Published on:
December 31, 2020

What is an LMS? A Guide to Learning Management Systems

A Learning Management System is an online software platform designed for the creation, delivery and tracking of e-learning courses and programs. LMS systems are used both for educational and corporate purposes.

A Learning Management System is an online software platform designed for the creation, delivery and tracking of e-learning courses and programs. LMS systems are used both for educational and corporate purposes.

An LMS is composed of a server and a user interface. The server is where the creation, delivery and management of e-courses takes place. The user interface (UI), on the other hand, is the platform on the user’s (student or corporate client) end used for the actual consumption of the course materials.

LMS systems were first used in higher education institutions but have become popular in other areas including corporate learning and training. They help a growing number of learning institutions and organizations to train and manage their students/employees using a model that does not require physical participation.

The amount of information that can be designed and delivered using an LMS system is enormous. Notably, compared to traditional modes of learning, learning management systems can also include video, webinars, and interactive elements to enhance the learners’ experience. If you have training that can be delivered online, you should consider an LMS.

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Benefits of a Learning Management System (LMS)

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1.  Centralization of content. LMS platforms will allow you to put all your content in one place. Certainly, you don’t need separate hard drives to store course material which reduces the risk of data loss. Also, it makes the designing of courses easier. Cloud-based Learning Management Systems allow all users to access information from one central hub and makes online collaboration possible. Additionally, an LMS stores information in an encrypted format making it secure from hacking.

2.  Promotes a blended learning approach. By combining in-person and online learning strategies, LMS platforms yield the benefits of both these approaches.  Competency gaps are bridged thereby helping students and employees to focus on their growth.

3.  Unlimited access to course material. Once a student or employee enrolls for a course via an LMS, they can consume the material anytime and anywhere. LMS platforms have grant access to content to global audiences, regardless of their time zone.

4.  Saves learning costs. LMS platforms reduce learning costs by eliminating expenses such as instructor fees, classroom rentals, travel, and printed material costs. By having webinars and a digital repository for all learning material, these costs are eliminated.

5.  Time saving and relevant. LMS courses are flexible and allow users to pick only the content they want or need to learn, eliminating irrelevant courses. Thus, scenarios such as sitting through a lengthy online or offline training course have been successfully eliminated.

6.  Easy tracking of progress and performance.  LMS platforms help learners to create milestones and gauge their performance. For instance, most systems allow the users to continue from their last saved session. They can also take tests and quizzes to assess their understanding of course material. Most LMS platforms come with analytics and reporting tools that help  administrators identify gaps in learning and boost learner achievement.

7.  Easy update of eLearning courses. To update existing courses, you just need to log in and make necessary changes. You don’t need to create new courses. In comparison, traditional learning models require that the moderator creates new material and then sends information individually to learners every time there is a change to the content.

8.  Compliance with regulations. Compliance laws keep changing and it becomes an arduous task to ensure that learning content is compliant. Fortunately, LMS platforms make it easy to adjust content from time to time to meet these standards.

9.  Integration with social networks. Most learning management systems allow their users to link with social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. This helps to reap the benefits of connecting with other learners using social network platforms such as Facebook groups. Learners can also connect with each other in online forums which are also included in some LMS platforms.

10. Enhance collaboration. An LMS environment allows students and teachers to connect and work together on different tasks in synchronous and asynchronous fashion. Instructors will use the platform to create lesson plans and distribute learning content. Students, on the other hand, will use discussion forums to contribute and ask questions.

When Do You Know it’s Time to get an LMS?

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The eLearning industry is growing and experts calculate that its value will hit $15.72 billion by 2021. In fact, it is estimated that 87% of learners use some form of LMS for their eLearning needs. But when will you know that it is time to get an LMS for your organization?

