What is a Learning Management System (LMS)? – Functions And Features?
Learning Management Systems – A Quick Guide
The primary function of a Learning Management System is to provide a web based experience to deliver online training. The complexity and features provided tend to vary depending on a company’s objectives, strategy and desired outcomes. Some LMSs provide authoring capabilities which allow users to create and deploy their own course content. Less feature rich systems provide hosting and tracking services only, with course creation needing to be done elsewhere. All modern systems allow access to training in both local and remote environments, and the majority are responsive for viewing on devices like phones and tablets.
In essence, a Learning Management System is a hosted catalogue of courses and other learning content, where staff log in to learn and their progress is recorded.
LMS Hosting – Cloud or Local?
As the cost of online storage has decreased and internet access speeds have increased, the LMS market has moved predominantly towards cloud based hosting services. Suppliers host the software and course content remotely, so businesses avoid the need to make further IT investment. Software updates and security remain the responsibility of the provider, although we’d strongly advise to explore how they are going to this as a part of the supplier selection process. In the case of a locally hosted LMS, companies will purchase and host their own software and training courses. Many suppliers still offer support and set up guidance for self-hosting but such expertise will obviously come at a cost.
LMS Pricing – by User, Course or Company
Pricing models across LMS providers vary greatly and you should give careful consideration as to what you’ll need from the LMS. For example, how many users will the platform need to host? How much course content will be available? Do you want to provide single courses or curriculums of courses too? All these numbers will help you select a pricing system most suited to your needs. Most suppliers offer various billing permutations but the key elements making up most cost models will include some or all the following.
An initial setup and deployment cost. Monthly or annual hosting costs. Course access costs either by individual user or by agreed maximum numbers. Course content available either through pay as you go, pay for open access to all or buying bundled content available to an agreed number of users.
Certain pricing models fit better with different sized businesses, but you’ll find that most suppliers will flex their billing system to fit with your specific needs and to keep them competitive.
LMS Technical Standards – The techie bit!
There are two main LMS course content creation standards that are worth being aware of. The historic standard is called SCORM and is still the most widely used format within the industry. More recently Tin Can API has been developed with its key advantage being its ability to allow for external learning activities and tracking whilst providing the ability for the deployment of native mobile apps.
Learning Management System – Features
All modern systems provide the same core functionality. This includes user reporting systems, course management and course allocation by user, team, department etc. Users are able to pause their learning and return seamlessly to the same point giving them control of their own learning. Course completion and assessment results allow user progress to be monitored via a variety of reports.
Newer features that are now being widely offered and adopted include:-
- Social learning – this adds a social networking and message board functionality. Fostering a mentoring facility and shared learning experience across all staff or designated groups.
- Competitive learning (gamification) – Through elements such as badges, incentives and leader boards, this feature creates a competitive process to inspire engagement and generate friendly rivalry.
- Tailored experiences – offering the facility to display information in a specific way dependent upon centralised control by the administration staff or by individual users who wish to personalise their own dashboard experience.
- Pathway learning – a concept of individual learning plans based on the needs of specific role or career path. Unlocking new content or course bundles based on the successful completion of other related elements.
- Video conferencing – providing a video conferencing model which can be used for mentoring or to add a further blended learning model.
So, there you have it, a quick guide to everything LMS. Obviously, the subject, the options and the consideration are more complex than we can cover in this short article but hopefully it has helped. For a more comprehensive and personal guide then why not give us a call now on 0330 024 2881 or use the Cortexa contact form provide HERE.
Original Article by Cortexa