Selecting An LMS: 3 Essential Considerations
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What To Look For In A Learning Management System

With 44% of companies unhappy with their current Learning Management System, it is logical to ask the question: “Why aren’t they switching vendors to find a product that better suits their needs?”

The truth is that only 1 in every 5 companies has been using the same Learning Management System for more than five years. Organizations are constantly looking for new innovative tools to improve User Experience, data analytics reporting, and scalability, but with hundreds of Learning Management Systems currently on the market, choosing the best one that meets the needs of the organization can be difficult.

A Learning Management System (LMS) is a software package or a cloud-based service that enables organizations to both manage and deliver learning content, materials, and resources to learners. These systems can be powerful tools for the enterprise as they allow the automation of man-repetitive (and sometimes tedious) administrative tasks while facilitating the transfer of important information from source to end-user. At the end of the day, an LMS will assist with improving organizational effectiveness and performance by tracking, maintaining and, ultimately, developing the skills of the individuals in your organization. Considering that 72% of global organizations see Learning Management Systems as a competitive advantage and organizations in the United States have attributed a 42%  increase in income to eLearning, there is a strong case for incorporating an LMS within your organization. Selecting the right LMS can be the difference between a smashing success or a flailing failure.

Here are the top 3 things to look for when selecting an LMS for your organization:

1. Research The Background And Experience Of LMS Vendor

There are a lot of vendors peddling the “best,” “most flexible,” and “easiest-to-use” Learning Management Systems on the planet. The Learning Management System market is expected to more than double in growth from an estimated $9.2 billion in 2018 to $22.4 billion by 2023 [1] so understanding that there is a massive opportunity for vendors should caution shoppers to heed with caution and conduct extensive research before going with the first company that makes a bold promise.

There are tons of LMSs on the market and just because the software is feature-rich or is used by other organizations in your industry does not necessarily make it the best fit for your company. What are the needs of your learners? What are the goals of the organization?

Create a spreadsheet of core features you absolutely need to have and ancillary features that would be a luxury. When researching LMSs, immediately cross out the vendors that don’t provide the components that are necessary for your team. Narrowing your selection early will help you compare vendors that provide necessities versus shiny bells and whistles. When meeting with your vendor be sure to ask questions that will allow you to see the full capabilities of the software and what post-sale support will look like. A few of these questions include:

  • How does this software meet the needs of the core components we’ve outlined of our organization (and please demonstrate)?
  • What type of features do you provide that make your software unique from other vendors (mobile-responsiveness, Artificial Intelligence, ease of integration, security, and reliability, and communication-capability)?
  • What type of automation does this software support and how does it facilitate administration tasks for our human resources team?
  • What type of support services can we expect moving on through the life of our contract agreement?
  • What happens to our data if we determine that this software no longer meets our needs and decide to terminate our service agreement?

2. Ensure Software Capabilities Align With Current (And Future) Trends

While the corporate eLearning market is predicted to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 11.4% between 2016 and 2020, it can be expected that the features that are offered today will be enhanced tomorrow as learning trends evolve across the industry.

While there are many learning trends to consider when selecting an LMS to ensure robust functionality, choosing an LMS that offers the features most closely aligned with the educational needs of your organization is important. With this in mind, a few trends have been developing rapidly and are becoming foundational components of any learning experience.

My top trends in 2020 are:

  • Mobile Learning
  • Self-Directed Learning
  • Video-Based Learning
  • Gamification
  • AR/VR or “Immersive Learning”

Mobile Learning

In a study reported by Lynda.com [2], it was discovered that smartphone users finish their assigned course 45% faster than individuals who train on computers. Mobile learning supports the self-directed learning model and gives users the flexibility to access training more conveniently. Considering that 58% of coursework participants report to completing their assigned travel while traveling for business or commuting, creating mobile-responsive that is accessible on the go is essential in 2020.

