What is an LMS: Why Is It Essential Tool for Managing Corporate Learning
Michael got a new achievement called “The Ambassador.” Now, he’s number fifteen in the overall ratings. But what’s even more important, he’s one line higher than his colleague George from Amsterdam, as they’ve been competing for a while. No, they aren’t playing World of Warcraft. In fact, Michael is a manager at a supermarket which is a part of a well-known retail chain. He got the achievement for completing the e-course “The Standards of Service.”
You can launch your own online learning resource and implement the same gaming principles using a learning management system, or LMS. In this article, we’re going to tell you what it is and how it can help you.
What is an LMS?
An LMS is a platform for eLearning. Its key features can be found in the abbreviation.
L — Learning. With an LMS, you can create a single source of e-courses and training materials. This will become a unique source of knowledge in your area, so that you can keep and increase the in-house expertise of your company.
M — Management. You can manage courses and learners, and even improve your own efficiency.
Unlike file sharing services, an LMS is not just a heap of files; on the contrary, it’s a well-organized system where you manage the training process. To start training, simply add employees and assign courses.
Have you recently hired some new employees? Send them invitations to the onboarding training course. Experiencing low sales? Ask your salespeople to practice with virtual clients.
Thanks to features like a calendar, you’ll be able to assign and manage not only online trainings, but also in-class sessions. In this way, an LMS can be a sort of a to-do app designed specially for eLearners.
S — System. Computer system, to be exact. Even if your employees live in different time zones, you can train them all without leaving the office. Plus, an LMS automates the most boring and tedious work such as grading, processing statistics, and preparing reports.
In other words, an LMS is like your own online university. The system helps you create and store eLearning courses, provides learners access to the content, and helps you evaluate the results.
What task does an LMS solve?
There are many obvious advantages of using an LMS: it saves time and money on business trips, helps to maintain unified standards of work in affiliates, create individual learning plans, and collect comprehensive progress statistics.
Here are some examples of cases when using an LMS is a good idea:
- Employee training / lifelong training
- Compliance training
- Channel training / partner training
- Extended enterprise training
- Customer training
- Building a single in-house knowledge base
How to organize learning with an LMS
Let’s take AXS2LMS as an example to see how to organize training with an LMS.
AXS2LMS can be offered as a cloud-based service. That means you don’t have to download, install, and configure the software. All that is required is an Internet connection and an email to register an account.
Step 1: Upload courses
To start training, you need to add materials to the LMS. The process of uploading content into an LMS such as AXS2LMS is similar to working with file-sharing services like Google Drive or Dropbox. Click the “Add” button and select the files from your computer.
The LMS recognizes ordinary PPT presentations, audio and video, and documents, as well as special SCORM courses.
If you have a lot of courses on one topic, it’s a good idea to combine them into a Learning Path for a consistent flow, even with the most complex subjects. You can customize the order of lessons and evaluation criteria, and, if needed, issue certificates to learners.
Step 2: Add users
One of the most useful features of an LMS is different user roles. In any LMS, there are 3 main user types:
- A user or a student. This is the most common role. Users can take the assigned courses and study freely available materials.
- A professor or author. A user with author rights can manage learning content: add and remove courses, and assign courses to learners.
- An administrator. In addition to working with the learning content, an administrator can add and remove users, gather them into groups, and assign roles.
In small companies, one person often wears two hats: author and administrator.
In a good LMS such as AXS2LMS or eFront PRO, administrators are free from tedious work like manually adding users to the system, as the most of the processes are automated. For example, in AXS2LMS and eFront PRO, there are three ways to do this: invite by email, share a link for self-registration, or import a list from a CSV or XLS file.
Just as in traditional learning, the learners can be divided into groups. For instance, you can separate “newcomers” from “pros” or split them up according to their work areas: sales, security, or production.
Step 3: Deliver knowledge
Having your content uploaded and user roles set, you’re ready to present courses to your learners. It’s up to you whether you want to grant access to all users or invite some of them by email, restrict some content or share a link for self-registration and free enrollment. Maybe you want to sell your courses? With an LMS, this is also possible.
And what about learners’ side? What is recently the most popular way to get new information? Using mobile devices, of course. The modern LMSs like AXS2LMS and eFront PRO provide seamless mobile experience as well. With a free mobile app, learners will be able to study when and where they want: at home, in a cafe at lunchtime, or while commuting. And by the way, there’s no problem if they don’t get internet, say, on plane. It’s possible to take courses offline, the performance data will be saved in the LMS anyway.
Step 4: Evaluate the result
The ability to measure the effectiveness of learning is one of the main reasons why more and more companies are getting started with LMSs. It doesn’t matter how many users you have — 5 or 5,000 — with an LMS, you can track their progress in real time. Detailed statistics will show how much time learners spend on studying and their results.
Key Features of an LMS
There is no universal agreement on the full feature set of a standard LMS, but in general, a good LMS should have the following basic set of features:
- Easy Content Management
- Course and Learning Path Management
- Automated User and Group Management
- Content Authoring or Integration
- Assessment and Survey Features\
- Blended Learning Support
- Social and Informal Learning Support
- Ecommerce Functionality
- Certification and Completion
- Mobile Access
- Detailed reporting
- Customization and Branding Flexibility
- Integration with Company’s Systems
- Intuitive User Experience