Technology is changing rapidly and impacting all areas of our businesses. Organizational leaders around the world have realized the importance of training their resources to become more productive. Talking of training and LMS platforms, many of us may or may not have heard of a Learning Management System(LMS).

So what are they really?

An LMS is simply an end-to-end learning platform that facilitates online education and empowers learning by providing a robust framework to manage and deliver learning content. Today’s LMS platforms offer virtual classrooms, integrate with other cloud applications, collect data, and support activities like gamification, social learning, and learning on the move.

We even have Artificial intelligence in LMS systems that help understand each learner’s behavior to create personalized learning experiences. To top it all, a high-caliber LMS saves costs, improves staff productivity, and boosts revenues.

As per eLearning industry research, 72% of organizations worldwide say that eLearning helps them gain competitive advantage, while over 40% of Fortune 500 companies are extensively using eLearning in their operations.

Learning Management Systems are in demand today because the global leadership focus is on sustaining their staff to be more knowledgeable. An LMS can deliver learning content seamlessly in an organization’s global offices across time zones with flexibility. For example, you can conduct a learning session across all your global offices by just sitting at your desk.

According to financesonline.com, the digital learning landscape is likely to become more exciting and intense in terms of competition and upcoming technological breakthroughs. It is predicted that by 2023, the worldwide LMS market value will reach $22.4 billion.

That’s interesting! Let us see how an LMS is used so we get a better hang of it.

What is an LMS used for?

LMS is primarily used for learning and development purposes. You can impart training to multiple user categories and business types in your organization. Some examples are as below.

Employee TrainingYou can train your staff across the organization on existing or new products and services.
Customer TrainingDepending on the product type, your customers can also be trained in using your products and services.
Partner TrainingExternal partners to your organization like resellers, implementation partners, and third-party service agencies can be trained remotely.
Compliance TrainingYou can train and track organization-wide compliance initiatives like certifications or mandatory company policy adherence with evidence.
Customized BrandingTraining companies can develop branded portal features for specific organizations using branding templates saving time and effort.
Selling Courses OnlineLMS can be used to sell eLearning courses similar to many online storefronts.
Education SectorLMS is used for learning purposes in the education sector for schools - K12, higher education, universities, and colleges as well.

There are innumerable ways that organizations across all industries and verticals globally are using LMS applications. Let’s take a quick look at some benefits being derived from using LMS.

What are some of the benefits of an LMS?

Our traditional training involves face-to-face sessions with trainers and students. By using an LMS you can save time as it’s an online platform and avoids location constraints. You can even access it conveniently from multiple devices from a laptop to your mobile phone.

Being a centralized solution, once you update an LMS with new content, the same will be available instantly to those who access the LMS. A variety of training methods are available in LMS that makes for an enriching experience. Many of the activities in an LMS like registration, enrollment, etc. are automated helping you to save immense time and effort in training and learning activities.

You can understand how your learners are doing with analytical dashboards and reports that provide deep insights into learning progress. You get actionable insights to improve the learning process, content, and courseware.

What are the Types of LMS?

Installation On-premise vs. Cloud-based (SaaS model)

LMS systems can be set up on your organization premises based on your dedicated needs. Some large enterprises opt for this option for their requirements. They maintain their own infrastructure and IT teams for management and is an expensive option.

The cloud-based (Software-as-a-Service) option is a cost-effective option and has low start-up costs. The LMS will be available as a service that can be scaled up or down using cloud resources based on your need. Most organizations opt for the cloud-based model as set up and maintenance is done by the service provider.

The Anatomy of an LMS

You can consider the LMS software application as your virtual training department. You can use the LMS software application comprehensively to deliver, manage, and track your employee or any learner’s training. As a training manager for an LMS, it is easy to plan and manage your training programs with ease from anywhere.

Let’s take a look at how the LMS works in 3 brief steps:
1. You need to register the trainees/students on the LMS and this can be done with a file upload containing names and email addresses for registration.
2. You then assign required courses to either individual learners or to multiple groups.
3. You can view reports and track the learners progress up to course completion

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? However, there is much more to an LMS than just this since it is a digital learning ecosystem in itself.

Let’s now take a detailed look into some of the aspects of an LMS.

Registration: Your learners need to be registered in the LMS so they can avail required courses. This may or may not require course fee payments to be made. Once your learners are registered, they will be given their login credentials which will entitle them to their subscribed courses.

