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Learning Management System (LMS) Buying Guide

 

 

 

 

 

 

LMS BUYING GUIDE

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. What is an LMS?

B. What Can an LMS Do For You?

C. Key LMS Features

D. Finding the Right LMS

E. Next Steps

GLOSSARY

API: An API, or application program interface, captures data about a learner’s activities from many technologies.

Asynchronous Learning: When participating in asynchronous learning, students learn the same material at different times and locations. Typically, asynchronous learning programs are self-study.

Blended Learning: Blended learning describes an education program that combines online learning with traditional classroom methods.

Formative Assessment: Refers to a wide variety of methods used to conduct in-process evaluations of a learner’s comprehension, needs, and academic progress.

LCMS: An LCMS, or learning content management system, is a software tool that provides an authoring application, a data repository, a delivery interface, and administration tools. It enables developers to create, store, reuse, manage, and deliver digital learning content.

Learning Path: A learning path allows for multiple types of learning supports within a learning program. A learning path is the series of courses, events or learning experiences learners must complete to achieve a goal.

LMS: An LMS, or learning management system, is a software tool that manages, delivers, evaluates, tracks, and reports the learning progress of employees.

Mobile Learning: Mobile learning, or mLearning, is the delivery of training, education materials or learning support on any mobile device.

RFP: RFPs, or requests for proposals, are requests for vendors to submit a detailed proposal or bid to provide a service or commodity.

ROI: ROI, or return on investment is a performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment.

SaaS: SaaS, or software as a service, is a software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted. Users always access SaaS via a web browser.

SCORM & Tin Can: International standards for eLearning course development that allow for data transfer between learning content and learning management systems.

Single Sign-On: Enables users to access multiple software applications with a single login.

Synchronous Learning: A learning event in which a group of students engage in learning at the same time, for example by attending a lecture or live virtual classroom. Synchronous learning programs let instructors and learners interact at the same time.

INTRODUCTION

Today’s organizations are changing at a rapid pace, not least because of innovative, ever-evolving technologies they can utilize to achieve their goals and objectives.

There are many LMS providers to choose from, and the process of choosing the right LMS for you can be daunting. How do you ensure the LMS you choose is the right fit for your organization, when there are so many options?

This buying guide will help you successfully navigate the selection process and find the best fit for your organization.

This eBook is a useful compilation of tips and suggestions that will give you the confidence and tools you need to make the right decision for your organization.

A. What is an LMS?

LMS

An LMS is a software application that helps organizations effectively create and deliver training programs, track learners’ participation and performance and pull data-rich reports.

Simply put, an LMS enables you to administer all types of learning in the most effective way.

LMS

The primary role of a learning system is to ensure that all workers have the information and skills needed to perform their workplace tasks to an established and documented standard of performance.

Additional roles of a learning system include the provision of management tools, information tracking and change management.

B. What Can an LMS Do For You?

A LEARNING MANAGEMENT SYSTEM CAN

Increase Efficiency

An effective LMS will reduce employee knowledge gaps, and ensure learners are maximizing their time.

Track and Analyze

An LMS can be used to administer learning, track learner progress and performance, and tailor your learning program to suit your specific objectives.

Organize Learning

An LMS will allow you to store different types of learning content in one place, making content easy to locate and use.

Boost Productivity

An LMS can eliminate downtime by allowing more flexibility when scheduling employee training.

Deliver Training Anywhere, at Any Time, on Any Device

Through an LMS, learners have unlimited access to learning content.

Reduce Costs

An LMS eliminates live training travel and expenses costs, as well as postage costs for training materials sent via mail.

An LMS centralizes all learning within an organization, leading to better training, which can, in turn, improve employee retention and boost employee productivity.

