Learning management systems
Benefits and functions of learning platforms
Already created or at least planned your first eLearning courses? Then you probably know that this requires what is known as authoring software. But how do participants actually access the courses afterwards? And how can you evaluate whether and how learners have completed the eTraining? The solution is a learning management system (LMS), better known as a learning platform. In this article, we explain what a learning management system is, whether and when you need an LMS for your eLearning project, and the functions this kind of learning platform includes.
The learning management system
A central platform for administering in-house training courses
The familiar abbreviation LMS stands for “learning management system”. This should not be confused with the LCMS, or learning content management system. Whereas the LCMS (which is also known as the authoring tool) is used to create eLearning courses, a learning management system allows you to
- manage online courses centrally,
- distribute supplementary documents,
- deliver eTraining sessions to learners,
- evaluate learning outcomes,
- provide and manage knowledge centrally on one platform,
- engage in active exchanges with learners,
- ensure communication and discussion between learners.
It gives learners access to a central, mobile learning platform through which they can access all their courses, deadlines, learning levels and certificates at any time and on any device. They will always be able to view their own training, as relevant online courses are made available directly to them via the learning platform; it also informs them as soon as they need to complete new eTraining sessions or as the deadline for completing training is drawing nearer. Bringing knowledge to learners.
LMS also offers additional special functions to make learning a more positive experience and simplify management processes. These include functions to support social and/or adaptive learning, or integrated video conferencing and learning outcome analysis tools. The more participants you have, the more important and lucrative it becomes to use an LMS. It’s the only way to organize eLearning centrally and conserve resources.
The learning platform gives all learners access to learning content tailored to their needs and the target group they are in.
Learners’ user profiles and learning content are managed centrally; progress with learning is stored centrally and can be evaluated.
A platform that makes the whole thing work.
Why it’s worth using a learning management system
All benefits at a glance
eLearning alone offers numerous benefits. Using a learning management systems not only helps you to take full advantage of these benefits, it also extends the scope of eLearning and includes additional features that deliver measurable improvements in learning outcomes. We have summarized the 7 key benefits of LMSs below:
1. As many learners as you like
You can organize any number of learners in an LMS. Once content has been developed the system enables you to make it available to as many employees as you like. By assigning employees to their department or location, for example, you can provide online courses to learners in such a way that their learning platforms only display the eTraining sessions that are relevant to them. There are usually a variety of options for the registration process: Learners are either imported centrally or they can register themselves and create their profile. Here, the more participants there are, the greater the benefits of eLearning.
2. Simplified organization
Learning platforms not only provide participants with an overview of their upcoming and completed eTraining sessions, they also enable learners to view deadlines, compare notes with other learners, access documents that have been made available and complete the eTraining sessions you have provided within the time frame that works best for you. eTraining can be paused at any time and then continued later. So downtime traveling the subway home can also be used as learning time. This creates useful flexibility that is beneficial in particular for learning outcomes.
3. Target-group-specific delivery of content
The learning management system enables you to deliver learning content by target group. After all, different departments usually also need different knowledge. Only a few courses will be equally relevant for all your employees. In the LMS, delivery is simple: Courses are only released to learners who actually need them. This creates a clear and customized learning interface that in turn lowers barriers starting learning.
4. Needs-based content delivery
The LMS also tracks learning progress and knowledge levels, enabling the appropriate courses to be issued to each individual participant. In plain terms, if a learner already has the necessary prior knowledge, for example, they can skip courses or parts of courses, thus preventing them becoming bored and keeping them motivated. Conversely, learners with knowledge gaps can be automatically moved back within the course sequence so that everyone can successfully complete the training.
5. Standardized quality
Learning content often has to be updated regularly, for instance due to changes to occupational safety or data protection regulations regarding eTraining, or, for example, because a customer coaching course has not been updated to reflect developments in customer communication. Since online courses are centrally managed and controlled by the learning management system, updates only need to entered once. The online course is then automatically delivered to all learners.
6. Optimum networking
Professional learning platforms offer special functions that network learners within the system and thus promote social learning. Depending on the system’s functions, participants can thus compare notes directly, chat together, or arrange video conference meetings.
Learning management systems make learning outcomes centrally measurable. Since all content and all learners are managed centrally within one system, all learning progress can also be viewed there. At the same time, this enables certificates and bonuses to be sent to participants automatically. Companies thus have an up-to-date overview of their employees’ knowledge and achievements at all times.
The key functions and features of a good learning management system
eines guten Learning Management Systems
To enable you to take advantage of all these benefits, a learning management system needs to meet specific requirements. The checklist below provides an overview of selected components, functions and features that a learning management system should have.
Most organizations do not have one single person who manages all employee training centrally and allocate different tasks to different organizers within the management process. These must be clearly shown on the system so that it reflects your company structure.
Learning platforms and eTraining sessions for English-speaking employees should of course be automatically provided in English.
Pre-tests help to situate individual participants’ knowledge within the sequence of courses. Learners with a high level of prior knowledge can start at an advanced point, while learners with little prior knowledge can automatically start with the basics. Final tests after the course check participants’ knowledge and guide them toward their next course on the basis of their results. This means that learning paths are individualized and flexible at all times, avoiding boredom or overload. So participants’ motivation is maintained and learning outcomes are improved.
Companies thus always have an up-to-date overview of their employees’ knowledge and can provide evidence that they have conducted regular training sessions in areas specified by law.
Ideally, it will be possible to present learners with vouchers or other bonuses virtually together with their certificates. After completing their training, learners will also receive proof that they themselves can keep that they have undertaken continued professional development.
SCORM is the standard compatible file format for eLearning courses. So you should make sure that your authoring software also offers the SCORM or xAPI eLearning standard. Ideally, however, you should purchase authoring software and LMS from the same provider for easy integration.
This allows you to position news—for example, on new courses, additional training etc.—in exactly the right place for its theme and where learners are guaranteed to see it.
It also allows simple questions such as “Did you find this material helpful?” to be incorporated into the learning process.
An LMS can deliver more than just eTraining sessions. In fact, it can map all training activities.
These tools usually also have features that provide specific support for virtual learning.
The bottom line
Learning management systems are always worth having if you want to manage, deliver, and evaluate knowledge in a centralized manner. They not only allow you to manage all learners and learning content centrally, they also have functions that network learners to promote social learning, support adaptive learning, and provide you with detailed insight at all times into the progress of all participants. So if you are planning to introduce eLearning, you’ll need a multifunctional learning platform such as a learning management system.
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