Self-Directed Learning

The future of Learning and Development is less about the organization imposing training requirements and more about employees taking the initiative to evolve and rapidly adapt to fast-changing times on their own volition. Self-directed learning is the process where individuals take the lead in diagnosing their own learning needs and create learning goals while identifying the resources needed to achieve their desired outcomes. Our organization has integrated coursework on demand for team members and the engagement has been favorable. LMSs that allow users to take the lead in creating their learning plan and incorporate features just as community blogs and forums where users can both request and generate content are ahead of the curve.

Video-Based Learning

According to a Forrester Research Report, 75% of people are more likely [3] to watch a video than read a report. Furthermore, 59% of senior executives in large organizations agree that given the option between text and video on the same topic, the preference is to watch the video. Videos are cost-effective, fairly easy to create and easy to distribute. Lectures can be produced simply using screen recording tools [4] and hosting on your LMS. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), established in the early 2000s, have changed the game on what learning could and should look like at the enterprise level: the future of learning is video-based!

Gamification

Employee engagement is critical to the success of any organization and adding a bit of gamification into your company’s learning strategy may be a quick win to scoring a few points with your team. 89% of employees say that gamification makes them feel more productive and happier at work. Furthermore, 83% of employees who received gamified training [5] are left feeling motivated while nearly 61% of employees who complete non-gamified learning report feeling uninterested and unproductive.

A few of the most common gamification features that can be integrated into an LMS include:

  • Badges
  • Points (that can be redeemed for physical or virtual rewards)
  • Leaderboards
  • Skill levels

Keep these potential elements in mind when selecting your LMS and ask your vendor what gamification features they offer to encourage user engagement.

AR/VR (Immersive Learning)

With 76% of organizations stating [6] that Artificial Intelligence is essential to their strategy to succeed, incorporating this technology into learning initiatives is logical. Immersive learning capitalizes on the use of simulated (or artificial) environments to replicate an actual learning environment, allowing learners to immerse themselves in the learning experience.

By 2021, the market size for Augmented Reality is expected to reach $215 billion as the drive and desire for workplace innovation increases. The integration of Augmented Reality with learning improves the content delivery and gamification experience by simulating the environment while also allowing personalized learning analytics for each user. AR will change the way that every organization does business moving into the future, and ensuring that your LMS has the capability to integrate immersive learning functionality is critical.

3. Make Sure That Your LMS Is Agile And Flexible To Support Integration With Other Systems

The future of LMS functionality will be the ability to interact [7] and integrate with other software. An LMS that operates in isolation will be limited in what it can do and will fail to be utilized to its maximum potential.

Simple, yet necessary functions such as reporting, auto-enrollment, and course progress tracking can all be achieved using an Application Programming Interface (API), which is a connection between two different systems that allow the sharing of data. This is one example of how LMSs can integrate with other forms of software to provide an enhanced User Experience.

A few of the most common integrations include:

  • Email marketing tools (to simplify mass communication to your LMS users)
  • Web user analytics tools (to track visitor traffic)
  • Webhooks (allows for notifications in real-time)
  • Social media platforms (i.e., users having the ability to showcase course completion on LinkedIn)
  • Payment gateway (for department charges)

While every integration will not be necessary for every company, having a clear understanding of the needs of your organization both now and moving into the future is important to find an LMS that supports the business goals of the company.

Use this guide as a conversation starter when you sit with your vendor to discuss what’s possible for your next LMS. Ensuring that your learning team is well-equipped with the proper tools is the first step to a world-class learning experience for your employees.

References:

[1] LMS Market

[2] Benefits of Mobile Learning

[3] 20 WAYS TO SAVE MONEY ON YOUR NEXT VIDEO

[4] Best Screen Recording Software for Videos (2020) 

[5] The 2019 Gamification at Work Survey

[6] AI Adoption Driving Revenue Growth for Businesses; Leadership on Workforce Implications Vital – Infosys Study

[7] 4 Reasons Why The Future Calls For LMS Integration

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