With rising adoption among educational institutions, corporates and other organizations, online learning is on the way to becoming a mass technology application. Learning management system or lms has been changing the way we learn, from preschool to corporate level, in all stages. With this rapid adoption learning providers are also faced with a challenge of deciding on the best lms software provider who could fulfil their lms requirements. Here’s a little insight on what questions to ask to yourself and the prospective lms providers while zeroing in on the platform that is built for your needs.
Online Learning Goals
It’s important to define the goals that you want to achieve with implementation of an online learning platform. Jumping the bandwagon without identifying the need of a new tool can cause loss of resources and frustration. Your goals will be defined by what you do and why you need an lms. You could be an academic institution trying to supplement the formal learning with virtual classrooms and reach out to larger student base; a mid level business who needs a platform to train employees, educate vendors/ clients on products and services; or an mnc who wants to adopt a global streamlined learning and content management for various stakeholders.
Understanding your needs is the starting point. There are hundreds of lms vendors in the market, a lot of them provide all the basic features, however it is wise to consult your staff and internal stakeholders on the list of requirements and get feedback from them. Your requirements could be short term or long term, basic or diverse. After underlining the requirements the next thing to do is list out the features, or create an lms requirement checklist.
LMS Requirement Checklist
The kind of features required depends on your online learning goals and the kind of training you want to provide. The checklist for required lms features has to be created with careful consideration of the type of training to be provided, user adaptability to new tools, maintenance requirements, mode of delivery of learning – static lessons or dynamic virtual classrooms, mobility requirements, collaboration needs and other. Make sure there is no unwanted features which would add to the cost of the lms and create a distraction for course admins and students.
Cloud Based LMS vs On-premise Software
Almost all of the popular lms software in use today are cloud based platforms, barring a few on-premise solutions used by mncs who don’t want to compromise on their data. However that doesn’t mean that saas based applications do not encrypt the data in transit. SaaS based platforms are cheaper and vendor maintained, which means you don’t need an extra IT manpower to keep the system running. iPublishCentral Learn is a cloud based lms for online learning with high customizability, scalability and trouble free operation.
Shortlisting the LMS Providers
Pinning down to the right kind of lms you need is a task in itself, but the exercise has its long term benefits, it prevents you from any overspending or discontentment in the future. The next task involves research on the internet, there’s a hundreds of lms providers globally, it’s also advisable to talk to friends or fellow professionals in your field who have some experience in online learning and ask them for some recommendations. However the success of an lms vendor can’t be solely judged on internet research, correct analysis can be made after contacting the vendors and discussing the requirements.
Timeline, Budget, Services
The initial rounds of discussions with prospective vendors will throw a light on how each of them can fulfil your lms requirements and might also give some insight on unknown features that you might need in future. Ask the vendors before how long they would take to customize and provide full access to the platform, if your need is urgent make a note that it also takes time to create user registrations, course integration, and other optimizations. If you have been using an lms and want to upgrade, it takes time and effort to convert (if the formats are different) and import data into the new lms.
Keep your budget stretchable to a comfortable extent, but make sure you will get the return in your investment, it could be in the form of improved training, enhanced learning, or cutting the expenses of classroom training.
Courses and Maintenance
Acquiring an lms is only half the task, for implementing an online learning programme that bears real fruits, digital courses are fundamental. Did you plan on building your own courses? Do you have the resources and expertise? Impelsys provides digital courseware development services along with its flagship learning platform iPublishCentral Learn. The SCORM compliant courses are built by SMEs and instructional designers using scientific methodology to improve the learning outcome.
You are going to have long term business relationship with your lms vendor. Make sure that the upgrades and maintenances are part of the deal. Platforms without maintenance support will cost you in future. Requirements of added features might crop up in future, your lms has to be scalable. Also important is data security, you might want to use your own servers or the vendors’, make sure your data is double backed up.
Finding your best lms software that rightly fits into your vision is a learning in itself, there might be times when you need niche requirements, however it’s imperative to examine and test the products before you sign the deal. Online learning comes with huge benefits when rightly implemented. Looking at the future the technology seems imperative in education and training, as we are witnessing the industry embracing technology at a steady pace. If you are not already in the league start your research and find out how online learning could be of your advantage.