When it comes to learning tools, for many organizations, their learning management system is essential.
Just over three-quarters of US-based companies make use of a learning management system (LMS), with just under three-quarters of them feeling they provide a competitive advantage.
In this article, we will take a look at the following:
- What is a learning management system?
- The role of a learning management system in the workplace
- The benefits of using a learning management system
- How to make use of a learning management system
- How to decide which learning management system to use
What is a Learning Management System?
First, let’s define what a learning management system is and, for this, we’ll look to our good friend Wikipedia:
“A learning management system (LMS) is a software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting, automation, and delivery of educational courses, training programs, or learning and development programs.”
This sounds like it’s in the realm of the education space, doesn’t it?
Well, that is the case. K-12 schools make use of learning management systems for their learning environment. During my time at university, some LMSs I used frequently included the Moodle LMS and Blackboard LMS.
However, this article will not be focused on LMSs for educational institutions and higher education—we’ll be looking at the role of the LMS in regards to developing employees and how it can be used for employee training with a digital learning approach.
We’ll also look at how to use an LMS for content management and course management.
The role of a Learning Management System in the workplace
What are some of the roles a learning management system can play in the workplace?
- Onboarding new employees
- Employee training and development
- As a repository for company knowledge on-demand.
Organizations utilize LMSs differently. Some will use it more as a repository. Others will use it to help new employees get up to speed. An LMS can also be utilized for JIT (just in time) training for when the job demands it.
LMSs can also help create a more personalized learning experience for employees. Depending on what role they have in the organization (software developer, sales, legal), an employee can easily find the training content they need that focuses on their role.
If they are interested in other areas of the organization, they can make use of the LMS to learn more about other roles and opportunities.
Depending on your organization, compliance with government regulations may be required. An LMS can serve as a way to keep track and ensure that employees and the organization have the proper training and certifications required in order to meet compliance.
The benefits of using a Learning Management System
The reason that so many organizations use an LMS, of course, is because of the benefits they can provide to your organization.
An LMS allows employees to learn at their own pace. With an e-learning approach, employees can go through interactive modules at their own leisure at any time. Compare that to bringing everyone in to train in a webinar, or having to fly people in to train face-to-face.
It can be hard to measure how much team members really gain from learning materials. An online learning approach using an LMS makes it far easier to track what employees have accessed from your online courses with plenty of metrics offered.
Using this data can help better design the training materials that achieve higher completion and retention rates. This data can also be used to identify shortcomings in employee training (such as lower retention and completion rates) and how to work on those shortcomings.
One of the key ways to ensure employee retention is to allow ample growth opportunities and empower employees to take charge of their own development.
By offering online training that's personalized to each employee, team members are better placed to learn skills to help them move up (or horizontally) within your organization and set out a clear path for their development. This will help improve employee engagement and retention.
Ease of scaling
An LMS makes updating learning content easy in one central place. Content can easily be added or tweaked at any time in one central location.
More consistency and better quality
It’s easy for important knowledge to end up in email purgatory, notes scattered about the office, or located only in the head of certain employees.
An LMS helps keep that knowledge available to everyone instead of being buried away.
The best way to ensure that knowledge or important training isn’t lost is to choose an LMS that allows for collaborative learning. This allows anyone from the organization to update the LMS to help share knowledge with the rest of the organization or can update training materials as new information is acquired.
While a team or individual within the organization will still remain in charge of the LMS, allowing for collaborative learning will help fill in those gaps that may have been missed.
Two key stats on learning management systems
Key features of a learning management system
When it comes to the many LMS’ on the market, each will have its unique selling point along with key features.
What you’ll want out of your LMS will vary depending on your organizational needs, but here are the key features that you’ll want to have with your learning management system:
Strong user experience
While this is less of an issue than it was in the past, various LMS’, especially at the enterprise level, aren’t exactly the most user-friendly.
