Learning Management System
What Is An LMS? Learning Management Systems Explained!
The eLearning industry is expected to reach over 450 billion in revenue by 2026. As the demand for eLearning continues to skyrocket, so does the importance of having an LMS.
A Learning Management system is a powerful tool used to create and manage eLearning. Using an LMS, businesses can solve a variety of needs, all the way from training new employees to selling eLearning courses, or training partners and customers.
Using an LMS, eLearning content can be delivered on-demand or in real-time. On-demand, otherwise known as self-paced learning, consists of learning through the use of PDFs, videos, tests, and other content that can be accessed by users on-demand (without the need for live instructors). On the other hand, instructor-led training (ILT) happens in real-time and involves instructors being present during the training. ILT sessions are often hosted using webinar apps like Zoom.
LMSs are used in a wide variety of industries and organizations, and there are many different types; each with a different everyday use case and set of pros vs. cons. Now that you understand the basics, let’s dig deeper and learn exactly what an LMS is and how and why it is the best solution for training and teaching an audience online.
Why Your Organization Needs An LMS
LMSs are software applications designed to streamline eLearning by utilizing data analytics, third-party integrations, and automation to provide your audience with a seamless training experience. LMSs are able to bridge the gap between different external solutions and training programs you offer so that you can deliver and manage all eLearning under one roof.
Here are 5 reasons your organization needs an LMS:
Increase Training Effectiveness
Increase the effectiveness by managing and reporting on user progress without leaving the LMS. If you’re using a cloud-based platform then you can even update content in courses as you go, so training stays relevant for a long time. Meanwhile, you’re cutting costs because your training system is less dependent on in-person instruction. Thanks to automation and integrations, platform users don’t have to waste time juggling back and forth between multiple software applications.
Streamline Bulk Training
LMSs allow you to import users in bulk, and simultaneously assign them all to white-labeled training portals. In other words, you can quickly onboard different organizations you’re training, while keeping different customers’ training environments and programs completely separate – allowing you to streamline and scale your training.
Reduce The Cost of Training
There are certain unavoidable expenses associated with in-person training like paying for onsite instructors, printed training materials, company subsidized travel expenses, and larger organizations sometimes need to rent space for events. LMSs allow your organization to train audiences with online courses built from both on-demand content that learners can access by themselves, and real-time training sessions which usually happen over a webinar/live-video conference.
Remember, using an LMS won’t prevent you from ever training in person again, it will just ensure that you’re only doing it when it’s necessary.
Combine Fragmented Systems
One of the best parts about delivering eLearning with an LMS is you can integrate all your different software applications like HubSpot, Google Analytics, and Zoom into the platform to communicate with each other. Meaning, that your site admins and users don’t have to log in to third-party sites to use the managing and reporting tools they’re used to! A more specific example of how your business would benefit from your training with an LMS is being able to schedule, host, and deliver webinars seamlessly within your LMS.
Monetize Training Courses
Sell eLearning and training programs to customers online using an LMS. Some LMSs like Academy Of Mine even allow you to build a marketing site to sell your courses publically without having to create a separate eCommerce website. Using portals, you can even separate your customers’ training into different groups based on which courses they’re taking, or however make sense to your business model.
The alternative is creating and delivering training on a separate platform than the one you’re using to sell courses online; this can be inefficient.
What Can An LMS Be Used For?
LMSs are used by organizations of all sizes and industries, to streamline L&D programs. Now that you understand the basics of how this software application can benefit your business, let’s talk about the different types of industries and training types it can specifically be used for.
An LMS lets you, bulk onboard users into separate groups in your platform, and then assign each group with an admin so that your customers can manage their customers. Customer groups, otherwise known as client portals, let customers brand their training environment with logos, colors, and more to reflect a company.
Training portals also give LMS admins (you) the ability to train multiple businesses simultaneously on one platform — allowing you to scale your B2B training.
Customers’ portals are kept separate from each other and only accessible by those who are given permission so that one company doesn’t have access to another’s portal.
All successful companies have this in common: well-trained employees. Whether we’re talking about car dealerships or a health insurance company – keeping your employees well-trained and compliant with all your industry’s rules and regulations is critical to your success.
