How to Choose an LMS platform: 5-Step Comprehensive Guide10 min read
The market for e-learning platforms is thriving and constantly evolving. In this forest of other tools and software, an LMS (Learning Management System) allows you to manage your training content and learners. However, it is still challenging to make a choice, as the range of LMS platform offerings is wide, and the decision to purchase a training platform will have an impact on your entire organization. Mostly, the investments of time and money that companies make in LMS are huge. Since there are hundreds of LMSs on the market, choosing to go with any of them can be pretty daunting. This is why we should have a well-crafted plan when considering an LMS.
So how to choose your LMS? On what criteria should your choice be based? If you are reading these lines and want to benefit your business but don't know how to choose a suitable LMS? In this article, we will guide you step-by-step in choosing an LMS for your needs and goals. No further advice is needed. Let's get started.
Definition of LMS
Let's go back briefly to the meaning of acronyms:
- Learning to practice, learn,
- Management for the management and organization of online training content and learners,
- System represents the fact that the computer software is used.
Therefore, LMS is an IT management system that allows you to manage the training process in an organization, regardless of its size: small and medium enterprises or large companies.
In today's landscape of digital acceleration and transformation, training platforms are essential and provide quick and effective access to training, in all circumstances. Now that we've briefly looked at the basics, let's see how to choose your LMS platform according to your organization's needs.
For this, we have identified 8 questions that we think it is important to ask ourselves in order to consider all the elements of the project and make the best possible choice.
5-step choosing the Right LMS Platform
Choosing the right LMS is critical to the success of your online training strategy. And it's easy to get overwhelmed by the hundreds of options out there when looking for a new system. However, with these 5 steps to choosing an LMS, you'll discover simple and straightforward techniques to help you get the best LMS for your business demands.
Step #1. Draw up a List of Basic Requirements
The first step to choosing an LMS platform is determining whom you will teach. This choice is important because the future shape of the LMS platform you choose depends on it.
For example, let's say your company has only 10-15 employees and needs a quick integration using an LMS. In that case, you hardly need an enterprise LMS designed for large companies and packed full of features that you most likely won't need. So you should first list your basic training requirements.
As you begin to define your target audience, you should keep in mind that participants are divided into specific groups due to a number of criteria.
Meeting your audience at their digital savvy is key to improving engagement rates. If your company is older, it would be wise to choose an LMS with limited features and a friendly UX. An unwieldy LMS can alienate learners who have only recently become digitally literate.
If there is a majority of millennials, you may want to consider a system with elements of gamification and social learning. An LMS that simulates the digital interactions millennials have outside of work makes learning an immersive experience.
How many people do you plan to train? A team or an entire company? If you plan to train a small group of people, you may be limited by the solutions you can choose from. Some LMS have minimum learner requirements.
If your company is growing or has a significant turnover rate, you will have to consider different pricing plans as well as mass user subscription features.
Here are some pricing plans you'll encounter:
- Pay per learner: ideal if you have a steady stream of learners and if training is required
- Pay per active user: ideal if you get one-time training (e.g. introductory) or if you want to train batches of learners during the year.
- Pay as you go: ideal if you're not sure if there's a steady stream of study needs
- Licensing fees: ideal for large businesses
Everyone starts at level one, or are some more advanced learners? If you are training people with different skill sets, you should consider a system that allows you to segment your audience, create learning paths, or use placement tests.
If learners are forced to re-complete the lessons they have already mastered, they may not be inclined to continue learning, however, this won't be a problem if your students start at the same level. So, if your goal is compliance training, you won't have to worry about placement functionality. However, you will need a technological solution with a robust and effective tracking system.
Step #2. Focus on important features
Once you have defined your audience, the next step is to specify the LMS features you need versus the LMS features you want to have. You should carefully select all requirements, as they will be your primary tools for establishing the learning process.
There are many basic LMSs out there, but your LMS must support your “must-have” features to ensure it is fit for purpose. Depending on what you want to achieve from your training, the definition of important features can vary from business to business. Some examples of valuable LMS features include:
1. Required Content Types
The format of the content you will present should be thought out in advance. Maybe the usual click-through presentations will be enough for you, or do you want to dilute them with video materials of your production? Create a complete list of the E-Learning content you need for your course. This list will help you in your future LMS searches as you will be targeting the supported content types and file extensions for them.
Also, pay attention to how content is added to the LMS platform. Some LMS may have built-in tools for creating courses from scratch, allowing you to design courses right in the platform. In this case, you should also carefully research the built-in authoring tools and supported content types.
2. Distributing learning
Content is only half the problem. How you will present it also determines the shape of your course and the functionality of the chosen LMS platform. In total, there are three types of course delivery options, and depending on your needs, you will have to choose a platform that will have one of these methods or a combination of them all.
