Wikipedia defines a learning management system (LMS) as:
“A software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, and reporting of training programs, classroom and online events, e-learning programs, and training content.”
What that means is that the right learning management system can help you better reach your training/education goals whether they are focused on continuing education, eLearning availability, synchronous or asynchronous learning, mobile learning, certification programs, or even eCommerce and more, learning management systems are designed to provide the features you need to make sure your unique learning goals are met and a positive ROI is achieved.
An LMS is a branded, secure extension of your organization’s training/education effort to deliver content and materials in an easy, professional, managed and accessible manner – for users and administrators.
Businesses, schools, associations / non-profits, universities, municipalities and eCommerce needs of all sizes, across all industries, anywhere in the world use learning management systems to enhance their core mission objectives.
LMSs can be deployed as a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model, which means that all of the learning management resources are hosted and delivered by a 3rd party, or brought in-house by an organization to control and support the system internaly. Due to the prohibitive costs of maintaining the technology to successfully deploy a learning management solutions, SaaS LMS software is an attractive solution for many organizations.
However, many (but not all) SaaS learning management system companies charge per user access or licensing fees and charge for the amount of usage (bandwidth and storage fees). TOPYX social LMS is an example of a SaaS learning management solution that does not charge per user or per usage fees, regardless of the number of users.
An LMS can provide the delivery and tracking of multimedia eLearning courses and content, learner self-registration, organization of learning groups and roles (i.e. classes, departments, cross-function groups), learning and testing, usage and performance reporting, certification, learning trees, single sign on, language localization (for a multi-language user base) and more.
Some learning management systems can be used not just for internal training and education programs, but for outward-facing partner portals, vendor management tools, and customer relationship and eCommerce systems. The valuable tools that an LMS provides are used by organizations in may ways to help organize and deliver valuable content throughout their business or educational process.
It is important that an LMS is compatible with eLearning content. Most systems should be able to deliver the major media formats. To set a standard for learning management systems to ensure compatibility of content, organization can look for SCORM certified LMS software. Not all LMSs are SCORM certified.
“Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) is a collection of standards and specifications for web-based e-learning . It defines communications between client side content and a host system called the run-time environment, which is commonly supported by a learning management system.”
In language a little more understandable, SCORM is a standard way to package content. Due to this standard, it allows organizations, vendors and other 3rd-party groups you may need to work with, to provide a standard method of developing content that can be easily housed and deployed.
Lastly, some of the cutting edge learning management systems now have incorporated social learning tools. Social learning tools may include:
- Communities / groups
- Live Chat
- Inbound connection to social networking sites
Some LMSs have leveraged modern social learning tools (either infused or as a module) to enrich the online learning experience by encouraging easily collaboration and communication to build a community around the learning materials. Also, this allows for a repository of informal knowledge to organically build supporting the learning process as well, which is incredibly valuable to capture.
If social learning and engagement features are important to your learning process, search for a social learning management system.
Getting started in finding the right LMS takes a little research to make sure you get the features you need, while providing overall, bottom-line value to your organization.
Remember: for a your learning management solution to be successful, you need your users to be a part of it – be wary of per user fees prohibiting the adoption of your system. Keep an eye on how straight-forward a LMS provider may be regarding their fee structures as that will directly effect your bottom-line and learning ROI.
I recommend taking a look at the tour of the social learning management system, TOPYX. There are videos and materials that show exactly what the LMS can offer any organization. Also, when you are ready to see more, they offer a free, personal LMS demo to address your unique learning needs.
If you found this information to be helpful, please share it as others need to know just how learning management systems may help organizations reach their training and education goals.
Jeffrey A. Roth
Vice President, Marketing and Communications