Introduction to Learning Management Systems (LMS)

What is a Learning Management System

Traditionally, Learning Management System (LMS) is a software that is designed specifically to create, store, and deliver educational content to organizations, companies, individuals or groups of individuals. For security, scalability and reliability LMS solutions are increasingly being hosted in the cloud environment, which guarantees exceptional content delivery network capabilities such as Microsoft Azure or Amazon AWS. LMS today shall engage technology that can and will improve quality of learning, make it accessible, cost-effective, easily adaptable and what is even more important – traceable. Your most basic LMS provides platform that enables instructors/course administrators to upload learning content (learning objects), build courses, assessments/quizzes, surveys, deliver lessons to students, and track learning progress. Modern LMS operates through browser-based User Interface (UI) on your computer, tablet/iPad or other mobile devices with secure sign-on/single sign-on process. This gives all learners easy access to courses from any location while instructors and managers can monitor learning progress. LMS applications today include business intelligence to boost productivity, and promote continuous learning.

What to expect

Organizations use LMS to facilitate access to learning materials that range from videos/audio materials and presentations to interactive lessons and assessments. LMS you want to consider should be able to:

  • Provide learning experiences that are adaptable to learners
  • Provide access to LMS from any device from any location with internet access
  • Make it easy and intuitive for instructors to make changes
  • Give an opportunity to instructors and learners to collaborate online
  • Integrate with accounting and/or payment system
  • Create custom branded UI solution for organizations
  • Include easy access to learning progress data
  • Be able to scale as organization grows
  • Provide analytical insights to help with learning content improvement

LMS helps to make learning interesting and engage learners so they take a more active role in their own development. Keep in mind that growth of mobile technology, cheaper and easier Internet access, and faster Internet through technologies like 5G means more people could learn anytime, anywhere.

What LMS are used for

LMS will manage, deploy, measure learning activities, and support a variety of internal and external corporate features, including:

Compliance training

LMS is often used to make sure employees or members receive mandated training, and manage recurring certification and accreditation programs. Single centralized approach simplified this task, mitigates risk and helps to avoid any potential regulatory compliance issues.

Member training

LMS is also used to amplify membership value by creating new training content and facilitate engagement amongst members of non-profit organizations.

Customer training

LMS can be used for organizations to provide training to their customers. This is very common for technology companies who needs fast and effectively onboard new customers. It will also reduce support effort later on.

Employee onboarding

One of the most common LMS use case is support of new employees with their initial onboarding so that they can go through the process quickly.

Employee development

This LMS use case is focused on supporting the talent management, training and development of current employees. Courses could be created and assigned to ensure employees acquire the new job skills and are informed about product or process changes.

Types of Learning Management Systems (LMS)

There are several types of learning management systems and license types organizations can choose from:

Software as a Service (SaaS)

LMS platform which is usually hosted in cloud such as Microsoft Azure or AWS. Support, maintenance and upgrades or updates are included in the price. It is usually a multitenant platform meaning all our SaaS clients share one LMS instance. All administrators, instructors and learners are separated by company they are registered under and have access rights based on their username and password. Companies can usually do branding by using their own logo and color scheme. There is nothing to install on your computer in this model. This is a good option for any organizations who want to implement training as soon as possible with minimum expense. The downside of a single shared instance is that very little customization is allowed and they cannot share learning objects among several companies. This is why there are other options available.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

PaaS is also hosted on the clouds, but is gives much more flexibility then SaaS. There is nothing to download here either. The biggest difference here is every customer has its own instance of LMS. That is why it could be much more flexible with branding, customization, integration, content sharing etc. We still will provide support, maintenance, update sand upgrades for your instance of LMS. This is also explaining why PaaS is more expensive than SaaS. In SaaS everybody shares expenses for hosting, support and maintenance where in PaaS it cannot be shared (it is your instance after all). On the other hand, it is still cloud based LMS application that makes it a subject to free updates, upgrades, etc.

Most desirable LMS Features

  • Painless Implementation that will enable any organization to launch training courses quickly
  • Quick and easy deployment in cloud-based SaaS or PaaS models
  • Customizable reporting that will support information access for all learners, administrators, and course authors
  • Learner Profile which gives access to full history of purchases, courses, credits and certificates
  • xAPI (Tin Can API)/SCORM compliant content management system (CMS) import features for learning objects and adding elements.
  • LMS system that involves course management capabilities that direct learners through specific learning path.
  • Certificates and achievements that learners can share in social media.
  • Automated and semi-automated assessment scoring
  • Instructor Led Training (ILT) in person or virtual capabilities
  • Technical and course development support, including built-in tutorials.
  • Transition from User Interface (UI) to User Experience (UX)
  • Analytical model and Business Intelligence tools

Built-in Authoring Tools or CMS

Built-in Authoring Tools

Most up to date LMS include content authoring tools, which allows building courses from scratch and supports xAPI and/or SCORM standards. That gives you flexibility to build new learning objects or re-use existing one.

CMS

Content Management System (CMS) is often confused with LMS. While CMS is completely different product it could house some learning materials.
It is a place for instructors and course authors to create course designs ahead of the releasing of courses to learners. However, it is no substitute for LMS. Courses and lessons could be developed in CMS and exported to LMS later through xAPI and/or SCORM.

LMS licensing types

Active user

This model identifies learners as active users only when learner will access learning content. It does not matter when their account is created or when they log into the LMS. This is the most cost effective because it only requires LMS buyers to pay for the interaction with course content, no matter how many times a specific user logs into the system

Registration model

This model calculates usage based on several user metrics, including but not limited by: how many users log into the LMS, how many of them register for a specific course, how many users buy content and/or earn a certificate. This can become very expensive very fast as the organization scales its learning programs.

Revenue share

This model is tailored to the sale of content, typically expressed in terms of revenue percentage shared with LMS vendor.

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