Using an LMS to deliver compliance training or teach employees new skills is simple and measurable. Deliver training programs to all your employees simultaneously, using one system, and track results live.
Selling eLearning courses
Any good LMS allows you to integrate with an eCommerce website of your own to monetize eLearning and sell courses to customers. Using a platform like Academy Of Mine, you can even build beautiful landing pages to sell courses without leaving the platform.
If you’re searching for an LMS that allows you to build an eCommerce store within the platform, look for one that integrates with established payment gateways like Stripe and Braintree by PayPal!
Without an LMS your customers will struggle with juggling back and forth between multiple platforms during eLearning. Learning Management Systems are designed to combat this and simplify remote learning and training.
Another great way that LMSs support remote training is through the use of integrations, which are used to connect your platform to third-party solutions and tools. For example, let’s say you are training an internal sales team and wanted the team to be able to track their conversion rates and in-depth sales data without leaving the LMS; integrate with a CRM like Hubspot.
With a Learning Management System, you can also host webinars, deliver self-paced learning, and manage and track user progress from customers easily.
Enable Sales Teams
Salespeople need to train daily to be effective while prospecting and closing deals!
As companies grow, products and services change, and best practices evolve quickly. Use an LMS to host live training using Zoom and Microsoft Teams, or other video-conferencing platforms. If your company is implementing a new long-term training initiative, create and deliver it in the form of a self-paced course that your sales teams can access on-demand.
Customer, Partner, And Member Training
Training internally with an LMS is very common, however, they’re also the perfect tool for training an external audience like your customers, partners, and members.
Onboard customers to your products, train members and partners on how to use their new products, or teach helpful ‘soft skills’ to your audience; the potential with how you train external customers using an LMS is endless.
Make your onboarding process more convenient for team members and new hires using an LMS – think of the platform as a resource center for new hires to familiarize themselves with your company’s conduct code, values, and policies. An LMS can also be used to explain responsibilities, benefits, and incentives plans or career growth opportunities to your team members.
Employee Development & Knowledge retention
If you want to hit your sales quotas and keep your internal teams happy, making sure your employees are informed of the latest news and practices in your company is important.
Whether you’re training employees on new product updates or helping them acquire new skills with leadership development; the process can be automated using a Learning Management System (LMS).
Long before the remote environment was considered “normal”, students in high school and college have been using platforms like Blackboard and Canvas to manage and maximize their education. Using an LMS, you can deliver educational content to students, interact with them individually or in a group setting, and track their progress in a classroom and success in a program.
Equally important, LMSs automate grading thanks to their built-in analytics, API, and integrations – so that grading tests and other assignments are efficient for teachers.
Compliance and Safety training
The different types of compliance training are endless: HR Law, Diversity Training, Workplace Safety (OSHA), Anti-Harassment Training, and much more.
When your company is requiring all of its employees or an audience to take compliance training, it’s best to offer it in a way that’s convenient for the customer! Compliance and safety training can be given and managed with ease using an LMS – your audience can complete tests and receive certificates on the same platform.
What Are The Different Types Of LMS?
Just like an Apple computer vs. a Windows computer, each LMS offers a similar solution but is built differently. Some providers offer an LMS that is designed more for academia and higher education, whereas others work better for compliance and safety training.
Since you already know what an LMS is, and how it can be used, let’s take a deeper look at the different types available. So, when you’re researching LMSs, you can find a provider that works best for your company.
LMS Based On Distribution model #1
A cloud-based LMS is a software application based on the web and is usually made available to you by a third-party vendor. Typically, vendors who offer this software maintain the systems as a feature of you paying for the platform.
One benefit to going cloud-based is that your customers (those being trained in the platform) can access the system without having to download software or install hardware. Additionally, platform administrators and instructors can report on students, and manage courses and classrooms, fully on the cloud.
Cloud-based LMSs are popular because most of the time they’re maintained by the 3rd party vendor, so you don’t need to have an internal IT maintenance team. Also, if you’re outsourcing a cloud-based platform then the infrastructure is already built, and you can just focus on uploading content and bulk enrolling your audience.
A Self-Hosted LMS is a web application that you install on your computer, host, and maintain on your own server. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to build the platform yourself – companies like Moodle sell an open-source platform.
When you self-host, you have control of all data and full access to the LMS’s backend, but since you’re responsible for maintenance you need to have an experienced IT team.