When you feel that your current training model is not delivering results as intended, an LMS might be a good solution. You may want your students or employees to take some form of online training. Instead of sending training material via email, a Learning Management System will surely help. Here are some signs that your institution/organization needs an LMS:

  • If you are unable to track the progress and performance of learners, an LMS is a definite must-have. Most current training models do not have report-generating mechanisms, making it hard to assess if learners are comprehending the material. 
  • For employers, compliance is important for business. LMS platforms help to keep your learning content compliant as opposed to conventional training methods.
  • Training in most institutions and organizations is disorganized. Course materials are usually delivered in an unstructured manner. For instance, training seminars may be held on an impromptu basis which is against the learners’ wishes. The solution is to get an LMS to streamline learning which will be done at the users’ convenience.
  • If your training costs are too high, it is wise to get an LMS. Costs such as travel expenses for trainers and venue fees will be minimized. As a result, the savings can be used to enhance the LMS platform that you choose.
  • If your institution or organization has mobile or remote learners and workforce, on-site training may prove daunting. With a cloud-based LMS, your users can login from anywhere and consume the same learning content available on-site.
  • Most learning content is ‘boring.’ Consequently, learners get detached and do not get the benefits of the training. LMS models are versatile and provide enhanced features such as gamification that make the eLearning experience enticing.
  • Learners may want to specialize in different fields. Of course, they might have some core courses that they need to take in common butothers might require specialized training. An LMS will help by creating groups of unique learners.
  • Conventional training methods are characterized by a lot of manual tasks. These include enrollment, physical capture of class material on notebooks or devices, and sitting-in for exams. An LMS eliminates all these by automating most of the processes and saving time.
  • If your organization is using too many outlets to distribute learning material, it is time to get an LMS. Some organizations have to print training manuals and content that add up  and increase operating costs. The distribution of these materials can also betime-consuming.
  • Lastly, if you have an old LMS platform that cannot accommodate all your learners’ needs, it is wise to get one that is scalable. Most of these systems cost money but investing in one will save you more in the long-run.

LMS and eLearning

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The two may be confused as one and the same thing. However, there are some differences. An LMS platform focuses on the learning and tracking of progress of the learners. It focuses on assessment, collaboration, and grading of the education process.

In contrast, eLearning software offer curated digital libraries that include video, online courses and eBooks. Notably, there is not much focus on assessment, grading and collaboration. eLearning content is not as structured as LMS content.

Thus, for eLearning software, the focus is to provide the learner with an online library for self-guided learning. It also offers integration with LMS platforms. Fortunately, most vendors sell eLearning software that can be integrated with various LMS platforms.


Types of LMS Software

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Corporate LMS and Academic LMS are the two types available on the market. The former is used by organizations to educate and train employees, while the latter is used in educational institutions to create and distribute school courses as well as to track students’ progress. Indeed, the functionality of the two is similar, however, they are designed to suit the unique needs of their clients.

An academic LMS can be designed for K-12 schools, universities or colleges. While the functions may be the same, an LMS designed for higher learning will have more features such as lengthy tailored feedback. In contrast, a K-12 program may have lesser features to make it simpler to use for students at that level.


LMS vs. VLE (Virtual Learning Environments)

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The two are almost the same product but their respective software have differentiating aspects. A VLE is more of a collaborative platform with emphasis on discussion, forums and other peer-to-peer functions.

In comparison, an LMS places emphasis on performance tracking and analytics. Thus, some developers have created virtual-only learning software which do not exactly fit into the model of an LMS.

Types of LMS Deployment

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Cloud-Based LMS

This type is hosted on a cloud where the vendor maintains the systems and does upgrades and updates. Users are required to log in using a username and password to access content. Hence, there is no need to download software.

This makes it a great option for organizations that need to access the service immediately. Sadly, personalization and branding for this type of LMS deployment is not possible.

Self-Hosted LMS

The LMS vendor in this case will allow clients to download end-user software or purchase installation discs. This type allows the user to customize the platform and take more control. The downside is that you have to pay for updates.

