What is a Learning Management System (LMS)?
A learning management system, or LMS, is used any time eLearning takes place. Learning management systems are being used across many different industries to improve organizational efficiency. They are also used in schools for online and blended courses. If used properly, an LMS can be a valuable tool that increases the effectiveness of training while reducing costs and time spent on training.
The use of LMS is only likely to continue to grow, so understanding what these systems can do and how to work with them can be helpful for future grow and development.
What Does an LMS Do?
Any LMS should perform three main functions:
- Systematizing and presenting training content
- Creating assignments to solidify and test knowledge
- Evaluate progress
Functions of LMS
LMS features and functions may vary, but all LMS are typically capable of having documents uploaded, managed, and distributed to students or trainees through web-based software. Most systems also have a calendar function that allows instructors to schedule training and evaluations in a place students can easily view.
Students are generally able to communicate with other students and instructors via the LMS in settings such as email, instant messengers, or forums. In addition to these features, LMS will sometimes include functions that allow instructors to create quizzes and provide reporting. If LMS are specifically for an organization, these features may be integrated with employee performance goals.
Advantages of LMS
Implementing an LMS into an organization or educational institution is highly advantageous for both administrators and students. A web-based LMS allows anytime access where administrators can design and deliver content in advance. Students can access that information when it is most convenient as well. This reduces issues of tardiness and attendance on both sides, fostering more effective learning.
Anytime access may also help to improve students’ ability to absorb the presented material, as learning can take place in a stress-free environment where the student can focus strictly on the new material. Of course, learning hours must legally be factored in as work hours, so it is important to devise a plan for allowing students to clock training hours even when at home or elsewhere. When LMS hours are regularly factored into a schedule, it can help to foster a culture of continuous training.
Training Content Development
Developing training content is easier and less costly with LMS. If changes in the industry or area of study make it necessary to alter content material, it is a simple matter of editing the materials and either redistributing the altered content or saving the alterations for future classes. This is far more efficient than the textbooks and training pamphlets used for training classes in the past, especially since this content can be used indefinitely without fear of damage.
Most LMS allow content to be customized, so the format and techniques used to deliver the material can be updated as frequently and completely as needed. This enables workplaces and schools to make sure that only the most current and relevant material is being presented – in the most modern and relevant way. Additionally, the option of customizing materials can allow workplaces and schools to focus on making training materials as engaging as possible for students.
Who Could Benefit from LMS?
Businesses and organizations of many different kinds can benefit from using LMS. Training is necessary for pretty much every organization and business, and an LMS helps to improve the way that training is managed. The following are a few organizations types that stand to benefit the most from LMS.
Schools that teach all ages can benefit from integrating learning management systems into the curriculum. By making LMS options available, students can review specific materials, work on assignments using mobile options, and even ask for help from peers or teachers when stuck. This can help to make homework less overwhelming and give teachers a unique and effective way to help students that are underperforming.
Healthcare is an industry that can benefit greatly from opportunities for continuous training. New breakthroughs and regulations are constantly emerging in healthcare. LMS makes it easy for trainers to update information and disperse it to nurses, doctors, and specialists so that everyone stays well informed and can best focus on the patients.
As technology is constantly evolving it is necessary for everyone in the IT industry to stay completely up to date with the latest trends, events, and products. LMS makes it possible for IT firms to remain on the cutting edge by helping them distribute new information quickly and efficiently to all workers that must stay informed.
HRIS and Learning Management Systems
Learning Management Systems (LMS) have integrated their way into the hearts of organizations across every industry. LMS are now often used in conjunction with human resources information systems (HRIS) to help get new employees up to speed and keep employees that have been around a while up to date with current industry knowledge.
If you’re unfamiliar with LMS and are thinking about integrating one with your HRIS, or you have an LMS already integrated and are looking for new ways to use it more effectively, the following tips may be helpful.
Opt for Customization
An LMS that’s not specifically geared towards your organization or industry is bound to be less effective than one that’s been created with your industry or company in mind. While the cost may be higher, a customized or customizable LMS will be better at training your employees for real-world situations. Being able to provide this type of in-depth training through such a flexible medium may be invaluable.