For smaller organizations without dev teams, self-hosting a platform will usually take more time and cost more money than outsourcing to a cloud-based solution; there’s also no guarantee your platform will even work if you’re building it from scratch.
Based on Distribution model #2
Service as a software (SaaS) is a common business model that LMS providers like Academy Of Mine follow to sell a cloud-based LMS to customers. A SaaS LMS provider could sell open-source software, but the focal point of SaaS is you’re purchasing the software from a company, instead of building it yourself.
We can’t truly speak for other providers, but partnering with a SaaS LMS company like ours means that any bugs, larger customizations, and or regular platform maintenance is taken care of for you!
Other benefits to using a SaaS LMS:
- Established software that’s been heavily tested and optimized.
- Don’t have to install anything on your hard drive or computer.
- Maintenance and technical support handled.
- Data privacy issues are handled by professionals with a proven track record.
- Much less room for error and platform failure than self-hosted LMS!
Open-source LMSs are installed on your computer, whether they’ve been purchased from a 3rd-party or built internally. We recommend only considering this type of LMS if you have a dedicated IT team who can install, customize, and maintain the platform as needed.
Canvas, Moodle, and Schoology are all great examples of open-source systems, and these LMSs are very popular among universities and institutions. However, we don’t recommend this type of learning solution to SMBs because of how costly it can be to operate successfully.
Open-source LMSs can be hosted externally so you don’t have to own a server and host it yourself, but be careful – one of our clients Teacher CEU Toolbox was previously using an open-source LMS and then outsourcing the hosting and server maintenance – they were spending a lot of money.
Based On Training Type Or Industry
There are hundreds of LMS providers on the market, but they’re not all created equal. Every platform has its strengths and weaknesses – some are better than others when it comes to academia and supporting higher education.
Earlier, we mentioned Canvas and Moodle; these are education LMSs, and there are many more, these two are just extremely popular examples.
Most education Learning Management Systems will have a core set of features like SCORM compatibility and the support of on-demand learning and virtual live training. Third-party Integrations however may not be as supported in an education LMS as they would be in a corporate. The reason is, that third-party software tools aren’t necessary for teaching most university classes.
It’s worth mentioning that most school curriculum is created and scheduled in advance, so updating and making adjustments to courses after they’re ‘live’ might not be easy.
Do these platforms have many of the same features as an LMS designed for extended enterprise training and corporate L&D? Sure, but most of them are not optimized for SMBs and enterprises operating at a profit; they’re designed for schools, universities, and other educational institutions.
Corporate LMSs are built for businesses that train customers, partners, and employees.
These types of systems are perfect for:
- Compliance training
- Extended Enterprise Training
- Real Estate training
- HR and onboarding
- Training Insurance agents
- Healthcare training
- Safety training
- Selling courses B2C
- Continuing Education and more!
Corporate LMSs are almost always white-labeled and allow you to create white-labeled training portals for your customers. Additionally, businesses usually have larger budgets than schools, and more flexibility when it comes to spending; this is reflected in the price of the LMS.
Systems designed to manage corporate learning programs also support eCommerce – because many businesses will sell their training courses and programs to others.
Before deciding which type of LMS is right for you, work with your team to define what is absolutely required of the platform, and what learning solution your company is seeking from an LMS; learning management systems are not one size fits all!
Who Can Benefit From An LMS?
Is your company training internally, externally, or both? This is important, but what’s even more critical to know is how you’re using the LMS, and what industry/sector you are training in. This is important because depending on what you’re using the platform for, some LMSs may be better than others!
Healthcare professionals have to take continuing medical education courses (CME) on a regular basis throughout their careers. CME helps people in the medical field maintain their abilities and learn new and evolving areas of their specialty. Delivering this type of training using an LMS is smart because it allows medical staff to learn new things and maintain competence by taking self-paced courses at home and virtually training using webinars.
Using the combination of self-paced learning and live online learning to give your staff Continuing Education, training becomes much more cost-effective than traditional methods.
LMSs are the perfect solution for simplifying real estate CE training and renewing real estate licenses. Alternatively, they’re also helpful if your business trains other RE organizations and partners!
