We live in a time of online learning. If you had asked someone twenty years ago if they had taken an online course, you would be lucky to find that they had. But today, online courses are so ubiquitous that many have taken one at some point, whether for their education, their career, or even their driver’s license. In 2015, 49% of students said that they have taken an online course in the last 12 months.
COVID-19 has only accelerated the shift to online learning. With governmental lockdowns and travel restrictions in place, many students are forced to learn online. So whether we like it or not, e-learning is here to stay. Consider the following statistics reported by eLearning Industry:
Businesses are not just forced to adopt e-learning, they want to. There are a lot of benefits that come along with online learning that make it attractive, like cost savings and improved productivity. But before you can take advantage of e-learning, you need to choose an LMS.
A Learning Management System (LMS) helps you create, manage, and deliver online courses.
In a way, LMS is just a fancy acronym for online learning software, but a lot goes into a good LMS.
LMSs first appeared in the higher education sector, but they are also used by nonprofits, businesses, and government organizations from your local city council to the United Nations.
Recently, there has been a shift in focus toward the corporate market because businesses are beginning to recognize the real ROI of e-learning programs.
In business, LMSs are used to train employees, onboard new hires, retain employee knowledge, train partners and customers, provide compliance training, and maintain standards across the company.
Investing in a good LMS has many benefits. The following list gives you a taste of what you can look forward to:
Now that you know the benefits of an LMS, there are a few more things you should know before choosing one. Here are some fundamental considerations when it comes to finding the right LMS for you:
Open source software (OSS) is software that allows anyone to access and modify its source code. For an LMS, this means you can customize it to fit your needs. But perhaps the main advantage to open source LMSs is that they are free. Anyone can use them. This can be a huge benefit if you are on a small budget.
But keep in mind that open source LMSs tend to have a higher learning curve. You will need coding experts to sufficiently customize them to your needs, which can be a lengthy and costly project. The support system may be limited or unreliable. Most open source LMSs rely on online forums for help.
If you prefer software that is ready to go out of the box, consider buying commercial LMS software. Commercial software is closed-source, meaning only authorized users can use it, i.e. people who buy the software. Obviously, commercial LMSs cost more money, but they tend to be much easier to deploy and use. Plus, you usually have a dedicated support staff that can help you.
As with many things, the question whether to go with an open or closed source LMS is a cost-benefit analysis. If you want to save money, choose a free open source LMS. If you want a reliable LMS solution fast, you might be better off with a commercial LMS.
Consider whether you want an LMS that is cloud-based or installed on-premise.
Cloud-based LMSs are stored in the cloud, so you don’t need to worry about installing them locally. Plus, they are typically offered as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). This means you usually pay for the service on a monthly basis in return for regular updates, support, and scalability. Basically, the vendor takes care of everything for you. In that way, SaaS LMSs are the more hands-free option. Plus, they are perfect for growing businesses who might need to ramp up their LMS as they get more employees.
Locally installed LMSs require you to have your own IT team to customize and maintain it. That said, on-premise LMSs usually offer more flexibility in customization. It can be a powerful solution if you already have an IT staff in place.
Choosing a cloud-based or an on-premise LMS comes down to preference. A cloud-based solution is easier but perhaps less individualized, while an on-premise LMS is more customizable but requires more in-house IT staff.
Finally there are several features that can distinguish an LMS. Below I will first go through some basic features found in most LMSs. Then I will list some advanced LMS features worth considering.
LMSs will vary from one to the next. Just find one that fits your needs. If you realize you only need some basic features, then don’t worry about your LMS having everything. However, if you are a growing business, you may benefit from some of the scalable features listed above.
There is no denying that Learning Management Systems have become a major part of any business. They are simply the most efficient way to train employees. Not only that, the education and government sectors are seeing huge benefits as well. And these trends will not stop anytime soon.
The market for Learning Management Systems is expected to grow from $13.4 billion in 2020 to $25.7 billion by 2025, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 14.0%. Needless to say, LMSs are here to stay.
If you want to develop an LMS for your business, custom develop an open source system or optimize an existing one, Dev.co is here to help. We can help you make a comprehensive e-learning platform catered to your needs.
Ryan is the VP of Operations for DEV.co. He brings over a decade of experience in managing custom website and software development projects for clients small and large, managing internal and external teams on meeting and exceeding client expectations–delivering projects on-time and within budget requirements. Ryan is based in El Paso, Texas.