What are the features of a good LMS?

Published: 15th July 2020 Updated: 26th May 2022

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From increasing learning retention rates by as much as 25% to an increase in the income expansion rate for 42% of organisations, eLearning has proven again and again to be a powerful driver of business success. What enables the effects of eLearning, however, is a good learning management system (LMS).

In this article, we’ll take a look at the LMS features that can make a real positive impact on your training outcomes and ultimately your bottom line.

What’s the Purpose?

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.

LMS Must-Haves

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, in and of itself. 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 waste of valuable resources.

You should 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 is something that can sometimes get overlooked when planning training but it is one of the most vital ingredients to your learning programme’s success.

2. Personalisation

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.

3. Accessibility

Yet another key benefit of eLearning is that it can be done wherever and whenever provided there is an internet connection and authorised access to the LMS. Whether the learner is at home or in a cafe, they could be absorbing new information and developing skills. It would be a waste if the LMS you choose isn’t optimised for use on smartphones, tablets, and other such devices.

Being accessible extends to the LMS catering to disabled people’s needs. Inclusivity should always be part of the equation in the development of a business’s workforce.

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. Having elements such as leaderboards, trophies, point systems, and timers can instil a sense of competitiveness and accomplishment that would drive learners to engage with the LMS and do better.

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. In the world of business, there’s an increase of 60% in employee engagement because of gamified training.

5. Scalability

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 good sign of an LMS being scalable is when it can be accessed through the cloud. Not having to install software on every device makes it so much easier to scale up eLearning when your organisation grows.

6. Reporting and Tracking

Any decent LMS should have the ability to collect data from how its users engage with the platform, such as their course progress and preferred courses. You want a learning management system that can be more granular with its tracking features. For example, it would be very useful if you can see the dates and times when users log in, how long it takes for them to complete a course, and how many mistakes they make before arriving at the right answer for a specific quiz question.

It’s important that this data can be presented legibly to LMS instructors and administrators through analytics reports. Concrete actions can then be taken to tweak current courses that need improving and to avoid similar mistakes for new courses.

7. Secure

Data privacy has only become more of a necessity, as apps and other internet-connected platforms require personal data and contact info from their users. Learning management systems are not exempt, especially when they are being accessed in users’ homes with their personal devices. Ensure your users don’t suffer from a data breach and have their addresses or phone numbers leaked, as well as your own organisation’s trade secrets.

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

You can expect any LMS to have a basic course creation feature, providing templates that you can modify slightly. However, you may quickly discover that getting a barebones LMS would be severely limiting what kinds of courses you can make.

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. An LMS with flexible course creation features greatly opens up the possibilities for learning.

9. Cloud Servers

Not all organisations have the capacity to store their 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 has the vendor take 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 there is no software installation necessary. Security, while it is still 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 because of a technical issue or human error. All the good features your LMS might have mean nothing when you can’t use them and you aren’t getting the learner support that you need from the vendor.

Since it’s very much expected that users will be accessing the LMS from anywhere and at any time, the vendor must provide 24/7 support services. They should be quick to respond to questions, whether it’s 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

As time and technology march onward, more companies are moving their employee training and development online. The demand for a good LMS is increasing, especially in light of the pandemic and social distancing rules that will continue to limit in-person meetings.

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 though, 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.

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The author - lloyd smith

The author - Lloyd Smith

Lloyd is the Managing Director of Wahoo Learning. He has a passion for the learning technology industry, particularly the latest innovations and technologies.

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