Every state has different compliance requirements and regulations for realtors and real estate professionals; having a powerful software tool to keep track of all the data from training is essential. LMSs can easily integrate with third-party tools so that all your favorite business tools work together to deliver training flawlessly.
Insurance is a $1.28 trillion industry. Using white-labeled client portals in your LMS, offer different types of insurance training to customers, using one platform. Additionally, client portals are isolated and customizable training environments that are only accessible by members of a company who have access – so clients can manage their own agents and customer’s training without being interrupted.
Train insurance reps and third-party agencies in bulk worldwide, using a Learning Management System. Thanks to integrations, these platforms also help your company offer courses made up of both on-demand learning and live training sessions smoothly. Meaning, your insurance company can host webinars and deliver training similar to in-person seminars at a much lower cost, and have all data stored in a singular system.
In order to adhere to different compliance regulations while training using online courses, you need a flexible platform to deliver them. An LMS is highly customizable and can integrate with different tools your business needs.
So, whether it’s sexual harassment or another critical type of compliance training like diversity training being implemented in your business; use an LMS to carry out the process professionally. Learning management systems also automate a lot of reporting, so your company and/or customers can efficiently keep track of who’s certified and compliant.
Maintaining proper safety training is a great strategy for preventing serious physical accidents and fatalities on the job in industries such as construction, automotive, fire safety, and many more.
Private and public safety training institutes can use an LMS to offer safety training courses to companies, employees, and partners. Further, using a platform that supports eCommerce, you can sell courses and course bundles individually, or offer subscriptions to audiences that require continuing education and training.
Continually refreshing skills and learning new tactics are more important in sales than in any other industry because businesses need to generate revenue to grow! For salespeople to maintain high close rates and stay on top of their leads, they need a system in place to train on the go effectively. The solution is an LMS – using this tool, salespeople can maintain their core sales competencies using a smartphone or computer outside of the office.
Becoming a great salesperson requires time and practice, but the concepts and knowledge necessary for selling a product are simple. Deliver sales training using on-demand courses that teams, customers, and partners can access remotely with their smart device or computer 24/7. Even better, host live sales training using apps like Zoom, GoToWebinar, and other popular web-conferencing apps, as needed!
HR and Internal Training
HR is essential whether we’re talking about an internal department or a Human Resources company that trains other companies’ employees. Properly trained employees are more profitable than untrained or incompetent ones.
Some enterprises hire over 100 interns at a time – use an LMS to avoid having to manually onboard. Quickly enroll employees in bulk into programs containing onboarding info, administrative paperwork, and any other necessary training curriculum.
Restrict new employees or long-term ones in training from skipping ahead and accessing future course material until priorities/earlier activities are completed. Using course restrictions you can maximize learning retention and completion rates in your training and onboarding initiatives.
Many established companies like HubSpot or Salesforce wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the software as a service (SaaS) business model. There is a high demand for cutting-edge computer software and mobile apps, and this trend is only increasing daily.
So how do you use an LMS to improve your IT business?
Here’s one example: IT companies can use an LMS to train potential customers on how to use their software before even making a purchase. Many companies do this by offering a trial version of their software for x amount of days, and they include free automated support so that customers can get familiar with a product before committing. Some companies may also find it useful to offer courses to current customers, teaching them how to use their software in more advanced ways.
Our client RLDATIX uses AOM as a supplementary educational tool to teach healthcare organizations how to provide the best care to their patients.
Extended Enterprise Training
Extended enterprise training is the act of your company training other companies. There are a few features in specific that make an LMS particularly useful for this type of B2B training:
One of them is customer portals, which allows you to onboard companies and enroll users at scale. Using customer portals, you can train various companies in different industries, all while keeping customers and all training curriculum completely separate.
If your LMS is White-labeled, customers can brand and personalize their training portal. Lastly, by utilizing built-in reporting tools in an LMS, or integrating with your favorite third-party plugin your business can automate and streamline the majority of employee/customer/user reporting.
Essential Features Of An LMS
LMSs can solve a variety of needs: internal training, customer education, partner sales enablement, selling eLearning courses, and more! Keep in mind that your LMS is only going to be as effective as its features. For example, if you’re selling courses online, then you need eCommerce integrations to accept payments.
Here is a guide to the 19 essential features of an LMS, so you can make sure your software has all the features required to create a successful training program.