C. Key LMS Features

KEY LMS FEATURES

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Reporting & Tracking

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Learning Resource Management

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Mobile Learning

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Gamification

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Support for Blended Learning

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Branding

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Integration

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Testing & Assessments

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Personalized Learning Paths

1. Reporting & Tracking

Reporting capabilities are one of the top features to look for when investing in an LMS. When asked to rank the importance of various LMS reporting and tracking functions, respondents in The eLearning Guild’s study rated the top three functions as:1

● Providing knowledge checks and assessments (55%)

● Determining the status of a course or learning program (51%)

● Determining the effectiveness of your courses (45%)

Choose an LMS that is data-rich, and allows flexible, comprehensive reporting that can help you track and evaluate training initiatives, and make strategic decisions. Remember, if you sell courses to learners, ensure that the LMS includes eCommerce reports to track purchases, revenues and the performance of your marketing initiatives.

1Vipond, S. (2016). Corporate learning management systems 2016-2018: New research from The eLearning Guild and Adobe Systems. Research Insights Library The eLearning Guild. Retrieved from [+ https://www.elearningguild.com/insights/index.cfm?id=191+]

2. Learning Resource Management

When you compare LMS solutions, you will see that learning resource management is a very basic, but necessary, component of a learning management system.

Questions to ask include:

● Does the LMS support the latest international standards for eLearning? SCORM and Tin Can/xAPI are widely-recognized standards to look for.

● Can you upload existing documents? Upload existing materials “as-is” and get your training program started right away, with zero dollars spent, and minimal time invested.

● Does the LMS support all types of learning resources? Can you upload videos? Can you use URLs to link learners to web content hosted elsewhere? Can you set up and manage exams or other types of evaluations.

Also ask vendors:

● Can your curriculum, learning materials and evaluations be organized into a meaningful and effective learning path?

● Can learning materials and events be shared between courses or learning paths?

● Does the vendor provide support for learning resource development?

● Can you use content that you built yourself or purchased elsewhere?

3. Mobile Learning

Mobile learning is the delivery of training, education materials or learning support on any mobile device.

In November of 2016, The Telegraph reported that mobile web usage had overtaken desktop for the first time.2 With this shift, it’s obvious that businesses can’t remain competitive if they rely on learning platforms that don’t have mobile capabilities.

The greatest benefit of mobile learning is that learners can access anything, anywhere at any time. Learning is available on demand, and supports the needs of the learner on their terms.

Steve Penfold, in his Profile of the modern learner, stated that 67% of eLearners learn on mobile devices. 3 If you want to engage with your employees and take full advantage of the benefits of mobile learning, you need to adapt to the preferences of your learners, and choose an LMS that will integrate with the way they want to learn.

Ask potential vendors if they support responsive design. You should look for responsive design as opposed to apps, as responsive design lets your LMS work on any device, whereas apps work on specific platforms only.

2Titcomb, J. (2016, November, 1). Mobile web usage overtakes desktop for first time. The Telegraph. Retrieved from

[+ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2016/11/01/mobile-web-usage-overtakes-desktop-for-first-time/+]

3Penfold, S. (2016, June, 7). Profile of the modern learner – helpful facts and stats. [Blog post]. Retrieved from [+ https://blog.elucidat.com/modern-learner-profile-infographic/+].

Percentage of People Using Mobile Devices to Access Learning

Source: Penfold, S. (2016, June, 7). Profile of the modern learner – helpful facts and stats. [Blog post]. Retrieved from [+ https://blog.elucidat.com/modern-learner-profile-infographic+]

4. Gamification

According the research from The eLearning Guild, “Organizations now consider gamification features … a core requirement for today’s LMSs.”4 Gamification is the concept of applying the typical elements of game play, such as point scoring and competition with others, to learning. Gamification leverages a natural desire for:

● Socializing

● Mastery

● Achievement

● Status

● Closure

According to a recent survey, gamification improves work experience for 91% of employees, increases productivity levels for 90% of workers and increases awareness of co-workers’ goals and tasks for 86%. 5

4Vipond, S. (2016). Corporate learning management systems 2016-2018: New research from The eLearning Guild and Adobe Systems. Research Insights Library The eLearning Guild. Retrieved from [+ https://www.elearningguild.com/insights/index.cfm?id=191+]

5 Badgeville. (2015). Gamification improves work experience for 91% of employees, increases productivity across U.S. companies. [Press Release]. Retrieved from [+ https://badgeville.com/gamification-improves-work-experience-for-91-of-employees-increases-productivity-across-u-s-companies/+]

