Do you consider yourself to be self-taught? Do you turn to the internet to learn new skills every other day? Then you’ve probably interacted with a learning management system by now.
TechTarget defines a learning management system as:
“A software application or web-based technology used to plan, implement and assess a specific learning process.”
William Watson and Sunnie Lee Watson, both professors of Learning Design and Technology at Purdue University published an article in 2007. They explain how to differentiate between a learning management system and other computer education terms.
They describe a learning management system as a framework that handles all aspects of the learning process. Not only does it deliver courses, but it also allows you to register your learners, identify skills gaps and generate reports.
Also known as an LMS, a learning management system makes learning fun, fast and easy since courses are short and easy to comprehend. This has led to a huge demand for LMSs. According to a study done by Research and Markets, the globaleLearning industry will reach $325 billion by 2025.
In the corporate world, the LMS has become an effective tool for employee training. No printed materials, on-site facilitators or unnecessary travel are required for training to occur. The LMS is the way to go for companies looking to cut down costs.
For employees, a learning management system is convenient. They can access training as part of their workday or whenever their schedule allows. They can log in anytime and from any device and track their own progress.
A learning management system delivers courses in micro chunks of information. This helps employees to learn fast and retain information for longer. If it’s optimized for mobile, then employees can have a great user experience even when they’re using a mobile phone or tablet to learn.
Employees can revise a topic by going back to the stored training resources in your LMS whenever they encounter a challenge at work. So, an employee becomes an expert on that topic over time.
As an HR manager, an LMS helps you to identify learning gaps and barrier points in your employee training so you can improve the course. Tedious tasks such as reporting and grading are automated which saves you time.
What Are the Types of Learning Management Systems?
When you’re searching for the best LMS for your needs, you must ask yourself two important questions:
- Do I want to pay licensing fees?
- Do I want a hosted or software as a service (SaaS) learning management system?
These factors determine the cost of implementation, the total cost of ownership and how fast you’ll get approval from top management.
Open Source vs Proprietary LMS
Open Source LMS
The source code for an open-source LMS is freely distributed and may be modified by any user. Access to source code means that you can create a bespoke LMS for your employee training needs. This makes it scalable and cost-effective if you have a growing workforce.
The source code is visible to developers worldwide and they can recognize bugs in the system and suggest changes as early as possible. You can implement these upgrades as soon as they are rolled out without paying a dime.
There’s no vendor lock-in with open source LMSs so it’s easy to let go of a hosting partner if you’re dissatisfied. All the data and LMS code belong to you and you may move the platform inhouse or find a different vendor.
Open-source software is best suited to businesses that need a long term training solution that can create bespoke LMS.
Proprietary Learning Management Systems
A proprietary LMS has closed code and can only be accessed through license fees. Usually charged per user, licensing fees are paid annually alongside other maintenance costs.
The proprietary LMS vendor manages the platform. You must trust their ability to maintain the LMS against bugs, market forces and security issues. Unlike the open-source LMS, the code is not available to your passionate team of developers. Upgrades and security patches may not be released as often as they would in an open-source LMS. How effective your platform will be is determined by the vendor’s technical team.
Switching from one vendor to another is a complex process when you’re using a proprietary LMS. Another provider can’t just pick up the LMS and manage it, you’d have to start from scratch.
If you like the peace of mind provided by a vendor and round the clock support, get a proprietary LMS.
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SaaS vs Installed LMS
SaaS LMSs store all their data in the cloud, making it possible for your employees to access courses remotely. Employees can use their downtime to take courses from any device. World Manager, for instance, is compatible with all mobile devices. Users can enjoy responsive design whether they’re taking the course from a PC, tablet or smartphone.
Some SaaS LMSs allow for offline viewing, so employee training can still take place when the internet connection is shaky. It keeps your data safe through user authentication, data encryption, firewalls and other safety protocols while freeing up space in your local hard drive.
The SaaS LMS vendor will guide you throughout setup and deployment and resolve any glitches that may occur. They’ll show you how to use the LMS which shortens the learning curve and allows you to start training your employees as fast as possible.
SaaS LMSs are regularly updated which lowers your IT costs. You don’t need a team of techies to maintain the system since the vendor does it for you as soon as new features are introduced.
Since all your data is stored on the vendor’s servers, you can scale up the number of LMS users depending on your training needs. Saas LMSs are built to withstand a heavy user load even during peak times.
Unlike SaaS, installed learning management systems can only be accessed in one location. All your data is stored in your local servers which makes scalability more complicated. Your employees can only access courses from a local network.
While SaaS has a pay-as-you-go model, installed LMSs involve a one-off payment which gives you total access to the platform. Once you purchase the software, your IT staff can customize the platform according to your training needs. SaaS only allows you to customize your LMS to a certain degree.
This gives you full control of the platform even though you’d have to bear the costs of maintenance, system upgrades and bandwidth.
With a self-hosted LMS, you can put in extra security measures to keep your information safe. You also get to decide how much data you want to be stored in your system.
What Is the Best Learning Management System?
The best learning management system:
- Is easy to use.
- Tracks and reports on the employees’ progress.
- Rewards milestones.
- Allows employees to access courses from anywhere and on any device.
- Makes learning fun through gamification features.
- Delivers courses in micro bits to help employees learn faster.
If you’re in the market for an employee training solution, schedule a demo with every LMS vendor. A World Manager demo process typically lasts for an hour or less. It gives you a chance to explain your training needs to an LMS expert and how the LMS could help. At the end of the demo, you’ll have a good grasp of World Manager’s communication, training and operations tools. This will enable you and your team to make the best decision for your business.
An LMS is only good if you choose the right one. So don’t hesitate to ask for a demo.