Choosing the Right LMS Platform: Veni, Vidi, Vici
If you are reading these lines, you want to get the same benefits for your business, but you do not know how to choose the suitable LMS. In this article, we will walk you through the entire process of choosing an LMS for your needs and goals step by step. Without further ado, let’s get started.
Step #1. Draw up a List of Basic Training Requirements
The first step towards choosing an LMS platform is determining who you will teach. This choice is crucial because the future shape of the LMS platform that you choose depends on it.
For example, suppose your company has only 10-15 employees and only needs to perform fast onboarding using LMS. In that case, you hardly need an enterprise LMS designed for huge companies and full of features that you most likely will not need. So it’s worth listing out your basic training requirements first.
Decide Who Are You Going to Teach
When you start to define your target audience, you should remember that students are divided into specific categories due to several criteria.
Age greatly influences your choice of LMS platform. If most of your company employees are already aged, you should think about choosing an LMS with limited functionality and friendly UI/UX design. This choice will help speed up the onboarding of the whole team and eliminate the possibility when the system’s complexity can discourage employees from using it.
However, if you are a young company with many young workers and your goal is to improve their skills gradually, an excellent solution would be to choose an LMS platform with broader functionality and gamification or social learning elements. These techniques will significantly enhance the learning engagement.
The size of the audience you will teach also affects some aspects of the system you want to choose. For example, if your company has a large number of employees and at the same time the staff turnover is very high, you should think about choosing an enterprise LMS. However, this is not all. In this LMS, there should be a function of mass enrollment of workers for greater convenience and quick onboarding. This requirement narrows the choice of the LMS platform.
In addition, the learner audience impacts overall spending on the LMS platform. Many pricing models rely on the number of people who will be using the platform, so you should be aware of them before choosing an LMS.
Pricing models of LMS
|Pay-per-learner||Great for mandatory training with fixed audience size.|
|Pay-per-active-user||A good choice for one-time teaching of unknown group size or periodic teaching of different sized groups of students.|
|Pay-as-you-go||It is a safety net if you do not know the exact demand for online training.|
|Licensing||An excellent choice for enterprises and companies with a large number of employees that require constant training.|
Don’t forget about your audience’s skill base. Some of the audience may know a particular part of the material, while others will start learning from scratch. If you force the student to go through material that he already knows, this will likely negatively affect the future desire to learn.
To avoid such a case, it is worth choosing an LMS platform with features to segment students into various categories, such as department, skills, and much more. This will help distribute the learning material evenly among all students and provide them with the relevant knowledge they need.
Step #2. Make a List of Main Technical Requirements to Desired LMS Platform
Once you’ve decided on your audience, it’s time to start sketching out the technical requirements for your future LMS system. It is worth carefully selecting all the requirements, as they will be your main tools for establishing the learning process.
1. Required types of content
The format of the content you will present should be thought over in advance. Maybe ordinary click-through presentations will be enough for you, or you want to dilute them with video materials of your production? Create a complete list of eLearning content you will need for your course. This list will help you in your future LMS search as you will be targeting the supported content types and file extensions for them.
Also, pay attention to how the content is added to the LMS platform. Some LMS may have built-in tools for creating courses from scratch, which allow you to design courses right within the platform. In this case, you should also carefully study built-in authoring tools and supported content types.
2. Learning delivery
Content is only half the problem. The way you will present it also determines the shape of your course and the functionality of the chosen LMS platform. In total, there are three types of course delivery options, and depending on your needs, you will have to choose a platform that will have one of these methods or a combination of all of them.
Types of course delivery
|Synchronous||All interaction between educators and students takes place in real-time, and the entire learning process is divided into deadlines and controlled by the teacher.|
|Asynchronous||All interaction between teacher and students occurs with a delay through forums, e-mail, and the student determines when to complete assignments and study since there are no strict deadlines.|
|Hybrid||A combination of the two previous types, with the introduction of additional methods as practical tasks, face-to-face discussions, and much more.|
3. Reporting and grading system
Assessment of knowledge and its analysis is an integral part of training, so you should not neglect this point when choosing an LMS platform for your needs. Decide which assessment tools are best for your learning material. These can be simple tests, tests with multiple answers, questions that require a single response, and much more.
You should also put forward specific requirements for reporting. Think about how detailed you want the reporting system to be. Maybe a simple table with current grades will be enough for you. Or you need to delve deeper into student results and understand the roots of learning problems so that you will need various graphs and charts. Think through all reporting needs that the future system must satisfy.
