The Online Learning Management System: What Future Education Will Look Like
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Only a couple of years ago, hearing the words “education” or “learning” the majority of us pictured a classroom full of students in front of who a teacher is delivering a lecture. And if corporate training was mentioned, our imagination would have probably conjured up a vision of a large conference hall where employees are having a tiresome workshop for hours on end.
The deleterious onslaught of the global pestilence has rendered these traditional images obsolete, with both educators and trainees increasingly adopting the practices of remote e-learning. Even the most conservative representatives of the academia own up to the necessity of mastering the basics of working with Google classroom for schools and universities, while kids and teenagers who are naturally quicker in taking novelties in their stride are well-versed in all kinds of educational software applications, installing them on their gadgets.
Numerous standalone solutions that abound on the contemporary edtech market are certainly instrumental in addressing specific challenges confronting stakeholders of the learning process. However, if you canvass their opinions, all of them are sure to express the compelling need for integration of their efforts aimed at providing and consuming high-end educational services. And what is LMS (Learning Management System) but a high-tech response of savvy developers called to satisfy the requirements of teachers and students?
Table of contents
What is Learning Management Systems?
The definition of LMS describes it as a digital product (typically, LMS platform is a SaaS solution) that implements the educational process in its entirety. The purpose of a learning management system is to plan, create, and deliver educational content and training programs in a specific field with an opportunity to assess the progress and results. Lately, the meaning of learning management system has been broadened to include mobile apps that perform the same range of functions but can be accessed via smartphones and tablets.
Having considerable experience in this niche, we at Multi-Programming Solutions know that the most popular example of LMS would contain a core platform enabling a broad scope of operations with content and three interfaces that run inside a browser (for admins, instructors, and learners). The best learning management systems with an advanced set of features can be used for event management, automated performance test scoring, conducting live classrooms, file sharing, in-lesson chats, polling, awarding badges and certificates, etc.
How is LMS used? A teacher develops the contents of a course and uploads it to the system. Students join in, undergo the training they have selected, and get assessed by the teacher. Administrators manage the procedure, ensure its smooth operation, deal with complaints, automate notifications, and perform other back-office tasks.
This model promises numerous assets to people involved in e-learning.
What are Learning Management Systems’ Benefits?
Whether you are a business owner, a college student, or an employee aspiring to acquire new skills and competencies, LMS can be leveraged to your advantage in view of its evident perks.
This is the benefit of the learning management system that entrepreneurs value most. Instead of paying through the nose for the organization of different conferences or presentations where participants will be physically present or sending your employees to trainings and workshops, you just invest into building an LMS meaning to hold a virtual classroom or event. Naturally, the cost of learning management systems is not a bargain-price issue but it is in any case much lower than the expenses you would defray setting up offline get-togethers where rent, refreshments, and travel expenditures would amount to an outrageous sum.
Accessibility and Flexibility
Distances and time-zone discrepancies aren’t relevant for an e-learning management system so that you can bring together the best specialists in some realm from all over the world and people eager to learn from them. Moreover, all the training conducted in such a way doesn’t threaten to disrupt your regular workflow with participants joining in at their convenience. Besides, learners can choose their learning style and speed themselves (within sensible boundaries, of course) which effectively spells an individual approach in education.
Continuous Learning Promotion
The previous boon translates into this one. Being easily attainable, LMS-based e-learning webinars and workshops can be arranged more often than offline training sessions, which fosters the culture of continuous learning. People get used to frequent skill-building endeavors and develop acceptance of life-long (or at least career-long) education.
Content Consistency and Prompt Update
You can define the common goal for all participants and provide them with consistent and centralized course conveyance across multiple locations and workstations. In case any changes in this single-source content or methods of its delivery are necessary, they can be introduced on the spot, immediately aligning them with the shifting needs of the organization.
