Teaching your workers, interns, and customers can be significantly easier when you use a learning management system, but it’s hard to figure out what the right LMS is for any business.
Created for the classroom first, LMS have slowly worked their way into training centers, conferences, daily office use, and even sales opportunities for companies selling certifications. It’s a big and complex market — estimates put it up to nearly $16 billion in the US in 2021 — which means a lot of marketing and muddy waters when you’re trying to find the right partner.
It’s time to get a little more knowledgeable about education and learning software. We’re going to hit the highlights, including:
- What’s an LMS
- LMS Examples
- Best LMS Today
- LMS Requirements
- The Role of Video
- And a Surprising Alternative to Big Software
School’s in, so let’s get started.
What is an LMS?
An LMS is a Learning Management System that is used to deliver all kinds of educational materials and training. While many were initially developed with higher education in mind, plenty now are useful for training teams, onboarding software, and getting a company to certify that its people have practiced on new tools.
In some cases, consultancies are using LMS to provide training classes and sell online courses for students. This ties the students into a specific system and can reduce their ability to take materials and repost them elsewhere.
The crux of an LMS is the e-learning theory. We at Zight (formerly CloudApp) point to the usefulness of such systems in the workplace as well as educational institutions because of the reliance on multimedia. People retain 80% of what they see versus just 20% of what they read. So, if you’re considering the adoption of an LMS, it’s essential to find a program that supports the visuals your team will respond well to each time.
It’s also good to note that LMS were initially designed to bridge gaps in learning and knowledge. These should be some fundamental aspects of your choice here too. That’s because training programs need to support the way we use them. Often, that’s going back to get a refresher on the specific item we forget — the gaps in our knowledge.
What Are Examples of Learning Management Systems?
Okay, so the concept can be a little easy to understand but hard to think of examples in our daily lives. You may have had some broad experience if you’ve created content in Adobe Captivate, a platform that makes it possible to develop and use e-learning materials on a variety of devices.
Google Classroom has popped up more recently because it’s free for schools and students (if the school is paying for other Google services) and incorporates a lot of the tools we use in business settings. So, you might’ve been able to track assignments and other items directly or through its Parents interface.
The Classroom example is good because it runs on top of things like Google Docs, promoting collaboration and management for teams and classes. That type of interaction, while someone can still manage a document and ask for feedback via things like comments, is a very general way that LMS get used.
Imagine an LMS as a Google Doc that pairs your favorite slide tech program with online video series and Buzzfeed-like quizzes. Every individual has a single account with activities and actions tracked, reporting to the leader — whether it be a teacher or a team lead.
Anything that your team uses for collaboration and training can be an LMS. I’ve seen some classes run exclusively via Slack channels (with mixed success). So, you don’t necessarily need a designated LMS tool, though choosing from among the best LMS providers can make it a lot easier to do things like manage assignments and requirements.
What Does an LMS Need?
Before picking your LMS, you’ll want to understand what the best learning management systems have in common. At the same time, you should put together a list of your training and educational requirements to help match features to needs.
Here are a few of the most desired features and needs of an LMS:
- Cloud support: A tool that can be used wherever your students or teams are and on the devices they have. Don’t get something that requires you to bring everyone to a specific location or one that necessitates you buy new hardware too.
- Open- or closed-source: Do you need something you can update and customize yourself or would a self-contained package and minimal tweaks on your own be right for your team and budget?
- Specific purposes: What’s the chief goal you want to accomplish? Many companies first adopt an LMS for employee onboarding. Find one that matches your specific needs and requirements such as team size or the ability for HR to manage it.
- Growth potential: Don’t limit yourself to an LMS that won’t grow with you. Plan with your future size in mind to see what you can afford and what might stifle your potential.
- Internal or external: Are you going to provide training internally or is it for customers? Many LMS can be used for product and service training, but you’ll have significantly broader support needs if you’re providing access to customers.
- Clear dashboards: You’ve got to be able to see student/employee performance and track their success or failures on tests. Ask for demos and to see dashboards to determine if your team lead will be able to simply and effectively determine the status of every person undergoing training.
- Sharing needs: If you’ll be building a training program that must work across a variety of systems, make it in a tool that supports integration and sharing. Typically for LMS, this means something that is SCORM compliant. SCORM stands for “Sharable Content Object Reference Model” and defines how to create shareable items that can be used in multiple systems and generally works without much customization effort.
- Creates what you need: The final thing to note is that you need a system to build what you actually want! This should include courses, images, videos, assessments and tests, certificates, and assignments that can be given to specific employees.
