What is a Knowledge Economy?
In a knowledge economy, growth is given more importance than the means of production. In such an economy, growth depends on the quality, quantity and accessibility of information.
Intellectual capital is of the highest value and apart from tangible assets shown in company balance sheets’, the skills, knowledge and learnings of an employee are assets of higher value. With these intellectual assets, the uniqueness and quality of productivity are higher in employees. The constant need for knowledge and learning, functions as a motivator for the employee and eventually lead to higher standards of innovation within the company.
Learning as the Ultimate Competitive Advantage
With the increasing number of companies and workforce, how do you ensure that you’re ahead of the game and are the leader in your field? To be aware of the best tools and technologies in the industry is one of the ways to ensure you’re ahead of your competition and closer to your goals.
Unlike the traditional and cumbersome corporate training methods where a trainer conducts sessions and teaches the employees in a classroom setting, there is an increase in self-learning and self-accountability in a knowledge economy.
The longing to learn more is observed as one of the major criteria for onboarding and engagement too. The type of employees and working patterns have changed drastically over the past couple of years with an increasing number of employees opting to work remotely or from home. In such a scenario the company that helps their employees learn better, faster and more conveniently in their preferred settings will eventually emerge with the ultimate competitive advantage.
Why corporate learning and training needs to change?
To be in the forefront of one’s industry or sector, every one of the employees in an organization must excel in their respective fields and together work towards increasing the quality of productivity.
With corporate learning and development, an organization can ensure that the employees perform better and adhere to higher quality standards as employees grow within the organization’s ranks. The development of an organization and its personnel into leaders cannot be simply left to chance but needs to be worked upon. The existing business environment is highly competitive, skill-based and ever-evolving. To be informed and learned about the recent updates and advancements in the industry is indeed the need of the hour.
Corporate training is a way of developing employee skill sets and also help employees achieve their own growth and career development aspirations. Leading organizations of today are the ones that helps broaden one’s knowledge base. Employees will continue to owe their success and career growth to the organization, this inturn increases retention, reduces churn of best talent and ensures the position of the organization as a thought-leader in the space.
In recent times however, the teaching and learning patterns and methodologies employed in corporate training have transformed drastically. The top-to-down approach no more proves to be the most appropriate. Managers and their teaching patterns may not fit the learning needs of many and can eventually lead to disinterest in the subject altogether.
This is when Learning Management System
aka LMS proves effective. An easier and convenient method to provide training and development in all kinds of organizations and institutions. In the modern knowledge economy with increasingly tech savvy employees, LMS proves to be a natural choice.
What is a Learning Management System?
LMS is a software-based platform that helps create and manage e-learning programs for a large audience. With LMS, creators can disseminate knowledge irrespective of the location barriers. With new and evolving technologies, the e-learning space has revolutionized largely. All types and formats of content (Video, Audio, Text, Mixed, SCORM content ) can now be created and distributed for training and development purposes.
Learning Management Systems promote constant learning and works towards changing the approach to boost productivity, engagement and understanding of various subjects. LMS is used extensively by a variety of industries and enterprises globally.
LMS is majorly used by large, medium and small-sized businesses, international and local organizations, educational institutions, eLearning-based companies and government agencies. It is especially helpful when it comes to employee onboarding, employee training and development and customer training.
How does an LMS help?
Employee onboarding is one of the most used reasons for LMS. The team can be informed about anything and everything with the help of LMS. An interview or meeting may not be very helpful to run the recruit through the company culture, policies and more. The recruit needs to be aware of all internal guidelines of the company so that the person can adhere to it and avoid any form of misunderstandings. Company culture is essential to understand if the individual will be a good fit or not for the organization. If certain values do not match with that of the company’s then, long term goals can be difficult. With the help of LMS, these things can be conveyed in an efficient and frictionless manner and more information on the same can be given to the recruit. LMS allows the person to learn more at her/his own pace. Also, involving another individual (such as a buddy system) to teach can be way too time-consuming and affect the productivity of existing employees. LMS ensures that essential information such as the HR policies, the activities that the team and organization as a whole can also be passed efficiently to new recruits.
