on the number of active users on the LMS. 
Pay as you Use: This type of pricing model is determined based on how many learning modules you have created or how much server space your learning modules consume.

Freemium: The freemium model gives you free access to a basic feature set that lets you add and deploy learning content to a specific number of active users. You may have to subscribe to a premium version for a more advanced feature set and a growing team.

Core Benefits of using an LMS

Now that we’ve got the nitty-gritty concepts out of the way, let’s take a look at how using an LMS benefits your learning/training experience.

Accessibility 24/7   

Using an LMS gives your learners access to the learning content anytime, anywhere. They can schedule learning based on their convenience and can learn at a pace they are comfortable with.

Reduce Spending 

An LMS takes learning to your learners. You save on time and logistics to bring trainers and learners to a centralized location. And by hosting content, you can reuse your learning models available to multiple batches.

Secure Training 

Ensure that your training materials and assessments are hosted safely with adequate encryption in place. Secure sign-on and content restrictions allow you to deliver learning to the right group of learners.

Enhanced Learning 

By playing around with different formats of learning, deliver an enriched learning experience to your learners. Instill continuous learning and skill development, and ensure that everything learned is retained for a long time.

Assess and Evaluate 

In addition to tailoring a practical learning experience, track the learning progress and include assessments to determine how effective the learning was and evaluate how much the learner understood.

Narrowing-down on the perfect LMS

Here are some of the critical factors that you must consider before choosing your learning management system.

User Interface and Responsiveness

The right LMS should offer an intuitive design that’s easy for your learners to adapt to and start learning. The LMS must guide them in accessing the learning content and navigating through the platform quickly. It should facilitate learning across different devices, browsers, and systems uniformly. Most importantly, the LMS should give learners all the information they need to achieve their learning goals.

Gamification 

When learning is engaging, it is bound to improve the retention rate and make it more appealing to your learners. Find Learning management systems that offer gamification elements like point-based learning, leader board, learning achievement badges to boost learning and build a collaborative learning ecosystem.

Learning Analytics

A feedback-based learning system ensures that learners are given the best learning experience. The LMS you choose should be able to collect feedback from your learners to communicate if the learning modules were effective or not. As a trainer/instructor, learning completion stats, learning goals achievement should be consolidated in a place for you to find out what worked and what should be improved.

Support

The key to creating a continuous learning community is to ensure that your learning management system remains available to your learners round the clock. Choose an LMS that offers a good support team to address your questions, resolve your issues, and guide you to make the best out of the system. Suppose you do not have a technical group of experts to help. In that case, you use the LMS to ensure that the LMS provider has a user forum with experts who can assist you when you need help.

Content and Assessment

Flexibility is a critical feature that you should be paying attention to. While content-creation LMS lets you build your learning modules in-house, you must find the flexibility to create different content types and restrictions before choosing in. If you plan to assess your learners actively, the assessment types, grading process are crucial to choosing the best LMS that works for you.

Collaboration and Sharing

Learning today should be collaborative, and your LMS should offer ways for peers to collaborate and share. It is highly recommended that your LMS have a built-in peer discussion feature to discuss their learnings and share their inputs. Also, your LMS should integrate with social media channels and enable learners to share their learning achievements and milestones.

In conclusion

Learning management systems have redefined how learning is delivered. And choosing the suitable LMS for your learning goals is key to providing learning and helping learners achieve their learning goals. 

Ensure that before you opt-in, you define your learning requirements and test a few of your preferred LMS yourself. Creating a basic mock of the learning module and then inviting a small group of learners to use it. By recording their observation, you can finalize the LMS that best works for you and your learners.

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