By incorporating different rewards, such as a points system, tier system and achievement badges, gamification can bring about fun and healthy competition. When assigned learning tasks feel more like games, there is often increased participation among learners. Gamification:

● Makes eLearning fun

● Enhances the learning experience

● Increases learner motivation

● Improves ROI

For more information on gamification, read [+ 7 Benefits of Gamification in eLearning+]. 6

6Walker, J. (2016). 7 Benefits of Gamification in eLearning. [Blog post]. Retrieved from [+ http://www.skillbuilderlms.com/7-benefits-gamification-elearning+]

5. Support for Blended Learning

The Training Study Report for 2016 found that almost a quarter of all training was delivered through blended learning.7 LMS support for blended learning is a must-have LMS feature. Offline learning events must be tracked, recorded and assessed along with online ones.

An extensive list of LMS features may be needed to effectively support offline learning:

● Can you register learners for classes, seminars, workshops and other events through the LMS? Can learners register themselves?

● Is there support for synchronous and asynchronous learning?

● Can eLearning and offline learning be combined in a learning path? Is there support for documenting and tracking offline or even external certifications and other qualifications? Can they be included in learning paths?

Blended learning strikes a balance between online and face-to-face learning, and can help optimize your training program.

7Staff. (2016, November/December). 2016 training industry report. Training, 27-41. Retrieved from [+ https://trainingmag.com/sites/default/files/images/Training_Industry_Report_2016.pdf+]

6. Branding

Branding is powerful and important. Your brand conveys the personality of your organization to your learners. Look for a ‘white label’ LMS, which can be rebranded so that it looks like it is coming directly from you, rather than an external vendor.

Choose an LMS that will allow you to personalize:

● Corporate colors

● Logos

● Images and icons

● Terminology

7. Integration

The Brandon Hall Group study found that three-quarters of organizations considered integration capabilities necessary, making the ability to easily share data across organizational systems another must-have LMS feature.8

So, look for an LMS that allows you to share data with other commercial software applications via an API that allows you to integrate with other commercial products.

You might need to integrate with one or more of the following systems:

● Identity Management System (Single Sign on)

● Human Resource Information System (HRIS)

● Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

● Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

● Payment processor

8Wentworth, D., Werder, C., & Benjamin, N. (2016). 2016 learning technology study: Summary of top findings. Brandon Hall Group. Retrieved from http://go.brandonhall.com/l/8262/2016-04-25/5brswr

8. Testing & Assessments

Flexible testing and assessment options are almost always considered important LMS features, although they’re not always available. Ask yourself:

● Does the system support pre-tests and post-tests?

● Are formative assessments supported, or must learners pass all evaluations?

● Can test items be weighted?

● Can random questions be pulled from a test bank? From different topic banks? Weighted banks?

● Can you track tests or assessments delivered by a third-party?

● What question types are supported?

● Can multiple choice answers be randomized?

● Are there provisions for proctored exams?

● Can the results of offline exams be entered?

● Can on-job or practical evaluations be entered?

9. Personalized Learning Paths

In a study done by Capterra, 41% of respondents said that a personalized learning path was the LMS feature they were most interested in. 9

Personalized learning paths give you the ability to meet the unique requirements of your learners, and allow you to:

● Create multiple paths for learning, evaluation and recognition

● Assign specific learning paths to individual learners or group of learners

● Add or remove relevant learning content

● Support different learning needs

9 Medved, J.P. (2015). LMS Industry User Research Report by Capterra. [Web page]. Retrieved from [+ http://www.capterra.com/learning-management-system-software/user-research+]

D. Finding the Right LMS

1. Identify Business Needs and Learning Goals

If you do not define your expectations for a new LMS, chances are that you will not take advantage of the full potential of the new application. It’s important to define quantifiable goals at the beginning so you can identify and calculate a return for your investment.

In order to get the most out of your new LMS, it’s critical to build a list of expectations and learning objectives that your system should address. Each requirement should express a specific need.

● Do you need to keep your employees current with training?

● Keep training costs down?

● Boost employee productivity?

