What is an LMS? It’s a term you may have heard in passing at the office, or seen being bandied around online. There are hundreds of discussions about it on the Q&A forum Quora.
With that level of chatter, you might think you should know what an LMS is by now. Well, there’s every chance you do. You may even have used one already. Maybe you haven’t realized because no one has taken the time to explain plainly and simply what an LMS is.
Let’s tackle the acronym first.
What does ‘LMS’ mean?
LMS stands for Learning Management System, and it does what is says. It’s a system you can use to manage your organization’s learning.
If you Google the definition, you’ll discover that “a learning management system (LMS) is a software application or Web-based technology used to plan, implement, and assess a specific learning process”.
In simpler terms, an LMS is software you can use to deliver information to the people in your organisation who need it.
That might be sharing health and safety training with workers on a building site. Maybe it’s delivering a module to a class of college students. It could be any other combination where you have important information and need an easy way for a specific audience to access it.
How does an LMS work?
LMSs are generally divided into two categories, ‘installation’ and ‘cloud-based’. Each of these has their own unique characteristics.
An installation LMS is hosted locally. That means once you download the software, it then lives on your computer.
Buying an installation LMS typically involves paying an up-front fee. That’s then followed by further payment, usually once a year, to maintain your license to use the product.
The advantage of a locally hosted LMS is that you have less chance of encountering security issues. On the other hand, once you download an intallation LMS, you automatically become responsible for its upkeep. That include upgrades and handling any tech issues.
A cloud-based LMS is hosted online by the vendor. You access by typing a username and password into the LMS website.
With an online LMS, you generally need an internet connection to access your training material. That said, some allow the user to download content and work offline.
You can enjoy full use of a web-based online LMS in exchange for a monthly fee. The size of that fee depends on the number of users and features you require. It will cover automatic updates, platform maintenance, and tech troubleshooting. That leaves you free to focus on training.
Who uses an LMS?
There are certain organizations who have traditionally had greater need for an LMS than others. These include educational institutions, HR professionals delivering training, and technology companies staying ahead of the latest developments.
Really, though, any organization with a need to deliver learning could benefit from using a Learning Management System. An LMS can help you satisfy a variety of training needs:
Medium to large organisations might use an LMS to make training scalable. As their business grows they can train a growing number of people, across a range of disciplines, seamlessly.
Remote companies can’t always train their employees in person. They may use a cloud-based LMS to deliver high quality training from Anywhere.
What can you use an LMS for?
You now have an idea of what an LMS is, but how does it relate to your business? What can you actually use it for?
There’s no one answer. Every individual needs to learn things that are relevant and useful to them. It’s the same with every distinct organization. Each will use their LMS for different purposes.
A few common use cases:
Employee Onboarding: The training and integration process all employees go through in the first few days of joining a company.
LMS Onboarding: Generate login details for your new employees and have them work through an introductory course on your company. That might include a brief company history, core values, and employee handbook.
General Internal Training: Any company-led training that builds up employee skills and knowledge in-house. This is often via the HR department.
LMS Internal Training: Have the Student Services team at your university take a cultural sensitivity course. Supplement this with a pop quiz hosted on your LMS to show they have taken lessons on-board.
Skills/Certification Training: Training that officially qualifies the certified person to perform a particular task or role.
LMS Certification Training: Upload a Digital Marketing certification for your marketing department to work through, review each task, and upload their certificate of completion at the end.
Compliance Training: Keeping employees updated on any regulation or policy changes that affect their day-to-day jobs.
LMS Compliance Training: The real estate agents at your agency login to your LMS to complete virtual classroom hours which allow them to retain their license to sell real estate.
Continual Learning: The commitment to continually improving your team, as employees and people, by increasing knowledge – learning is a lifelong process.
LMS Continual Learning: Agree a realistic weekly learning target with your team, and grant them admin access to your LMS so they can improve themselves, and the company, by actively engaging with new ideas and ways of working.
Benefits of using an LMS
The LMS industry is in direct competition with more traditional training methods, so surely there has to be a compelling case for ditching the usual training day?
Here’s a few key ways in which using an LMS can benefit your business:
Given that you can get a high quality LMS for as little as $99 per month, and every LMS should be built to scale, your organisation might stand to save a fortune.
Save time: Finding a training time slot for a busy workforce is nigh on impossible. You’re never going to be able to accommodate everyone at once, which means creating additional appointments that risk disrupting work even more.
The advantage of an LMS is it keeps all of your training material is in one place. A cloud-based LMS can be accessed by anyone with a login, at any time, so your team can train flexibly at a time that suits them.
Don’t reinvent the wheel: Your course content is already out there. In 2017, there were 400 hours worth of video content uploaded every minute to Youtube alone, so don’t waste your precious time building the perfect training program from scratch.
An LMS allows you to make the best of what’s available, combining your company’s existing training material with handy videos, powerpoints, blog posts, and the best the internet has to offer.
Use reporting: When you train in person, do you ever find yourself taking time out of a busy schedule only to see your colleagues’ eyes glaze over? Will they really retain that information when they leave? And how will you know whether they have or not?
You can with an LMS, which lets you track the progress of your team through challenges, encourages discussion via chat forums, and increases information retention with rate-and-review features.
Train Anywhere: With remote working fast becoming the ‘new normal’, there is a growing demand for training that can be delivered virtually without compromising on quality.
Moving your training to a cloud-based LMS means your trainees can access courses, communicate with other learners, and expand their skill set on their own time, from Anywhere with an internet connection. Work is what you do, not where you do it.
Do you need an LMS?
That’s a question only you can answer, but if you need a way to offer training that:
Easily delivers information to the people who need it
Scales to fit the size of your organisation
Supports various types of learning, from employee onboarding to continual learning
Saves you money and time
Offers you the flexibility to teach and learn from Anywhere