Desktop Application LMS

Similar to self-hosted LMS, desktop application LMS is installed on a user’s computer and can be remotely accessed by other users on other devices. This makes collaboration by learners possible.

Mobile Application

This type allows the user to access learning material on a mobile device.


LMS Customers

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Students – These are the end users of Academic LMS platforms. They log into the platforms to access school-based learning content.

Employees – These are the end users of Corporate LMS platforms. They use these systems to access work-related learning and training.

Teachers/Instructors – These are the tutors who upload digital content. They create the information to be used by the end users or they can use material created by another party.

Administrators – They analyze data collected by LMS platforms to evaluate learners’ progress. Mostly, they integrate the LMS with Student Information Systems to enhance a smooth transition from one platform to the next.

Organizations – These are corporations and they use LMS to track their employees and launch training initiatives. Also, they may use these platforms to manage franchises and record sales activities.

Medium and small businesses – Smaller and medium companies may use LMS so that they can cut on human resource management costs.

Freelance users – These are neither part of a learning institution or company. They are independent users who want to achieve a certain learning objective.


LMS Licensing Models

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There are three basic LMS licensing types.

Open Source. These systems are online-based and free to use. You are allowed to change the source code to suit your needs. In case you encounter problems or troubleshooting difficulties, there is an online community of users ready to assist you. However, you need experience in coding to use this type of platform.

Paid License. These come with monthly or yearly subscriptions. Such a license gives the user additional benefits in the form of advanced personalized support and more friendly features.

Free License. They are similar to open source only that no programming knowledge is required. The drawback is that there is no support for the user. To get the most of these types of LMS, you will have to deal with a steep learning curve.

LMS Pricing Options

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Freemium. The types of LMS in this category offer basic functionality. For you to access advanced features, you will have to pay an upgrade fee.

Subscription. In some LMS platforms, for you to access advanced features and personalized support, you need to pay a monthly or yearly fee. In some cases, the platform will allow you to pay different prices for different packages. The more superior the package, the higher the fee.

Licensed. This model allows the client to pay a fee for all end-users instead of paying per user. The fee can be a one-time lifetime access fee or an annual fee.

LMS Technical Standards

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LMS technical standards should integrate seamlessly with your LMS. You should decide on one that is favored by content creators and can be scaled as your institution/company grows. Each standard has its own strengths and limitations. That said, below are the five main standards in use today:

1. SCORM 2004

SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) is a programming standard that is used by developers so that eLearning software products integrate with other programs. It allows eLearning software to communicate with LMS software. Specifically, SCORM 2004 makes eLearning content shareable across all platforms.

Pros

  • Creating SCORM content is easy and user-friendly. You don’t need programming knowledge to create learning material.
  • SCORM is supported by most developers and authoring tools. Hence, migration from one LMS platform to another is easy.

Cons

  • The last SCORM update was in March 2009; more than a decade.
  • It does not support offline learning; no Internet connection, no learning.
  • Tracking options are limited and include assessment scores, time spent on courses and completion levels. Advanced metrics like engagement are not included.
  • SCORM works only within the LMS environment. Thus, publishing SCORM courses on your website or mobile app is impossible.
  • SCORM is Flash-based even with the migration to HTML 5. Despite HTML’s capability to publish SCORM content, the quality of media like videos is inferior.

2. AICC

AICC (Aviation Industry Computer-Based Training Committee) allows eLearning content and LMS platforms to communicate through HSC (Home Access Center) protocols. Information is transmitted via HTML and then the LMS gives back the information in text form.

Pros

  • AICC supports HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) data transfer making it very secure. AICC data can also be stored on a separate server or domain from the one hosting the LMS thus, it is flexible.

Cons

  • AICC was disbanded in 2014 hence there are no longer any updates. Consequently, most content creators are abandoning it.
  • AICC has very limited tracking features. In fact, of the four LMS standards, it has the least number of tracking abilities.
  • Compliance varies for AICC. A system may be technically-compliant, however, most features may have to be encoded manually.