Intuitive Interface for Admins and Learners
A great LMS should have little to no learning curve so that instructors can manage eLearning and students can begin training shortly after onboarding. Remember, the purpose of an LMS is to streamline training operations in business, so if your LMS is causing a lot of problems, it’s either just a low-quality platform or not the right fit for your company (missing features you require).
When your LMS is eCommerce-friendly then the courses you create on the platform can be sold to others online (customers and external audiences). Whether you sell courses created on the LMS by integrating with a third-party eCommerce tool or you are able to sell courses using the LMS without any external software, your platform should have sufficient eCommerce capabilities if you want to sell eLearning.
Double-check to make sure your LMS integrates with your preferred payment gateway (E.g., Stripe, PayPal, Authorize.net, etc.) If you don’t already have an eCommerce platform like Shopify or WooCommerce then consider working with an LMS company like Academy Of Mine that allows you to sell courses online, without having to build a separate eCommerce platform.
Chances are, even though you’re training with an LMS, you still have software outside of the platform like a Salesforce or HubSpot CRM that could help if they were connected. Integrations are the bridge between an LMS and external software applications. Continuing, if you want to integrate your LMS with external tools like Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel or any other software for that matter, double-check with the LMS provider to make sure what you’re looking for is possible.
Certificates of Completion
Award learners that successfully complete a course with a digital certificate. Offering certificates is a great way to recognize hardworking users, and even if a course is not accredited, certificates can be used as a receipt for those who have completed a course. Your LMS should allow you to upload certificate designs into the platform and create them from scratch or with a template natively.
Certificate fields like student name, course titles, and expiration date should be filled out automatically when students meet the requirements to receive their certificate.
Blended learning – the combination of real-team and self-paced learning materials – is used to create diverse training programs made of different types of eLearning. Whether your priority is using webinars for training employees live or you’re interested in selling self-paced eLearning courses to customers online, your LMS should support both.
Just like at a job, your employees can only be as successful as their manager allows them to be.
An LMS should allow you to create courses using built-in authoring tools, and give you the option to upload materials created with external authoring tools like Adobe Captivate and Articulate Storyline 360.
Once a course is created in the LMS, you should be able to onboard large groups of users into the system and enroll them in courses simultaneously. Of course, after creating courses and filling up seats with students, you will need a way to generate progress reports and monitor learner progress in a course or courses.
Content Format Supportability
Simply put, there’s a universal group of formats that your LMS should support so that you can easily create and re-use content from other applications and past LMSs. The main format is called SCORM – this is the eLearning standard for creating interactive learning modules. Of course, your LMS should also support formats like Text/HTML, PDF, Video, PPT, and any other common formats your learning materials are made of.
Localization & Translations
If your LMS is going to be used to train and educate learners in different parts of the world then there has to be some built-in translation feature involved. That way, if customers purchase eLearning from you that don’t speak English/the language that your LMS is written in by default, they can click translate to translate the language of their courses in your LMS.
Academy of Mine’s clients can easily change the language of their course materials from English to Spanish or French with the click of a button.
It’s in your company’s and customers’ best interest to keep their data safe and secure while training online. Even if there’s minimal private information stored in the LMS, you would hate for users to lose certificates and course progress if there was ever a data breach or cyber security issue.
Here is a list of the security features your LMS should have:
- Secure password requirements
- 2-Step verification
- Frequent Data Backups
- Limited access to customer data
- System audit logs to monitor all activity in the platform
- Locked content that prevents users from downloading certain videos and assets
- SSL and SSO
- GDPR compliance.
If you want to read more about all of the LMS security features – here’s an in-depth guide we wrote about them.
Just like a workout plan helps you stay on track with your health and fitness goals, a learning path helps you stay on track with your learning and training goals. Basic learning paths allow course creators to bundle together multiple courses to be taken in a specific order. Advanced learning paths use AI to auto-suggest other courses a user might be interested in based on their current course history.
Whether an LMS is designed with advanced learning paths that use AI or learning paths have to be created by course admins from scratch, the goal of learning paths is the same: personalized learning.