4. Various enrollment options
This aspect also depends on the size of your audience. If the group of students is not too big, manually adding students to the course through the admin panel will be enough for you. However, in large enterprises, LMS platforms with such enrollment options can cause many problems, so it is worth choosing an LMS with the feature to add large student groups using CSV files.
Step #3. Come up With Additional LMS Features
In addition to the core features, businesses may need additional eLearning tools to build an effective learning process. They should also be added to your list of requirements. It is worth highlighting the most popular other features that can significantly improve and transform the learning process with the LMS platform.
Social learning. This type of learning diversifies students’ overall experience, introducing various group discussions, group tasks, and much more.
Gamification. Game elements can significantly increase learning engagement. These can be various leaderboards, in-platform rewards, achievements, and much more.
Mobile learning. The high availability of training is manifested not only in the variety of browsers on which the platform is launched but also in the number of devices supported for online training.
Courses selling. If you want to profit from your authoring courses, you should also include this feature in the list.
Certifications and awards. If you want to make your courses unique and authoritative, you can find an LMS platform with the ability to create unique certificates and rewards for completing the course.
Step #4. Pick Your LMS Type and Start Your Search
After you have formed all the requirements for the future LMS platform, it’s time to choose the LMS type that best suits your requirements. All LMS can be divided into three types, which we will discuss further.
This type of LMS first comes to mind when there is a need to organize the educational process. And this is not surprising since, with proprietary LMS, you receive a high-class service, robust functionality, reliability, fast customer support, and advice from vendors on any issues. However, not everything is as rosy as it might seem.
You will have to pay a lot of money monthly or annually for all the amenities. In addition, you can’t influence the LMS platform itself in any way, and you will have to adapt to it. The LMS developers have their vision of the project’s development and modify it as they see fit. Features can change, appear and disappear, and you need to be prepared for such changes and quickly adapt your processes.
Now, let’s sum up all pros and cons of Proprietary LMS.
|Wide range of features||Pretty costly|
|Constant customer support||Inflexible|
|Ease of implementation due to the help of vendor||You need to adapt your processes to an ever-changing platform|
Partially Open-Source LMS
If you choose this type of LMS platform, you will have a blended experience that combines the various features of proprietary and open-source LMS. These systems are still under development by the vendor, but the distribution policy implies several different types of licenses. In addition, these systems are more flexible and provide some level of customization.
However, by choosing partially open-source LMS, you will notice that some of the functions will not be available to you. The missing features will need to be purchased separately, or the functionality will need to be expanded using paid packages. In addition, configuring the LMS may require technical knowledge from your staff.
Pros and cons of Partially Open-Source LMS
|Partially flexible||Implementation and customization may require technical knowledge|
|Cheaper than proprietary solutions||Some features may be hidden behind a paywall or in more expensive packages|
|Various distribution variants||Challenging onboarding|
These platforms are common due to a wide range of positive aspects, including high system flexibility, cost efficiency, ease of integration into other systems, and a vast number of features. Besides that, this system is supported by a dedicated community. You can always find various extensions and additional features created by ordinary users and other vendors who specialize in development based on open-source LMS platforms.
The only drawback may be the need to understand the architecture of such an LMS platform to squeeze the maximum out of the functionality and ideally adjust it to the existing workflows. Besides that, some funds are still needed for updates, even though open-source LMS systems can be free or one-time purchasable.
Note: We’ve prepared an in-depth overview of open-source LMS systems and a little quiz for you to understand better whether open-source LMS is a good choice for you or not.
Pros and cons of Open-Source LMS
|The most flexible solution||Understanding LMS architecture is a must to make the most out of it|
|Cost-effective||Limited technical support|
|Neverending support from vendors and community||Maintaining a system requires technical knowledge or a dedicated team|
Step #5. Negotiations and Final Decision
Here it is, the home stretch. You have compiled a list of platforms that interest you, and now the stage of negotiations has come. You need to contact the LMS platform providers that best fit the criteria, negotiate, listen to their pricing policy and what they have to offer. In addition, if there is such an opportunity, you can request a demo or trial version to try out all the product features.
After all the negotiations are completed, you just need to decide and choose the LMS platform.
We walked you through the entire process of choosing an LMS platform for your business, and, as you can see, there are many nuances in this process. You constantly have to keep in mind various details, and you need to be well prepared for the process itself.
However, if this process takes too much time in your case, or if you could not find a suitable solution from the ready-made ones, you should aсquire custom eLearning solution developed by professionals, and we at Raccoon Gang are such professionals.
Raccoon Gang is a leading European company with many years of experience developing unique eLearning solutions for businesses from various industries. Drop us a line, share your eLearning needs with us, and we will come up with the most suitable solution for you.