3. Tin Can API

This is also referred to as xAPI or Experience API and is seen as an enhancement to SCORM. It features tracking activities and allows external learning. It also allows advanced learners to develop and deploy mobile apps.

Pros

  • xAPI tracks advanced data such as games, simulations, blended learning and mouse-clicks. To add, the analytics from xAPI data are so comprehensive giving content creators enough information to build even better courses.
  • It allows for offline learning. In case there is a loss of Internet connection, the learner can complete a milestone which will then be uploaded to the LMS once the connection is restored.
  • xAPI permits learning outside an LMS environment. Indeed, it can record learning activity taking place through software such as CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems.
  • xAPI allows creation of content that is mobile-friendly. Information does not have to be consumed via a web browser alone since dedicated mobile apps can also do the job.

Cons

  • Compared to SCORM and AICC, xAPI is not widely-adopted. However, content developers are quickly embracing this standard.

4. CMI5

CMI5 is a modern standard running on xAPI communication protocol. It provides definitions for important elements needed for system interoperability. It was created to overcome issues associated with SCORM and AICC.

CMI5 is a product created and released by the pioneers of xAPI and ADL (Advanced Distributed Learning). It was developed with interoperability, extensibility (allowing extensions to track data), and mobile support in mind.

At the heart of xAPI is the LRS (Learning Record Store) which records and shares statements of all activities taken by a learner. LRS can be stand-alone or within an LMS and is the central store for all data sent and retrieved during learning.

CMI5 also provides the following that xAPI/Tin Can doesn’t:

  1. Event statement definition.
  2. Specific data points for LMS elements such as pass, fail, duration, completion, and score.
  3. Single package with various modules.
  4. Several launches of the same content.
  5. Varying launch modes.

Pros

  • CMI5 allows data storage in LRS.
  • Launch is content-defined.
  • Data is shared across various content.
  • Easy distribution of content.

Cons

Technically, there are no downsides to CMI5.

5. IMS LTI

The LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability) standard was developed by IMS Global Learning Consortium. It allows course content and learning material from different creators to be launched within an application’s tool. Also, it creates web-based learning content and remotely-hosted applications.

Pros

  • Integrations with existing LMS platforms is faster and at lower costs since vendors can adopt an interoperability approach.
  • IMS LTI software and courseware can be used elsewhere outside the environment of origin.
  • Future migration to other LMS systems is seamless due to the interoperability function.

Cons

  • This standard requires the cooperation and collaboration of industry players. Thus, many parties have to be involved to make it efficient.

Older but desirable applications may not necessarily conform to LTI. Hence, based on LTI compliance, an institution/company may opt for a subpar application.


Points to Consider when Choosing an LMS

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Perhaps you are running a small business or a learning institution and you have seen immense growth over the years. With such scaling of your company or institution, there will arise the need to train employees on new work-related concepts, or update students with newer courses.

Next, you hear about LMS platforms and are sure it is the solution that your organization is looking for. Whether you want to acquire a new one or migrate to a newer one, there are a few things to consider. 

You need to carefully analyze, compare and contrast different LMS platforms in terms of their services, features, pricing and options for you to make an informed choice. Here are some points to consider.

What is the purpose of the LMS? Of course, you need the system to streamline operations. If you can handle your organization’s needs effectively through your work force, then there is no need to get an LMS. You should only consider one if the tasks to be handled are more than what your work force can handle. 

Some of the reasons institutions and companies opt for LMS include administration, 24-hour content access, onboarding, performance tracking and compliance.

Who are Your End-Users? Are you dealing with employees or school-going students? Corporate LMS and Academic LMS have varying features. Also, are you dealing with many employees or students? As such you may need an LMS with mass registration features.

You also need to consider the location of your audiences. If they are remotely located, you need an LMS that can be downloaded on their computers or mobile devices. Also, you need to consider how tech savvy they are.

