Having grown steadily over the last several years, ‘elearning’ is no longer seen as a fad, a digital trend or even a niche discipline. Instead, it has become a key tool for any organizations looking to upskill their employees as quickly and efficiently as possible – and the industry is growing all the time!
That being said, when approaching elearning for the first time it can be easy to focus too much on the more disruptive elements. For example, a certain company could be offering customized VR simulations, but an expensive option like this will hardly be suitable for a startup with only a handful of employees. It is important to consider carefully exactly what you need from elearning in order to find an option that will suit your purposes, but where should you start?
One of your most important considerations at this point should be your ‘Learning Management System’ (LMS). In essence, this is the platform that you will use to distribute and track the success of your online course content. Employees will log in to your LMS to access, download and even share learning materials. At the same time, users will generate valuable metrics which can be used to continuously improve your training package as a whole.
More impressively, a well-structured LMS can accommodate multiple perks and training features. You might decide to utilize gamified elements, or perhaps interactive videos unique to your company. Certain LMS options will also be mobile-friendly, while others will be easier to customize using your unique company branding.
Popular LMS systems like Docebo are already employed worldwide. Indeed, value-added resellers such as Good e-Learning can even incorporate unique elements to give users more value out of their subscriptions. However, that is not to say that a single LMS platform will suit all customers. Different options will provide features and capabilities which may not even be relevant to certain industries, or to companies of a certain size or location.
In order to ensure that you can choose an LMS that will suit your unique requirements, it will be important to keep in mind not only your learning objectives, but also structural and cultural factors such as the size of your workforce or the languages spoken by any multinational employees. If a certain LMS provider cannot meet these needs, you will naturally need to look elsewhere!
What are the benefits of a learning management system?
If you have previously relied on instructor-led training and are new to online learning platforms, you may be unsure about the potential benefits of an LMS.
While it might sound easier to simply keep copies of any digital resources and email them out as necessary, having a centralized platform which employees can access freely offers a number of unique advantage.
Built for you
An effective LMS will be built around the unique requirements and objectives of your organization. A white-label option may well be cheaper, but there will be less guarantee that it will be able to suit your exact requirements and KPIs. For example, you may find that it will not allow you to upload videos, or employees could struggle to access it using mobile devices.
Instead, providers like Good e-Learning will base the design of your LMS on your own niche structure and objectives.
These days, an increasing number of employees are working remotely, and even across multiple time zones. Many businesses are even outsourcing entire departments to other continents, whether to save money or create footholds for expanding into new markets.
However, as exciting as this might sound, it does create additional problems when it comes to employee training. Workers at different locations around the world may be used to entirely different learning styles than what you are familiar with. While the training materials may well need to remain consistent, you could still be required to try new methods for delivery depending on the location and makeup of your students.
With a well-built LMS, a company can allocate different training materials to specific groups. For example, you may choose to disseminate material in a certain language to a select handful of employees, or you could track entirely different user metrics in order to judge success for different locations. Even better, digital resources are far easier to edit and customize than hard copies, so any required changes can be made painlessly.
Training employees en masse
While there are certainly a number of advantages to pursuing instructor-led training, these tend to be lost when addressing a large group of people. Students will not be able to enjoy a personal touch, and in a droning lecture many employees may soon lose interest and switch off.
An LMS is an extremely useful tool for when you need to educate a large number of employees at once. Not only will it allow you to disseminate information to large groups without any trouble, but it will also track user metrics even from thousands of employees. This can allow you to both judge the effectiveness of your training program as a whole and create more personalized experiences for each user, as depending on their performance they may well show a greater aptitude for certain learning styles or topics.
When you first begin training for a new job, it can be useful to learn alongside your fellow starters. Peers can work on group exercises, helping each other to learn and developing teamwork skills that will be invaluable once they fully start working.
Many LMS systems will incorporate social features, such as digital group exercises, forums or even options to share materials and achievements. This can help to overcome one of the oft-quoted disadvantages of elearning: that it is too impersonal. By building a community of learners, you can not only make the experience more enjoyable for your staff, but also more engaging.
Living in the fourth industrial revolution often makes us forget that the introduction and adoption of new technology is nothing new when it comes to business. Automation has been an excellent way to save money for hundreds of years, and elearning is no different, with digital training delivered via an LMS often costing far less in the long term than instructor-led training.
Consider for a second how much you need to pay for with classroom training. As well as the cost of hiring a trainer (or several), you will also need to factor in booking the training space, travel expenses, hard copies of training materials and even stationary.
Digital content, on the other hand, can be consistently reused and easily updated. While the initial costs of an LMS may seem high, the long-term savings will be substantial.
