What Is A Learning Management System: Tools And Examples For Your Business
A learning management system (LMS) is a software application or web-based technology used to plan, deliver, and track training and educational courses.
An LMS provides an instructor with a virtual classroom for course delivery and management and tools for creating interactive content, assessment, and collaboration.
It also provides students with a self-paced learning environment, where they can access course materials and track their progress.
An LMS is used to create and deliver online courses, either as part of an eLearning initiative or as a stand-alone solution.
LMSs are often used to deliver e-learning or online courses, but some of the best learning management systems can also support classroom-based (face-to-face) teaching.
In this article, I’ll explore what a learning management system is and how it can benefit your business.
I’ll also share some examples of popular LMSs used by companies today, so you’ll become more aware of how to choose the right LMS for your business.
Why Use A Learning Management System?
Learning management systems are beneficial for businesses of all sizes.
Here are a few reasons why your business should consider using an LMS.
It Can Help You To Store Employee Training Records
Learning and development programs are essential for businesses of all sizes. An LMS can help you track employee training records, which can be necessary for compliance training purposes.
From integrating onboarding software to training and development software, an LMS can help you to store employee training records in one central location.
This can make it easier to pull reports and track employee progress over time.
It Can Automate The Process Of Sending Out Training Materials
Providing a training program with specific learning goals is a great way to improve employee productivity and skills.
However, manually sending out training materials can be time-consuming.
You can use an LMS to send out training materials to employees automatically.
This can save you a lot of time and ensure that employees have access to the latest version of the training course.
Compared to online learning platforms, LMSs offer a more comprehensive solution for businesses that want to manage employee training, with the former being geared more towards individual learners.
It Can Help You Schedule And Track Employee Training Sessions
Educational institutions use LMSs to schedule and track student progress.
In the same way, businesses can use an LMS to organize and track employee training sessions.
Various LMS platforms allow course content to be delivered at a self-paced rate, which can be great for employees with busy schedules who need to work around other commitments.
It Can Be Used To Measure The Effectiveness Of Your Training Programs
Whether it’s training on compliance software, customer training, or any other training content, you’ll want to know if your employees are learning from the course material.
With online learning management systems also available in the form of enterprise software, tracking employee progress and completion rates to fine levels of detail means you can get accurate insights into your training programs’ effectiveness.
This information can be used to make improvements to your training courses.
Key Features Of A Learning Management System
The features of an LMS will vary depending on the vendor and product.
That said, some standard core LMS features are as follows.
Online training initiatives require the ability to manage users.
This includes being able to create user accounts, assign roles and permissions, and reset passwords.
Learning materials sometimes also need to be allocated to specific users.
This can be done manually or using an automated system.
With training costs being a significant consideration for businesses, it’s essential to have a course management system in place.
This allows businesses to create courses and track employee progress.
With this functionality allowing learners to have learning experiences that are personalized and engaging, businesses can be sure that their employees are getting the most out of the training programs.
The training process won’t be complete until employees have completed the assignments and any subsequent exams afterward.
Being on top of assignment management means businesses can see which employees are struggling and need additional support.
From software and technology companies that need advanced reporting, to small businesses that want to ensure their employees are completing their training courses, data is an essential part of any learning management system.
Various modules within the LMS will allow businesses to generate reports on employee progress and metrics, completion rates, and more.
This information can be used to make improvements to the training courses, as in most industries, a course that stays the same forever will most likely not be as practical as one that is regularly updated.
Various APIs will typically allow businesses to integrate the LMS with other business applications.
For example, a company may want to integrate its HR system with its LMS so that employee information is automatically populated in the former.
With corporate LMS able to use various automation to make the learning process more streamlined, businesses should always be on the lookout for new integrations that can make their training processes more efficient – while ensuring that the quality of the training courses is not compromised.
The right LMS platform will have mobile learning capabilities that allow businesses to take advantage of this.
For example, businesses can use mobile devices to deliver content, track employee progress, and give employees the ability to access their training courses from anywhere.
With people consuming more content on tinier screen sizes, businesses must consider how they can make their learning courses mobile-friendly.
Social Media Integration
Depending on the type of business, social media integration may or may not be a necessary part of the LMS.
Social media can be a valuable tool for businesses with various social learning apps that allow companies to create a community of learners.
With social media, businesses can also deliver content and track employee progress, using the right platform to integrate the two.
Using the concept of gamification in content management, businesses can engage employees in the learning process and motivate them to complete their training courses.
This can be done by awarding points, badges, and other incentives for completing tasks within the LMS.
Seeing learners progress as they learn through engaging content can help businesses determine which areas need improvement.
The right LMS software application will allow both the institution using it and the user taking a course to know when it’s time to complete an assignment, take a quiz, or move on to the next piece of content.
This allows businesses to automate learning and keep employees on track.
It can also send announcements to a group or individual users when there is a new course available or an update to an existing one.
With user experience being a crucial part of the eLearning process, businesses need an LMS that’s easy to use and navigate.
From instructor-led training that allows small businesses to create and manage courses to higher education institutions that need an LMS that can handle a large number of users, the ease with which someone can interact with the platform has a lot to do with their success (or failure).
The learning environment of the best LMS for a business will be the one that’s most conducive to the type of learning that needs to take place.
Various LMS Types
Learning management systems providers vary when it comes to the type of LMS they offer.
