Online learning and training of educational and corporate nature have become common in today’s digital world. Now, with COVID looming large, the need for digital solutions to carry out operations (teaching students and training employees) remotely without having the need to halt the process entirely has become evident.
To support, facilitate, and manage educational content including the delivery sessions, requires a management software that popularly goes by the name ‘Learning Management System’.
These LMS software are specifically developed for the purpose of creation, distribution, tracking, and management of the educational content. More so, this technology has brought a drastic change within the dynamics of deploying and monitoring of training materials and sessions, globally.
In simpler terms, LMS improves the process of learning by making it faster, convenient, productive, and cost-effective. As for the admins, they can easily track the progress of individuals and make necessary improvements accordingly.
Now that you have a clear idea of what LMS software is – we shall discuss the various types.
Types of Learning Management Systems (LMS)
There are several kinds of LMS software out there and some are even available for free. However, not every free learning management system or otherwise has the same features and characteristics. Depending on the target’s objectives and aims – the features may differ and cater to a specific group only; let’s say schools and universities. This is why we have custom learning management system development services being offered, for tailored solutions.
Nonetheless, we shall look over the many kinds of LMS software, so organizations looking for such solutions will know which one to choose.
1) Enterprise Learning Management System
Enterprise LMS software is the large scale version solution available for large companies harboring more than 500 employees.
As the name suggests, it is made to grow with the organizations and comes with a plethora of built-in features to cater to any requirement or need on an enterprise-level; those needs can be translated into generating the content, uploading it, assigning it, conducting large-scale online training sessions, monitoring individual progress, and collaborating with other authorized users online.
Some of the well-known LMS for enterprises are LIMOS LMS, Adobe Captivate Prime, Talent LMS, Mindflash, and Thought industries to name a few.
2) Free Learning Management System
There are a ton of free and open-source e-learning platform that comes with basic functionalities that are specifically built to provide support for building courses and delivering them to their learners in a monitored e-learning environment.
Although free LMS software comes with great advanced level features without skimping on them. However, there is a lack of a certain level of support within the free LMS software. Moreover, the platform updates aren’t the smoothest and require a certain amount of attention from your or any specialist’s end.
Some of the popular free learning management systems include Moodle, Chamilo, Easy LMS, and many more.
3) Commercial Learning Management System
As the name suggests, the commercial LMS solution is available to be used by any organization – be it a school, university, a company, or any other. Depending on the features required and of what level, it is reflected in its price tag.
Commercial LMS solutions also come with 24/7 support and are fairly easy to deploy as compared to enterprise solutions. Being commercial, they are packed with features that with time, need, and requirements keep increasing.
4) SaaS Learning Management System
SaaS– software as a service is usually cloud-based which is a ready-to-use solution and is easy to deploy. Moreover, this particular LMS is maintained and supported by a software company relieving clients from worrying about updates.
The downside to SaaS learning management system would be the customization that is limited to a certain extent. However, the advantage is access, which isn’t limited. Being a software that is hosted on the cloud allows it to be accessed from any device and from any place – giving remote workers the ease to not be restricted to a single device where the non-cloud traditional software is installed.
Lastly, since the SaaS LMS is cloud-based, companies have their local servers free for other important use. Not to mention, it is easily scalable as compared to installed versions that would require manual updates.
5) Licensed LMS
Licensed LMS offers great customization and is more flexible. It is built according to each client’s specifications and can be installed on a cloud server or on-premise depending on the requirement.
Although acquiring licenses can be costly but it is convenient especially if the solution is hosted on the cloud.
6) Integrated LMS
The learning management system can be integrated with the existing software or the organization may choose to treat it as a separate system entirely. Nonetheless, the integration includes connecting the LMS software with the concerned compatible products to upgrade the learning experience as a whole.
7) LMS with Built-in Authoring Tools
The majority of modern LMS software has a built-in authoring tool, which is a software program that enables the users to create learning material, lessons, and other content using text and media. Some of the major features of these authoring tools within LMS include:
- Content authoring
- Content management
- Templates and theme
- Support and training
With such content authoring tools or support within LMS, developers can upload pre-created courses and lessons.
