What type of Learning Management System is the best for your company? (Part 2)

The greatly anticipated second part of this blog series is here!  Written by our guest blogger, Ant Pugh.

So, in Part 1 of this blog I talked about breaking down my learning management system (LMS) requirements into 3 categories:

  •  a) essential
  •  b) nice to have
  •  c) cool but unnecessary

What I want to do now, is start to create a feature checklist, and break these items into the above categories.

Once we have created this list, we can go shopping!

And one thing I would definitely recommend at this point – is to ask for the world. There are hundreds of potential features, some of them are currently available, and some are not. But most credible LMS providers are keen to hear your suggestions for features that you would like to see, so if it’s not something that is currently supported, it is something that the LMS provider will surely add to their feature request list, and before long you may see that feature introduced.

It may sway your decision on choosing an LMS; if you can see that a particular feature or two is likely to be implemented in the near future.

So.. on to the list! Giddy with excitement I imagine…

Now what you see below is my required list of requirements, for the last LMS that I implemented – but it may be that your list differs greatly from this. Or your list may be similar but your breakdown will be different. You need to think about the requirements of yourself (I’m assuming you will be the LMS administrator) and also of your learners.

But look at this as my shopping list and see if there are any similarities between this list and your own list. And I am going to choose my essential feature suggestions last, let’s get the other features that we aren’t concerned about out of the way first (if not for any reason other than hopefully you will come back to read the final part of my blog!)

Cool but unnecessary:

  • E-commerce – this was not a requirement that I needed, but selling your courses online can be a great way to subsidize the cost you invest in creating content.
  • Rapid-authoring – many LMS’ come with some form of rapid authoring tool. While this is a cool feature and reduces the likelihood of any compatibility issues, personally I am a big fan of Articulate Storyline, and believe that the extra effort of importing courses into my LMS is well worth it to have the most powerful rapid authoring tool.
  • Built-in assessment tools – again, another ‘nice’ feature but seeing as I do all my authoring in Storyline, which has phenomenal features for building assessments, adding quizzing functionality into the LMS can just be confusing.
  • Hosting options – is my LMS going to be hosted onsite? Or do I want this to be a fully hosted solution? In my case, I was keen to have a fully hosted solution, but this wasn’t something that I needed too much flexibility with, a standard hosting option was suitable for me.

Nice to have:

  • Search functionality – searching courses and resources with a simple search feature is a valuable tool for learners to locate relevant content, but if the LMS is well structured, it should be easy to locate content. So let’s plonk this in the ‘Nice to have’ category.
  • Mobile learning – it’s certainly the future, but how close are we to a workable solution that fits all of the different mobile platforms?There are many LMS suppliers claiming to have mobile solutions, however I am still skeptical as to how complete these solutions are(I am planning to write a blog on Tin Can soon which will cover this!) But hang on a minute. We are now complementing our classroom-based learning with computer-based learning, isn’t that enough for now? From my point of view, mobile learning is something I would like to introduce in the future, but I do not have the resources to think about this yet. And therefore, as long as my LMS provider has this feature in their product roadmap, I happy to leave this in the ‘Nice to have’ category.
  • Languages – we have learners from all over the world, and ideally our content could be changed to another language with the flick of a switch. But having a multi-lingual LMS is all fine and dandy, but if the content isn’t multi-lingual, the learners will not be able to undertake the most important part – the learning! So until I have the ability to design content in several languages, having a multi-lingual LMS isn’t too important.
  • Game based learning features – I have recently been studying gamification closely and believe there are many benefits to incorporating gaming features into learners, things like leaderboards, credits, badges etc. A vast subject that I don’t have time to get into here, but something that would be a fantastic addition to any LMS.

Please make sure you come back to see the final blog in this series,where I will share with you the Essential list of requirements that I needed when I was searching for our LMS!