Budget. Work within a reasonable budget from the onset. If the cost of acquiring the LMS outweighs the benefits, it is pointless to get one. The typical costs to consider include annual/monthly fees, startup fees, and staff expenses.

What are Your Expectations? You need to consider if you want an LMS platform with pre-installed courses or one that requires you to create your own content. To add, be clear on the type of tracking metrics that you are looking for. Moreover, you may want to consider if the LMS you choose allows offline learning for users with poor Internet connections.

Admin skill level. Do you have a dedicated admin who will help to manage the LMS or you will entirely depend on tech support from the vendor? Take note that depending on the licensing model you choose, not all LMS platforms come with tech support.

Features. The next section of this guide will exhaustively talk about the features of a good LMS. However, some of the standard features to look out for include tracking and reporting, compliance, custom branding, assessment and testing, and SCORM and xAPI compliance.

Mobile-Friendliness. Mobile devices are increasingly becoming the preferred devices to connect to the Internet. Undoubtedly, as education and training shifts to online platforms, a mobile-friendly LMS will suit all users.

Content Creation/Content Management. Most LMS platforms have both these features. However, some clients prefer one of either. Having a platform that can allow content creators will give instructors the ability to design their own courses as opposed to managing pre-existing ones.

User-Friendliness. Most LMS users are tutors and students. Therefore, a user-friendly system will make learning easy and fun.

Scalability. Your chosen LMS should accommodate your organization’s growth. Factors that allow scalability include features such as native content creation and gamification, pricing, and whether the platform is on-premise or cloud-based.

Key Features of a Good LMS Platform

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Content Creation

This allows instructors and tutors to design their own courses using web tools. They can embed content from the Internet or create their own from scratch. Indeed, a good LMS’s content creation feature should allow the user to create many types of interactive content.

Other systems need third-party course creation tools. A good LMS does not need such and these course-authoring tools should be inbuilt and cloud-based so that clients do not have to download additional programs on their computers.

You should also have a media library where you can store material such as employee handbooks, technical documentation and one-off videos. This content may not be needed for the lessons but you may still want learners to access it. Besides, you can opt to purchase a subscription for an integrated course content library that features loads of pre-built content.

Content Management

An LMS should let you easily create and deliver courses to your learners. It should feature a drag and drop functionality to enable you to arrange content. To add, it should support multiple content formats including PDF, Word document, spreadsheets, video, audio, and live sessions.

Content management also entails learner assessment. Assignments and exams are the best way to achieve this. Also, learning paths let you combine courses to help learners individually track and achieve their goals.

Accessibility

Web accessibility means that all users can access and use a product with ease. Hence, an LMS should allow people with varying abilities and disabilities to learn without any challenges.

Accessibility is guided by the 1973 Rehabilitation Act which states that Federal agencies should make all electronic and information technology available to people with disabilities. 

Your chosen LMS should be user-friendly to assist users with hearing, visual, cognitive and other motor impairments. It should also be designed to eliminate social, cultural, economic and other barriers that may hinder learning. Accessibility is not only an eLearning best practice, at times it is also required for compliance.

E-Learning

Your platform should allow you to assess learners and address any gaps. Hence, your LMS should come with eLearning assessment features. Most systems come with eLearning assessment tools that give reports and help in tracking learners’ progress.

E-Learning should allow learners to rate courses and leave comments. Additionally, lessons should be taken in the appropriate order by enabling lesson gating. With this feature, the learner can only access the next lesson by completing the prior required lessons.

Quizzes and assignments at every point of the journey are necessary. The learner should also have learning paths and checklists that include courses, activities, and assessments. Moreover, eLearning should include interactive video presentations.

User Experience

Your chosen LMS should have a responsive design that allows everyone to benefit from your online course. For instance, mobile users should have the same experience as those using desktop computers. Mobile learning will help to reach even more learners and your chosen LMS should preferably come with an Android or iOS app. Also, your platform should be easy to navigate making it easy for users to access coursework.

