In today’s environment, your learning and development department must be many things to many people. Managing that environment may have become difficult, but Learning Management Systems are making all facets of training management more efficient-and easier. In this series, we are going to examine the Learning Management System as the foundation of your training initiative, so let’s look at the basics first.
You may have seen or heard terms relating to learning management, like LMS or LCMS, or content management. To begin with, an LMS is a Learning Management System, while and LCMS is a Learning Content Management System. Both provide virtually the same services with one major exception: content development. An LCMS usually has a content development “engine”, which allows you and your staff to develop eLearning content in the system and have it available for delivery fairly quickly. So what are the available features with Learning Management Systems? Keep in mind, we will discuss each of these features in detail in this series.
One of the main features of an LMS is the ability to deliver online learning interventions to your audiences, wherever they may be. The content you deliver may be your own, developed internally, or it may be outsourced from another vendor, or even outsourced from the LMS vendor. This standard delivery ensures that every learner is seeing the same content, being tested on the same outcomes, and learning in the same environment. Along with this, as we’ve discussed, an LCMS allows you to create content, many times in a rapid development process. This allows you to deliver content quickly when it’s necessary.
An LMS can track training for you, as well. This comes in especially handy when you need to show that a certain audience has attended training, such as regulatory courses. This is also helpful to managers who are interested in their employees’ career paths. Along those lines, your LMS can “store” career paths for different job groups, and assign training and activities to those career paths. So an employee who wants to move from one level to another can manage the educational and development requirements of his or her career directly from the LMS. Plus, your LMS may even be able to remind employees when it’s time to take a class.
An LMS is not limited to online learning, either. Keep in mind that the scheduling and notifications part of your LMS can also be used for instructor-led training. As long as the schedule is inputted into the system, it will be managed. Instructors can typically pull class rosters in advance of the class, record attendance, and even record grades. Imagine the money you can save on materials if instructors can plan fairly accurately ahead of time. You can also manage your facilities using the LMS and its scheduling. For example, you can keep track of each training room, its features, its seating capacity, and its operation via the LMS. If something occurs that makes a room unavailable, you can keep track of this in the LMS.
So who provides LMS and LCMS services? There are numerous vendors out there, including Learn.com, CapitalLMS, GeoLearning, Registrar, Joomla, and Blackboard to name a few. Your choice of LMS provider is going to have much to do with how you want to use your LMS, what costs you’re willing to pay, and what features are available. We won’t discuss doing your due diligence on LMS providers in this series, so it may be wise to put together an advisory committee of your organization’s training personnel, executives who need to buy-in, stakeholders, and audiences in order to come up with a wish list and review vendors. The worst thing you can do is pick a system that is just not going to work for your organization and its learners.
Why is the LMS the foundation of your learning initiative? As you can see, an LMS is a broad-based management tool for your learning and development organization. In our next few discussions, we will elaborate on the major features of LMS Systems and help you to determine how the system can be a major part of your learning initiatives.
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