Reporting tools allow admins, instructors, and anyone responsible for reporting on learners’ progress in an LMS the ability to do so. See who is thriving inside of a training program: check the test results of users, keep track of employees’ certifications, and monitor the percentage a user has completed in a course. All of these reports and more can be generated with a great LMS like Academy Of Mine.
Assessment and Engagement Tools
Assessment tools like quizzes and tests are important because they help users understand if they’re on track to complete a course or not. In addition, assessments highlight areas for users in a course and show them where they can improve.
Engagement tools like surveys and discussion boards can help improve the motivation and focus users are showing in a course, as well as help learners have their questions answered and ideas heard by instructors and other users in real-time.
An LMS should offer:
- Different types of quizzes and tests.
- Pass/Fail options for assessments.
- Surveys for student feedback.
- Discussion boards to promote communication and collaboration.
Branding & White Labeling
Did you know that you can increase revenue by over 20% by maintaining brand consistency across all platforms? Using a White-label LMS you can include your logo, brand colors, and brand texts inside of the platform. Using the Academy Of Mine LMS, you can also customize your email address for user notifications and create custom pages to be displayed inside student dashboards.
Let’s say you’re going to a birthday party and are responsible for bringing the cake; if you can’t bake but need to bring cake to a party as a gift, then your best bet is to take the cake out of the original packing and putting it in a different container without a label.
White label LMSs allow you to create professional training programs without displaying vendor logos, texts, and other brand assets.
SCORM Compliant (reusable LMS content)
Formats such as SCORM allow your company to create eLearning materials for courses and then reuse them with any LMS. When your LMS is SCORM compliant, if you ever decide to switch LMS providers, then you can import your content from the old platform into the new one easily. Similar to how .doc is the universal format for written documents on a windows computer, SCORM is the standard format for interactive eLearning modules. SCORM also provides detailed tracking of student activities.
As opposed to self-paced eLearning courses where users can progress through a course in their own time, Instructor-led training (ILT) is an approach to learning where an instructor is present during training. ILT is most commonly implemented through webinars using applications like Zoom, GoToWebinar, and Microsoft Teams. ILT is the perfect solution for answering users’ questions in real-time.
If you would like to learn more about instructor-led training, we talked about examples and more on this subject in this blog.
Gamification is the act of turning activities that aren’t traditionally thought of as fun and making them more enjoyable and competitive like a game. Employers and institutions have been using gamification to improve performance for decades: giving a bonus to salespeople that close the most cold calls in a day, having a leaderboard in the class for students with the best grades or attendance, awarding employees with PTO for receiving a certain amount of compliments from customers, etc.
When LMSs use a points system like badges, leaderboards, and social learning, user engagement usually increases.
Since your LMS is going to be filled with different types of users – students, instructors, admins, and other users with different responsibilities – your platform needs a way for you to customize the permission that certain users have vs. others. For example, you wouldn’t want employees enrolled in compliance training to be able to skip through a course and give themselves a 100% on the final test, without actually taking it. Certain actions in an LMS should only be performed by instructors and administrators.
Every LMS is different, but managing users inside of your LMS is easy with Academy Of Mine, using a concept called ‘User Roles’.
Client Portals (train other businesses)
If you’re training multiple businesses using your LMS or just want to separate employee training by department, then you’re going to need a feature known as portals. Client portals are groups you create within your LMS to separate programs between various organizations or “groups” you are training. For example, let’s say I’m training a McDonald’s franchise owner in food & safety – I’m going to create a training portal solely for McDonald’s. If I want to train other restaurants alongside McDonald’s without mixing up their materials, I will use portals to create a new portal for each new client.
Portals restrict one client from accessing another customer’s courses and learning materials in the LMS.
Single Sign-On (SSO) Capabilities
Chances are your employees, customers, and or partners who would be using the LMS already have enough online usernames and passwords.
Why are we saying this? Singe Sign-On, otherwise known as SSO, allows users to log in to the LMS using the same set of credentials they are using at work or with another application they use a lot (like a previous LMS). For example, using SSO, learners can log into the LMS by using their email address and password instead of having to remember a separate set of credentials.
Choosing an LMS
Now that you understand what an LMS is along with the different types of LMSs available*, it’s time for you to make a decision.*
Does working with an LMS company that’s dedicated to your success and offers platform customization sound good to you? Let’s maximize your training and eLearning programs today!