Employee Training and Development
A Learning Management System also allows training for the existing employees. Any kind of mandated training and certification programs can be given to the employees. LMS allows the employees to be well-informed of the right tasks assigned to them along with any changes in the product or service that they work for. To be informed of the changes and updates within the organization and everything that they work for is essential for an efficient employee. LMS can help with easy training of the employees and confirm that they are aware and up to date of most events and activities in the organization.
To onboard customers and to avoid customer churn they must be aware of the products or services that the company offers. This is mainly applicable for product-based technology companies. With the help of LMS, the organization can put forth all details on the what’s and how-to’s and make sure that customers can achieve a better user experience. By training customers on how to use the product etc. you can add value to the customers and also let them know how important their user experience is to you as a company.
Types of LMS
Open-source LMS tools are available free of cost and free to use. Businesses with lower budgets or the ones that aren’t willing to spend much can opt for open source LMS tools. Open source tools are available for everyone to review based on their learning or business needs. For companies with smaller teams, an open-source LMS tool would be a better choice as compared to a paid one. With open-source tools, the users can alter the source code to suit their personal needs. Though, with open-source tools, the user may need some background knowledge and experience in programming.
Enterprise Learning Management System
Enterprise LMS is easier to use and offers a wide range of features and support services. This type of LMS systems sometimes, also have knowledge libraries or banks that help teach the administrator to develop learning resources quickly.
Industry-specific Learning Management System
The third one is a focused LMS type as compared to the former two. Industry-specific LMS is built precisely for a particular organization or industry. All resources and materials that are needed by the organization/industry will be available. The design and resources of this particular LMS will include activities and other training actions that are explicit to the industry.
LMS in a corporate setting
‘Quick’ is the word that suits best to define a corporate setting. The constant demand to be the best mandates the need for efficient employees who are well off with the recent tools and techniques in the field.
To create content for training purposes is possible but face-to-face training programmes can be tricky based on the crowd that you are dealing with. It’s way more time-consuming and the progress of the trainees cannot be efficiently measured.
To be able to track the progress of the employees and whether they’re doing it right is vital. With personal face-to-face training and development programs, tracking growth can be difficult. Also, sometimes, for employees rectifying their doubts or receiving more information on a particular concept can be tough. With eLearning, this problem can be solved. eLearning does not demand a large number of people to come in at the same time and start learning but learning at one’s own pace and convenience is promoted.
The benefits of using LMS in a corporate setting:
Systematic training process
The training process by itself can be tricky. Creation and distribution of the content and measuring the results are the most important parts of the training program. The ADDIE model is one of the ways to understand the development process most accurately. ADDIE stands for Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation and Evaluation. According to the ADDIE model, each phase has to be done in a given order to further ensure better understanding and effective results.
The educator needs to understand the content created and also analyze the existing situation in the respective industry. At this stage, the educator should examine all aspects concerning the subject and make sure to try and answer the 5 W’s and 1 H (What, where, when, why, who and how). With these answers, the steps further will be easier.
Based on all the findings of the Analysis phase, the educator brings it all to a slightly more practical phase. The educator decides on factors like strategy, delivery methods, assessment and duration during this stage. Course prototypes can also be created at this stage.
At this stage, the courses will be prepared in detail by referring to the prototypes. Everything decided at the design phase will have to be thought more upon and it should reflect in the courses you create.
Based on the former three stages, your courses are ready and now it’s time for the learners to explore what you’ve created. The courses planned, designed and developed can be made available for the learners with the help LMS. Delivery and tracking are taken care of by the Learning Management System itself.
The final stage of the ADDIE model is to evaluate the course and improvement of the learners and to also confirm if the goals set during the planning stage are met or not.
The motivational and engaging training process
LMS is one of the best ways to motivate and engage the learners throughout the training process. With LMS, the learners can access the courses and information based on their convenience and pace. By leveraging a strong LMS, they can acquire information whenever they choose to on the device of their choice. The learners will be able to complete courses keeping the deadlines in mind but by distributing the portions the way that’s most suitable to them. With such flexible patterns, the learners (employees of the organization) will be motivated to work more and produce desired results. With information delivery systems like LMS, the employees can learn in a much more engaging pattern as compared to the traditional forms.
Increase in employee satisfaction
With programmes like LMS, organizations are making an investment in training their employees which expresses how much they value. This can help boost the morale of the employees and in return they will be more devoted in working for the organization.