The Unlimited Gamut of Learning Materials and Activities
Any contemporary content type is LMS software-friendly. Modern teachers rely not only on texts and images but also on video, audio, multichannel, and even VR/AR technologies to get their message through to the audience. The latter can participate all together, in breakout rooms, or individually, they can use non-verbal feedback (virtual hand-raising, for instance) and voice their opinions in in-chats, while the teacher can share their screen with the students and poll them as to their preferences.
Involving all these techniques in different combinations, instructors can determine which of them work better in what case and design their training sessions correspondingly.
Efficient Progress and Result Tracking
Various assessment metrics employed by LMS make monitoring engagement and performance a cakewalk. Teachers can follow the progress of each student, discern disturbing patterns, and timely interfere by giving personalized recommendations as to how the situation can be remedied or improved. Gauging the overall efficiency of training is also easy with a whole scope of testing and control mechanisms.
Automation of Supporting Processes
Sending invitations and newsletters, scheduling, follow-up support, and a plethora of other administrative functions are entrusted to the AI thus relieving humans of repetitive tasks and curtailing the probability of error or oversight.
Incentivizing Learners’ Engagement
By introducing various gamification and interactive elements within your LMS, you can motivate students to master some tedious content (like compliance regulations). After all, holding internal contests and awarding prizes may instill in them a competitive spirit to spur them on in the desire to outstrip their colleagues.
Corporate Training Security
Some business owners prefer to keep their in-house processes secret to the outsiders and LMS-powered training allows to secure sensitive or private information and peculiar workflow procedures.
In view of the enumerated advantages, learning management systems can be used in a number of applications.
What are Learning Management Systems Used for?
The use cases of MLS are quite versatile. The most natural purpose of creating a learning management system is supporting regular education. School and university teachers can supplement their institutional courses by employing LMS. Government agencies or NGOs can launch various educational programs for different strata of the population (from seniors wishing to upgrade their computer skills to entrepreneurs who want to learn the basics of digital tax remissions).
In the business world, LMS can also be of great value for entrepreneurs and organizations in a number of applications.
- Onboarding employees. New personnel has little precious time to learn the ropes and blend in. LMS-based boot-camp programs can be a great fill-in for novices who must be ready to fit in on short notice. Moreover, they won't have to try to remember hundreds of coal-and-ice details about their responsibilities since they can always refer to the accumulated wisdom of the firm that will be in permanent access for them. Plus, they won't have to rely on the grapevine to discover the corporate culture and work ethics, the company's race/sexual harassment policies, etc.
- Retaining corporate knowledge. Employee churn is a natural thing to happen, yet the organization doesn't have to lose valuable information and techniques when someone quits. All of these can be stored in LMS and retrieved upon the first request – for instance, when a new team member comes to step into the breach (see above).
- Training and development of current employees. This is about the effective debunking of the old dog and new tricks adage. Team members may be in need of polishing their knowledge and enhancing skills in the rapidly changing business and digital environment of the early third millennium. Or they may be obliged to learn new competencies or be updated on fresh regulations in their domain. LMS can be a great facilitator of all these processes.
- Enabling salespeople. The crew members in immediate contact with clients (not only salespeople but customer support personnel as well) must also be covered by regular training. LMS is highly instrumental in teaching them about new products and services, informing them of the new developments in the industry, or novel approaches to sales. Besides, onboarding new reps can be bolstered by employing LMS.
- Compliance training. Obtaining mandated certification to keep working in the niche or get to the new professional level is essential for any company. This can be done much quicker and at a less cost (both financial and HR-related ones) through employing LMS.
- Training partners. Not only do your employees need training. A company’s partners and resellers (aka channels) have also to be schooled from time to time. LMS is a viable tool to reinforce cooperation programs and bring more value to your partners.
- Training customers. In addition to its in-house applications, LMS can be outward bound as well. Users require onboarding too, especially when it goes about high-tech and IT companies. These have to keep their clients abreast of their new products and cutting-edge trends in the realm. In this way, they will not only prevent customer churn but also enlarge their target audience.
