The LMS is an integral part of the learning ecosystem that enhances teaching, learning, and training effectiveness for institutions and organizations in various markets. Alas, figuring out which LMS is right for you can be an intimidating task that leaves many consumers asking: Where do I start?
Step 1: Every college or business will have a different need set. Identify your specific eLearning goals, and think about what LMS features you will need in order to realize these goals.
Step 2: Don’t forget to consider the type of technology your LMS uses. Whether a learning platform uses closed-source or open-source technology will affect the freedoms you can enjoy with your system.
Step 3: Keep in mind that there are few must-have features that will be important for any organization to maintain a flexible and scalable platform. Check out these 5 must-have LMS features…
Tight integrations between your LMS and your current IT infrastructure are essential to bringing current systems together in a seamless fashion. As the central hub for providing and tracking learning, you will want you LMS to “talk” – or pass important information back and forth – to your secondary systems. For example, enjoying a real-time integration between your LMS and your Student Information System (SIS) or Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system is a life-changer when it comes to automating processes and saving time.
That said, when evaluating LMS platforms, you will want to keep integrations capabilities in mind. As an open-source platform, Moodle can easily be integrated with a variety of other programs to meet the various needs of an organization.
Reporting is one of the most important parts of an LMS. If you have formal compliance requirements to meet, reports are essential for recording that learners have passed mandatory training and assessment modules. Reports can also drive your team to take action, prompting learners to complete outstanding training before due dates elapse. Without decent reports, it is hard to measure the success of training programs and to pinpoint where improvements might need to be made.
Your LMS should allow you to pull extensive reports to track learner progress, course activity and completions, and more via canned reports, custom reporting, and analytics for key areas of the LMS. For instance, Moodle offers standard reports as well as a robust configurable reporting and analytics block with the ability to gather important data through a custom report builder.
Some examples of custom reports include:
- Course Reports – information regarding courses.
- Categories Reports – information regarding categories and a courses report can be embedded in this type of report.
- User Reports – information regarding users and their activity in a course.
- Custom SQL Reports – custom SQL queries.
- Advanced Features – filters, pagination, logic conditions and permissions, plots, templates support, export to Microsoft Excel.
- In addition, you have the ability to request new report types through your Moodle service provider.
In this day and age, an LMS must have a responsive design and a mobile app for learners to access educational resources anywhere, anytime.
Many an LMS have created their own mobile applications to enable access on portable computing devices (such as iPads, tablets, PDAs, and smart phones), enabling teaching and learning to extend to spaces beyond the traditional classroom. Choosing an LMS with mobile capabilities gives you the power to utilize tech-centric mobile learning strategies like microlearning. You can learn about Moodle’s Mobile App here.
LMS usability goes much deeper than a pretty user interface. Since most of today’s course content building tools, such as Articulate and Camtasia, adhere to common standards like SCORM, xAPI, and AICC, you will want to make sure the LMS you are considering works with those same standards.
An LMS that supports these standards ensures that all content developed within this framework will operate properly in your LMS. It also protects your investment in content down the road when looking at software upgrades and portability to other systems.
How can you be assured that the LMS you are considering meets these standards? Easy – ask the LMS vendor to demo to you in real time. Have the vendor show you how to import content into the LMS and then launch it in a course. If it works, great! If not, time to evaluate a different system.
Accessibility, or ensuring that content within the LMS is accessible to every learner, is a major focus in distance education. An LMS should be built with accessibility in mind so that it can meet different user needs and learning preferences. Accessibility not only helps to increase LMS adoption rates, but it is often legally required that content within the LMS be Section 508 compliant to prevent discrimination against learners with disabilities and to provide all users with equal opportunities to learn.
All in all, the must-have LMS features will depend on your specific training goals and requirements. When choosing an LMS, be sure to identify the features you want as well as those that you will need. Moodle has all of the features above and its community-driven development model provides even more functionality through the nearly 1,400 free modules and plugins it offers to help meet client needs.