Personalization and branding
When making a major purchase like an LMS, it can be tempting to opt for a simple white-label option. However, making the effort to include custom branding on your LMS can do wonders for employee morale.
To put it simply, showing your company’s dedication to training will make an excellent impression on your staff. You could, for example, have higher level executives ‘introduce’ themselves via bespoke videos, or even include a company mascot to help guide learners in place of teachers. Remember, impressing new starters early on will be crucial for retaining them down the line.
What is the best online LMS for training management?
Again, which LMS will be best for you will very much depend on the requirements of your company. There are a few features which will be common across multiple platforms, but you should always make sure that any platforms you consider offer exactly what you need.
Some of the most common features and services to watch out for include:
- Integrated authority tools – This will allow you to develop training materials without the need for third-party support or additional software. However, if the LMS is self-hosted, users will either need to be able to access your company’s server or install the relevant LMS software on their hard drives
- LMS tracking and metrics – The best LMS systems will track user metrics in order to measure progress and productivity. For example, you may want to measure statistics for course completion, user activity, gamification scores, frequency of access by individual users and so on. This can help you gauge how much of an impact your corporate training program is having on the performance of your staff
- Gap analysis evaluation – This tool can highlight the ‘gaps’ in the skills and knowledge of users which need to be filled for the sake of their roles. The tool can also leverage data on these gaps in order to create personalized training plans in order to upskill students as efficiently as possible
- Mobile device compatibility – Employees in full-time work can often struggle to find time for training, especially if they need to use a PC or laptop to do so. Mobile device compatibility will allow employees to access your LMS when it is convenient for them. Remember, millennial employees tend to have access to these devices anyway
- Course and catalog management – This will simply enable your administrators to upload and manage the courses available on your LMS
- Gamification – Many LMS systems incorporate gamification elements like points, badges and scoreboards. This can provide a boost to employee motivation, as well as retention and even enjoyment
- VR – ‘Virtual reality’ has become a highly valuable tool in corporate training. Using VR to create interactive learning experiences can provide a healthy boost to knowledge retention, or you could even incorporate branching practice scenarios
- Artificial intelligence – Good quality AI can help you to make more data-driven decisions and provide employees with targeted learning programs
- Support services – Having adequate support services will be vital for maintaining your LMS. Some LMS providers offer ongoing support, though others may require you to upskill your own support staff
- Intuitive user interface – Remember, it should be easy for your users to find what they need on your LMS. Your user interface will need to align with the abilities and requirements of your learners. It will be best to take advantage of free trials and demos to check this before committing to an LMS
- Responsive design – The most up to date LMS systems can adapt to multiple platforms and devices. For example, you may find an LMS that can reformat articles to suit different screen sizes
- Localization – If your organization has locations in multiple countries, you may require an LMS platform with geolocation features. For example, it may need to account for different languages and levels of connectivity
LMS hosting options
It will also be important to consider the hosting options available with each LMS. This will decide on how easy it is for employees to access your training materials. Remember, the best choice will often depend on your current IT infrastructure, so be sure to consult your IT staff before making a decision.
- Cloud-based – Users can log in to a cloud or web-based LMS with a username and password without having to download software. These systems can be set up quickly, but they also tend to be less customizable in terms of format and branding
- Self-hosted – Users must either download the software or upload it from a disc. This option offers greater creative control and customization, but can be more difficult to maintain. You may also have to pay for updates
- Desktop application – These applications can be installed on multiple devices; a big advantage if you want all employees to install your LMS. This uniform approach can also ease collaboration
- Mobile application – Having an app for your LMS will ensure that employees can access it from anywhere. If you are planning to upskill busy managers or executives, this kind of accessibility can be a huge time saver
LMS Licensing types
Lastly, you will need to look at the different licensing types offered by each LMS platform. The best option will depend on how much of a long-term commitment you will be making with your LMS, as well as well as how many users you need the system to be able to accommodate, and so on:
- Active user – Users will be defined according to certain criteria, such as when their accounts were created, when they accessed specific content and so on. You will usually just need to pay for new users once
- Registration – Usage will be calculated based on several metrics, such as how many users sign in for a specific course, log in to the LMS, gain a certain certification and so on. This option can be more expensive as an organization scales up its learning plan
- Revenue share – This will be tailored to selling content. Be sure to check the revenue percentage expected by the LMS vendor
- Product based – This will enable the sale of curriculums and content via the LMS
- Unlimited – An LMS with an unlimited license will not typically measure usage or even numbers of users. Some may not even charge user fees, though others will wait for users to pass a certain buying threshold before offering to sell them a truly ‘unlimited’ experience