What is a learning management system: Types, benefits, and features
For driving innovations and quickly adapting to them, continuous learning is a must. To make these innovations possible, organizations build a continuous learning culture, with a digital transformation at its heart. Indeed, in a world going digital at a cosmic speed, any educational initiative is deemed to fail without an effective e-learning solution. LMS, or a learning management system, is a great fit for a large multi-business company, as well as an educational organization such as a school, college, or university.
Although the market of learning management systems was thriving prior to 2020, the need to continue learning in the context of the social distancing and the #StayHome movement only increased the LMS demand. The rising popularity of LMS is proven by the latest figures, which predict that the LMS market is set to grow at a CAGR of 20.5% from 2019 to 2025 and reach $28.1 billion by 2025.
So, if you're willing to reap the benefits of continuous learning with the right digital tool, check our article on what a learning management system is and what benefits it brings.
What is a learning management system?
A learning management system (LMS) is an e-learning solution that facilitates planning, creating, implementing, and managing the e-learning process. An LMS can be perceived as a centralized location of the digital training content, with an opportunity to assign training courses to e-learners; track, monitor, and score their performance; and organize different types and formats of e-learning (e.g., social learning with discussion boards, blended learning using webinars, one-to-one training sessions, and more). Moodle, Edmodo, and Blackboard rank high on the list of the most popular learning management solutions used by businesses and non-profits alike.
LMS benefits that every business longs for
With the impressive business benefits obtained from learning management systems, it's no wonder they've been increasingly in demand in recent years. The main advantages that come from LMS use are the following.
A unified repository of training content
No more disjointed training info stored here and there; a learning management system gets all your training materials under one umbrella.
One-click access to training info with no geographic limitations
Right after training content is uploaded to an LMS system, it becomes fully accessible to employees from around the world, regardless of their time zone or the device they use.
Automation of the learning process
Learning management systems allow streamlining the learning process through automation of scoring, notifications, course scheduling, user enrollment, certification distribution, and follow-up support.
Better time and cost management
An LMS works both as a time- and a cost-saver, since e-learners can jump into training any time that suits them and don't have to travel to an onsite training center. Besides, there's no need to spend on training site rental, an instructor's travel expenses, and printed training materials, as all the training info is right in the LMS.
Uniform standards of work for partners
With partner training organized with an LMS, channel partners and affiliates around the world stay in-the-know about your work standards as well as distribution strategies.
Types of LMS: What's your fit?
In terms of their deployment options, you'll encounter the following learning management systems:
A cloud-based LMS is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) product hosted on the remote servers of the LMS vendor. It makes such a learning management system a good option for a company that wants to focus on LMS use, not LMS maintenance.
A cloud LMS allows for higher e-learners' mobility and efficient online training since such LMS can be accessed via the internet at any time. As for the need to scale your LMS to keep up with your business growth, a cloud-based learning management system can be easily adjusted to your growing team, with all the infrastructure and troubleshooting issues covered by an LMS vendor.
On-premise learning management systems are installed on the company's servers. It makes them suitable for businesses with an in-house IT department that will take care of the LMS installation, upgrades, and maintenance. On-premise learning management systems are usually more customizable, with a rich variety of extra features and add-ons for the enhanced interactivity and efficiency of your e-learning process.
Desktop LMS is installed on the trainee's desktop. Still, it can be accessed from a few PCs, which spurs collaboration and teamwork.
Mobile LMS can be accessed from the trainees' mobile devices, making the latest e-learning ways such as microtraining and learning-on-the-go possible.
Non course-creating LMS
The main goals of non-course creating learning management systems are to store and assign the ready-made training content to e-learners. They're made for user management and don't allow learning course creation.
Course-creating solutions, or learning content management systems (LCMS), allow the creation of learning courses. They have more ample capabilities for managing training content and support traditional learning types such as face-to-face training sessions.
Top LMS features to consider
The non-exhaustive list of LMS features that make an effective online learning process possible includes the following.
