What is a learning management system? : A Complete Guide
The short description of a learning management system helps you manage the administration, tracking, reporting, and delivery of courses, lessons, and tests.
What are the advantages of a learning management system?
Improves grading system
First, streamline the educational process. Grading work is easier and faster, especially with quizzes and self-correction tests.
Encourages learning among students
Technology has the potential to engage and motivate students more than ever. With an intuitive learning management system, you could see the interaction and subsequently improve results. In particular, features that motivate learners, such as the Mozilla Open Badges system that can be used in Totara, encourage achievement and can make learning fun.
Learning management systems are accessible from anywhere. This, coupled with their ability to further engage and motivate students, means that students are not limited by a lack of tools to do their work. Or because of the possibility of completing their work without the help of tutors. Queries can be answered in real-time.
This means that learning management systems actually foster interaction between students and educators, something that can only benefit both parties and lead to more engaged students, better quality education, and better outcomes.
How does LMS work for students?
The best way to imagine a learning management system is to think of it as a large website, only accessible by people with a login. Within this “closed” website, you can interact with your students in two ways: online or blended.
Online learning is similar to distance education provided by organizations like the Open University, where students are based off-campus and interact with tutors and other students asynchronously.
Blended learning is where teachers and students meet physically, but LMS is used to support learning by providing a space where material can be stored and organized, assessments can be taken, and students and teachers can interact through blogs, forums, etc.
Learning on the go
A learning management system makes learning flexible and can deliver learning via computer, tablet, and smartphone; the latter two channels are becoming increasingly popular as many organizations promote mobile learning or ‘learning on the go’.
Since the main function of a learning management system is to provide learning to students, there will typically be three different types of connection (there could be more, depending on your solution). Typically, this is an administrator login, teacher login, and student login.
How does LMS work for administrators?
The administrator connection will be reserved for administrators. Once logged in, it will present the user with tools to be able to add content and users, remove content and users, and allow users to access certain areas of the learning management system so that they can change settings.
The teacher login will allow teachers to assign assignments, receive completed assignments and scores from students, and also create courses. The student login will present the user with information about courses, work in progress, and links to resources. Usually, it will provide a way to contact the teacher or course leader if they have any questions. Work can be submitted from the student login, which will then be picked up by the teacher or class leader from the administrator login.
How to choose the best learning management system?
To help you get through the complex decision-making process, we’ve listed some of the most important things to consider when choosing an LMS.
Make sure your goals are clear
Choosing the right LMS is impossible if you don’t know exactly what your organization’s short-term and long-term learning goals are. Once you’ve determined these goals and developed a clear organization-wide learning strategy, you can start looking for an LMS to help you achieve your goals.
Talk to your learning and development team
Your learning and development team will need to work with your new LMS day in and day out, so be sure to involve them in the selection process. Ask them what their needs and goals are. If they are very technical, they may want an LMS that allows them great flexibility in customizing courses and learning portals. If you are not technical, a simple user interface and good documentation will be important aspects to look for in the new LMS.
Talk to users
Implementing a new LMS can turn into a massive failure if your employees hate using it. Let them try demos of the platforms you’re considering and take surveys on what they liked and didn’t like about them.
Consider the specific experience of the provider
A new LMS provider may offer a variety of unique features that sound great, but if you don’t have any experience in your industry and/or don’t have clients the same size as your organization, you might want to steer clear for now.
Hands-on experience in setting up an LMS in a similarly sized organization in your industry can be invaluable when you have specific issues.
Consider the support offered by the LMS provider
You will need sufficient support during and after your LMS implementation, especially if you are implementing a new LMS in a large organization. Look for the included support and additional support options provided by the LMS provider and their cost.
Think of freedom and flexibility
You may think that you have identified the best LMS provider, and the perfect learning management system based on your checklist. However, what if you are not satisfied 1 year, 3 years, or more? A proprietary LMS means that you buy both the provider and the learning management system. If you want to change one, you have to change BOTH. This is where an open-source LMS, like Totara, can be a great option. As with that, you come to a plethora of vendors who can work on and further develop the system.
Finally, don’t compromise
Ideally, by the end of your needs analysis process, you will have established an LMS checklist. This checklist will include all features and requirements that you can then tick off by chatting with a shortlist of training companies.
Make sure all your current, future and possible needs can be met with the learning management system you choose.
Who Needs an LMS?
LMS platforms are used around the world, in several different industries, and for a variety of corporate learning use cases. The adoption of LMS has been increasing for several years around the world.
Here are two main types of LMS users:
Administrators – These people are responsible for managing the LMS. Their work involves a combination of several tasks:
- overseeing course management,
- managing content (creating training courses and learning plans),
- or contacting external content providers),
- assign specific groups of students to specific groups,
- learning plans and monitor learning outcomes and progress.
Students – Students with access to an LMS can view their course catalog, take assigned courses, and measure their own progress. The best LMS solutions ensure that this access has optimized travel and flow and is on-demand. This makes it as easy as possible for students to get what they need. Students can be assigned training individually or according to their function and/or role in the organizational structure of a company.
What is an LMS for? (LMS use case)
At a very basic level, learning management systems centralize, implement, and measure learning activities. A state-of-the-art learning management system supports a variety of internal and external business use cases, including:
Another common LMS use case is for organizations to provide customer training. This is especially common for software and technology companies. They need to effectively onboard users so they can use their products. Continuing customer education will also bring more value to customers and prevent customer churn.
An LMS can also be used to train an organization’s partners and channels (for example, resellers). It’s a great way to enhance your partner programs and deliver more value to partners.
An LMS is also commonly used to amplify the value of membership by creating centralized training content and making it easier for its members to engage with digital learning.
Perhaps the most common use case for LMS is to act as an enterprise LMS that supports new employees during their initial onboarding so they can quickly grow and get started. To earn a living at the office!
Employee Development and Retention
When you find gold, you just stand there and polish it, right? We sure hope so. This common LMS use case is to support talent management, training, and development of current employees. In the LMS, courses can be assigned to ensure employees acquire the right job skills. They are informed of product changes, and are up to date on compliance training, to name a few.
Sometimes we all need a little nudge to figure out what to do. An LMS is often used to ensure that employees receive any required training and to manage recurring training and certification programs. This centralized approach mitigates risk and helps avoid potential compliance issues.
We all like to see a “done/won” deal. To help salespeople get there more frequently, an LMS is essential to enable large-scale sales by equipping salespeople with the knowledge they need, exactly when they need it. The platform also speeds up onboarding (essential for sales teams) so that new hires can start selling sooner and you can keep your best employees.
The LMS you choose should centralize learning and also evolve your operations. It should also reduce the volume of some administrative tasks, provide training at a lower cost, and help you keep track of your training and the progress of your students.
By doing so, you can identify gaps and improve missing areas. In particular, start by describing your objectives and look at the characteristics that an LMS must have to help your institution/organization achieve its objectives.