So you’re looking for an LMS?
An LMS is an extremely powerful piece of software that SMBs and large enterprises use to solve a variety of needs. From internal training to customer education, even monetizing eLearning courses!
LMS’s provide businesses with the ability to train their employees, clients, and partners, either synchronously (in real-time) through webinars and video teleconferencing software programs like Zoom, or asynchronously through on demand/self paced content like documents, videos, pdfs, quizzes, and more.
If you are looking for an efficient system to create, deliver, automate, and track user’s progress within a training course, look no further. LMSs are unbeatable when it comes to all things eLearning: improving training effectiveness (internal and external), reducing the cost of training, monetizing eLearning courses, improving cross-departmental communication, and more!
Now that we have covered the basics of what an LMS is, let’s talk about its essential features!
- Intuitive Interface for Admins and Learners
- Certificates of Completion
- Blended Learning
- Course Management
- Content Format Supportability
- Localization & Translations
- Learning Paths
- Reporting Tools
- Assessment and Engagement Tools
- Branding & White Labeling
- SCORM Compliance and Content Portability
- Instructor-Led Training
- Gamification & Social Learning
- User management
- B2B Onboarding & Grouping
- Single Sign on (SSO) Capabilities
Intuitive Interface for Admins and Learners
A great LMS should have little to no learning curve.
Nothing is more frustrating than going through an online course that seems like it was built on a platform from the 90’s.
The purpose of an LMS is to simplify and streamline eLearning for enterprises of all sizes. Additionally, every great LMS should have certain built-in features, like students automatically being able to begin where they left-off, on unfinished courses.
Another feature worth considering for your LMS, is a customizable learner interface. For example: our software allows admins to easily add resource pages like an FAQ or help section to a course, which helps improve users’ learning experience.
Every LMS worth consideration should have a good E-Commerce functionality. This feature enables businesses to use built-in stores or integrations with vendors like Shopify and WooCommerce to facilitate the buying and selling of courses. Businesses can use this feature for sales reporting and closely monitoring customer transactions.
E-Commerce also allows for:
- Ability to connect with payment gateways such as Stripe, PayPal, and Authorize.Net so customers can easily accept payments.
- Selling single and bundled courses so organizations can offer courses in different ways.
- Course Catalogs so enterprises can sell courses to external customers.
- Coupon Codes so businesses can offer discounts and take advantage of promotional marketing.
E-Commerce integrations also augment user experience by creating an intuitive browsing, product-previewing, and purchasing process.
You’re using a lot of software. From HubSpot to Google Analytics, if your customers and their data live outside of your LMS, shouldn’t you be able to integrate the two? We think so!
Integrations are the bridge between an LMS and external software applications.
A few common types of Integrations are:
- Web analytics like Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel, for monitoring data and measuring marketing success.
- CRM’s like HubSpot and Salesforce, for optimizing customer relationships and closing more sales.
- API and Developer Access, for giving developers the flexibility to build out anything they like with an LMS’s data.
Certificates of Completion
All LMSs should allow for users to receive a certificate after completing a course.
Most eLearning certificates include an issue and expiration date, the instructor’s name or name of the company who issued it, and the student’s name who earned the certificate. Additionally, you should choose an LMS that allows you to customize your certificates to match your brand, colors, and whatever you see fit to put your stamp on it.
Additionally, LMSs should always allow for direct access to certificates, so students can download their certificates online at any time after completing a course.
Everybody has their own unique learning style; a great LMS can combine real-time and self-paced learning for course users to have a seamless experience. Blended Learning is an approach to eLearning that involves teaching through a combination of self-paced and real-time content. One common way businesses use blended learning is by hosting instructor-led webinars, using Zoom or a similar platform, then using self-paced learning to teach users who enrolled in a paid course.
Here are some great examples of self-paced learning:
- Short worksheets
- Long documents
All features almost seem secondary to course management, admins know what we’re talking about!
A LMS should allow you to:
- Easily create courses.
- Use existing templates to make creating new courses simpler.
- Enroll users.
- Categorize courses.
- Monitor and track user’s progress.
- Bulk import (if applicable).
Another important factor when it comes to course management is Authoring.
The LMS company your organization decides to work with should allow for easy content creation within the platform, and give the option to use 3rd party Authoring tools like Adobe Captivate and Articulate Storyline 360 to create content externally.
Content Format Supportability
Just as every student learns differently, every teacher and course creator teaches differently. In order for an LMS to be considered effective, it should be able to support many formats within its modules such as: Text/HTML, PDF, Videos, PowerPoints and SCORM.
Localization & Translations
Localization is the process of translating course material into a different language. Since every enterprise’s priorities and business model are different, it’s important to consider the relevance of this feature internally. Does your enterprise require an LMS that can easily translate its course material from English to another language, or are all your customers going to be training and taking courses in one language?
Academy of Mine clients’ can easily change the language of their course materials from English to Spanish, or French, instantly with the click of a button.
Always choose a LMS that promises to never share data from user to user, and hosts their platform following the correct security protocol.
Additionally, an LMS should have:
- Secure and complex password requirements.
- 2-Step verification for logins and authentications.
- Ability to notify customers immediately if any security incidents occur.
- Limited access to customer data, when and as needed.
- GDPR compliance.
Learning Paths allow admins to bundle together multiple courses to be taken in a specific order. Organizations with a large course catalog find this feature specifically useful for combing courses on the same subject, to make up a larger program (learning path) for users to progress through.