3. Reporting and Scoring System
Assessing knowledge and analyzing it is an integral part of the training process, so this point should not be overlooked when choosing an LMS platform for your needs. Decide which assessment tool is best for your study material. These can be simple tests, tests with multiple answers, questions that require a single response, and more.
You should also include specific requirements for reporting. Think about how detailed you want the system to report. Perhaps a simple table with current scores will be enough for you. Or you need to delve deeper into student outcomes and understand the roots of learning problems so you will need different graphs and charts. Think about all the reporting needs that the future system must meet.
4. Various subscription options
This aspect also depends on the size of your audience. If the group of students is not too large, manually adding students to the course through the admin panel should be enough for you. However, in large enterprises, an LMS platform with such subscription options can cause problems, so it's a good idea to choose an LMS with ease of use: This is the most important feature that you can use in an LMS. An easy-to-use platform ensures your learners and administrators can use the LMS without training on how to do so. This makes using the LMS a positive, engagement-enhancing experience.
Step #3. Introduce Additional LMS Features
At this point in the LMS search, you can also ask your small focus group of learners and admins to dream up cool features. Learning technology is constantly evolving. Here are just some of the additional features you may come across when looking for an LMS:
- Social learning: this can manifest in several forms, but all involve some social dimension. (e.g. knowledge sharing, competition)
- Talent management: creating learning paths to close skills gaps
- Mobile learning: training can be accessed through an app or an adaptive platform.
- E-commerce: potentially sellable.
- White label: make training a seamless part of the learning experience. Most LMSs have basic white labeling features (e.g. logos or theme colors). If you want training to feel more seamless, you might consider adding the
- platform to your domain.
- Chemistry games: like social learning, this can also take many forms (eg points, rewards, leaderboards) and has a motivating impact on learners.
- Certificates: ability to upload or create certificates through the platform.
Step #4. Choose your LMS type and start searching
After you have formed all the requirements for the future LMS platform, it is time to choose the type of LMS that best suits your requirements. All LMSs can be divided into three categories, which we will discuss further.
This type of LMS first appeared when there was a need to organize the educational process. And this is not surprising because, with the exclusive LMS, you get a premium service, powerful functionality, reliability, prompt customer support and advice from the vendors about all problems. However, not everything is as rosy as you think.
You will have to pay a lot of money monthly or annually for all the amenities. Also, you cannot affect the LMS platform itself in any way and you will have to adapt it. LMS developers take their vision of the project's development and revise it as they see fit. Features can change, come and go, and you need to be prepared for those changes and adapt your processes quickly.
Now let's sum up all the pros and cons of a proprietary LMS.
Partially open-source LMS
If you choose this type of LMS platform, you will have a mixed experience that combines different features of a proprietary and open-source LMS. These systems are still being developed by the vendor, but the distribution policy implies several different types of licenses. Additionally, these systems are more flexible and offer some degree of customization.
However, by choosing the partially open-source LMS, you will find that some functions will not be available to you. Missing features will need to be purchased separately or functionality will need to be extended using paid plans. In addition, configuring an LMS may require technical knowledge from your staff.
Pros and cons of partially open-source LMS
These platforms are popular due to their many positive aspects, including high system flexibility, cost-effectiveness, easy integration into other systems, and a large number of features. Besides, this system is supported by a dedicated community. You can always find various extensions and extras created by regular users and other vendors who specialize in development based on the open-source LMS platform.
The only possible limitation would be the need to understand the architecture of such an LMS platform to get the most out of the functionality and ideally tailor it to existing workflows. Besides that, some money is still needed for updates, although open-source LMS systems can be free or can be purchased as a one-time purchase.
Note: We have prepared an in-depth overview of open-source LMS systems and a small test for you to better understand whether open-source LMS is a good choice for you.
Pros and cons of Open-Source LMS
Step #5. Negotiation and Final Decision
Finally, you've put together a list of platforms you're interested in, and now it's time to negotiate. You need to contact the LMS platform providers that best match the criteria, negotiate, listen to their pricing policy and what they have to offer. Alternatively, if there is such an opportunity, you can request a demo or trial to try out all the features of the product.
Once all the negotiations are complete, you simply decide and choose the LMS platform.
We've walked you through the entire process of choosing an LMS platform for your business, and as you can see, there's a lot of nuances to the process. You constantly have to memorize various details, and you need to be well prepared for the process itself.
However, if this process takes too long or you cannot find the right solution from ready-made solutions, you should request a customized E-Learning solution developed by experts. We at Groove Technology are such experts.
Groove Technology is a leading company in Vietnam and the world with many years of experience in developing unique E-Learning solutions for businesses in many different industries. Drop us a line, share your E-Learning needs with us, and we will work out the most suitable solution for you.