Most employees will have similar background knowledge and it will also make them more aware, empathetic and knowledgeable in different disciplines and not just in their field of expertise.
As an online learning platform, LMS functions as a technological influence on the learners. Online training and development are growing rapidly and to keep it more engaging and interesting, educators are using new tools and technologies that can fetch more footfalls to the platform. Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and wearable devices are some of the top technological trends incorporated into eLearning platforms.
To have all the learning material in one place saves a lot of time and also helps with better accessibility for both educators and learners. In LMS, all the resources are stored in the same location. Going back to a particular course when needed, or tweaking a learning material, becomes easier with centralized learning. Courses on LMS are curated and created mostly not for one learner alone but a team or a larger set of people and to share content with many and cater to each of their queries and feedback also gets easier with centralized learning systems.
Monitoring and reporting features
There is a difference between a training program and an ‘effective’ training program. LMS guarantees the latter as it allows to measure the effectiveness of the program. Apart from the creation and distribution of content it also helps monitor and creates reports of the performance of the employees. Based on the reports of the learners the educator can also understand the capabilities and quality of the learners which can help in the future when assigning tasks.
Competent evaluation will help identify any errors in the course and rectify it immediately for better results. As the course is built for a set of people, it is important to evaluate if it is one of the formats that work or a combination of few formats together. The educator can evaluate the work assigned to the learners quickly in an organized manner. The LMS system provides clear information on the assigned, not assigned, submitted, and not submitted.
Easy learning methods
The learning system can incorporate different formats to help ease out the learning process. Through engaging and appealing storytelling along with appropriate resources, LMS can be one of the easiest learning methods. One of the most challenging and best retention techniques is to have quizzes time and again to test the efficacy of the course and understanding of it by the learners.
LMS is a time-saving process as it helps replace the time that can be invested in tasks like onboarding of employees and customers. In the case of onboarding a recruit, without LMS, the staff (mostly of managerial level) will be spending time on explaining the company culture and guidelines and making them aware of the kind of work that the company does. With LMS, this entire process can be cut down and the recruit can understand the work culture and know more about the company at their own convenience.
Many learning management systems are available among which some are free and some are paid for. Even though paid, the cost will be relatively less as compared to hiring more trainers for employee education purposes. An expert might have to take multiple sessions to cater to larger groups and payment will be made based on the number of sessions. With LMS, the course created online is accessible to larger groups and is more organized as well.
In case of any updates or changes in the course, that too can easily be done in a much lesser budget.
With Learning Management Systems, studying is no longer a dull process but much more interactive and effective. LMS allows students to participate in the learning process and make sure that they are thoroughly interested in what they do. LMS uses several methods that guarantee an engaging studying pattern. These include;
Gamification: To encourage higher engagement with the content, the users are offered with game-like elements and tutorials on LMS. With such modifications, the users are pushed to try out different features and work towards moving a step or two higher in the course. With gamification, the users are constantly challenged to do something more than usual on the LMS system.
Personalized: The learning pattern of each person is different. Preferences in methods, courses, the duration for completion are all diverse for each person. In a physical classroom, it can be tough to give a personalized experience to one but, in an LMS arrangement personalization is possible. Through course structure, personalized characters, etc. this can be done.
Tracking: Constant tracking of their performance is one of the ways to keep learners/employees more interested in the courses they learn. LMS systems offer data on overall progress as well as certain course progresses that helps the person understand their standing and also be more invested in the courses they’re learning.
As the term ‘mobility’ suggests, Learning Management Systems allow easy movement with the learning material. Like all other content and most platforms on the internet, LMS also lets you access the content as and when required with just an internet connection. One can use the learning system at the comfort of their home and mobile device while on the go. Irrespective of the location, and the devices, learning is still possible. Missing a session at a physical classroom can lead to missing a few important pointers but that’s not the case with LMS where everything is made available online.
Improved Course organization
Organized content distribution is an essential part of improving learning outcomes. If the courses seem chaotic, then, that can confuse and also let employees be disinterested in the learning process. LMS spaces out the course in a much more friendly and doable manner. The work is allocated in a non-cluttered and tidy format that is achievable. Courses are prepared in a very practical and realistic style that it doesn’t overburden the user.