Now that you are aware of some of the types of learning management system, let’s explore the key features of an LMS.
Key Features of LMS
Depending on the complexity of the learning software, the features can be extensive or limited. However, discussing a few that any LMS software cannot do without are:
1) Course Creation
One of the main features of any LMS would be the ability to create courses. With built-in authoring tools as discussed above, creation, of course, is made fairly easy.
2) Mobile Responsive Design
The Mobile-first approach has become a necessity these days. An e-learning system that comes with a mobile responsive design enabling folks to learn on the go is more convenient and user-friendly. This is why a learning management system should be responsive to multiple platforms and displays so that users are not restricted to their laptops but can be mobile and learn on their smartphones or tablets.
3) Ability to Learn at Your Own Pace
The main idea behind learning management systems is the freedom it provides to each learner to complete courses and training at their own pace. They can access all learning material and training sessions when they are available and not on a set time only.
4) Interactions and Social Learning
One of the best features any LMS software can and should include is the ability for students and learners to interact with one another. This boosts the learning experiences and allows students to learn more from their peers and share knowledge. So, adding messaging boards and forums, you allow users to conduct a question and answer session in a forum setting, reducing the workload of the trainers.
5) Video Conferencing
Messaging boards as discussed a great way to engage users with each other where they can discuss and teach others. However, for complicated and difficult questions that require an elaborate and face-to-face conversation video conferencing is an important option to incorporate within LMS.
This way, instructors and learners can have more focused and personalized sessions for more critical scenarios without having to rely on text only.
6) Assessment and Tracking Tools
Online learning will be incomplete without any assessment and tracking of progress. You would require certain metrics to measure performance and improvements. This is why any LMS should enable instructors to conduct assessment sessions to track progress and understanding of their students/employees on a collective and individual basis. You can also include certifications that the learners can complete and on the basis of their course/certification completion you can evaluate their skill development.
Moreover, tracking of skills learned and courses completed makes it easier for reporting on each employee in a corporate setting.
7) Subscription-Based Model
Several LMS enables content creators to reach out to a wider audience with their published content so they can monetize and earn a living from their work. E-learning platforms have courses that require the user to provide their email address and pay a monthly subscription fee or a one-time fee. Similarly, adding a subscription model within LMS will let instructors make money.
Benefits of Learning Management System
A learning management system software has many benefits apart from streamlined online courses for skill enhancement and improvement to easy management of training sessions of employees remotely including tracking and monitoring of individual progress – an LMS can scale and grow with the requirements and objectives.
All in all, the ability to conduct large and small scale training and learning sessions online has benefited organizations on a global scale, especially amid COVID.
So, the other benefits that a learning management system include:
1) Big Data Storage and Security
The learning management system gathers a lot of data with the increasing users and content creators or publishers – famously coined as ‘big data’. This data needs to be handled with care with advanced encryption features that many well-built learning management systems provide.
This way, an LMS with high data pool is safe from any third-party or outside threat leading to a cohesive software with high levels of security.
2) Improved Resource Allocation
With a complete learning and teaching unit like a learning management system software, resources can be allocated efficiently and where required. The software provides transparency as to where the engagement and progress has or is declining, indicating the need to pay extra attention in that particular area. This way, the organization can make better decisions about the investment of resources and ensure each target area is meeting the desired results and expectations.
3) Reduced Development and Learning Costs
With an LMS or an e-learning platform, your travel cost to an institute is eliminated. The users can carry out their training sessions online from the comfort of their homes or any location of their choice. Moreover, the development and training budget also reduces significantly as you are freed from the need to book venues for training sessions including printing of manuals or assessment sheets.
Considering the current global situation concerning the pandemic that has shut down educational institutes and organizations leaving them with no option but to continue their process and work online.
A learning management system can enable schools to carry out their virtual classes allowing students to finally learn and develop at their own pace; while organizations can make use of LMS for their social-distanced training and onboarding sessions without risking anyone’s life. This is why software development companies are catering to a wide audience developing custom learning management systems that be applied as a permanent choice of an e-learning platform for various clients and their organizations.