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Online courses are an important aspect of onboarding today’s workforces. One of the most effective ways to train new employees is through a comprehensive learning management system (LMS). LMS software systems provide everything you need to build and deploy virtual training courses to your employees, partners, clients or whoever else you need to get up to speed on complex subjects. Here’s what you need to know about LMS and how to choose the right one for your team.
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What is an LMS?
In the past, the word “training” meant attendees would meet in person for workshops or classes. These sessions were designed to enhance employees’ skills or offer onboarding for new hires. There would usually be a trainer or instructor providing education, guidance and facilitation.
While these had their usefulness, they required everyone to meet up at the same spot and attend a meeting at the same time. With an LMS, all of these training objectives are still met, but now everything is completed online in a single software platform.
Training can be delivered in the form of videos, interactive courses, quizzes and feedback surveys. Because they are virtual, they can be taken at any time and from anywhere the user is located. They serve as an ideal learning system for an increasingly remote workforce.
Every LMS includes two distinct parts: an admin interface and a user interface.
- The admin interface is where the back-end tasks occur. This includes creating the course materials, onboarding users, generating reports and providing feedback on coursework.
- The user interface, as its name implies, is where users can access, review and complete the requested training.
Who Should Use an LMS?
Prior to the pandemic, companies were realizing the benefits of connecting with employees virtually. Now that many workers are continuing to stay home even as restrictions get lifted, businesses need to adapt to this changing landscape.
Implementing education and training via LMS allows companies to reach their entire audience, no matter where they are based.
LMS is an excellent choice for businesses seeking to engage with their team and distribute information, but without the hassle of calendar invites and conference room scheduling.
What Industries Use Learning Management Systems?
LMS is used by companies of all sizes and in virtually all industries, including health care, government, higher education, and consulting There are a plethora of learning management systems available to fit every business need, size and budget. Simply put, LMS is useful in any environment where workers must learn new information to do their jobs well.
What Can an LMS Be Used For?
The number one reason businesses decide to use an LMS is to offer virtual training to accommodate workers regardless of where they are located. This training can include new employee onboarding, issuing required education, assessing performance and sharing compliance information.
Educational institutions are frequently making use of LMS solutions now as well. Instructors are able to share assignments, view student progress, assess performance and post grades.
What LMS Do I Need?
As with every type of software, there are different options depending on what your business needs (and doesn’t need). The first thing you’ll have to decide is if a corporate LMS or an education LMS is the right choice.
If your business is looking for training that will focus on employees, vendors and clients, then a corporate LMS will fit the bill. If you are an educational institution or independent instructor looking to connect with learners, you should consider an education LMS. Both platforms come standard with features like branding and tech support, but a corporate LMS will offer more tools, customization and system updates.
Different Types of LMS
There’s an abundance of LMS options on the market. However, most services can be broken down into two distinct types: open source and closed source. Each one carries advantages and disadvantages, and they serve different purposes.
Open-source LMS is installed on a device, as opposed to being cloud-based. Like most open-source applications, anyone is permitted to access the source code and use, modify and redistribute it. Users own their data and LMS code, allowing them to easily move service providers if necessary. These options are typically free or low-cost, but require a fair amount of programming knowledge.
The user is also responsible for maintenance and system updates because there may only be minimal tech support available. And while there are no upfront licensing fees, there may be expenses linked to hosting open-source LMS down the road.
An example of an open-source LMS platform would be Moodle, which is maintained and supported mostly by its user community. The platform is popular with a wide range of organizations, from small public schools to large private enterprises.
Closed-source LMS systems are typically hosted in the cloud and their source code is not available to the public. The cost is substantially higher than open-source LMS, since an authenticated license is required for use. The trade-off is that these are turnkey applications that only require users to plug in course material and the vendor takes care of hosting, maintenance and programming. This option also offers more flexibility when scaling up or down.
Mindflash is a perfect example of a popular closed-source LMS. While it’s more expensive than the likes of Moodle, it also requires a lot less technical skill. It also offers robust customer support should you ever run into a problem.
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Other Frequently Asked Questions
If you need to share training, education or support materials with others, you should consider an LMS. Whether for work or school, utilizing one of the many available options will help you connect with employees or learners from a distance.
Which LMS features are most important?
That will entirely depend on your company’s unique needs. Write down a list of what you are going to use the LMS for. Everyone will have different answers, but it’s important to consider tracking, reporting, customization options, device compatibility and technical support when you choose your platform.
As of right now, there are hundreds of different LMS apps available on the market. We suggest working backwards to narrow the field.
First, decide if you need a corporate or education-focused LMS. Then decide if you have the knowledge to program an open-source platform or if you will need the support of closed-source.
Next, you can start to look at pricing and desired features. Once you have a better idea of exactly what you want, shopping for an LMS will be much easier.