SECTION 1: INTRODUCTION
Learning management systems are big business. According to the eLearning Trends for 2020, the global elearning market is growing rapidly and expected to reach $398 billion come 2026. Organisations need to be on the lookout for the most efficient and effective learning solutions.
We’re excited about the future of elearning and what the next generation LMS will bring.
What is an LMS?
An LMS is an elearning software application for ‘administering, documenting, tracking, reporting and delivering educational courses or training programmes’ (Wikipedia). In essence, it’s a system that allows you to train your employees.
The best Learning Management Systems provide exceptional user and learning experiences. Most learning management systems are capable of:
More recently, LMSs have expanded their functionality to include gamification, social learning and collaboration, and other modern tools and methods. More modern platforms are emerging to deliver a more consumerised experience and to engender collaboration. Learning data and analytics are at the heart of these next generation LMS and learning experience platforms (LXPs).
The most remarkable shift over the last five to seven years was the move to the LMS in the cloud. Most LMS implementations are now cloud based LMS solutions. This has helped innovation by making it easy to deploy new features. It has also kept licencing costs competitive, which helps your bottom line.
What is an LXP?
A new breed of learning platform, sometimes called learning experience platforms (LXPs) or next generation learning platforms, have emerged in the market. A learning experience platform provides a personalised, intuitive, social, in-workflow learning experience that goes beyond the traditional LMS.
An LXP should give the learner an exceptional user experience with adaptive learning paths, easy access to content, and AI-driven search functions and recommendations. It should also accommodate any form of content, including articles, podcasts, blogs, microlearning, videos and courses.
LXPs usually provide a social space where learners can connect, collaborate, share content and network with each other and experts. An LXP can be used in conjunction with an existing LMS that’s used to manage more formal learning content. Learn more about LXPs here.
LMS and LXP Providers
There are thousands of LMS vendors across the globe in a very crowded marketplace. The high end enterprise LMS market is dominated by SumTotal (a Skillsoft brand), Saba, SuccessFactors (SAP) and Cornerstone OnDemand. User-friendly learning systems, like Percipio (by Skillsoft) and Teach on Mars, are also making an impact.
SECTION 2: Choosing and Implementing an LMS
Implementing an LMS
Once you have chosen your platform, an LMS and elearning implementation can be a complicated process. Preparation is key in order to avoid wasted time and effort. There are several main phases:
SECTION 3: TOP SIX BENEFITS OF AN LMS
For over 30 years, the main function of the LMS was to track completion of training (via elearning). The SCORM elearning content publishing standard was introduced to allow the elearning course to communicate course progress and completion information with the LMS. SCORM also meant (in theory) that elearning objects were interoperable and would work on any LMS.
Over the years, though, the LMS has evolved – particularly most recently – to do many other things to support learning and training in business. If properly planned and executed, implementing an LMS and elearning brings multiple benefits for any large or even quite small organisation.
Support L&D to become an efficient service provider
A good LMS, populated with great and relevant elearning content and collaboration tools, enables L&D to solve business problems efficiently. Learning experiences can be created and targeted at different audiences.
The LMS becomes the central hub for searching for and consuming training. It can contain: personal development training, onboarding programmes, management and leadership programmes, professional skills training, process training, compliance training and much more. The LMS can also be used as a communications tool to engage learners and market the services.
Reduce Costs and Scale Training
Originally, the main purpose of an LMS and elearning was to cost effectively scale training and learning across large and dispersed audiences. Traditional learning, like classroom training, is too expensive and slow to scale. Nevertheless, it is still, and will continue to be, a vital element of the L&D toolkit. A good LMS and elearning solution will help to reduce costs and provide scale.
In some cases, the LMS has a classroom training management function that makes training event organisation self service for users. This makes the overall process more efficient.
Classroom training can be reduced significantly to focus on practice only, while the theory is covered in preset elearning courses.
Compliance, process and generic skills training can be removed from the classroom schedule completely and replaced with a scalable elearning alternative.
Using an integrated virtual classroom can also create efficiencies, and reduce travel, time and attendance costs.
The role of the employed trainer can be transformed into an online learning facilitation expert, thus making blended learning programmes much more effective. These new roles will add much more value to the business over time.
Engage Employees More Than Ever
A good LMS and elearning implementation will have the UX at its core. It can be a rich source of services and knowledge, a place to meet and learn and share.
In today’s changing world, it’s right and appropriate that our learning services inspire users. Forcing them to complete is a tactic of the past. The opportunity with elearning is to significantly impact employee engagement in a meaningful and practical way.
Decrease Time to Competence
Digital transformation and AI means that business is changing at light speed. The role of L&D is to pre-empt the supply of, and demand for, future skills. Having a rich, service oriented learning environment that users value means that L&D can find time to plan for the future. With good help and support from forward thinking suppliers, L&D can use the technology to develop scalable learning pathways that reduce time to competence.
Use the LMS as a Communications Tool
An LMS can store multiple types of information. Its inbuilt messaging service and completion reporting also makes it a very useful tool for sharing feedback and corporate communications.
Make Compliance Easy to Manage
Compliance courses can be easily distributed across large and geographically dispersed teams. LMS administrators can track progress of different groups and report easily on course completion.
The Benefits of an LXP
An LXP that’s integration enabled can be used as a complementary tool alongside the LMS. It can also be used as a standalone platform.
LMS User Experience
Historically, the LMS catalogue structure mimics the supplier’s library structures, and users are assigned rights to the catalogue. In most LMSs, this user experience of searching for and consuming elearning was unintuitive and time-consuming. Users were often exasperated by the entire process.
The combined experience of navigating the LMS and searching for relevant content was not a positive experience.
SECTION 4: COMMON FEATURES OF AN LMS
There are thousands of LMSs available in the marketplace. Some are very basic, traditional, and notionally free to use, whereas others are modern, complicated, and incredibly expensive. Few are built with a focus on xAPI and the future, and a good learner experience (LX) and UX. Here is a useful list and explanation of some basic, intermediate and advanced functions and important features available on many LMS platforms.