10 Best Learning Management Systems
There are a lot of great LMS options available to you, but you want the best learning management systems to choose from, right? Well, according to Zapier and Capterra, here are a few to consider:
- Coassemble: Among the top for visually rich courses (which we dig), and overall simple and streamlined design.
- Didacte: Among the top for employee training and quick course creation.
- efront: Among the top for skill-gap testing with many different white label opportunities.
- Eurekos: Among the top for support of a different content types and advanced gamification, video conferencing, and ecommerce support.
- GoToTraining: Among the top for live training on a variety of PCs and mobile platforms
- Lessonly: Among the top for practice-based learning
- LifterLMS: Among the top for WordPress-specific building and sharing.
- TalentLMS: Among the top for pre-built courses on the web and mobile platforms.
- Together Corporate Mentorship: Among the top for corporate training and professional services sharing, including mentorship-specific elements.
- LearnWorlds: Among the top online course platforms suitable for creating, marketing and selling online courses for SMEs and solo trainers.
What really makes these shine is their ability to simplify the work you need to do to get a class up and running. They highlight the benefits for your students as much as back-end support. Look at these and other solutions to find out what expertise is needed to create and class and go from there.
It’s all about being comfortable with your skills to develop content and courses, while securing an all-in-one solution to distribute the classes to everywhere your students are. Find a solution that manages and simplifies the logistics and resources for you, reporting and intelligence, and the management and storage of materials. Always know how and where you upload items to and how they’re called or used to make future development and updates easy.
Plan for the courses you’ll build and those from every teacher to come after or work in conjunction with you.
Video and Learning Management Systems
Videos have long been used for educational purposes, but today’s classrooms (in school or the workplace) aren’t relying on an old VCR to show grainy cartoons when the weather is bad, or the teacher is sick. We’ve collectively realized that video has amazing potential for learning and are capitalizing on that everywhere we can.
Your office shouldn’t be any different.
After scouring research blogs, educational software, and even a few scientific studies, we put together this quick list of benefits that videos bring to your training. These touch on teachers, students, and information delivery.
- Video-based learning is 83 percent more effective for retaining information for six months or more.
- Video is most useful when items are short, and students can interact and respond. Tools that allow your students to create video too significantly boost learning capabilities.
- Video encourages teamwork and collaboration, especially when using a screen recorder.
- Users who get a mix of video and text learning materials feel more autonomous and retain more information. It’s a great reason to try a GIF creator.
- Employees are 75% more likely to watch an entire video than read your text document
- Online video and remote eLearning can reduce costs because up to 40% of employee training costs are travel related. Video also makes learning an on-demand tool with lectures that don’t need to be live, further managing costs.
- Video gives your teachers time to review materials so they can ensure consistency, quality, and accuracy in training materials. It’s helpful to rely on the best video recording software here.
- Video reinforces greater digital literacy which your employees will need in more of their day-to-day operations.
- Video generates greater engagement levels for all types of content across all types of learners.
- Video training can easily be adapted to great marketing tools.
- Students who need help respond especially well to personalized video elements, whether it is a new item just for them or a curated list to answer questions.
And, according to those same studies, there are a few best practices for your videos too:
- Keep them brief and targeted to specific learning
- Mix audio and visuals for every part of the explanation — make them complementary not redundant
- Specifically highlight what’s important and you want people to learn
- Keep your tone conversational and enthusiastic
- Embed video in the context of learning via questions, discussion, and interactive elements
A Smart Alternative to LMS
So, what’s a company to do when it comes to an LMS? Are you looking for a massive solution that can reach thousands? Is it in your budget? And will your team be receptive to this new e-learning?
Those are tough questions that can make it hard to jump into a full-feature LMS, especially if you’re new to the training space. If that’s your concern, allow us to present an alternative. Try Zight (formerly CloudApp) for free and see if it can answer your team’s training needs.
You can build a wide range of videos for each individual element, question, or other training need. Break down every step of your process with a simple video. Plus, you can annotated teach or take individual frames and screenshots to highlight each step in a list too.
Then, pair it with one of our integration partners like Trello to create individual assignments and tag everyone who needs the training. Google Sheets and Docs integration also make it easy for teams to share notes, create group assignments, and complete tasks. Communicate and collaborate with multiple ways for people to ask for help as they need it.
Even better, all of this can stay evergreen with easy updates. No complex software to recreate or adapt, just simple corrections or changes. In SaaS, for example, you’re already making updates for customers each time your software updates. Incorporate those elements into your training with Zight (formerly CloudApp) annotations and you’ve got one set of materials serving a dual purpose.
It’s that easy and there’s no risk when you get started through a free Zight (formerly CloudApp) trial available here.