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Learning management system software, or LMS software, is an application built for planning, implementing, and assessing learning processes. It provides organizations and educational institutions with tools to craft and manage lessons, courses, documentation, certifications, and quizzes to make learning more engaging and effective.
With an LMS solution, instructors can create and deliver content, monitor learner participation, and evaluate performance. LMS software is also designed to streamline processes for training and development departments, such as identifying and assessing individual and organizational learning goals, tracking progress towards meeting those goals, and collecting data.
Businesses of all sizes, government agencies, and educational institutions use LMS platforms to facilitate training and other education programs. The software improves upon traditional educational methods while saving organizations time and money. Moreover, the software can facilitate onboarding, employee compliance, and skills gap analysis for enterprises.
The basic features of a modern LMS include tools to develop and host online training materials, chat or video conferencing, assessments, scorekeeping, and report generation. An LMS can be a standalone product or part of a broader suite of HR tools.
Regardless of the business type, learning management systems can provide users and organizations with numerous benefits.
Without a robust LMS, learners have to take time out of their day to physically attend traditional face-to-face training. With LMS platforms, learners simply log into the system and complete courses at the time most convenient for them.
Additionally, costs can be cut by eliminating the need for live instructors, training days, printed training materials, travel expenses, and facility rentals.
Most learning management systems support virtual training and enable organizations to build learning programs for every employee, regardless of location and time zone. Once the admin publishes eLearning course materials onto the system, learners can access the information they need.
Many software providers make learning modules accessible from smartphones and tablets, too, so users can reference materials in the field or on the go. Further, learners can return to a lesson to refresh their memory anytime they need to because the materials are hosted online.
LMS platforms centrally organize training and keep professional development content in one location. As a result, companies can reduce the risk of losing important information when subject matter experts leave the business. An LMS secures training materials, such as PowerPoint or PDF documents, video files, quizzes, assessments, and certifications.
Companies and educational organizations can generate training reports on an overall or learner-level basis to pinpoint areas where a course may be lacking, as well as where it excels. LMS solutions allow instructors to check learner progress and ensure they meet performance milestones. Business leaders can track goal progress, knowledge gains, and ROI.
Numerous industries — including oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, communications, and construction — are required to train employees and report against specific compliance metrics to maintain funding. An LMS helps the organization meet these legal and regulatory requirements.
In addition, learning management systems let businesses add new compliance standards to their training courses. This way, learners are always updated on the latest best practices, avoiding costly penalties for the organization.
Learning management system software can be classified according to implementation or purpose.
As the name implies, cloud-based LMS software solutions are hosted on the cloud and usually follow a SaaS model. Software providers maintain the LMS, monitor the servers, and handle any updates. Users can also access the system from anywhere with an internet connection.
Self-hosted LMS platforms often require an application to be installed by the user. It gives the organization better control, customization, and security, but the company’s IT team must maintain the system and is responsible for backing up data. The organization also typically needs to contact the software vendor for license renewals and upgrades.
Similar to a self-hosted LMS, an open-source LMS requires an in-house IT team to install, customize, maintain, and update the system. Open-source LMS often comes with no licensing costs, but the organization has to pay for design and development resources to configure the LMS to the company’s needs. Open-source LMS is ideal for those businesses looking to create a custom LMS, but don’t want to start from scratch.
Sometimes also called commercial or enterprise LMS, corporate LMS are systems made for business use cases. This software can have white-labeling functionalities, powerful analytic features, gamification, collaboration tools, social learning, and third-party integrations.
A corporate LMS brings an extensive set of premium features to meet the demands of enterprises to train and engage employees at scale. This type of LMS can also support many users simultaneously accessing the same learning materials.
An academic LMS simplifies implementing a blended learning strategy, employing various teaching methods, and increasing student engagement for educators. It enables schools to maintain the integrity of their programs by letting educators effectively develop courses, deliver instruction, facilitate communication with students, and assess student success.
Educational institutions use LMS software to plan, assess, and monitor student learning. Compared to a corporate LMS, an academic LMS may be more affordable, but lack robust features and integrations.
Manually tracking the learning processes of every employee in an organization can be overwhelming and difficult. Above a certain headcount, it becomes increasingly impractical for learning and development (L&D) professionals to monitor each worker’s current industry knowledge, find out what learning modules they need to master their skills, keep an eye on their learning engagement levels, and so on.
With LMS software, instructors can keep all training materials organized and ensure all employees receive up-to-date training for their specific jobs, no matter where they are. In fact, an LMS can be the best option for global companies that are unable to deliver instructor-led training to employees in remote locations.
The software guarantees learning consistency and continuous employee development across multiple worksites and regions — overcoming knowledge and skill gaps and achieving better results.
On top of that, using LMS platforms reduces training costs and cut down on total time spent in training. LMS solutions also give flexibility, empowering instructors to conduct training via video, interactive content, games, text, and audio. The availability of diverse training resources can improve employee experience and prepare workers to advance their careers, resulting in increased performance and higher employee retention.