LMS KEY FEATURES LEARNING ZONE
There are many things that can make or break your choice of learning management system, but perhaps the most crucial is LMS features.
In order to actually see ROI or build a business case for LMS software, you’ll want a learning management system that does exactly what you need it to do.
We’ve created an LMS feature list – including why you even need a learning management system, how to choose an LMS that’s right for your needs, and the LMS capabilities you really need – right here.
What is a learning management system (LMS)?
A learning management system is a software system that is used to create, deliver, track and report on the learning process. Many learning management systems can be integrated with HRIS suites to create an ecosystem that connects people and learning data for clearer performance and talent management.
What are the benefits of an LMS?
There are a number of ways an LMS functions to strategically benefit not just your L&D process, but your greater business.
You can offer the same pacing, content, environment and opportunities to all your users.
It’s also a single source of truth for everything from learner engagement to tracking skills learned. Plus, the data you gain from LMS reporting features cannot be matched by any manually-gleaned insights.
Diversity of learning delivery
Support blended learning or create solely online learning programs. Native mobile apps means users can learn on the go, too.
By leveraging technology, it’s easy to update any and all course materials at scale, reducing manual burden.
Learners can self pace
Guided learning enables them to complete a training program when they can, while you retain control of the topics and outcomes to ensure a learning path results in business impacts.
Saved time and money
You reduce the travel and venue expenses of physical training events, and LMS capabilities like skills mapping streamlines talent management for HR.
What are the different types of learning management systems?
Variety may be the spice of life, but there’s a reason analysis paralysis exists. There are many variations of learning platforms on which you can host training programs.
The type of software will determine the LMS capabilities available to you, regardless of your needs. At the barest bones, there are three types of learning management systems:
- Open source
The older iteration of LMS hosting requires you to purchase and store the LMS on your own server or network.
You can’t just make any changes to a self-hosted LMS, nor can you distribute the LMS once you’ve bought it since the original developer retains IP. It’s what’s known as an out-of-the-box solution.
As the name suggests, the cloud-based LMS is hosted via the internet. Data is stored on the vendor’s server and they manage all development, support, storage and maintenance needs. You’ll pay ongoing fees for both product and service. This is the modern and more prevalent version of the LMS.
12 key LMS features to consider
Ultimately, there is no one size fits all approach to LMS features. There are certainly some that will fit most needs, but there’ll be just as many LMS features that you won’t end up using.
The crucial part of this is understanding what learning management system features can actually do for you.
Administrative LMS features
These are the top LMS system features you’ll want for your admin.
There are a couple of reasons you’ll want to be able to make your own training courses.
- You have complete control of the information included in eLearning courses compared to the potentially general nature of traditional learning content.
- You position yourself as subject matter experts to learners.
- Course creation and management is centralised.
Essentially, you have a better chance of creating personalised learning paths down the line when your content is truly representative of the capability needs in your organisation.
Make sure to ask your LMS provider if multiple formats are included, such as video, audio and SCORM courses. Bonus tip: Enquire about learning object banks so you can quickly duplicate course templates.
Consider compliance training, perhaps the most costly type of training. Manually keeping track of the entire workforce is time and cost intensive, and essentially a whole job in its own right.
In short: It’s not a good use of L&D or HR’s time. You’ll want LMS features that can automate notifications and alerts, as well as update compliance training courses at scale.
This is a security feature. Multi-tenancy LMS capabilities allow you to create mini sites for different groups of learners. You can restrict confidential content to tenancies and create a distinct LMS user interface in each one.
Part of this is role-based permissions. LMS features should allow you to limit access depending on the user’s role in the learning process:
- End user
- System admin
- Tenancy admin
- Facilitator or instructor
Learning experience LMS features
Consider who’s using the LMS. Key features for your users include:
Offering the reward of points, badges and other achievements for progress and completions provokes a positive motivation in learners rather than a negative one (like a punishment).
For example, you may create training programs in the ethos of games where progression is called “levelling up” and badges are displayed on a cohort leaderboard.
This drives real behavioural change, which in turn leads to self-paced employee training and less course management required by your L&D team.
Personalised capability pathways
Learning paths are a staple of many a learning management system. They allow you to bundle multiple courses into one program in a personalised manner for each learner.
But aside from learning paths, the right LMS will allow you to create capability development and succession plans and then track employee progression against those plans.
This takes a bigger step towards more impactful L&D and comprehensive user management. We consider this a must have LMS feature – it is the first part of ensuring your L&D is achieving business goals.
The LMS is another touchpoint between your brand and clients or customers. A white-labelled LMS allows you to make the learning platform your own, through customisable colour schemes, imagery and layouts.
Look out for mobile apps. If the LMS doesn’t look the same across all devices, it’ll be jarring for users and will take them out of the flow of learning.
Mobile learning also crosses over with social learning features. Feedback can be delivered and accessed quicker when learning is availably anytime and anywhere. Learners may also be encouraged to learn in shorter but more frequent periods, which increases their knowledge retention.
These are the LMS features that make your system play well with others. Integrations act as a bridge between the LMS and external applications, including but not limited to:
- CRMs like HubSpot and Salesforce
- HRIS and payroll
- Single Sign On that enables users to recycle login details across multiple apps
- APIs for both developers in the backend and system admin in the front. An LMS API integration is also what enables you to pull and view learner data
This may not be something you consider at first, but hear us out. E-commerce functionality allows:
- Learners to access paid online courses from third party providers
- Organisations to sell training programs to external learners
- The LMS to connect to payment gateways, so payments can be made within the system rather than through an external site
Data analytic LMS features
We may be biased, but the best LMS features are the ones that help you make the admin and learner experience better.
This isn’t just about grading assessments. Tracking skills development can be hard to do, particularly in a blended learning approach. Add external certification and learner sentiment into the mix, and you start to see why astute assessment is one of the key LMS features on this list.
Some features and visuals to enquire of your LMS vendor here include:
- Customisable certificates
- Course and development plan progress
- Competency or proficiency assessments
And here’s the second part of truly strategic LMS capabilities. This may be the most impactful of all LMS features. Without reporting and analytics, you’ll have no idea of learner progress, the efficacy of course material, sentiment for the learning experience, or a way to track learning outcomes.
That means you have no clear insights into the training process, nor can you ensure knowledge retention and skills application post-training. And without that information, you certainly can’t prove ROI of L&D to CEOs and executives.
Some things to look out for here are:
- Customisable reports
- Exportable reports
- Automated scheduling
- Configurable dashboards
- Engagement data (number of logins, most popular course content, completions by cohort, etc.)
As with all business tools, you shouldn’t leave things to chance with your learning management system. Key features to look out for include:
- Content authoring
- Automated compliance
- Development plans
- White labelling
- Mobile learning
- Integrations such as e-Commerce and webinars
- Assessment tools
- Reporting analytics
Knowing what LMS software features you need comes down to choosing the right learning management system to begin with. Understanding if you need an open source, self-hosted of cloud-based LMS will ensure you get the best LMS features for your learners.