Learning paths are a powerful organizational tool for course admins, and they help users/learners monitor their progress within an eLearning course.
LMS reporting tools let admins perform reportative actions like monitor user course progress, track which employees are certified for a specific training, analyze a student’s exam results, measure course completion rates, and more!
Choosing an LMS with accurate built-in reporting tools, helps admins monitor their student’s engagement levels and progress in a course. Reporting tools are also the backbone to measuring average success metrics within a course classroom, and they help admins maximize training efficiency for current and future courses, so that customers, both internal and external, get the most value out of their training!
Assessment and Engagement Tools
Learning for the sake of learning without being able to evaluate your progress in a course is counterproductive.
Assessment tools like quizzes, exams, and surveys are important because they set the standard for what is required in a course, and let users know if they’re on track for a certificate of completion or not.
An LMS should offer:
- Quizzes and exams to test students knowledge and provide them with feedback on eLearning efforts
- Pass/Fail capabilities – these are especially important for certification courses, where passing an exam is required to get a certificate of completion.
- Surveys to provide admins with useful insight into a student’s learning experience.
- Engagement tools like discussion boards to promote communication and collaboration between course users.
Branding & White Labeling
Branding is everything in business, it is the reason why some people choose to eat at Applebee’s rather than Chili’s or TGI Friday’s. A company’s branding highly influences the average consumer’s decision-making process.
A great LMS should allow organizations to brand courses and student dashboards using:
- Brand colors
- Brand texts and messaging
- Customizable email address for user notifications
The customizable email address is critical for organizations interested in fully customizing the email address associated with their users’ course notifications.
SCORM Compliance and Content Portability
What is SCORM?
“SCORM, which stands for Shareable Content Object Reference Model, is a set of technical standards for eLearning software products. SCORM tells programmers how to write their code so that it can “play well” with other eLearning software. It is the de facto industry standard for eLearning interoperability.” SCORM.com
Formats such as SCORM allow for content to be created one time and then used across multiple LMS’s without alteration. Every LMS should be SCORM compliant so content can easily be imported from, or exported to another platform, for content portability. Also, in case an organization has to change LMS providers last minute, SCORM prevents them from having to waste time and money recreating course content from scratch.
SCORM also provides detailed tracking of student activities.
Online learning can be difficult for users who learn with a more hands-on and personal approach. Thankfully, Instructor-Led Training (ILT), a practice that involves an instructor being present during training, helps combat this. ILT is a form of synchronous training, and it is most commonly implemented through webinars and video teleconferencing software programs like Zoom, GoToWebinar, and Microsoft Teams.
In the context of an LMS, ILT can greatly assist learners by allowing them to work directly with instructors during a class session and have their questions answered immediately.
In addition to webinars, here are some common forms of ILT:
- 1 on 1 video sessions
- Online seminars
- Learning workshops
- Small group classes
Utilizing Instructor-Led Training in your LMS is a great way to increase the amount of engagement your course receives, by augmenting the average user’s learning experience.
Gamification & Social Learning
When training courses have game principles involved like a points system, user engagement usually increases because the course becomes more enjoyable to progress through.
Gamification is the art of turning something that is commonly not very desirable (training/eLearning) and making it fun like a game. Along with making a course more fun for users, gamification increases user engagement and learning performance – benefitting organizations, both internally and externally.
Here are a few ways a course can be gamified:
- Social learning
Unless your organization is okay with users enrolled in a course having the same access as admins; user management Is essential.
When considering an LMS, make sure it allows admins to easily onboard users into a course, assign them roles, and bulk import (if necessary). User management goes hand in hand with offering training courses, and regardless of their purposes and type. For example, internal training vs. external, free vs. paid, etc.
B2B Onboarding & Grouping
Finding the right LMS can be overwhelming because there are a lot of features to consider, and grouping should absolutely be one of them.
Grouping allows course admins to bundle registered users’ accounts within an LMS into custom groups.
For example, a large nutritionist company is using an LMS to train its employees.
- The company has one location with 50 employees and 2 main departments; sales and nutrition.
- They are requiring both departments to take a course, but they want to offer each department a different set of courses, so the salespeople aren’t getting trained on nutrition diagnosing, and the nutritionists aren’t learning how to cold call and close sales, etc.
Using the Grouping feature, they could easily separate the two department’s training courses.
Another way that Grouping is commonly used in an LMS is to handle external training and keeping courses developed for third parties separate from internal training courses and programs. This way, your external customers don’t have access to your internal training programs, and vice versa!
Single Sign-On (SSO) Capabilities
Organizations using an LMS may already have existing users enrolled in training courses. Single Sign-On (SSO) prevents existing users from having to re-create their user accounts when migrating to a different LMS. SSO allows learners to use the same authentication in an LMS that they already use for logging into other systems in their organization. This makes it very simple to onboard existing users.
Additionally, an LMS should always allow for standard authentication protocols such as OAuth2 and SAML for integrating SSO.
Choose an LMS that works for you
Choosing the right LMS provider for your company can be a time consuming process, but these 19 features are easy-to-follow and can make that process simpler! At the end of the day, plan accordingly and patiently work with your team to figure out what is required. Remember, the number one priority should be to choose an LMS with all the features your company needs to create, deliver, automate, and track your training courses and programs.