Personalized training experience
As mentioned earlier, every person’s way of learning and the resource format they might opt for are different. While one might prefer presentations, for the other videos might work the best. LMS makes personalized training experience possible with the best type and format that would suit individual preferences.
With an efficient LMS system, it is possible to incorporate any changes that may occur in the courses. The resource materials on Learning Management Systems can be tweaked as and when required. Upgrading the content and the study material is an effortless task with the LMS system.
Factors to consider while choosing LMS Software
LMS, Learning Management Systems are mainly used to enhance the overall learning experience. Traditional teaching methods are left behind to adapt to something that is believed to be an easier and more convenient option. While selecting LMS software is important to make sure that the system is empowered with certain functions. With these functions, LMS proves to be an effective tool to switch to.
Engaging User Interface
Whichever LMS system you opt for the user interface of the system must be easy to use and intuitive. For both the client base that is, the educators and the learners using the tool should not be cumbersome in any manner. Easy accessibility tops the list along with organized allocation. Users do not expect to have trouble finding the information they’re looking for. Large groups, as well as individual learners, should enjoy their time on the app/software. A good interface will take care that the user does not spend much time figuring out the app.
Smooth Data Integration
In the case of an organization or institution, they may already have their organizational systems. The LMS System you choose will or may have to be integrated with the existing organizational tools. These can include tools concerning HR, marketing or any other. Learning Management Systems should have a provision to integrate other tools, especially for bigger organizations and institutions.
Effective content management
With regards to LMS systems, content is the king. A good LMS will ensure that the content is organized well in the prescribed learning pattern. There will be more than one course and each course must be organized well keeping aside any confusion for the user. Content included in LMS will be on different topics and in different formats, any form of clutter should be avoided so that the user can find exactly what s/he is looking for. Learning material can be never-ending; apart from the already existing content, the system should allow the addition of more information as and when required at ease.
Responsive to various devices
One of the highlights of an LMS is the convenient mobility that it offers. With such a versatile nature, it is also important that the user experience remains the same on all platforms. On a mobile device too, the system should work fine without any glitches. Every functionality of the system should work equally on all devices. It is recommended to have versions that suit both iOS and Android.
On LMS systems, it is important to have regular tests and evaluations to understand one’s progress. Apart from being able to conduct tests, the tool should also allow you to assess and generate quick reports. Learners should have access to tests and quiz results as proof of the evaluation that they have attended.
Creating a course calendar
On an LMS, you should be able to create a course calendar to ease out the learning process. A calendar is helpful in both, traditional and non-traditional learning set-up. It helps you plan your study time keeping in mind other commitments that you may have. Tests or other evaluation assignments come in with specific due dates. Keeping a track of these due dates is important to start working on time and also to deliver quality work on time. Without course calendars you can miss out on any of the assignment or tasks and last-minute reminders of these can lead to low-quality work and also trigger anxiety for some. One can also be better prepared for an upcoming lesson with a course calendar. One of the best features for a helpful course calendar is to be able to colour code. The user can colour code different courses and the status of different tasks.
Certifications for employee score and transcripts
In many organizations, certifications matter and is proof that one has completed a particular course. One of the functions of an LMS system is that they should be able to generate certificates for the learners after the completion of a course or an evaluation test. The certificates generated should be made accessible and downloadable for the users.
Management of courses, roles, and users
LMS is expanded to Learning Management System. The word itself suggests how important management is. Learning Management Systems consists of various aspects such as the users including educators and learners, and the vast number of courses. Certain courses, evaluation tests etc. may be assigned to only a specific set of people. It is important in such cases that, all the data is properly divided and organized in the software. Specific roles can be assigned to both learners and educators and all such information should be easily accessible on the system. This will keep confusion at bay and ensure that people are aware of their assigned tasks.
Notifications and Messages
Notifications are important as it keeps you in the loop of what’s happening and makes sure that you’re aware of the tasks and their signs of progress. For learners to effectively complete their course and for educators to track progress and evaluate the work, notifications are important. Notifications also help educators suggest any changes to the learners as quickly as assigned work is submitted. Notifications need not pop up only on submission of the assigned work but notifications can also be as reminders.
Surveys and polls are an important part of online learning to assess and evaluate progress. Find an LMS system that offers to create engaging content like surveys, polls and even upload videos. With such types of content, users are able to provide proper feedback and can also rectify any errors that may appear in their learning pattern.
