Our guest blogger, Ant Pugh, is back! This time he shares, in a multi-part series, his experiences in finding a LMS that fits his needs and how to make this difficult decision for yourself.
Now let's get something clear straight away - I'm no expert. My primary focus has always been training and more recently, instructional design. The administration of learning was always something that I only really undertook to allow me to focus on learning and development. If I'd had the budget for an assistant, that would have been the first task I would have passed on! My journey into training administration began with creating personalized diaries, that would allow me to quickly record the names and telephone numbers of students attending my training sessions, followed by compiling spreadsheets full of data that I would use to analyse the demographic of my attendees.
So now I'm heavily integrated into the world of eLearning, becoming an expert on LMSs was the next logical progression - I'm sure many of you are in exactly the same boat?!
So I ask the 'What type of Learning Management System is the best for for your company?' question from the position of someone who has spent most of the past 18 months researching different systems and as someone who stumbled into the position of deciding upon which system its best for our business' learners!! I have been meeting suppliers, attending online demonstrations, talking to other users, visiting conferences and testing the latest systems… a pretty exciting year, one in which I have learnt a lot. I have seen a massive variety of LMSs, ranging from the old-skool, hand-built from the ground up systems - through to the super-social, cloud-based systems, all with a massive variety of different features, functionality, user interfaces, pricing models, hosting options etc.
I work for a large business, who used to have a Learning Management System (LMS), but I think it died long before I joined the company - so this was a new opportunity to implement a system that could reach out to our global network of customers and complement our classroom based training with super-engaging functionality. And last week saw our learners begin using our new system, although admittedly it is far too early to tell which features are going to be the most valuable!.. But we'll come back to that later - I thought it would be useful for me to share my journey so that if you find yourself in the same position as me, you can use my experience to draw upon.
So let's start at the beginning. I think my journey into the world of LMSs would have been a lot smoother had I known what I was looking for, but until I had built up some experience through the means mentioned above, I was going into this relatively blindly. (Aha - a good time to mention that it's worth keeping your eyes peeled for any LMS that offer a free trial - Litmos 14-day trial).
But after a few weeks of research, I started to visualize what it was that we were looking for. At this point I found it really useful to build a wish list of features, a shopping list if you like. I grouped these features into 3 categories:
- a) essential
- b) nice to have
- c) cool but unnecessary
And with this list, I went for broke. I would worry about the cost and whether features existed later. What exactly did I want my LMS to do? After all, nothing to-do with technology really surprises me anymore, so if I could create my dream system - how would it look?
In Part 2 of this blog, I will go through my wish list, please come back to read more!