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What type of Learning Management System is the best for your company? (Part 3)

The third and final post in this blog series by our enthused guest blogger, Ant Pugh, explaining his experiences in finding an LMS for his company.  For the full story and details, read Part 1 and Part 2


So, in the previous parts of this blog series, I looked at LMS features that were ‘cool but unnecessary’ and also ‘nice to have’.

And now we’re ready to take a look at the most important list – the list of items I deemed essential! This list is longer than the previous lists, so I may be coming across as greedy!

But if you don’t ask you don’t get right??

I’d like to take this opportunity to remind you that this is a list that I created based on the requirements of my learners and myself as the LMS administrator – your requirements are likely to be different, but this list should help act as a menu from which you can choose from!

So… in no particular order…

Essential:

  • Classroom-based training management – within my company, we run a lot of classroom based training, and therefore I really wanted a system that could integrate this training with our online learning offering.
  • Social learning – a huge topic, and understandably a buzzword in the world of elearning at the moment, but what does that mean for me? Well I’m thinking of the ability to communicate with other learners, who are currently participating on the same modules, through the use of social media, such as discussion forums. I believe this functionality is really powerful and is going to be a major factor in learning in the future. If you haven’t heard about TinCan yet, then please Google it to see what I mean…
  • Batch registration – My learner base is going to be in the thousands, so I don’t want to be adding hundreds of individual details, when I can import a batch of learners who all have a similar set of credentials (except for maybe their usernames,contact details etc.)
  • Certification – it is important that my LMS can manage assessment scores from questions taken within each course.  And once those assessments have been completed, it was essential that we could provide certification directly to the learner once successfully completed. How will this look in your LMS? A physical certificate that the learner can print?
  • Email notifications – how will learners be informed about new courses that their manager wants them to undertake? How will you communicate exam results with your learners? Will these be automated?
  • Branding/skinning – how is the LMS going to look? Will it need to have the look and feel of your company or client? Or is a standard off the shelf LMS acceptable? You can save a lot of money by using a standard template rather than developing your own skins
  • Customer support – while all LMS providers will offer a certain level of customer support, it is really important to question this i.e. what levels of support are offered? are the customer support teams able to speak in plain English (I am an Instructional Designer, NOT a computer programmer!) I would recommend testing these questions out with a few phone calls, and if you can speak to other customers who are using that LMS, you can find out there too (LinkedIn often has groups relating to an individual LMS).

And finally…

  • Reporting – aha, reporting. I saved this bad boy till the end fora reason… A topic that is extremely close to my heart, and something that I was adamant that it needed to be studied before deciding on an LMS.

I have always thought of myself as an educator with a relatively commercial brain, and therefore, I nearly always insist that any training I create, will require some form of data to prove that it has been successful, and I can therefore prove that what I have implemented has a return on investment.

I could go into a huge amount of detail into what reporting functionality I would like to see in an LMS (in fact that has given me an idea for another blog! Follow me on Twitter and I’ll let you know when I post a blog on this topic!).

However, for the sake of this post, we’ll keep this on the back burner for now. But please ask yourself, what information will you require in 6 months’ time to prove that your LMS is successful?

  • Number of users registered?
  • Number of times your learner has logged in?
  • Number of courses enrolled on?
  • Number of modules completed?
  • Average result on each assessment?

And how will you present this information?  Thinking ahead about your reporting requirements is vital.

Conclusion

So in a nutshell, those are my requirements for an LMS. I hope you found that useful, however please don’t just copy this – ask yourself what it is that you need? Are there any of my list that you disagree with? Have I missed anything?

Looking forward to hearing from you all…

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