An LMS automates many of the communication and registration activities. Once registered, the LMS will send out automated welcome emails with login instructions to your registered learners automatically.

Enrollment: Your training manager can take over the enrollment process. It is assigning selected users for a particular training program through the LMS. The training may be online or led by instructors. Some interesting enrollment features include the following:

– You can configure enrollment activity in the LMS for a particular time. Enrollment will expire once the time is up.

– You can perform the enrollment category-wise. This can be in the form of junior officers, managers, training managers, administrators, senior supervisors, and so on for corporations or freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors at a university.

– You can carry out enrollment for a particular course. Criteria can be set if it is relevant to job roles or needed training, and relevant access in LMS can be granted accordingly.

An LMS generates automatic confirmation notifications to your enrolled learners and sends course progress reminders for completion, relieving you and your instructors from this mundane task altogether.

Assessments: You can configure assessments in LMS in the form of tests and quizzes, exercises, homework, projects, and one-to-one sessions among other types. Questions can be randomized so that all students do not get the same questions. You can personalize tests for a batch of students or a location, for example.

Exercises submitted in the LMS can be graded. Qualitative assessments can be done using one-to-one sessions too. Assessments results are available online and distributed faster than traditional methods.

Certifications: You can automate the LMS certificate issuing process once your learner has successfully completed the courses. Certificates can automatically be stored in the LMS. Trainees who successfully complete the courses can view or download their own certificates.

Certificates can be issued in a time-bound manner also as LMS has a workflow framework to send upcoming expiry dates through automated notifications to your users. Records are stored automatically on the LMS which avoids a lot of hassle and paperwork for your training management teams.

Training Reporting: You can get a 360-degree view of learning activities across your organization in the LMS. Data-driven reporting helps you check the status of assigned courses. You can check the registered number of students taking courses, how many have started the courses, in which stage of the course they are currently in, and how many of the learners have completed the courses. This helps you monitor and analyze learning status for further actions. You can also download training reports in multiple formats like MS Excel, PDF, and others.

Course Pathways: You can create customized Course pathways which are also known as Learning paths in LMS. This is based on a Learner-first model. They are created based on learning goals with periodic milestones, assessments, and incorporate constructive feedback mechanisms. Learner pathways comprise three stages-Pre-learning, Learning and Post-learning configured on the LMS.

Course Libraries: You can use ready-to-use online content libraries. You can load prebuilt course content or load customized course content. Course libraries can be organized based on Learning paths or topics or a combination of both.

Virtual Classroom: LMS has built-in video conferencing tools that enable a virtual classroom. You can have real-time virtual collaboration with features like interactive whiteboards where a trainer can write, annotate, explain, brainstorm, and collate ideas. Room features are also present for a limited audience. Other exciting features include presentations, online polls, shared notes, multiple screen sharing, and group chat.

Collaboration tools: Modern LMS systems come with collaboration tools like File sharing tools, instant messaging, calendar sharing tools, document synchronization, cloud storage, video-conferencing, whiteboards, and many more. You can see a highly engaging and interactive session between learners, trainers, and the learning ecosystem as a whole with an LMS.

LMS Content creation: You can select authoring tools and eLearning templates that are flexible and easy to use which help in quickly creating content for courses in LMS. These help to design e-learning courses. Multimedia elements, audio, video presentations, and online resources can be embedded in the courseware quickly.

User roles: Most of us work with the LMS using the front-end interface that is driven by a powerful backend database functionality. An LMS has many user roles with the LMS administrator being an important one. The tasks include technical software and internet components of administering an LMS. Just to give you the gist of the activities – it includes managing courses, courseware development, site settings, LMS and course front page administration and monitoring, fixing common issues with the front page, etc.

LMS can be used for virtual classroom training, instructor-led training in physical classrooms, webinars, online learning, and mobile learning as well. Training calendar and programs can be set up for various locations from the LMS.

Want to learn more about the critical features that an LMS must have? Read our blog post here.

What is the best LMS for you?

The best LMS system for your needs will depend on your organization’s learning and development objectives. There should be clarity on achievement goals with the LMS to ensure that its implementation is a surefire success. Evaluate your LMS vendors with a deep analysis of all its features and look for one that is future-ready and has high integration possibilities. You should ensure you choose a really good LMS as it is a long term commitment to your organization’s ever-growing and evolving learning needs.