Train for Success
Even the best LMS will fall flat if employees, managers, and HR personnel don’t know how to use it. Managers should be shown how to create assignments, employees should be shown how to log in and complete assigned tasks, and everyone should understand how to view goal tracking features. As dashboards and modules change, staff should be retrained to ensure continued understanding and use of the system.
Tie Training to Larger Goals
Training may seem like an unnecessary hassle or simply extra work if employees don’t see the greater purpose of the training. Training should be tied to larger goals in transparent ways in order to generate enthusiasm for the training. It may be effective to show employees how they are being brought up to speed on the latest industry breakthroughs, or it may be useful to attach training to raises and promotion opportunities.
Linking LMS certification tracking to succession planning could be particularly helpful in ascertaining which promotion opportunities are available for which employees. This could be beneficial for both organizations and employees.
Pay Employees for Training Hours
It’s illegal to require employees to work off the clock, so training hours should be tracked and compensated. It may be helpful to allot a certain number of hours per week or per pay period to training in order to hit labor targets while still making it possible for employees to complete training modules through the HRIS. Allowing employees to clock in online will give them the freedom to complete training at their own pace while still covering legal bases.
Use Training Data Strategically
Training data can be useful in reporting certifications and determining promotions, but it can also be used to spot patterns that can improve overall operational efficiency. By cross-referencing training data with turnover, productivity rates, engagement scores, and other metrics, it may be possible to link efficiencies with training and inefficiencies with a lack thereof. After identifying these gaps, training can be used for strategic optimization.
Evolution of LMS
The use of LMS for training and teaching is still a relatively new concept. However, demand for LMS is steadily growing. With this increase in demand, trends are emerging that are sure to shape the evolution of LMS.
Users desire LMS that can be easily merged with technology already being used throughout the company, industry, or institution – such as HRIS. As evolutions occur and make LMS ever easier to implement and use, these systems are sure to become even more widely used.
Preparing for the Future of Learning Management Systems
People are any company’s most valuable asset, but it’s easy to lose track of this sometimes. Companies often get so caught up in day-to-day operations and focus on revenues that people development falls by the wayside. In order to stay relevant and keep up with the competition, it is important to take the time to pay attention to the way that learning management is being handled.
Fortunately, the future of learning management seems to be increasingly focused on allowing employees to take control of their own development. It is necessary for companies to put the tools in place so that employees are able to do this, but the pressures of the past are somewhat mitigated by this approach. When employees are able to update their own skills and learn new knowledge relevant to the company and the industry, it can show the seeds for potential success and greatness.
Shift to Mobile Learning
In 2014, mobile surpassed desktops and laptops as the most popular way to access the internet. To improve the way that employees learn, it only makes sense for companies to gravitate to where employees already are. Mobile learning is perfect for quickly teaching new lessons and skills as it is available at all times and does not induce the same kind of stress that more formal approaches to learning do.
Death of LMS?
Learning Management Systems, or LMS, are often integrated with other HR systems, so the declaration that the LMS platform is dead by many companies and vendors seems like bad news. In reality, however, LMS are still alive and well, but have begun to change in order to adapt to the new expectations for mobile accessibility and on-demand learning. By making sure that your company has an up-to-date LMS that allows on-demand learning and mobile accessibility, it is possible to extend the usefulness of an LMS.
The Role of MOOCs
Increasingly, companies are using MOOCs, or Massive Online Open Courses, to deliver classroom-style training on a larger scale. MOOCs allow instant communication and interaction, which is good for teaching more intensive or technical lessons that may require more guidance. MOOCs are not right for every company or every lesson, but they can be a valuable tool in certain situations.
Some companies are beginning to see the merit in using the age-old technique of mentor-based learning. Following someone that has been doing the job for a long time and can answer questions and provide guidance on a one-on-one level can be very effective for companies in some industries. Mentor based learning can also be combined with mobile learning or MOOCs to reinforce ideas and lessons.
With the flattening of many organizations comes a new style of learning, which is more collaborative and social than in the past. Employees are gaining new insights from other employees on the same level, managers, and employees from different departments that are enriching the learning experience. This approach can be helpful for providing a fresh perspective, but care must be taken to keep the focus of the lessons in sight.
Authored by: Dave Rietsema