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When you’re faced with training your employees or educating an audience, you have a number of decisions to consider.
Some of the big questions include:
Although you have a wealth of factors to consider, one is often easy to overlook: which learning management system (LMS) eLearning platform should you use?
There are a number of LMS eLearning platforms to choose from. While many of them have similar features and selling points, no single platform is the right choice for every business.
To get an idea of what’s out there, here are several major LMS eLearning systems and details about who can benefit most from their offerings.
There are numerous LMS eLearning platform providers beyond our list here. The ones above are some of the more popular choices, but it’s still a good idea to do additional research to see which providers look like the best fit for your business.
While it’s important to understand the many LMS options available, it’s also important to understand how an LMS differs from eLearning and online courses in general.
Online courses, eLearnings, and LMS platforms are all avenues for learning. But the experiences that eLearning and online courses offer are vastly different from an LMS.
An eLearning or online course is a self-contained experience — it’s a lesson limited by the constraints of that individual course. An LMS platform essentially acts as a hub for eLearning courses. Think of an eLearning or online course as a single classroom, and an LMS eLearning platform as an entire campus.
If you’ve ever gone on a branded site and taken an individual course, that was likely just an eLearning or online course. But if you’re logging into a university platform or taking a number of training courses for work, that’s likely part of an LMS eLearning platform.
With an LMS platform, it’s possible to track course performance and student progress, giving the educator more insight into the course and its effectiveness. An LMS platform also makes it possible to gamify entire courses with badges and challenges, enable users to save their progress, and communicate with others via social features.
Ultimately, an LMS offers a better, more complete experience than a stand-alone eLearning course. But not all LMS platforms are created equal.
No two LMS platforms will be entirely the same. Some will have a certain feature that sets them apart, while others may do a little bit of everything. And some LMS platforms will simply be the wrong choice for your needs.
As with all things, it’s important to shop around before settling on an option. The right LMS can make or break the eLearning experience — for you and your audience. That is why it’s important to understand which features matter the most when choosing an LMS eLearning platform.
Many LMS systems will offer their own unique features that set them apart. While some of these can be nice quality-of-life features, there are still core features that any good LMS system should have, including the following:
Create a checklist, and include the above features. If you know for a fact that your company won’t need a certain feature from above, leave it off the list. Keep this list handy when shopping for an LMS eLearning platform, and see if you can find a solution that doesn’t force you to compromise where it counts.
LMS features are important, but your company’s needs are even more critical. There’s no single best LMS, so think about what your company hopes to achieve and what kind of limitations you have. Ask yourself the following questions to determine what’s most important to you in an LMS.
Before you get too far along in your search, it’s important that you have a set budget. An LMS with every desirable feature isn’t worth investigating if you can’t afford it. Once you have your budget, the first thing you should do is check the pricing for each LMS you’re looking at so you can quickly rule out the platforms that don’t fit your needs.
While many LMS eLearning platforms are easy for virtually anyone to understand, some can require a developer to make significant changes. For example, if you’re using an open-source LMS and want to change up the interface or how a course flows, you may need a developer.
If this is the case, ask yourself if you have a developer with bandwidth to spare or if you can afford to hire a developer. Keep in mind the cost of a developer can quickly inflate the cost of your learning and development efforts as a whole.
Not all LMS eLearning platforms will offer the same level of support. If you foresee your company needing extensive support, make sure you prioritize that when shopping for a platform. As you shortlist LMS platforms, look up online reviews to check for comments on customer service and support.
The audience you’re serving can greatly influence the LMS you need. For example, if you’re only concerned with training employees, you need an LMS that makes it easy to track progress and integrates well with your people management systems. Gamification is also a big plus for employee training because it encourages ongoing engagement.
Think about your audience and what would entice them to take your courses. This can help you rule out some LMS options from the start.
You may luck out and find an LMS that has everything you want, but there’s a chance you’ll have to pick an option that’s missing a wish-listed feature. Think about what features are most important to you and are necessary for achieving your goals.
For example, if an LMS doesn’t integrate with your existing data platforms, and you have thousands of profiles to manually import, it might be worth finding a different LMS.
The right LMS eLearning platform can help you better serve your audiences, promote your brand, and become known as an expert in your niche. Take your time when choosing the right platform, and get feedback from others in your company. And don’t feel you’re locked in if you decide on a platform and it isn’t working out.
Remember — an LMS is only as good as the content on it. Create top-tier animated eLearning videos to ensure that your audience has a great experience on any LMS you choose.
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