Shopping for an LMS? Put these 5 capabilities on your list
Learning Management Systems (LMS) have come a very, very long way in the last decade or so.
From their humble beginnings largely as repositories of uploaded documents (with a user experience that was enough to turn people off online learning for life), they’ve now evolved into immersive, intelligent tools for learning, communication and engagement that enhance student experiences.
With that evolution comes confusion. What should I really look for in an LMS? What do my students really need? Here are 5 basic things you need to think about when searching for a new LMS.
The cornerstone of your LMS will be the content is houses for students. Whether that’s as simple as a downloadable PDF course guide, or as rich as embedded video and interactive learning tools, the LMS’s content capabilities will need to be able to achieve what you want now and into the future.
Can the LMS work flexibly with text, images and video – including from external sources like YouTube? Is it intuitive for the learner – like automatically taking them back to where they last left off? Does it include tools – like content highlights, or note taking – that can assist students?
Student communication with teachers, trainers and peers is likely to happen through your LMS, rather than your Student Management System. That means providers need to assess the LMS’s communication capabilities, to ensure it will support ongoing learning and engagement needs.
Does it have a central hub that collects all the in-platform emails or comments students receive in one place? Can they post comments or have discussions about content items, and what live video and conferencing options are available, including Zoom, Google Hangouts and others?
Your LMS should give you more of an insight into your students. By collecting and analysing data students supply through using the system, you can address any barriers individuals or cohorts are facing, refine elements of your courses, provide targeted individualised support and more.
Can your LMS track how long a student is in the system and what they are doing? Can it identify where students have knowledge gaps – and even unlock new content for them that meets that need? Can it provide progress information to ensure cohorts are on track for assessment?
An LMS should make work easier for you – not harder. Through automation, providers can eliminate multiple points of data entry across different systems, which saves time and reduces the chance of erroneous data being entered into your system, affecting students and your compliance reporting.
Automation can also be leveraged for things like sending automated communications from your LMS and SMS at different stages of the learning journey, highlighting and reminding students of things and keeping on top of their progress at just the right milestone or contextualised point in time.
Your LMS should have the ability to integrate with other technologies in the future. Whether that’s your Student Management System’s foundational management and compliance capabilities, or a selection of other technologies, integration opens up flexibility for experimentation and adaptation.
Providers should ensure your new LMS has an API that allows this integration to take place. See what existing integrations are in place that might meet your needs, and assess how easy it might be to work with your LMS providers API to connect with other systems as you grow and change.