Other features that give a user-centered experience include user groups for learners accessing the same courses, user permissions, user transcripts, user profile fields and single sign-on (SSO). With a single sign-on, your users just have to log-in to one system, say Google Suite, and then they will be securely signed-in into your LMS.

Gamification

Learning in the traditional sense is ‘boring’ for most learners. Hence, it is important to incentivize the process. Gamification makes the experience a competitive one. It creates milestones, goals and achievements that motivate your learners.

Still, gamification may not make the subjects more interesting. However, it will enhance learner engagement, speed up learning, and improve compliance.

Reporting

It is important to know how your training is performing. Reporting is a valuable feature that gives actionable data on users’ progress. These include exam results, survey responses, and training history.

Having such information helps to analyze data and identify trends in learning. In turn, you can highlight training gaps and improve future courses. Overall, reporting informs you how your training is impacting the learners.

Additionally, you will get valuable insights. For example, if you notice that learners are downloading a video lesson as opposed to accessing a PDF manual, it will be wise to create more video content and give learners what they naturally prefer.

Notifications

Notifications are important since they keep the learner abreast with all the latest information. For instance, any new additions to their courses will be communicated to them via notifications. Also, new courses, important announcements, events, and other information – not necessarily related to learning – can be relayed via notifications.

Notifications can be in the form of email or auto notifications within the LMS platform.

Social Capability

A good LMS should emphasize collaboration and peer-to-peer sharing. Most platforms have social media tools where learners can share their experiences. Social learning also gives you the ability to track online discussions, create groups, and add other important elements such as a news feed onto your courses.

Customization and White-Labelling

Branding is key for any institution/organization. Indeed, your chosen LMS should reflect your brand and be recognized by your audiences. Therefore, your LMS should allow you to import your logo, images, and other elements unique to your business. Such a platform lets you ‘own’ the system.

White-labelling allows you to remove the vendor’s brand from the LMS. You can also customize the URL that came with the platform, and remove any links and references to the vendor. Such customization makes the learner identify the platform as designed and created by you.

Virtual Classroom

Learners should have the capacity to attend lessons in a model similar to a physical classroom setup. Virtual classrooms help to achieve that. Video conferencing creates a virtual environment for learners who need a one-on-one classroom feel.

Forums, messaging boards, and comments can be used to address learner’s questions. However, virtual classrooms may help learners to ask difficult questions and get their answers instantaneously.

Hence, your LMS should be integrated with 3rd party virtual classroom tools such as Zoom, Big Blue Button, Webex and Join.me.

Event Management

Learning is structured based on timelines. Your chosen LMS should allow you to create learning events, schedule virtual classrooms and webinars, and share your calendar with your learners. Besides, reminders are helpful in ensuring you don’t miss or skip any learning activity.

E-Commerce

If you are thinking of making content for a wider audience, consider an LMS with e-commerce integration. You can make extra money by selling your courses on a subscription model. A learner will need to create an account on your platform and make a payment (one-time or recurring) to access your content.

Some great e-commerce features that your LMS should have include promo codes (in case you want to offer discounts), affiliate tracking to assign commissions to your affiliates, and credit card processing for all major credit cards and debit cards, and other payment gateways.

Administration

Your platform should come with easy-to-use administrative features. First, you should easily create and add unlimited admin roles. You should also be able to create sub-administrators who can only access the functions that you assign to them.

To add, a good LMS should come with a report builder and an analytics dashboard. You should also easily create transcripts and gradebooks that can be downloaded by your learners. Moreover, a team lead dashboard is a great tool to track supervisors’ progress.

SCORM AND xAPI Compliance

As discussed above, there are four main compliance standards. However, SCORM and xAPI are the most common. Indeed, having an LMS with either of these will help you to standardize content. 