Be objective in presenting the business need. State your case, but don’t name names, point fingers or step on anyone’s toes. Acknowledge what is working and what needs to be fixed.

2. Define Evaluation & ROI Metrics

According to the Phillips Model10, the success of a training program is evaluated using these steps:

1. Reaction: What are learners’ reactions to the training program?

2. Learning: What knowledge or skills were gained?

3. Behavioral Change: What are learners doing differently because of the training?

4. Results: How do behavioral changes affect the organization?

5. Return on Investment: Do the results justify the costs?

Check out this [+ free ROI calculator+] 11 to help you justify the investment.

10Pandey, A. (2016, February, 15). How to measure the ROI of online training? [Blog post]. Retrieved from [+ https://elearningindustry.com/measure-roi-of-online-training+]

11 [+ http://www.skillbuilderlms.com/free-elearning-roi-calculator+]

3. LMS Comparison

To choose the best LMS for your organization, you will want to efficiently compare a variety of LMS applications.

Here are some key things to do before you shop for an LMS:

● Identify your audience

● Prioritize your needs

● Define your technical requirements

● Establish your budget

● Consider your time frame

● Define the level of support

● Choose a deployment model

Identify your Audience

As simple as it sounds, knowing your audience is critical for success. Learner satisfaction is one of the key reasons your training programs will succeed…or fail! First, you need to define who your learners are. Ask yourself:

Will you deliver eLearning to customers, employees, members or partners? For example, if you sell courses to customers, you will need an LMS that includes eCommerce features. If your eLearning is going to be delivered to employees, then consider single sign-on and possible integrations with other applications you already use in your organization.

How many licensed users do you need? How will the number of learners change over the years?

How do your learners want to access content? Your LMS should support blended learning, and support the fact that learners today embrace (and expect) mobile learning.

What are your learners’ needs? Each individual comes with a unique skillset and learning needs; how do these align with your program goals and requirements?

Have your learners been previously exposed to eLearning? Learners who are familiar with eLearning will need less guidance to successfully use a learning management system.

Prioritize Your Needs

Before choosing an LMS, think about which features are “must have” and which are “nice to have”. Establishing your list of critical functionality can be tough, but nearly 47% of respondents in Vipond’s study were “only ‘somewhat satisfied’ with their LMS”. 12 It’s important to make a list of your needs to ensure you choose the right LMS. Think about features such as:

● User-friendly interface

● Flexible testing and assessment options

● Comprehensive administrative capabilities

● Reporting and tracking features

● Integration capabilities

● Support for mobile learning

● Support for multiple languages

12Vipond, S. (2016). Corporate learning management systems 2016-2018: New research from The eLearning Guild and Adobe Systems. Research Insights Library The eLearning Guild. Retrieved from [+ https://www.elearningguild.com/insights/index.cfm?id=191+]

Define Your Technical Requirements

Identify possible technical issues that could impact your implementation, and ask vendors:

● How does the LMS integrate with third-party applications?

● Are any plug-ins required?

● What are the mobility capabilities?

● Are there any storage limits?

● Where is the data centre located?

● What is their disaster recovery process?

● What security measures are in place?

Establish Your Budget

To help establish your budget, review your LMS vendor’s Terms of Service for the following:

User definition: The number of users often impacts your LMS pricing. Take a look at the terminology used to describe users. Will you be charged for concurrent users or all users created in the LMS? Is there a way to archive user data to help manage costs?

Level of support: Make sure support fees, like implementation fees or consulting fees, are identified and clearly defined.

Number of administrators: The best learning management systems don’t restrict the number of administrators you

can have in your system.

Hosting fees: Some companies may charge a hosting fee or limit the amount of content you can have in your LMS.

Contract term and cancellation policy: Even if an LMS provider advertises a monthly price, ensure they will actually let you pay monthly.

Integration: If you already use an HRIS, CRM or ERP, you might consider integrating it with your LMS to share data across your systems. Identify any potential costs associated with developing or implementing these types of integrations.

Consider Your Time Frame

You can now find a lot of information online before even contacting a potential provider. This unprecedented access to information can shorten the time frame of your LMS selection.

