Choosing an LMS – Video 1

Choosing an LMS – Video 1


Choosing an LMS is a tough job for anyone.
This ADL video series will give you the information you need to get started. Video 1 will focus on the definition of an
LMS, the high-level functions, the benefits of using an LMS, types of learning managed
by an LMS, who uses an LMS and why it’s important to choose the right LMS. Let’s start by talking about exactly
what an LMS is. LMSs are enterprise-level, server-based software
systems used to manage and deliver learning of different types, particularly asynchronous
e-learning, through a web browser. Generally, they are also capable of tracking
and managing lots of different kinds of learner data, especially learner performance. Many training organizations rely on their
LMS as a single point of access for all of their e-learning content and student records.
LMS’s are a key enabling technology for “anytime, anywhere” access to learning
content and administration. Systems that combine these capabilities with
authoring and content repository functions are commonly referred to as LCMS’s. Confused? That’s alright, there are lots
of different systems, and finding the right kind is very important. We look at LMSs,
LCMSs, CrMSs, and VLEs in video 3. That’s the video to watch for a crash course in the types of
learning-related systems available. For the remainder of this video we’ll be
focusing on Learning Management Systems. So now that we know what an LMS is,
what can it do? Well, a number of general functions are normally
provided by an LMS, including: Structure, Security, Registration, Delivery, Interaction,
Assessment, Tracking, Reporting, Record Keeping, Facilitating Reuse, Personalization, Integration,
and administration. To learn more about these functions, make sure to read to read our whitepaper
on Choosing a Learning Management System. Now, we’ve got an idea on what an LMS is,
and what the functions are, but what are the benefits of using an LMS? What’s in it for
your learning or training organization? A lot! An LMS can reduce costs by centrally managing
all learning functions, resulting in decreased training redundancy and reduced
operational down-time. This central management of learning functions
maximizes efficiency and reduces complexity by providing a common access point for content.
It manages the delivery and tracking of courses for enterprise-wide, mission-critical things
like safety issues, operating procedures, environmental standards, and
job reference materials. And an LMS is able to leverage a variety of
existing resources for learning, including policies and procedures documentation, job
aids, help files, and off-the-shelf, commercially available courseware. At this point you may be thinking, “That’s
all well and good, but can an LMS really help us manage our learning goals.”
Yes. Yes it can.  
LMS’s are generally designed to account for the five basic categories of learning:
Initial Learning, Continued Learning, Remedial Learning, Upgrade Learning, Transfer learning. Within each of those categories, an LMS can
also account for types of learning delivery like learner-led, which is asynchronous, on-demand
e-learning. Facilitated learning that can be a blended or hybrid of e-learning and instructor
facilitated learning. Instructor-led learning where content is presented by an instructor
either live or virtually. And embedded learning which includes performance support through
just-in-time help. So, an LMS can do some pretty great things.
But is an LMS the right solution for you? Well, let’s take a quick look at who
uses LMS’s and why. It’s true that some aspects of an LMS can
be handled by simply putting files on an intranet file server and then using a spreadsheet or
simple database to track who’s taken the training. But, most organizations need a more
robust system to achieve their goals. And let’s face it; developing your own custom
system to meet those kinds of needs can quickly become a huge, and expensive, development
task. A commercial or open source system is often the most efficient and cost effective,
way to go. Commercial LMSs are generally cost- prohibitive
for small organizations. So these systems make the most sense for organizations with
hundreds, if not thousands of users, where some level and control and record-keeping
needs to be maintained over the process of learning. There’s a lot to know about picking the
right LMS. You may even been a little overwhelmed at this point – and that’s ok. This video
series will help with that! For now, let’s boil it down and talk about
why it’s so important to choose the right LMS. Because choosing an LMS can be one of
the most important decisions any training organization can make. While most systems have the same basic functions
that we’ve talked about, they are optimized in different ways for different types of learning
goals. And those differences can be huge. If your organization chooses a system that
is not optimized for your needs, you could waste your organization’s money, and everyone’s
time. Or worse, you could cause negative feelings that turn learners against learning opportunities
that are important but are difficult to access and take.
Durability is another important factor when searching for the right LMS. The system you
choose will have to have longevity in the marketplace so that it continues to be available
and supported. And you’ll need to account for evolutionary changes in the IT environment,
both hardware AND software. Your new system will also need to support new file formats
and possibly incorporating revisions to standards like SCORM down the road. Finding the right
system today can make a huge difference tomorrow. As with enterprise systems like LMSs, you
should keep in mind extensibility, scalability, and generally how the system will fit and
integrate into the overall enterprise architecture of the organization. This means take into
account the modularity of the system, how it can be customized and enhanced to meet
changing needs, the projected growth of an organization as well as how an LMS will integrate
and support other business needs. Choosing an LMS can be confusing. We hope
this video helped. You can learn more about choosing an LMS by watching the other videos
in this series available at ADLnet.gov. You can also get details on the information
discussed in this video and more in the Choosing an Learning Management System white paper
available in the Free Trial Demos section of ADLnet.gov under the Learn More tab. Good luck choosing your LMS and thanks for
watching!

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