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How to choose the right Learning Management System for your business

learning management system

You’ve made the decision to start providing digital learning. That’s a big step. But the next step is just as important – deciding what platform you’re going to use.

With so many things to consider when choosing a platform, it can seem like a box-ticking exercise with too many boxes and far too many options.

We believe that getting this decision right or wrong can make or break the success of your transition to digital learning. It’s our job to help you make the right choice – so we’ve laid out a guide to help you know what you’re looking for when you’re choosing a Learning Management System (LMS).

 

What is a Learning Management System?

A Learning Management System is the platform you’ll use to host your digital learning content. These can be bespoke platforms created specifically for your organisation, or global “off the shelf’ platforms.

The job of the LMS is to offer a simple way to present digital content to your audience whilst also allowing you to track learner progress and performance.

 

What is the difference between an Learning Management System and an Learning Record Store?

A Learning Record Store (LRS) is a cloud-based repository for digital learning records. These are often cheaper than an LMS system, but they’ll cost you in terms of user experience.

You won’t get a bespoke design, branded front end or a customer user interface. Commonly, an LRS is more likely to be used as a part of an LMS as opposed to being a replacement.

To give you an idea of the difference, here are just a few of the features you won’t get with an LRS:

  • Competency management
  • Manage users, roles, instructors, facilities
  • Skill gap analysis
  • Chat rooms
  • Forums where learners can collaborate
  • File storage where admins can leave files for learners (PDF, Word doc, syllabus, etc.)
  • Email integration (beyond invites)
  • Announcements from admins to learners
  • The ability for learners to check their grades
  • Calendar integration

 

What to consider when choosing a Learning Management System

If you are just starting out on your transition to eLearning, or have a limited budget, you will probably want to choose a course platform that is available for a low monthly cost. This makes moving your learning online more affordable and reduces the risk of buying a bespoke designed system that exceeds your needs or, conversely, doesn’t do what you need it to do. 

Most ‘off the shelf’ platforms are simple to use, with a clear emphasis on user experience – they’re designed to make it easy for you. This will reduce the tech headache of setting up for the first time. 

There are more sophisticated off the shelf solutions available if you need a more versatile platform. For example you can choose an LMS with more potential for integrations into other systems you use within your business. These could be advanced APIs or plugins designed to get the most from your platform.

Alternatively, large organisations established in the use of eLearning, may require a bespoke solution. Creating your content and LMS from scratch may be a better option. By researching your existing audience, you can discover how they want the content presented and focus your efforts on producing exactly what they want to see. Once your material is written, you’ll just need to break it down into more manageable chunks that are optimised for your online audience. 

During the selection process it is useful to follow a structured approach so that you consider each system in a consistent way without getting distracted by their sales and marketing. This helps you to work incrementally towards a sound buying decision. 

  • Know what you need; treat this like a business plan and set clear goals that you can measure in order to quantify the business benefits you want to achieve. This article gives some helpful advice about understanding what you need from your system. https://www.ispringsolutions.com/blog/lms-requirements/
  • Understand  your audience; how is your workforce or target audience made up? How will they access learning? Do they possess the technical skills to use the system? If not, how will you upskill them?
  • Search the market; there are hundreds of systems to choose from so you will need to start with a long-list. 
  • Evaluate your initial short-list; dig beneath their sales and marketing and look at reviews, case studies, time-served in the marketplace, relevant experience to your business sector, check their support, business continuity and disaster recovery arrangements. 
  • Test; put potential systems through a ‘real-life’ testing scenario to highlight potential shortcomings. This will allow you to assess if there are any deal-breaker issues, if you will need to make too many compromises or if it’s a good fit for your business. If you can, test their support service too so you know how things will work when something goes wrong.
  • Invite the final shortlisted vendors to build and use case and deliver it to a group of stakeholders from your business. 

 

Already using a Learning Management System and want to take it to the next level?

Whatever LMS you’re currently working on, there’s no reason you can’t change to something better. SCORM is the industry standard file format used to author content. Similar to PNG or JPEG, SCORM allows content to be easily moved between different LMS platforms.

If you’re ready to move from an off the shelf solution to a bespoke platform for your business we can help you transfer your data and upgrade assets so that you get off to a flying start  on your new, bespoke eLearning platform. 

 

What about Learning Experience Platforms?

If you’ve been researching eLearning options you may have heard that the industry is shifting towards Learning Experience Platforms (LXP). 

The main difference is an LXP system focuses on curation and user-led experiences, often using AI to personalise your recommendations and learning paths – you may have heard the term ‘Netflix for eLearning’

Right now, other than the front end user interface (the X for experience in LXP), there’s not a great difference between them and a traditional LMS – however, that will change in the future as the concept develops and becomes more accessible to a wider audience with a range of budgets.

As it stands, currently available LMS options are capable of handling everything most businesses could need for their online learning. We would recommend businesses continue using an LMS until there is a clear and obvious business case to switch to an LXP.

Need help finding the perfect Learning Management System for your business?

Whilst the Foster & Forge team build bespoke solutions, there are still plenty of great LMS choices for your business if custom-made is a step too far right now.  If you’re not ready for a custom built solution, we are happy to help you understand what you need versus the bells and whistles that may be nice to have.

Moving to digital learning is an exciting part of your business’ growth and development – get in touch to find out how we can remove the stress and get you started faster.

Click here to schedule a call and discover how we can help you.

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