What is a Learning Management System? Why do we need one?
A Learning Management System, or LMS for short, is an online tool that is typically used to deploy and track usage of e-learning courses. With an LMS you can quickly and easily assign courses to any number of users, then track and run reports on their progress.
Although a Learning Management System is not necessarily a requirement for delivering online learning, it does make life easier for those that want to implement training and development within their organisation and ensure an effective and consistent approach to recording learning activity.
An LMS can save time and money in setting up learning tasks and pathways and provide useful data that supports the learning function during and after any type of development. It can also be the perfect method of ensuring a consistent approach to learning within an organisation and helps support ‘just in time’ training support and collaboration between employees.
When implemented effectively, a Learning Management System becomes the foundation of an effective approach to development within a business. Helping key stakeholders identify learning needs and implement training upon demand, which in turn will help them meet organisational objectives.
What are the key functions of a Learning Management System?
As time has progressed and technology has improved, Learning Management Systems have become more advanced and their functionality has grown immensely. While most focus on the key tasks of delivering, reporting and tracking e-learning, there are many functions that have been added into the mix.
Most LMS’s will now have some kind of development tool within them, that allows employees to build basic content that can be delivered directly to learners from within the tool. Further than this, you can usually add policy documents, videos, training workbooks and other resources, which can be directly viewed via the LMS while it records the action.
Many LMS’s now include gamification features, which encourage users to engage with the learning. This means the LMS can provide certificates, points and badges for activity completion, with scoreboards and an element of ‘competitiveness’, which can improve learner involvement.
Some LMS’s include functionality to support activity outside of the system itself. They can manage, schedule and record ‘classroom’ training, meaning that courses delivered outside of the LMS can be both programmed and logged. This helps ensure the recording of continuing professional development and provides a central resource for gathering all learning data.
Of course, these are only some of the features included in an LMS and different providers will include different tools and approaches. It’s really up to the learning team and business as a whole to decide which of those functions are most important to them. However, it’s useful to consider the benefits an LMS will give your organisation, as this will help you focus on the elements that are ‘must-haves’.
What are the benefits of using a Learning Management System?
Aside from the different functions included with different LMS products, there are some key benefits that all should provide. These benefits are wide-reaching but tend to fall into the following categories…
• Administration – An LMS should help you to manage and administer learning. It gives control over the employee data that is added to the system, providing you with the opportunity to group learners, set reminders, provide personal logins and otherwise maintain information regarding courses and those who access them.
• Access – Because the LMS is provided via a cloud-based system, learners are able to have personal access at any time and from anywhere. This makes information available when the learner needs it, rather than when it is scheduled. It also means a learner can return to the learning at any time, which helps them upskill ‘on-the-job’, as and when needed.
• Centralised Content – Having one point of contact for all learning and development activity means that anyone throughout the organisation can easily establish where to go for anything ‘learning’ and means stakeholders know that all data is kept in the same place.
• Consistency – Learning added to a Learning Management System is consistent and means that everyone within the organisation gets the same message.
• Adaptability – Where a learning message has to change, this can be done easily, within the system. Meaning that learners get the most relevant, up-to-date information.
• Learning Implementation – Being able to implement learning or communications quickly and at time of need makes a huge difference to a business. An LMS ensures you are able to effectively distribute learning in a timely fashion.
• Tracking and Reporting – It’s extremely important to be able to generate reports that provide the business with data on user uptake, course progress, assessment pass rate and more. This information not only means you can prompt employees regarding learning but also provides key evidence around employee development.
• Compliance – Many industries need to be able to prove that employees have engaged with learning activities around certain topics (e.g. financial services, health and safety etc.). An LMS provides key information to support this data.
• Reduction in training time – Different learners have distinct learning needs. An LMS can help ensure learners only participate in learning that is relevant or required. This can be done by providing testing prior to learning activities, which means the learner who achieves a certain score, may avoid some learning elements.
• Reduction in costs – There are many costs associated with learning and an LMS can help reduce some of these. Areas that can be affected are; reduced time out from the workplace, reduction in design time, consultant costs, trainer costs, travel, exclusion of certain employees, printing and updates etc.
These are a few of the most obvious benefits and there are many additional elements that make a Learning Management System a positive addition to any organisation that is serious about employee development.
Well, now you’ve answered the question, ‘What is a Learning Management System?’ Hopefully, this guide has given you an insight into how valuable an LMS can be to you and your organisation and the benefits it can have to individual employees and their ability to learn and develop.
Using a Learning Management System has become much more affordable over the years and it is no longer only large organisations that are able to implement a system that works for them. If you are serious about providing effective learning support within your business and having the ability to gather learning data at the touch of a button, you really should consider implementing a Learning Management System.
You can find out more about our own Learning Management System offer by downloading this LMS Service document – Trainer Bubble LMS Solution