Such a variety of applications makes a learning management system a must-have for businesses of various sectors and sizes. Yet, to opt for any type of it, business owners should be aware of the options that the contemporary IT market has in store for them.
What are the Different Types of Learning Management Systems?
There are several criteria that condition the type of LMS and, consequently, the alternatives between which its prospective owner should choose.
Corporate vs Individual
Enterprise solutions are honed to be used by 500+ people and conventionally contain a huge roster of built-in functionalities to cater to any need an organization may reveal. Corporate LMS providers try to make them highly scalable to include new courses as the company grows.
An individual LMS with a limited number of features is designed for small-size firms or even single users. They are cheaper and are tailored to meet specific requirements.
You can choose to have the best of both worlds by opting for a subscription plan under which the vendor customizes a large solution to fit the unique needs of a client.
On-premise vs Cloud-based
On-premise LMS is hosted on the servers and environment owned by an organization. You can be sure of its safety and inviolability of the data it contains (in case your personnel adheres to all security practices). Yet, the noontide of on-premises software is quickly drawing to its end, making way for cloud-based solutions. The latter can be accessed from any device (even in an offline mode if it is a PWA) with second-to-none scalability options.
SaaS vs Licensed
Software as a service (SaaS) is the most popular LMS model by far. Such boxed cloud-powered solutions are simple to deploy, highly scalable, and are supported by the provider throughout the entire lifecycle. Their chief drawback is the limited customization scope.
By contrast, licensed products are susceptible to any customization endeavors and are thus more flexible, being available as both on-premises and cloud-based solutions. The license price may seem to be forbidding, yet, in the long run, the SaaS model will eventually cost you more.
Free vs Commercial
An open source learning management system is free to use by any person or organization that has the expertise to deploy them. Being free doesn’t spell being primitive, so many open-source LMS can boast of a pretty long list of available features. The main bottlenecks of such solutions are the minimal support and sometimes problematic updating.
As a startup, you can kick off with a free LMS but big-time aspirations will sooner or later necessitate a transition to a commercial solution with its advanced functionalities and high level of technical support.
Standalone vs Integrated
You may want your LMS to be a totally separate issue, having no connection with other software used by the company. However, such a choice bereaves it of some opportunities it can otherwise provide, so integrating LMS with the existing ecosystem is the most sensible way to pursue.
Desktop vs Mobile
The first type of LMS can be interacted with from desktops only, while the second type exists in the form of an app as well that can be downloaded on a mobile device, which significantly augments its accessibility.
As you see, there are several dilemmas that exacerbate your selection throes. What should you steer by while making choices?
How to Choose an LMS?
There is a foolproof algorithm to follow if you want to find an LMS that is a perfect fit for your business. In a nutshell, it should satisfy your training requirements without making a hole in your pocket. How can that goal be achieved?
- Know thy needs. Instead of directing your searching glance at the available options, you should take a close look at your organization first and answer a string of questions.
How much are you ready to fork out for an LMS? What is the set of features you would like to have in it? Which of those are must-haves and which are just nice-to-haves? Is tracking progress and results a priority for you? Does the LMS have to be customized for the needs of each department or an across-the-board solution will do?
Answers to all such questions are effectively a list of requirements that should be a guidance for you to proceed from.
- Shop around. As far as LMS is concerned, it means reading customer reviews, case studies, testimonials, and other available information, keeping an eye on the list of your requirements (see above).
- Give some free version a shot. Free trials are just what the doctor ordered. Testing several products on a small scale would give you a clearer vision of the available functionalities and would probably bring a fair number of corrections into your initial plans.
Whatever type of LMS you will eventually opt for, Multi-Programming Solutions is ready to assist you in developing and implementing it, delivering a top-notch product at a reasonable price.
Learning management systems are software solutions that encompass a wide range of functionalities enabling to provide online education to various audiences. Entrepreneurs can leverage them for a number of purposes, promoting the culture of continuous on-the-job learning among busy people of the 21st century.