Support is an important part of any tool or software and also adds to the user experience. Software that provides instant support for the users are some of the best in the market. There is always a possibility that you may need technical assistance to get more information on the functioning of the LMS at such times a quick support system is essential. Chat bots or any other form of support with quick response times is a crucial and deciding factor.
How to choose the best LMS Software?
With the evolving knowledge economy, there is a wide range of LMS software options out there and making a choice can get difficult. Here are the 5 steps that can help you make the right choice.
Know your needs
The first step before you make a decision is to have a clear checklist of your needs and ensure that whichever software you choose has ticked most of the checklist. List down the goals you want to achieve in a specific time. Confirm that the goals set are accurate, actionable, and not vague. Along with the goals also define your audience. Goals and audience are interlinked. Based on your audience, the goals can change. For instance, an organization will want an increase in sales; an institution will aim to produce toppers in the state or country. The age, skill levels, preferences, educational qualifications, etc. should be explored to understand the audience better.
Once you have answers to these questions, jotting down the features that you need in an LMS will be clear. The clarity in your goals and type of audience will speed up the entire process of making an LMS choice.
Define LMS needs
After confirming on your goals and identifying your audience now, list out the needs you want in your software. Earlier in this article, the functions and few features of an LMS software are mentioned. Go through them and look for a software that includes most if not all the features and functions. Apart from the above-mentioned functions like user interface, management of courses, notifications, course calendar, etc. also consider cost and payment options, the type of learning management system, ability to integrate and learning models.
Explore the market
The above two steps will get you closer to choosing the LMS software you need. But there is a wide range of eLearning software to choose from in the market. You’ve already explained the functions and features you need in the software now it’s time to compare software and make the right choice. Enquire with friends, acquaintances and fellow organizations to know the software they’re using. Personal review of software can be the best way to find out if it suits your needs or not. At the end of this stage, you should have shortlisted a few options.
Evaluate different software
At this stage, conduct a thorough research through the website and testimonials of each shortlisted software. Check on the website more about the features they offer and whether it has most of what you’re looking for. Read more reviews of the software and don’t rush your decision.
Make a choice
Your list should now have 2-3 choices. To make the right choice, try and get a trial of each of the software and pick what works for you based on your user experience. In case you experience any bugs or errors you can easily shorten your list and make an easier choice. Also, do not forget the number of users that the software can accommodate as this a crucial factor in ensuring scalability of your organization.
Who are the customers for LMS?
Learning Management Systems are used by all types of companies namely;
Multinational corporations may be headquartered in one location but will have offices worldwide. The organizations who wish to standardize their work culture can opt for eLearning sessions to educate the employees and make sure they’re aware of all the guidelines of the company.
Small and Medium-sized businesses
Small and Medium-sized businesses also use eLearning similar to large corporations. Apart from educating employees about the company guidelines and work culture, they can also have online sessions via LMS systems to improve their skills.
Freelancers often use LMS systems to increase and upgrade their skill set. The courses they take need not be from one particular field but can switch from one to another; like marketing, design, coding, operations or anything else.
Apart from these three sectors LMS is also highly used by;
Colleges and universities:
Most of the colleges and universities use Learning Management Systems to deliver information to in house and distant students. Universities assign tasks and conduct evaluation tests on these systems. They also store most information about the university or college, curriculum and more.
For speciality training purposes, professionals like medical practitioners, engineers, attorneys use LMS. They also use LMS to attend compliance training.
Entrepreneurs need to play multiple roles at most times. They mostly receive crash courses on a variety of subjects on LMS.
Hobbyists and self-learners:
People who are generally enthusiastic about a certain skill or knowledge base will use basic LMS systems to add to their knowledge and learn from experts.
Pricing models for LMS systems
One of the main reasons that eLearning or Learning Management Systems are encouraged is because they offer aid in upskilling employees. Training and development are crucial for better productivity and sustainable employees.
LMS systems offer training but apart from that they also provide a platform for collaboration by going easy on your pocket. The number of LMS systems in the market and the demand for eLearning is growing rapidly. But there are still some business owners who are not comfortable investing in online learning systems due to their lack of knowledge about the LMS space and its benefits and also because they believe it’s heavy on the pocket. However, LMS is an investment that can give you great yields overtime.
