How to choose a learning management system

How To Choose a Learning Management System

Think back to your first day of school. Freshly pressed shirt, new backpack, sharpened pencils, and a lunchbox in hand. Starting a new learning path is not quite the same as it was when we were kids. But still, the right choice of a learning management system can make your professional development program exciting — or at the very least, smooth.

Here’s everything you’ll need to consider before committing to an LMS for your next e-learning project.

What Is a Learning Management System?

Learning Management Systems (LMS) are software programs designed to help instructors manage student information, such as grades, attendance, and course materials. LMSs also allow them to create lessons, quizzes, tests, and other assignments, which can be accessed from anywhere at any time.

On the flip side, your LMS is the way for learners to access their course materials, log assignments and interact with peers.

Often, project managers and directors think they can make do without an LMS. Opting instead to use cloud folders and video-conference tools to facilitate online training. But this can quickly get out of hand and make it hard to track progress. The right LMS can save you time and money, improve student retention and experience, and increase overall class participation. 

These are the main benefits of using an LMS:

  • Using a learning management system allows students to work at their own pace. 
  • Second, it helps instructors monitor their students’ performance and participation. 
  • Third, your LMS provides a platform for collaboration where students can ask questions and receive answers from other classmates and instructors. 
  • Fourth, it makes it easier for instructors to grade assignments. Instead of having to manually inform students of their grades, the instructor can simply load the necessary documents in the course.

Defining Your LMS Requirements

Before exploring LMS features, you’ll need to know your internal needs for the LMS. Consider factors like your internal resources and your learners’ experience with online learning when making a decision.

Discuss these questions with administrators and stakeholders:

  • How tech savvy are your employees? Your choice of LMS may be simpler if they’re used to working with software. On the flip side, you may face some resistance if they’re not familiar or comfortable with remote work or study tools.
  • Where and when do they plan on accessing the course? Make sure they have a reliable internet connection and a computer or smartphone to access the course content. In addition, consider offering the content in as many formats as possible to ensure everyone can learn (PDFs, text documents, video, audio, and ebooks can help).
  • How many employees will need the training? The number of people participating in your program will also affect your choice of LMS.

Related: These Are the Top 10 Questions From Program Managers and Directors About Online Training.

6 Factors To Consider When Choosing Your LMS

Accessibility

Accessibility is essential for giving your students a positive learning experience. Whenever possible, prioritize a learning management system that offers flexibility and allows you to account for different aspects like visual impairments (text to speech and video capabilities, for example) and mobility issues (using a trackpad instead of a mouse or dictating commands).

Additionally, choose an LMS with an interface that’s available in multiple languages. While you can translate your course content, you also want learners to be able to navigate the system easily.

Course Creation Tools

There’s a wide range of LMS features available for course creators. But you’ll need to decide how involved you want to be in the process. On one end of the spectrum, there are LMSs where you can create a course from scratch. On the other, you can choose plug-and-play platforms where you only need to add the content in the right places. 

Your choice will depend on your internal resources (is there a developer on the team who can take over course creation?) and preferences (do you have the time and resources to pull it off? And do you want to DIY it?).

At Talance, we offer everything from custom programs to off-the-shelf training to fit your agency’s learning needs. Book a consultation to learn more about our services.

Classroom Features

There are two main features that make up classroom functionality: Registration and grading. Registration allows users to sign up for classes and pay for them. Grading lets instructors see how well each student performed on assignments and tests.

You should also take into account whether you want to offer self-paced or instructor-led classes. Self-paced classes allow students to complete lessons at their own pace, while instructor-led classes require students to follow along with the teacher as he/she teaches.

If you’re offering multiple training programs, research the LMS’s ability to host multiple learning programs. That way, each department or group will be able to access only the training they need, but you’ll have it all together as a college of sorts.

Collaboration Tools

LMSs also offer collaboration tools such as discussion boards, which allow students to post questions and comments directly to the instructor; chat rooms, which let students communicate with one another; and wikis, which are collaborative websites where multiple people can edit content at once.

Also, choose an LMS with evaluation tools that adapt to your needs. Do you want quizzes, discussion boards, forums, or assignments? Factor this into your planning.

Related: Here’s everything you need to know about how to use needs assessments for online learning.

Reporting and Analytics

Finally, we know you have hefty goals for your online learning program. So you should choose an LMS that offers reporting and analytics capabilities. This will help you track student progress and identify areas of weakness. It’s also helpful to find out how well your students are using the features offered by the LMS.

You should also think about how much data you want to collect and what kind of reporting you’d like to see. Do you just want to track student progress? Or do you want to analyze trends and patterns?

Reporting and analytics are a priceless tool for improving your course and ensuring that learners get the best out of your training. You may also need them to secure funding if you rely on grants or donors.

Program Support

Finally, things may be going smoothly, but you never know when something will go wrong. So make sure whatever LMS you choose has stellar customer support. 

When choosing a learning management system, ask questions like how long you can expect to wait before getting support and what contact methods they offer (chat, call, email, or self-service).

Your Choice of LMS Can Completely Transform Your Learners’ Experience

At Talance, we’ve been developing custom and off-the-shelf online training since before it was cool. Our team of experts is there to help your agency get the professional development you need to serve clients with the highest quality standards.

Book a consultation now to learn more about how we can work together to train your staff.