Importantly, you should easily and intuitively upload SCORM and xAPI course material in no time. Also, take note that your course-authoring tools should also be compatible with these standards to ensure readability of your files.

Training and Support

Your vendor should provide free training on how to use the LMS platform. This helps to get started as soon as possible and not waste time with trial and error. Besides, customer support is essential so that you can get professional troubleshooting and other personalized help.

Integration

Your LMS should integrate with other software that you are using such as your webinar tool, HR software and CRM system. Such integration automates most functions such as the creation of learner profiles, onboarding, and data synchronization.

API (Application Programming Interface) integration is a function that permits multiple applications and software to interact and share data. Having API integration with your LMS helps to push and pull data. Indeed, such automation helps with time-consuming administrative activities.


LMS Trends You Should Know

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Whether you are looking for an LMS platform, have one already, or want to upgrade to a better one, trends in the LMS industry will help you to make informed choices and decisions. Certainly, you will have the ability to forecast what the future eLearning industry will look like and will have knowledge regarding the latest in technology.

LMS to LXP

LMS platforms are here to stay, however, LXP (Learning Experience Platforms) are introducing a shift towards more engaging and curated content. However, LXPs are more of eLearning platforms and thus, may benefit employers more. Educational institutions will perform better with LMS. Nonetheless, the migration to LXPs might affect the choice of platform for some LMS clients.

Multi-Channel Learning

Millennials are fast becoming the majority of learners in class and at the workplace. They are tech savvy and this calls for a shift in the modes of training for this category of learners. They are learning many skills at the same time and using the same skills either in school or at the workplace.

A multi-channel approach to learning will help millennials to access course content any time, anywhere. In turn, they will utilize their acquired skills much faster.

Experience Beats them All

There are different aspects of learning in a physical classroom and acquiring knowledge via LMS. However, hands-on experience is priceless. Hence, LMS platforms are incorporating experiential learning to help learners utilize their skills.

There are eLearning simulations and case studies which allow learners to test their knowledge. Such activities equip learners with skills to handle everyday challenges. Consequently, learners evolve into a better workforce that can handle everyday life and workplace situations.

Learners Have Unique Interests

It doesn’t matter if a group of learners are taking the same course. Each individual has unique learning preferences. LMS platforms are, therefore, developing platforms that contextualize learning.

Personalization is an aspect to watch out for as you look to purchase or upgrade your system. Without a doubt, a tailor-fitting platform will equally serve all learners’ needs.

Emphasis on Social Learning

Despite tailor-making learning experiences for individual learners, social learning helps to create deeper learning. Therefore, most LMS platforms will combine contextualized and social modes of learning.

Social learning helps to collaborate and share knowledge, thereby enriching the overall learning experience.

Video is King

Videos are powerful in terms of grabbing attention and entertainment. Thanks to the development of high-speed Internet such as the rolling out of 5G networks globally, streaming and uploading videos is easy.

Videos make LMS content more interactive and fun. Besides, they can be used to complement other media such as documents and audio.

Final Thoughts

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Your chosen LMS should centralize learning and also scale your operations. It should also reduce the bulk of some administrative tasks, deliver training at a cheaper cost, and help you to track your training as well as the progress of your learners.

In doing so, you are able to identify gaps and improve on areas that are lacking. Especially, begin by outlining your objectives and noting down the features that an LMS should have to help your institution/organization achieve its goals.


Glossary of LMS Terms

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Accessibility

Technology should be accessed by people with disabilities. People with different abilities and disabilities should have no problem consuming eLearning content. Hence, learning material should be clear and easy to understand for everyone. 

The platform in use should also be user-friendly to assist even those users with hearing, visual, cognitive, and other motor impairments. Even those with earlier versions of software and hardware should be allowed access.

Accessibility is guided by Section 508 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act which states that Federal Agencies should make all electronic and information technology available to people with disabilities.

