What is a Learning Management System?
A learning management system (LMS) is a fantastic tool to create, distribute and track your training program. This software application helps administer a whole educational course or training program, which is also called e-learning.
LMSs can simply manage training or educational records to full distribution of complete modules and exams for universities. LMSs are used extensively in higher education in the modern era, with many exams taking place online and the technology is now helping corporations adopt more advanced training programs online.
An LMS can also help streamline company records as it is easy to see which employees have attended and completed each course, which can be of great help when it comes to audits and compliance monitoring. Mandatory training courses for new employees or an employee heading to a specific job can be completed within hours too, rather than booking them into a bricks and mortar course that can take months. If it’s essential, you can even assign a test to complete so that you can be sure your employee has the basics of a procedure committed to memory.
Ongoing assessment is also an integral option with an LMS, where employees can provide their work for instant feedback that helps them improve. Regular tests designed to ensure that the employee keeps critical information fresh in their mind can also help eliminate mistakes from the workplace and highlight knowledge gaps that can help tailor a training program for each and every staff member that means the whole workforce has the specific information they need to do their job to the best of their ability.
They have become a £6 billion a year industry, thanks to the ever-expanding use of digital training in large companies and educational institutions and they help provide flexible, always on training that our ancestors dreamed of. Cloud computing is only going to enhance the use of LMS software as training can happen anytime, anywhere these days thanks to mobile device access.
So how does it actually work?
Think of the learning management system as the whole framework that oversees the learning process, compared to the more focused and limited software that is course management system. It’s the infrastructure that manages all the educational content, from registration to the syllabus. It’s an online university or training college in its own right and takes care of administration, analysis of any skills gaps, tracking, reporting and grading, employee appraisals, succession planning and more.
Most are web-based to allow for access anywhere and the constant modification of course material and insertion of additional materials.
Every LMS is unique and there are more than 600 on the market right now, and just like cars they differ in the level of performance and optional extras you’ll get with each model. Some offer much greater levels of customisation, too, but there are some common components of almost every system that include:
Rosters – This is a digital register, which tracks who has ‘attended’ and completed each training.
Document manager – A place to upload and manage training materials.
Multiple device access – Tools that allow course content to be delivered over web-based access points like desktops phones or tablets.
Distributed instructor and students – Allows access and participation by multiple instructors, reviewers and students from around the world and to allow them to work together.
Calendar – Allows the simple creation of a course calendar, schedules, deadlines and the build-up to tests.
Student engagement – Allows interaction between the students, including forums, instant messaging and email chains.
Assessment and testing – Easy creation of simple tests based on the course material, or comprehensive exams at the end of modules, years and whole courses.
Grading and results – Automatic marking can save significant time and provide instant feedback.
Corporate learning management systems often go above and beyond this basic feature set and have much deeper knowledge management and performance evaluation tools. Some basic tools that help companies on their way include:
Automatic enrolment – Reminds employees of mandatory courses and registers them.
Enhanced security – Many corporate LMS tools offer more advanced sign-ins.
White-labelling – The ability to brand the online content more effectively to ensure it fits the corporate identity.
Multilingual support – Many companies operate across borders and need to train staff consistently across the world to ensure the standards are met internationally.