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A learning management system (LMS) provides a framework for delivering and managing learning content and tracking progress in an anytime, anywhere learning environment. Learning management system software and other eLearning tools manage corporate training for businesses, allow schools to build blended or digital-only academic experiences, and let entrepreneurs create and sell courses in their area of expertise.
A learning content management system (LCMS) allows users to create learning content and manage the presentation of it through courseware authoring tools. Learning management system platform are related to training software and course authoring software .
The benefits of learning management systems (LMS)
- Reduce training downtime: A learning management system lets your team learn whenever is most convenient for them, and wherever, with mobile access. This eliminates the need to schedule costly offsite training sessions.
- Improve employee retention: Study after study shows that engaged employees stick around longer, and professional development opportunities can lead to higher employee engagement rates. Given the cost of hiring new employees and replacing top performers, this benefit alone can justify the use of a scalable LMS at your organisation, especially since an LMS can reduce training costs.
- Increase employee productivity: According to a research by the Association for Talent Development (ATD), companies with formal training programmes have higher revenue per employee and higher profit margins than companies that don't invest significantly in training. Formal training programmes enabled by a learning management tool also help new employees get up to speed faster (40% to 60% faster according to a Brandon Hall study), meaning it ultimately takes less time for them to start producing for your organisation.
Typical features of learning management systems (LMS)
Here are some of the most common features of learning management system products:
- Course management: Create and manage course material, presentations, and enrolment.
- Course tracking: Track student progress, scores, and time spent on assignments, tests, and requirements.
- Blended learning: Support blended learning with online tools and conversational enablers such as wikis and message boards.
- Mobile learning: Allow students to access course material through an LMS app or mobile-enabled website so they can learn on their phones or tablets.
- Tests/assessments: Create and administer in-system tests and other measures of aptitude or material learned.
LMS platforms will likely include some mix of the above features, as well as advanced ones such as gamification and certification.
Considerations when purchasing LMS software
While cost is clearly an important factor for picking the right learning management system for your organisation, don't ignore other important considerations, such as:
- Buy-in: LMSs have a lot of stakeholders, from teachers and training professionals, to students, to your own IT department that has to implement the system. Failing to reach out to any one of these groups to understand their questions and requirements could scuttle your LMS purchase before you even start.
- Customer service: Almost as important as the functionality and pricing of an LMS platform is the responsiveness and helpfulness of the vendor providing it. When you do demos and walkthroughs of the software, make sure to test the customer service as well. Try calling, emailing, or using the live chat functionality as if you were a client, and note how long it takes to get a response, or how helpful support reps are.
- Scorecard: Demoing a bunch of eLearning software systems is incredibly important to be able to make an educated purchase. It can also cause all those tools to blend together in your head when you try to remember them a week or two later. Make sure to use a demo scorecard and some sort of rating system to note how well each tool did against your requirements.
Relevant learning management system (LMS) trends
LMS is a fast-moving industry, and eLearning technology and tools are constantly improving and changing. Here are some LMS trends that you should be aware of in order to future proof your purchase:
- Microlearning: These bite-sized chunks of education are designed to reach learners where they are, and fit into anyone's schedule.
- Gamification: Points, badges, leaderboards, and even RPG-esque fantasy narratives are all tools many LMSs already use to gamify their eLearning course delivery. Studies show students perform better when given content in the form of a game, so expect to see more functionality like this in the future.
- Virtual reality classrooms: VR headsets and immersive technology are already allowing students and trainees to learn by doing instead of just by watching. Costs for virtual reality development tools are expected to come down substantially in the next few years, meaning that setting up your own VR classroom is going to be easier than ever.