Assessment

This is the process of evaluating a learner’s knowledge and skills. Mostly, it is in the form of a test taken at the end of a learning milestone and is usually based on a set of objectives.

Authoring Tool

This is a software program used by content creators to develop eLearning courses. It is mostly paired with LMS programs and creates content using SCORM or xAPI learning standards.

Authoring tools can be template-focused, instruction-focused, web-creation and programming tools, knowledge-capturing systems, and text-based file authoring tools. A notable example is Adobe Captivate.

Certification

This is a document that confirms that a learner has completed training in a certain discipline and has passed all assessments based on predefined standards.

Content Library

It is the central location that stores online learning content - text, audio, video, images, presentations, and more. Most LMS platforms come with this feature.

Course Builder

This is a function of the LMS that allows a content creator to develop learning material. The content developed includes text, video, images, and presentations. Additionally, course builders allow the creator to combine different content types and incorporate tests, quizzes, and assignments.

eLearning (Electronic Learning)

This term is short for electronic learning. It simply means any form of learning that can be accessed via an electronic device, mostly a computer, smartphone, or tablet. The advantage of eLearning is that you can access information anytime anywhere as long as there is an Internet connection. 

Gamification

Gamification does not mean introducing games into LMS platforms. No! It simply introduces elements meant to make learning fun. For instance, the introduction of badges, points, and leaderboards are all meant to motivate and encourage other learners.

By seeing how other learners are performing, it encourages one to do even more. Gamification is known to increase and retain knowledge in an entertaining way. It keeps motivation levels up thereby keeping overall learner performance at an all-time high. Read our article on LMS Gamification for Learner Motivation.

ILT (Instructor-Led Training)

In this scenario, an instructor leads a group of learners in classroom sessions. These can take place in a physical venue or through a webinar.

Interactive Content

Interactive content is important since it makes learners actively participate in the process. Content creators can use tools like PowerPoint presentations to add interactive elements like drag and drop features to make it fun. 

Also, content creators can include actions such as mandatory completing of sessions so that one can move to the next. That way, the learner’s attention is captured thereby accomplishing the whole learning objective.

Learning Path

A structured guide for a learner to follow. Learning paths allow instructors to assess the progress of the learners and monitor their completion timeframes. Every learner has his/her own learning path depending on the time taken to complete a module.

LMS (Learning Management System)

This is software used in the designing, delivering, and management of online training. LMSs allow content creators to design course material that they deliver to different learners who can either be in one locality or in different areas. 

Users create their own unique profiles (more like how users create profiles on social networks). Think of an LMS as an online school where you can access your learning material as long as you’re connected to the Internet.

Microlearning

This is a means of delivering course content in small bits that can be easily delivered, tested, and marked.

Online Assessment

This is an evaluation that can take the form of an assignment, test, quiz, survey, or questionnaire.

Responsive Design

This is a design feature that allows a website to fit on the screen of any device, including smartphones and tablets. Developers are keen on this especially because most people are using mobile devices. Hence, they develop websites that fit on any screen and still display all the information.

SCORM (Shareable Content Object Reference Model)

SCORM is a product of ADL (Advanced Distributed Learning) and is a standard widely-used when creating LMS content. SCORM dictates the creation of online training material that can be used across different LMSs.

SCORM dictates the creation of SCOs(shareable content objects) that can be reused by multiple systems.

SSO (Single Sign-On)

An authentication standard that lets users use one set of credentials to access multiple and related software systems. This means you can access your LMS using credentials that also allow you access to other systems such as your CRM.

White-Labelling

White-labelling enables you to rename your LMS from that of the vendor, change the logo, and do other customization to make your system look and feel as created and developed by your organization. Most LMS vendors develop platforms that can be customized to the clients’ preferences.

Author:
Ryan Hart

Ryan Hart is responsible for Marketing at Tovuti LMS, the #1 Ranked Learning Management System. He holds an MBA from PLU, and is thankful to work for the #1 Best Place to Work in Idaho.

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