From increasing learning retention rates by as much as 25% to a boost in the income expansion rate for 42% of organisations, eLearning is proven to be a powerful driver of business success. However, what enables the effects of eLearning is a good learning management system (LMS).
In this article, we look at the features of a good LMS that will make a positive impact on your training outcomes and, ultimately, your bottom line.
What Makes a Good Learning Management System?
Every organisation has a different set of objectives when using a Learning Management System to deliver training. With that in mind, what makes a good LMS is very much dependent on the individual needs and wants of each application.
In general, the least that LMSs should provide is the ability to deliver, track, and monitor on a centralised platform. The chosen platform should be simple to use, intuitive and easy to update and pivot to meet the ever-changing demands of learners and training programmes. Adaptive platforms enable longevity and ensure training programmes are future-proofed, thus offering a high ROI.
Another thing to consider when looking at what makes a good LMS is that everyone learns in different ways. This makes it important to have a good level of customisation, providing learners with the chance to configure the platform in a way that best suits them. Accessibility needs also need to be catered for thoroughly.
The Must-Have Features of a Good LMS
Regardless of the audience your LMS serves, here are the key LMS and training programme features you should consider and look out for:
1. Ease of use
Learning can already be challenging. You don’t want to add an extra obstacle to the process by picking an LMS that is hard to navigate and not user-friendly, especially for first-time eLearners. Bad user experience results in developers spending 50% of their time reworking projects. This is a huge time sink and a waste of valuable resources.
Always avoid wasting precious resources trying to fix user interface (UI) and aesthetic design issues by investing in an LMS with a beginner-friendly interface. Whether it’s for learners looking up courses or administrators uploading content or tracking progress, LMS ease of use sometimes gets overlooked when planning training but is one of the most vital ingredients to training programme success.
If you don’t have a team of experts to run and manage your LMS, look to a managed learning service provider to work on delivering your training programme on your behalf.
One of the selling points of eLearning is that it supports self-directed learning. Learners can educate themselves at their own pace with the subjects they feel are their highest priorities.
A good LMS should have a suite of personalisation features, allowing users to set specific goals to fill their knowledge gaps.
Personalisation, however, isn’t just about being able to decide what courses to take. It also means letting users create groups that can be customised for a specific curriculum, so individuals that share goals can easily find what they need. Forums provide a space for discussions, which could also be used as an avenue for feedback to improve courses.
Yet another key benefit of eLearning is that it can be done wherever and whenever, provided an internet connection and authorised access to the LMS is available. Whether the learner is at home, travelling or in a cafe, an LMS will allow them to partake in training on the go. eLearning should also be optimised for use on smartphones, tablets, and other devices.
Being accessible also extends to the LMS catering to the disabled. Inclusivity should always be part of the equation in workforce development.
4. Gamified elements
When something is often seen as a difficult or tedious learning task, it is much easier to get people on board if it can be re-framed as a fun competition that rewards dedication and mastery. Elements such as leaderboards, trophies, point systems, and timers can instil a sense of competitiveness and accomplishment that will drive learners to engage with the LMS.
This is why gamification works and why it is so popular across multiple industries. A study on gamifying education published in the Journal of Education for Business reported that 67.7% of students found a gamified course more motivating than a traditional course. For businesses, employee engagement increases by 60% because of gamified training.
If growth is vital to your business, scalability should be a key consideration in your choice of LMS. It’s all well and good that it can run well when you are just starting with it. How it holds up when you start branching out with various content formats, uploading more courses, registering more users, and tracking more data will tell you if that LMS is actually worth the investment.
A sign of the ability of an LMS to scale easily is when it can be accessed through the cloud. Not installing software on every device makes it much easier to scale up eLearning when your organisation grows.
6. Reporting and tracking
Any decent LMS should have the ability to collect data on how its users engage with the platform, such as their course progress and completion rates. You want a learning management system that can be more granular with its tracking features. For example, it would be helpful to see the dates and times when users log in, how long it takes to complete a course, and how many mistakes they make before arriving at the correct answer for a specific quiz question.
It’s important that data can be presented legibly to LMS instructors and administrators through analytics reports. Concrete actions can then be taken to tweak, improve and avoid similar mistakes in the future.
Data privacy has become necessary as apps and other internet-connected platforms require personal data and contact info from their users. Learning management systems are not exempt, especially when accessed via homes with personal devices. Ensure your users don’t suffer from a data breach and have their information leaked.
When shopping for an LMS, check for privacy control features and a data backup system. Get assurance from the vendor that their servers are secure.
8. Course creation
A lot of LMSs have a course creation feature, providing templates you can modify slightly. However, you may quickly discover that getting a barebones LMS limits the kinds of courses you can create.
See if the LMS you are interested in lets you include assignments and tests within a course, come up with a resource centre for external links and additional reading, and build an internal information depository.
9. Cloud servers
Not all organisations have the capacity to store eLearning resources internally while keeping sensitive data safe. If you are a small-to-medium-sized business owner who wants to use an LMS for your employees, you are better off looking for a cloud-based hosting solution.
An LMS that uses cloud servers means the vendor takes care of hosting all the data. You don’t have to worry about technical maintenance by choosing this option. As mentioned earlier, it also facilitates fast scaling since no software installation is necessary. Security, while important, won’t be as much of a resource drain, as the vendor shoulders most of the burden with your data stored on their end.
10. Learner support
No LMS is perfect. Your company is bound to run into a problem, whatever platform you choose, whether it’s a technical issue or human error. All the good features your LMS might have mean nothing when you can’t use them and you don’t receive learner support from the vendor.
Since users will access the LMS from anywhere and at any time, the vendor must provide 24/7 support services. They should be quick to respond to questions through email, phone, or online chat. At the very least, there ought to be troubleshooting or self-help guides within the LMS.
Also, if you have learners based across the globe, multilingual support is crucial.
Make an Informed Purchasing Decision
When selecting the best LMS for your business, it’s important to consider the exact purpose. Is it for internal staff training, channel partner or customer training, or even end-user training?
Each audience has a specific set of requirements, so deciding on what features are relevant to your audience is key.
As time and technology march onward, more companies are moving their training and development online. The demand for a good LMS is increasing.
Remember to look beyond the first LMS you find. Take notes of the features of the products that catch your attention, and compare their pros and cons. You can also ask your friends, colleagues, or your business network to get some first-hand feedback.
With more and more business leaders asking “what should I look for in an LMS,” hopefully this guide has provided the answers you need.
If you’re keen to learn more, you might want to check out our Buyers Guide: Choosing the right LMS for customer and partner training.
We understand that picking an LMS is a big decision so please don’t hesitate to leave us a message if you want to know what makes our LMS unique and how Wahoo Learning can help your business.