In the next part of this guide, we will try and understand the most common pricing models employed by LMS software companies to figure out what’s right for you.
Pay per use model
As the name of the model suggests, the pricing depends on how much and how often you use the software. Depending on the number of employees or learners, number of courses, course material, number of sessions, the price will vary. This is most suitable for the ones who intend to attend a single course or the ones who don’t plan to use the system extensively. This wouldn’t be an appropriate choice for large enterprises who wish to enrol most of their employees and have frequent lessons and evaluation tests.
The license fee is an amount charged mostly on an annual or monthly basis. Here the organization or institution can use the LMS for a certain period for a specific number of users. The pricing can vary depending on the number of users who have access to the LMS. More users will incur higher pricing. For smaller organizations or communities, the license fee model is most suitable. They are only paying for users who are active and avoid extra charges.
A flat fee is the best choice for large businesses. In this scenario, payment is made once in a year with no restrictions of any kind. For large corporations with thousands of employees, a flat fee system pricing model is the most appropriate choice for MNCs. Unlimited users, courses, and course materials can be added to the LMS with a flat-fee pricing model.
FAQs: All about LMS systems
What are the best learning management systems in the market?
There is no easy way to define the ‘best’ learning management systems. The best can differ based on the features and functions that you’re looking out for. Or it can strongly depend on your user experience. Some of the key features to look out for in a learning management system are user interface, reporting and evaluation features, mobile responsiveness and cost.
Here are some of the top LMS softwares on the market (Based on Google reviews).
AlphaLearn provides an intuitive interface that is easy to use and supports multiple formats. The system also provides review performance and other insight reports and dashboards. Interestingly, AlphaLearn offers a survey tool that can easily gather feedback from the learners. They also allow the educators and learners to access team reports to track their personal and team progress.
TalentLMS is a learning management system designed for all types of companies, big and small. TalentLMS is built for both tech-savvy and tech-averse users. The users can create courses, and essential modules that are easy to access. The LMS also offers evaluation and assessment features that helps you track the progress of the trainees.
With Sap Litmos corporate leaders can speed up the learning process of the employees based on their style and pace. SAP also allows users to instantly communicate with others with the help of their instant messaging system.
LearnUpon offers a multi-lingual interface among its other features. LearnUpon is one of the very few LMS systems that are also ecommerce ready.
Docebo leverages artificial intelligence and offers personalized learning experience along with special classes for corporates.
How does a learning management system work?
LMS is an online software-based platform that helps create and manage e-learning programs for a large audience. Through learning management systems, course materials can be accessed from anywhere irrespective of the device used. Moving away from the traditional forms of teaching eLearning promotes learning at your own pace keeping in mind your interests and preferences. Constant evaluation of course progress is one of the key highlights of LMS.
What is the difference between LMS and CMS?
LMS stands for Learning Management System and CMS stands for Content Management Systems. CMS focuses on content while LMS concentrates on learning. LMS is a step ahead of the traditional classroom structure with courses, lessons and assignments. CMS, on the other hand, is a huge library that manages and presents the content of different formats.
Both LMS and CMS can store, organize and present content but, LMS is designed mainly for training and hence it has in-built features that make the learning and understanding process easier as compared to CMS. In large enterprise setups, CMS is also largely beneficial to organize great capacity of business documents. Along with organizing, CMS also allows easy shareability of documents within teams.
What is the purpose of a learning management system?
Learning Management System is an online software that enables to create and develop training and development content. The system also allows to track and evaluate the progress of the trainee. LMS aims at enhancing eLearning with engaging and intuitive content that can be accessed from anywhere without the need to be in a traditional classroom setup.
Why have a learning management system?
Knowledge Economy is growing rapidly and organizations are switching to effective measures for training and development purposes. Learning Management systems ensure that trainees can improve their skills and also guarantee high-quality productivity. LMS helps cut down on training workforce, is less time-consuming and light on your pocket. Some of the key benefits of LMS systems are effective evaluation, increase in employee performance, organized training process among the others.
What to look for in a learning management system?
Some of the key features to look for in a Learning Management System also known as LMS are an interactive user interface, evaluation and reporting features, notifications, content management and data integration.