Built-in content authoring feature allows the creation of training content such as modules with text, images, and videos right inside an LMS. More advanced content authoring tools allow the creation of complex training content with calculators, maps, and interactive videos.
Role-based course assignment
Having user roles and permission levels in an LMS for business allows the matching of training courses with a particular user role according to his or her skill. Due to that, a customer service specialist won't be assigned to sales training and will be enrolled in the relevant course.
Social learning implies learning in the form of collaborating and interacting with other trainees. The interaction may be supported with forums, discussion boards, content ranking, and comment sections that ensure a high level of social interaction and better comprehension of the training content through discussions.
The mobile learning concept means learning with smaller, "digestible" chunks of content such as podcasts, blog posts, daily tips, etc., all accessed from the mobile device. Such microtraining comes in handy when there's a need for ongoing revision or the training is too lengthy to be completed in one gulp.
Testing and assessment
Checking learners' knowledge is crucial to spot the knowledge gaps and track the learning progress. LMS testing and assessment tools may include tests with different question types, (such as multiple-choice answers, yes/no answers, long answers, text entries, etc.), quizzes, polls, surveys, automated scoring of the training results, and feedback.
Using gamification features such as badges, achievement points, and leaderboards for the acquired new skills and passed tests is a good way to improve employee involvement in the online learning process.
With AI-powered training content personalization, each trainee can follow a unique learning path, getting the learning content adjusted to an employee's prior performance, results, and proficiency level.
VR features can be used to train a wide array of skills, from highly specialized ones such as surgical manipulations to more common ones such as public speaking.
Analytics and reporting
It's possible to track trainees' engagement with training content, test results, time to finish a course, and other useful metrics, summarized in automatically generated reports.
However, to maximize the value of LMS implementation, it's critical to choose a solution that corresponds to your L&D needs. So, what LMS types are available?
LMS use-cases: Pick yours
Despite a common belief that a learning management system is used mostly for onboarding and other HR initiatives, it covers a wide array of other e-learning needs, including the following.
According to recent stats, 40% of employees leave their position during the first year due to being undertrained. With an LMS, training can be customized to the needs of each employee group (e.g., newcomers or experienced staff), or their preferred ways of learning (e.g., using their PCs or mobile phones, taking training at once, or in small chunks). When employees are learning at their comfortable pace, they become more confident, productive, and satisfied.
With LMS-supported compliance training, employees can easily keep up with industry-specific policies and regulations. New compliance standards can be added to the e-learning course as soon as they appear, and employees can be notified to pass an updated training course.
Training your sales and marketing staff on your products/services with an LMS allows you to maintain their knowledge of the products/services you're delivering, or educate them on the new products/services as soon as they're released.
With an LMS used for customer education, you can teach your customers about your products' capabilities, as well as how to leverage them in the most effective way, thus increasing your customer engagement and loyalty.
With LMS-supported partner training, your channel partners around the world can be educated on your services/products and the best strategies of their marketing, selling, and support.
LMS advancements: Made the iTechArt way
To get you inspired by the power of LMS, here's a brief outline of iTechArt's strides made with the technology.
For instance, one of our LMS solutions made for Kids Academy was an e-learning mobile app for kids of the Pre-K, Jr. Kindergarten, and Kindergarten levels. The AI-powered app had multiple sets of training tasks that increased in complexity along with the kids' progress, and also could analyze and evaluate their performance.
Another client, Voxy, has a personalized and adaptive English language learning platform. We've been helping it migrate to the latest version of Python to a new platform that its customer base demanded.
Working with Examkrackers, an online education platform for Premeds who are getting ready to take the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test), we've been creating a module that emulates real-life exams. Additionally, we're building a module with online courses for MCAT preparation.
Finally, our project for Learning.com included performance testing of the online solutions for schools that faced growing load. Our QA analysts also provided recommendations on further scaling the system to meet future demand.
You're one step away from your dream LMS
We've outlined the basic info regarding the choice of your perfect LMS. If you're looking to focus on business or purely educational aspects, and need help with the tech side of your LMS endeavor, we suggest turning to an LMS development vendor.