5 Questions To Ask Yourself If You're Considering A Training Solution

Considering A Training Solution? Ask Yourself These 5 Questions

With hundreds of Learning Management Systems (LMSs) on the market, how do you narrow down the field if you are considering a training solution? Begin by asking yourself these 5 questions.

1. Does Your Business Need A Horizontal Or Vertical Training Solution?

A horizontal LMS is a one-size-fits-all training solution that can be used across many industries, use cases or business models. If you need flexibility, with the ability to change and grow, a horizontal LMS is the best choice for your organization

A vertical LMS is designed for niche or specialized fields. For example, Blackboard, Canvas, Moodle, and D2L work well for higher education institutions; EthosCE is an LMS designed specifically for the healthcare industry. Government, nonprofits and insurance are other examples of sectors that are served well by single-use-case training solutions.

2. What Type Of Platform Suits Your Organization Best?

There are 4 basic types of Learning Management Systems: Installed (or on premises), cloud-based (hosted), open source, and custom built.

A cloud-based or hosted training solution is housed and managed off-site on the LMS vendor’s server. The vendor is responsible for maintenance, upgrades, and support of the software. Typically, a cloud-based LMS is scalable — as long as its pricing model reflects that scalability — meaning you can start small and expand your use of the application as your training program grows.

Installed or on-premises training solutions are common for legacy learning management systems. They typically require a licensed copy of the LMS software and are installed on the company’s own server. An LMS administrator will be needed to support the product, and technical staff may be required to help with maintenance and upgrades.

Open-source training solutions use “free” source code available to the public. An open-source LMS gives an organization flexibility to modify the software to support its specific needs, but it also requires hosting resources and specialized in-house technical staff to customize, oversee and manage it.

A custom-built training solution is an application built “from scratch” using your own in-house developers or contractors who deliver a product designed especially for your organization’s needs. While this can ensure that your LMS is optimized for your business, it can also be one of the most expensive options to build and maintain. It also essentially turns your company into a software developer, which requires real management.

Options 2, 3 and 4 require IT staff, LMS administrators and hardware, so it’s important to ask: “Does my organization have the requisite staff and resources?”

3. What Type Of Instructional Design Framework Do You Need?

An Instructional Design model or framework is a systematic approach to developing courses and should be considered as part of your overall training solution. A framework provides a step-by-step guide for organizing your course development project, helping to ensure that nothing gets missed along the way.

Some of the more commonly used frameworks include Rapid Prototyping [1], SAM [2] (Successive Approximation Model), ADDIE [3] (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation and Evaluation) and Dick and Carey [4].

Rapid Prototyping creates online courses using an iterative process in a continual design-evaluation cycle.
SAM allows analysis, design and development to take place at the same time.
ADDIE, popular in business and organizational environments, requires that each phase be perfected before moving to the next.
Dick and Carey, often used in schools and educational environments, includes nine stages, beginning with identifying instructional goals and ending by conducting summative evaluation.

Instructionaldesign.org offers a more comprehensive list of frameworks [5]. However, some all-in-one solutions, like SchoolKeep, already have a built-in framework. This training framework guides users through 5 stages —define, outline, build, engage, and measure— making the job of the instructional designer even easier.

4. How Easy Is It To Use?

Will your training solution be used by others in your organization besides the training department? Are your sales and marketing teams clamoring to give away free content? Is your customer support team knocking on your door, looking for ways to provide instructional videos online?

When evaluating different products, look at the ease of creating a course or video and the intuitiveness of producing reports on the outcomes of the courses. All-in-one solutions will also include a central media library and reporting analytics in a single platform.

Training solutions that have these built-in course authoring tools, with drag and drop features, templates, quizzes, and interactions, are designed for seamless creation of effective content, even by non-training staff. Ask the vendor if they have a 30-day trial version that you can try out to see just how user-friendly their product is.

Related reading - How to Create an Online Course in 5 Easy Steps

5. How Much Does It Cost?

Before you start shopping, determine your budget for implementation and ongoing maintenance. Depending on which platform you choose —cloud-based, installed, open-source or custom-built— your costs can vary widely. If choosing an option other than a cloud-based learning solution, you’ll need to factor in hardware costs and any additional staffing needs.

Pricing models are generally all-inclusive or packaged. Some vendors are offering a newer pricing model — metered pricing.

All-inclusive means the customer will pay a single price for all services. This can be based on the number of seats purchased and includes all services, whether the organization uses them or not.

Packaged pricing options include a flat fee but allow customization according to need. The downside is that the customer may end up choosing fewer features to save money, which could limit the effectiveness of the product.

Metered pricing allows the customer to pay only for what they actually use, saving precious training dollars, especially during the peaks and valleys of training demand.

Be sure to ask about any one-time costs such as implementation fees, licensing fees, design customization costs and upgrade fees. These additional fees can add up and take a big chunk out of your training budget.

Some Additional Help To Get Started

Now that you’ve answered those five basic questions, you’re armed with the key parameters for finding your organization’s perfect training solution.

Speaking of perfect training solution, take advantage of this free 14-day trial with SchoolKeep.

Footnotes:

  1. Rapid Prototyping
  2. The New Frontier Of Successive Approximation Model
  3. ADDIE Model
  4. Dick and Carey Model
  5. Instructional Design Models
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