For organizations considering implementing a learning management system (LMS) for training and continued education of employees, it’s imperative that the LMS be user friendly and include the features needed for a comprehensive learning experience, yet be flexible and customizable enough to meet your company’s specific needs.
Whether it’s improving usability and performance, exploring new feature requests, or adding new integrations, LMS platforms that are industry leaders are always advancing and striving to be on the cutting edge.
Indispensable LMS Features
Leading learning management systems offer progressive and dynamic features to meet your company’s needs. Some of the features that are must-haves for an LMS include the ability to:
- assign different roles to different users
- leverage rich catalogs of third-party training courses
- repurpose existing content like Powerpoint slideshows for elearning delivery, or
- create new content with robust authoring tools
- customize the learner’s experience by tailoring the visual interface, exposing only
- the features that you really need, and integrating the LMS with other web
- manage and track live, instructor-led courses as well as online courses
- track and report on learning outcomes in many powerful ways
One important aspect of a Top LMS platform is the ability to support many different user “roles” which define the features that are available to users in those roles. In addition to the “student” role that all learners use, organizations should have the ability to establish “administrators” to manage student activities, “groups” to organize users by department or job type, and “instructors” to perform teaching tasks like evaluating student performance on assignments and giving grades.
The LMS features that users in each role encounter when they log in should be easily tailorable to minimize distraction and expose only those features that are relevant to the organization’s learning objectives. More about that in a moment.
Existing Content and Course Authoring
Whether your organization wants to use existing courses, create new custom content, leverage courses procured from third-party content partners, or provide employees with a mix, an effective LMS can meet all of your content needs.
Standards-based Courses: An LMS should support leading e-learning standards like SCORM and AICC. This gives you the flexibility to take advantage of repositories of courses from many third-party content partners. If your training goals include standard topics like HR compliance, for example, Avilar’s always up-to-date catalog of 800+ courses in over 100 subject areas means you never have to reinvent the wheel.
Custom Content: When you do need to create content of your own, your LMS should have the capability to easily repurpose in-house training materials in a variety of formats (Powerpoint slideshows, PDF files, videos, and more). The best LMS’s will offer free course authoring tools, and work with vendors like Adobe, Mindspring, Trivantis, and more, to support courses created with their powerful authoring products.
Having the ability to customize content with a free authoring tool is not only budget-friendly but also makes it possible for organizations to deliver tailored content that is made to meet your company’s needs. With custom courses and other learning content, students can meet learning objectives faster and easier than if they are working through generic courses with information that doesn’t apply to their specific needs.
No two organizations are alike. Your Learning Management System should be flexible enough to fit your requirements, identity, and culture.
Visual Customizations: Effective LMS solutions are able to tailor the visual interface to reflect your company’s branding and identity. For some companies, it’s also essential to go much further than just displaying your company logo. Top LMS platforms offer the ability to tailor the dashboards and screens, create custom course templates, wrap your branding around course content, create custom completion certificates, and more.
Functionality: In addition to visual adjustments, there is also a need for functionality customizations. Features that users in each role encounter when they log in should be easily tailorable to minimize distraction and expose only those features that are relevant to the organization’s learning objectives. Your LMS should also offer the ability to hide menu elements, screens and tabs, buttons and links, all with the click of your mouse. And when the need arises, you should have the ability to re-enable a hidden feature to give users access to new functionality.
Without the ability to customize the look, feel, and functionalities, there can be friction or a poor user experience when a student is navigating through an LMS. Having the ability to customize both visuals and functionalities with your company’s needs in mind, you can ensure that students and administrators alike are able to work toward learning goals as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
Every organization uses many applications to get work done. When disparate applications communicate with each other to share data, the work becomes more streamlined and effective.
Effective LMS solutions provide a web services application programming interface (API) that other web applications can use to communicate with. Why is this useful? Here is one typical example.
A new employee is hired. The human resources or accounting (payroll) system makes a web services API call to the LMS to create the new employee’s learner account and register the new employee in the “New Hire” training curriculum. The employee receives an email message with instructions on how to complete the training online. Once training is finished, the employee’s manager receives an email about the outcome and the completion status is recorded in the employee’s HR records. It all happens automatically and without human intervention. LMS integration with other applications can be part of a powerful infrastructure for human capital management within an organization.
Without the ability to integrate an LMS, much of the needed data crossover between systems and applications would have to be done manually, costing your organization extra time and money. Choosing an LMS that has the ability to integrate with other systems is ideal and helps keep your company’s HR efforts lean and organized.
Online learning is not the only way to train people effectively. Sometimes, it’s not even the right way. Live instructor-led training (ILT) may be the best way to achieve the desired learning outcomes for some topics.
Effective LMS platforms give you the ability to manage and track live events with all of the same powerful features as online courses, plus added features designed specifically for this type of training.
It’s important that an LMS has the ability to register learners into ILT courses, track their attendance, deliver downloadable handouts and assignments, record grades given by instructors, and award completion certificates. With ILT features, Instructors and students can engage each other through email and threaded discussions that are constrained to a specific course. Additionally, instructors should be able to design and deliver online tests to gauge students’ understanding of course concepts, using questions that include not only the typical true-false and multiple-choice formats, but more elaborate formats like matching and sorting, select-all-that-apply, fill-in-the-blank, and essay.
With the option of ILT as part of their learning management system, users can benefit from multiple types of learning depending on the course content and user needs.
Tracking + Reporting
Another important feature that leading LMS platforms offer is the ability to track and report learning outcomes. Tracking student progress is important for learning success. It gives managers feedback about how effective courses are, reveals areas where students need the most help, and shows whether further training is needed for students to fully know the material. It also helps managers understand where skills gaps exist and helps them make informed decisions about their workforce.
In addition to having the ability to track student progress through online courses, students should also be able to record credits that they earn by completing offline training outside of the LMS.
Having the ability to track and manage student progress gives managers complete control of the ongoing learning process and gives staff the best opportunity for success.
WebMentor LMS–Affordable, yet Flexible and Powerful
Avilar’s WebMentor LMS™ offers the essential features companies need to implement a successful learning management program. With custom roles, tailored visuals and functionalities, integrations, live events and more, we’re always working to enhance our LMS features.
We strive to provide a product that is cost-effective, but also customizable and distinctly powerful – enterprise features on a small business budget. Our LMS is flexible and user friendly, yet includes features that are robust enough to meet all of our clients’ needs.