Once you are in the market for a Learning Management System (LMS), there are many factors to consider. We have touched on some of them in our previous posts about the different types of systems and how to choose one. But it’s also very important to look at the specific features and functionalities your future LMS has to offer.
The 80/20 rule is also valid to a huge extent when it comes to the services, features and options available in a LMS. So, a careful evaluation of your own organization’s needs will be useful to determine which functionalities will be key for you and will be used the majority of the time.
At their core most LMS are pretty similar and should basically fulfill a set of requirements through features and functionalities. An LMS should provide content hosting for courses and an admin should be able to upload, edit, grade, assign/enrol learners and pull out detailed reports from the system.
The users of the system in their turn, should have access to the system to interact with the available courseware, complete quizzes, assignments, download materials etc.
Of course, different platforms may focus on different parts of this basic functionality or take a unique approach to developing the features. Depending on your specific business needs you might be happy with the core functionality, or you might want to go further and require some distinct additional features developed to suit your circumstances. E.g. a high number of remote or mobile employees, the need to comply with strict industry or government standards for your content, etc.
Do You Need it All?
Having mentioned the core functionalities that you should look for in an LMS, we should also point out that the majority of solutions contain too many of them. This means that a big portion of the capabilities of a system are hardly ever used.
When you select an LMS it’s important to ask yourself which functionalities are most important to your organisation. For example video chat or social media sharing integrations might seem like really sexy features. Or perhaps a ‘gamified’ badge system for rewarding learners. But do these features fit with your organizational culture? Are they something that you will actually use on a regular basis and will excite your co-workers about the system and the learning process?
It’s key to reflect on the above and make the decisions before you start looking for an LMS. In this way you’ll keep within your budget and won’t be bamboozled by the unnecessary features no matter how hip they look.
Look Behind the Pretty Face
It’s quite normal and understandable that one of your requirements for an LMS will be a clear and easy to use interface so your learner will be attracted to it. However, keep in mind that simplicity is the key here. The front end should be simple, easily customizable so you can add some of your corporate identity, but as far as the user is concerned it’s only a means to an end i.e. getting to the content. So, don’t be drawn too much to the all singing all dancing interfaces, look at the functional part - does it offer a quick and easy navigation so my learners can find their way to the courses in as few clicks as possible?
The Must Haves
So here are the core requirements when it comes to features and functionality or in other words the main areas to focus on when you are choosing an LMS
Ease of Use - make sure that you choose an LMS that is simple and quick to use in its core and doesn’t require that learners go through an initial induction just to use the system. This will definitely be a barrier to implementation and buy-in.
Reporting - it’s important to know what the learners are doing, monitor their progress and report results to key stakeholders. However, this is only one side of coin - you should also allow your users to view their progress and status, which will motivate them to succeed.
Support - make sure that your LMS provider offers the necessary support because no matter how easy to administer, at some point you will have questions and will need help. So it’s important to enter into a partnership with the supplier, and be clear on what you can expect once you start running the system.
And if you want to compare the LMS you have shortlisted, in our next blog post we will talk about checklists of features and are they helpful in the vendor selection process. We will be happy to discuss in detail the features and functionalities of Melon LMS, just get in touch and let us know all your questions.