● Decide on a process and timeline for your LMS selection, and include deadlines for each stage, from research to launch. If you choose to go through an RFP process [+ download a free RFP Template+].13

● Identify who will be involved in the selection and decision-making process, and get them onboard quickly. Communicate your timeline early and clearly to ensure everyone is able to commit to the process and meet deadlines.

Some LMS providers offer a free trial period. This is a great opportunity to see the learning management system in action and to see if it’s really as user-friendly as it claims to be.

● Be sure to include this free trial period in your schedule. Actually using the tool is one of the best ways to ensure that you pick the best LMS for your organization.

13Free RFP Template: [+ http://skillbuilderlms.com/lms-rfp-template+]

Define the Level of Support

Make sure your LMS vendor has effective processes to guide you through implementation and beyond.

Implementing an LMS in your organization requires time, effort and resources. Make sure LMS providers have effective processes to guide you through the implementation. Ask LMS vendors:

● What training is available for administrators?

● Will you have a dedicated account manager?

● How many consulting or support hours can you access as part of the implementation and on an ongoing basis? It could be a few hours per month or per year. We recommend at least 8 hours to be able to help you to successfully implement your LMS.

Support should not stop after the implementation stage. On the technical side, review the support process an LMS vendor provides, and ask:

● Where do you submit support tickets and how are they processed?

● How are support requests prioritized?

● How quickly will you get a response?

● Is it possible to talk to a real person if you want to?

Choose a Deployment Model

When looking at different LMS, you should also consider if you want to invest in an SaaS (cloud-based) or on-premise platform. The eLearning Guide found that more than half, 57%, of surveyed organizations now use a cloud-based LMS, and that cloud-based LMS are the dominant learning system option today.14

An on-premise LMS offers high customization opportunities, security of stored data and third-party extensions integration. However, compared to cloud-based LMS, the initial deployment and maintenance of an on-premise LMS requires much more time (especially when customization is necessary), resources and technical experience. In some cases, additional staff training is required.

With a SaaS LMS, the LMS provider takes on most of the operational responsibilities, which may also include maintenance and upgrades. An Saas LMS also provides high security, and, in addition, organizations that choose a cloud-based LMS benefit from lower set-up costs, fast deployment, and ease of maintenance and use. For additional information on the benefits of a cloud-based LMS, read [+ 8 Benefits of Using a Cloud-Based LMS+].15

14Vipond, S. (2016). Corporate learning management systems 2016-2018: New research from The eLearning Guild and Adobe Systems. Research Insights Library The eLearning Guild. Retrieved from [+ https://www.elearningguild.com/insights/index.cfm?id=191+]

15Dufresne, M. (2016). 8 benefits of using a cloud-based LMS. [Blog post]. Retrieved from [+ http://www.skillbuilderlms.com/cloud-based-lms-benefits+]

E. Next Steps

Next Steps

Selecting an LMS can be a difficult decision. It requires time and resources, so you want to make sure you choose the best LMS the first time. Make sure you:

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Identify “must have” and “nice to have” features

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Identify potential vendors

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Take part in a free trial

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Consider an RFP process

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Ask lots of questions!

SkillBuilder® is a cloud-based LMS that can give you everything you need to build a successful blended training program. It allows:

Unlimited Content – Upload any type of learning content.

Powerful Reporting – Track learner activity and revenues.

Mobile Learning – Deliver your training programs across multiple devices.

System Integration – Integrate SkillBuilder® LMS with your existing enterprise applications.

Personalized Learning Paths – Create individualized learning paths to assign to learners with specific needs.

Optimized User Experience – Use a user friendly interface with extensive administrative capabilities.

Flexible Evaluation – Deliver evaluations using multiple test options and rewards.

eCommerce – Generate additional revenues by selling your training program.

Worldwide Delivery – Deliver your multilingual training program anywhere, at any time, on any device.

Custom Branding – Customize the appearance of your LMS with your own brand.

Start your full [+ 14-day free trial+] today!

