A simple tool designed to run learning modules and tests in an academic institution has evolved into an all-purpose application/software, which is now used in both academia and enterprise learning across the world. From running tests, to performance evaluation at work, to social learning features built into the LMS to integrated ERP and CMS facilities to power full-feature websites; the LMS is no longer a simple learning system!
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The Evolution of the Learning Management System
From the earliest versions of the LMS that just ran basic training videos and presentations supported by instructor training; the modern LMS has evolved significantly. The popularity and affordability of smartphones and decreasing user-attention spans have contributed to the growth of ‘bite-sized learning’ and ‘video-nuggets’. With the focus shifting on ‘anywhere, anytime learning’ the current breed of learning management systems are designed to offer a great learning experience on mobile phones and tablet devices as well.
The ‘Learning Management System’ as a subset of the eLearning industry has evolved to become a stand-alone and prosperous industry domain of its own. With over 700 plus learning management systems available in the market catering to the demands of enterprise learning and higher-education; organizations looking for a LMS are spoilt for choice.
In our blog post today, we will look at the key features that an ideal LMS should possess.
User-friendly and Intuitive by Design
This is a significant factor that determines the success of an LMS. You could pack in all the features that a user may need into your product, but if it is not user-friendly and intuitive by design; then you’ve lost the battle. As per a popular statement in UX-Design – “Even a child should be able to use your LMS with ease.”
Diverse Feature Set
A pretty design alone does not guarantee success. Does your LMS offer all the functions and features that users demand? Be it the ability to track informal learning, a dedicated mobile app, or integrating existing eLearning, cloud-based or on-premise hosting; every LMS provider is looking to innovate. Stay ahead of the competition to make your LMS stand apart.
Many organizations have created their own LMS products by building upon open-source platforms like Moodle, Forma, and ILIAS. Most businesses look for a high level of customization that goes beyond just the rudimentary – ‘look and feel’ updates. Customization requests focus on the integration of existing learning with the new LMS, integration of LMS with existing ERP and CRM systems and much more. Salesforce is the world’s #1 CRM platform that is used by leading organizations across industry verticals. If your LMS allows easy integration with Salesforce, then it is definitely a plus for your LMS product.
Analytics and data are the cornerstone of every business now and L&D is no different. If your LMS is designed to offer in-built real-time data reports then you have ticked an important requirement. With the growth of Experience API or xAPI; administrators can now track learning even when the learner moves away from the core LMS and accesses information in a new browser window. This is a significant shift and adds greater flexibility to learning.
Market and Sell Your Courses Using the LMS
Several eLearning organizations are shifting to a course-catalog model wherein they offer popular courses for a specific fee. The topics range from ‘Safety and Compliance Laws’, ‘Office Etiquette’, and ‘Essentials of PowerPoint’. In addition to this organizations also offer courses created by industry-leaders, which are white-labeled as per their own branding and offered to learners. What was once a rare request is slowly turning into a de facto requirement in modern learning management systems. Organizations are looking for LMS products that allow easy integration of existing courses and the ability to market and sell courses through the LMS by becoming a ‘learning marketplace’.
Does your LMS offer a built-in eCommerce feature?
It is a part of human nature to seek approval and likes from one’s friends. The growth of social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is ample proof of our desire to be recognized and find our personal ‘15 seconds of fame’. Social Learning as a specific offshoot of learning has gained popularity in the past three to four years. We have seen industry-leaders ‘Totara LMS’ offer products like ‘Totara Social’, which are focused on social learning. L&D practitioners also agree that a social element to learning, which allows learners to challenge co-learners to take up modules, share scores, and participate in gamified-puzzles and assessment modules improves retention of learning. So, ensure that your LMS product incorporates social learning.
In addition to this recommendation engines are becoming smarter. Does your LMS suggest learners to pick a relevant course matching their learning requirements? When the LMS looks at the learners’ progress and skill-set and offers relevant learning content it becomes a combination of adaptive and personalized learning. This is quite pertinent to the ‘Assessments’ section of learning programs.
Does your LMS offer a mix of social and personalized learning?
Yes, we are all aware the growth of mobile usage and how more learners are accessing learning content ‘on the go’ on their smartphones. In such a scenario it becomes important for your LMS to offer a powerful variant of the product as an app. Remember, not a skinned-down basic variant of the product but a full-function LMS experience on the mobile app. Invest in developing the apps and it will hold your LMS product in good stead.
Customer Support & Pricing
These are two key qualities that go together and affect the success of any product. LMS pricing usually works on the ‘number of licenses model’. With on-demand learning growing, organizations selling an LMS product seek to find the right business strategy to sell their product. Do you offer excellent customer support? Is your customer support team trained to handle queries both technical and non-technical? Exceptional customer service can ensure repeat customers. Great products have been let down by shabby customer support. Don’t fall into the trap of poor or negligent customer support, empower your customer support team and make it a customer success team.
This is an interesting time for both LMS providers and organizations across industries that are looking for learning management systems to deploy learning. People who claimed that the ‘LMS would Die’ over a decade ago have been forced to eat humble pie as the LMS industry has evolved to grow stronger and offer unique products at different price-points.
We strongly believe that there is still room for improvement and adding finesse to the learning experience and will be unveiling a powerful LMS soon. Keep watching this space for an announcement!
Write to us – firstname.lastname@example.org for a sneak preview of our innovative new LMS product.