A strong UX is one of the key features to look for in an LMS, as you’ll want learners not having to fight the platform (I had these issues with Moodle in my University days), but instead a platform that’s as frictionless as possible and, if that’s what you
You’ll want an LMS that easily integrates with your other technology tools. Common integrations include Salesforce, Zoom, bambooHR, ADP, Workday, G Suite, and Microsoft suite.
If you’re in the midst of looking for an LMS, be sure to do your research on what tools you use and which LMS solution will allow you to integrate with your current ecosystem.
Expanding on the point above in regards to integrations, one of the key features you’ll want to look for in deciding on an LMS is the automation of admin tasks. For example, if you integrate with your HR software, you should be able to auto-assign new employees to the right learning track, such as if they’re starting in a sales vs HR role for example.
You can set triggers to send notifications to users such as learning material updates, training deadlines, or send notifications to admins when someone completes a course.
Easy course creation and management
The whole purpose of adopting an LMS is to support the learning and development function of your organization.
As such, for me, a key element of any LMS worth its salt is easy course development (such as drag-and-dropping assets) and being able to support multiple content types e.g. audio, video, quizzes, live-streaming, PDFs.
This will mean greater adoption of the system with more likelihood of collaboration and peer-2-peer knowledge sharing.
One of the key features that you’ll want to make use of with your LMS of choice is the reporting function.
Reporting will allow you to quickly identify trends and patterns such as course completion rates, or course activity.
Many of these LMSs will also offer analytical reports to give suggestions in regards to creating better learning experiences. This can range from identifying gaps in knowledge, to letting you know what information needs to be updated.
Depending on your organization, you’ll need to ensure that employees are adhering to certain regulations.
A key feature of an LMS is the offering of certifications. These will help keep track of course completion and skills developed. Many LMS’ will feature the option to export completed certifications to help meet any regulations and compliance that your organization may require.
What kind of content should be going into your LMS?
Your LMS is a place to store and easily access materials related to the training and development of employees and sometimes customers.
Some use cases for your LMS include:
- Employee onboarding
- Employee development
- Sales training
- Customer training
- Product training
- Partner training
- Compliance training
For example, if you’re using it for the purpose of onboarding new employees, there will be course materials in your onboarding that every new employee will receive, such as the values of the organization.
When you get more specific for roles, the learning materials will change.
With an LMS, it’s easy to update the training materials as more are added to your onboarding process or employee training courses.
If you’re doing something for onboarding, here are things to include in the course content:
- Your first day, week, month.
- The values of your organization.
- What tools you will be making use of.
- Going over policy and procedures.
Deciding on which Learning Management System to use
There are numerous choices for LMS software on the market that you can use for your organization. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the providers available. Which authoring tools should you make use of?
It’s not an easy thing either—around 44% of companies are actively considering replacing the current LMS solution.
So, where should you start on this front?
Well, there are a number of factors on this front:
- The industry you are in
- The size of your organization
- The use cases that your organization has
- If you’re spread out, remote, or all in-office
- LMS features deemed essential for your organization
- The learning goals for your organization
- How much you value mobile learning
- Pricing—most LMS platforms are SaaS
- Overall UX—while they’ve gotten better, some of my personal experiences with a corporate LMS is they’re not the most intuitive when it comes to their user interface
- Enticing users to finish the learning activities. Some LMS’s offer initiatives like gamification to help individuals make their way through the training content and to measure learner progress
These are just a few factors that you’ll want to consider when deciding on a learning platform. There is no best LMS that's one-size-fits-all.
Some of them will have free trials to give it a test run, and most will have a sales team to demo their service to you to determine your training needs.
For further help, check out our pick of the best learning management systems on the market today.
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Conclusion & next steps
You now have a better understanding of how to make use of an LMS, from storing knowledge to training management.
If you currently don’t have an LMS, there are plenty of LMS vendors that you can look into for the needs that your organization requires.
If you’re an organization that currently makes use of a Learning Management System, you may be reconsidering if the LMS you currently use is for you.
At the end of the day, what will work best for you will depend on the needs of your organization.
While there is no one-size-fits-all in regards to what LMS software will be the best for your organization, by asking yourself a few questions first, you’ll find a system that works best for your learning experience.