About This Guide

BaseCorp Learning Systems

North America (Toll Free) 1.866.867.2273 Direct: +1.780.732.2273

Email: [email protected]

Website: http://www.skillbuilderlms.com

Facebook: SkillBuilder LMS

Written by:

Shauna Carson, MA, Senior Instructional Designer

Marie Dufresne, MA, Web Marketing Specialist

Sarah Flesher, MA, PhD (Cand.), Senior Instructional Designer

Designed by:

Marie Dufresne, MA, Web Marketing Specialist

Presentation template by SlidesCarnival, Photographs by Death to the Stock Photo (license)

 

About BaseCorp

 

BaseCorp Learning Systems is a full service learning and development provider. Our mission is to help individuals become competent in order to bring better value to their organization.

 

Since 2001, our learning management software, SkillBuilder®, has supported 600,000 users on 4 continents and delivered over 1 million courses. We are not industry or size focused; we support every type of organization. Our team of project managers, software developers, designers, support staff, instructional designers and technical writers will help you solve your training needs.

 

We support all of your training requirements, including:

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Learning Resources Development

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Learning System Implementation

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Learning Process Consulting

References

Badgeville. (2015). Gamification improves work experience for 91% of employees, increases productivity across U.S. companies. [Press Release]. Retrieved from [+ https://badgeville.com/gamification-improves-work-experience-for-91-of-employees-increases-productivity-across-u-s-companies/+]

Dufresne, M. (2016). 8 benefits of using a cloud-based LMS. [Blog post]. Retrieved from [+ http://skillbuilderlms.com/cloud-based-lms-benefits+]

Free RFP Template: [+ http://skillbuilderlms.com/lms-rfp-template+]

Free ROI Calculator:http://skillbuilderlms.com/free-elearning-roi-calculator

Medved, J.P. (2015). LMS Industry User Research Report by Capterra. [Web page].

Retrieved from [+ http://www.capterra.com/learning-management-system-software/user-research+]

Pandey, A. (2016, February, 15). How to measure the ROI of online training? [Blog post]. Retrieved from [+ https://elearningindustry.com/measure-roi-of-online-training+]

Penfold, S. (2016, June, 7). Profile of the modern learner – helpful facts and stats. [Blog post]. Retrieved from [+ https://blog.elucidat.com/modern-learner-profile-infographic/+]

Staff. (2016, November/December). 2016 training industry report. Training, 27-41. Retrieved from [+ https://trainingmag.com/sites/default/files/images/Training_Industry_Report_2016.pdf+]

Titcomb, J. (2016, November, 1). Mobile web usage overtakes desktop for first time. The Telegraph. Retrieved from [+ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2016/11/01/mobile-web-usage-overtakes-desktop-for-first-time/+]

Vipond, S. (2016). Corporate learning management systems 2016-2018: New research from The eLearning Guild and Adobe Systems. Research Insights Library The eLearning Guild. Retrieved from [+ https://www.elearningguild.com/insights/index.cfm?id=191+]

Walker, J. (2016). 7 Benefits of Gamification in eLearning. [Blog post]. Retrieved from [+ http://skillbuilderlms.com/7-benefits-gamification-elearning+]

Wentworth, D., Werder, C., & Benjamin, N. (2016). 2016 learning technology study: Summary of top findings. Brandon Hall Group. Retrieved from http://go.brandonhall.com/l/8262/2016-04-25/5brswr


Learning Management System (LMS) Buying Guide

If you're looking to buy a new Learning Management System (LMS), you must read this ebook now. Are you aware of the tactics to choose the right LMS and that these will increase ROI from your eLearning programs? This eBook will give you a step-by-step guide for what you need in choosing the most effective LMS for your organization. This is a must-have for every organization, business or association that aspires for more effective training and compliance requirements. This eBook will reveal key tips for the following: - Proper needs assessment in order to identify business needs and training goals - Identify the ideal LMS features to efficiently deliver your online training - Create insightful product comparisons for discerning best value for your organization - Assess ROI for your learning programs You'll learn all these tricks and more!

  • Author: Marie Dufresne
  • Published: 2017-03-30 17:50:18
  • Words: 4088
Learning Management System (LMS) Buying Guide Learning Management System (LMS) Buying Guide