Here are three of the most common types of LMS on offer.
SaaS LMS (Cloud-based)
With the concept of software as a service, businesses can access their learning management system via the internet.
eLearning courses offered as part of a SaaS solution are typically hosted by the provider, saving businesses time and money in hosting and maintaining the infrastructure.
Some providers have an open-source approach to their learning management system, meaning businesses can access the code and customize the platform to fit their specific needs without paying for a license.
From content creation to delivery, this type of LMS offers businesses a lot of freedom and flexibility.
Installed LMS (On-premise)
For some learning activities, such as those where course materials are sensitive or need to be accessed offline, an installed or on-premise LMS might be a better fit.
In this situation, the LMS vendor is typically very protective of the code and will only install it on a business’s servers after signing a contract.
Offering learning content that sits on top of a platform specifically designed for the business’s needs is a viable option for some companies when choosing an LMS.
The use case of such a system would be particular, and it would likely be built by an in-house team or an outside contractor working closely with the business.
As you can see with these various types of LMSs, digital learning is an integral part of any business’s strategy.
Choosing the right learning management system is vital in ensuring employees have the learning tools they need to succeed.
Implementing An LMS Solution
While knowing the types of LMSs available is essential, it’s also crucial to understand how to implement an LMS within a business.
Define Your Goals And Objectives
From admins that must be able to set up the system quickly and efficiently, to employees that need to find and use the learning content with little effort, it’s essential to understand what everyone needs to get out of the system.
Moreover, a company’s goals will help choose the right authoring tool, which is decided by the courses the company wants to offer and how those courses will be delivered.
Assess Your Needs
Whether the learning has a face-to-face component, is delivered offline or online, or is a mixture of both, this will affect the type of LMS you choose.
Moreover, even if it’s only online, one must make various smaller decisions to move forward.
Do you need a platform to host webinars, allow for ecommerce transactions or course bundles, or track employee certification?
Choose Your LMS Type
At this stage, you should be able to decide whether you want a SaaS (cloud-based), installed (on-premise), or custom-built solution.
Consider the pricing, implementation, and support options when making your decision.
Implement Your LMS
Once you’ve chosen your LMS, it’s time to get it up and running.
This process will vary depending on the type of LMS you’ve chosen.
Still, the process generally involves configuring the system, integrating it with other business applications, and loading content onto the platform.
Train Your Employees
Training employees on how to use the LMS is essential to ensure its success.
Admins will need to be trained to manage and configure the system, while employees will need to know how to find and use the learning content.
Sometimes, employee training software components within the LMS can help with this process.
Evaluate Your Results
From looking at the retention rate of employees taking courses on the LMS, to the feedback customers obtained through social listening, it’s essential to evaluate the system’s performance regularly.
This will help you identify any areas that need improvement and make changes accordingly.
Top LMS Solutions
Let’s now consider some of the most popular LMS solutions today.
With social features and gamification built in, Absorb is a popular choice for businesses that want to make learning fun and engaging for their employees.
It’s also easy to use, with a drag-and-drop user interface that simplifies creating and editing courses.
- Smart administration allows you to quickly and easily set up users and courses.
- Learner engagement features, such as social learning and gamification, make learning fun and interactive.
- eCommerce capabilities let you sell courses and bundles online.
- Reporting and analytics give you insights into how courses perform and employees progress.
- Learner experience features provide a great user experience, with an intuitive interface and easy course creation.
- Observation checklists let you track employee performance against specific criteria.
Being able to track learner progress in real-time is one of the top features of TalentLMS.
This can be helpful for managers who want to see how their employees are progressing and identify areas where they might need additional support.
- Content-friendly environment to build courses easily and quickly
- SCORM, cmi5 & xAPI support for compliance
- Surveys engine to gather learner feedback
- Assessments engine to measure learning progress
- Learning paths to guide learners through courses
- Blended learning for a mix of online and offline learning
- Rich communication tools for collaboration and engagement
Integrating directly with WordPress to create a seamless experience, LearnDash is a popular choice for businesses that already use this CMS for their website.
With the ability to publish an unlimited number of courses, it’s also a scalable solution that can grow with your business.
- LearnDash focus mode removes distractions from the learning environment so that learners can focus on the course content.
- Drag & drop course builder makes creating and editing courses easy, with no coding required.
- Advanced quizzing allows you to create quizzes with multiple question types, including fill-in-the-blank, multiple choice, and true/false.
- Dynamic content delivery ensures that learners always access the most up-to-date course content.
- Flexible prerequisites let you set conditions that must be met before a learner can access a course, such as completing another course or passing a quiz.
Choosing the right LMS solution for your business can be challenging, considering the various options available.
By taking the time to assess your needs and define your goals, you’ll be able to narrow down your options and choose a system that’s well suited to your business.
Finally, remember that implementing an LMS is a big undertaking.
At the same time, if done correctly, it can positively impact your business, making it easier to train and onboard employees and improve retention rates.
This will significantly impact your bottom line and help your business reach new levels of success.
Further reading on AdamEnfroy.com: While online classes provide a lot of flexibility, there are some potential downsides you should consider before enrolling in one. Here’s what you need to know about the pros and cons of online classes.
Moreover, a membership site might also complement the right learning management system for your business, allowing you to package and sell multiple courses in one place.
If you’re interested in this option, check out the best membership site platforms to help you get started.