What Is a Learning Management System?

Learning Management Systems Explained

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A learning management system (LMS) is software that allows an organization to host, deliver, and track employee or customer training. It is typically used for employee onboarding.

Learn why gamification is a typical approach for this type of program.

What Is a Learning Management System (LMS)?

The LMS allows you to administer courses to your employees or customers. These systems are designed to make the onboarding process more engaging and fun, often using gamification to help employees learn everything they need to know to become a successful part of the team. They are also used to educate consumers on how to get the most out of a product or service.

How Learning Management Systems Work

As you choose a solution, you need to have a clear idea of what you expect the users to achieve at the end of the program. The level of interaction you require from the user will determine features you should look for. 

These are various LMS solutions on the market today, at a variety of price points:

  • Software as a Service (SaaS): Hosted on the cloud, so there’s no equipment to maintain or upgrades to manage.
  • Self-hosted solutions: Require you to download and install the software on your own equipment, but offer more control over branding and dashboard personalization.
  • Desktop applications: Accessible on multiple devices for easier collaboration. Mobile applications are also available.

Types of Learning Management Systems

Before committing to an LMS for your company, consider testing trial versions of a few with your learners. To help start your search, here are three popular learning management systems to consider:

Moodle

Moodle offers a free version, but that's best for organizations with the know-how to do everything themselves. It’s an open-source (user supported) system. You can add features with more than 1,500 plug-ins to address everything from webinars, to content management systems, and more. If you’d rather not host it yourself, Moodle can set up a paid hosted solution.

TalentLMS

Talent LMS offers everything you need to host and track training built-in, with the majority of features available on the free plan. The free plan allows for up to five users with 10 courses, while the paid plans allow for more of each and go from $79 per month to $529 per month. Additional features include: video conferencing, surveys, and learning paths. You can create your own custom courses, or purchase courses from TalentLMS to cover common areas such as sales, safety skills, and IT.

Docebo

Docebo can accommodate up to 300 users on its Growth package, with custom enterprise solutions, and offers a free trial to test the features. Pricing is available only upon request. Additional features include Salesforce integration, ecommerce, and gamification to boost engagement and retention.

Considerations in a Learning Management System

Here are things to keep in mind:

LMS Pricing

Pricing is often based on the number of licenses required, with each team member or customer requiring their own license. Many free open-source options exist for small businesses on a budget, but the money saved on licensing fees may have to be spent on IT staff if you lack the in-house programming experience necessary to customize the system. 

Consider your current IT setup and opt for something that will easily integrate. Involve the end users in the evaluation process, because if it’s not easy for them to use, they won’t use it.

Basic Functions and Features

At a minimum, your LMS should have most or all of the following features:

  • Reports and analytics: This allows you to see who’s completing the coursework, and whether or not they are on track. You should be able to monitor people as a group in addition to the individual level.
  • Responsive design: This ensures your content can be viewed well from multiple devices.
  • Intuitive user interface: It doesn’t matter how many awesome features there are if people can’t easily navigate and use the system.
  • Adequate customer support: Each vendor offers its own level of customer service. Find out what’s included in the support and whether you can pay for additional support, if needed.
  • E-learning assessment tools: These are necessary to determine whether there are any gaps in learning and if you need to intervene. 
  • Gamification features: Earning currency or badges that translate to real-world rewards can be a great motivator to increase participation.
  • Social learning support: This feature allows users to interact with their peers and share their experiences.
  • Localization: If you’re working with a global team, localization provides multilingual support for your training resources.
  • Compliance and certification support: If your organization provides company policy and compliance training online, you must look for an LMS with these features.

Key Takeaways

  • Learning Management Systems (LMS) allow organizations to host, deliver, and track employee and customer training.
  • A company's technical abilities will help determine the type of LMS it requires.
  • Pricing ranges from free to hundreds of dollars per month.
  • Request a free trial before making a selection.