Learning Management Systems, also known as LMS’s are used to administer and scale training. In the simplest form an LMS is a software application that deploys trainings and tracks results.
LMS’s are becoming increasingly more popular in K-12 and in higher education. They help students learn in two ways: On-demand learning and by complementing live courses. As a LMS powering Live training, typically the school or institution selects the learning platform and involves the student and their teacher. For on-demand learning companies like Kahn Academy, MOOC’s, and online universities deliver their LMS for students and learners to use.
Companies of all sizes require learning and development for several different reasons. They are used for two important training initiatives: Internal Training and External Training Company’s often employ thousands of people and an LMS provides a scalable way to deliver similar training to those people.
The primary goal of Internal Training is to improve the knowledge of employees. This can range in knowledge specific to a certain department (Sales, HR, Finance) or based on a more generic topic. LMS’s are used to administer, deliver and track the training for employees. Compliance related training often requires significantly more activity tracking where as department specific training requires more assessment and knowledge measurement tracking.
External training is meant to train those that are not full time employees of the company. This ranges from customer training, reseller training and consultant training. Customer training is a new initiative used by many technology companies, where they train their customer on their product so the customer gets more value from it. This applies to companies that has complicated products or processes, or if it is always changing.
Since Learning Management systems are a technology platform, there has been quite a bit of evolution from the original days where systems were installed. Today, many newer LMS’s are hosted in the cloud, providing significant benefits to the customer.
Are hosted by the LMS learning management provider. This is where the company that built the product hosts the platform and it is completely accessible by a browser. There are several advantages in this approach, where the customer is able to quickly get updates to the software, the pricing is often based on a subscription and accessibility is significantly improved. This approach is also known as SaaS (Software as a Service) and accommodates the bring your own device (BYOD) initiative for employees.
Locally installed LMS systems are installed on the client’s servers directly. It is not connected to the vendors system, so they do not have a easy way to make updates. Some larger companies and government agencies use this approach for security, but the software platform becomes out of date very quickly. Before with limited Internet, Local solutions were being delivered. This was typically a custom solution that made this very expensive where only the larger organizations could afford it.
Key Features of a LMS
LMS’s can range in features and capabilities, however, listed here is a high level overview of features that are typically in most systems.
- User Management functionality is where employees are added and different permission levels are set.
- Course/Curriculum Management – Ability to create courses, set who is assigned to it and also go in and edit courses.
- Reporting – See the progress, scores and results for all the people who have gone through a course.
- See relevant courseware for each particular user.
- Go through access the courses and content and see the progress and relevant metrics related to that users performance.
Future of a Learning Management System:
Learning Management systems are evolving faster than ever, there are some major updates to the way LMS’s will be in the future. There will be an extra focus on creating a simple and intuitive user experience. As technology platforms start to become engrained specifically within departments (Salesforce for Sales, Workday for HR, Intuit for Finance) there will be more integration between LMS’s and these systems to tie learning with on the job functions. Cloud and Hosted solutions will continue to grow their market share. And we will start to notice LMS’s becoming more specialized for different learning needs.
Education Picture: by Creative Commons, Sean MacEntee https://www.flickr.com/photos/smemon/