What Is a Learning Management System?
Getting learners fired up about training starts with providing a great learner experience. Since the learning management system, or LMS, is the main corporate learning hub, the way learners interact with and use it is important.
A good LMS combines the features of a library or database, holding courses, videos, and curated content; a search engine; and an online learning space. It might include quizzes, a way for managers or admins to create and track individuals’ learning paths, and a system for offering certificates or badges when a learner completes a course or curriculum. Some LMS platforms even make it easy to manage instructor-led or blended training, simplify course enrollments, or send notifications and reminders to learners.
More than a content library
An LMS, like our SmarterU platform, is primarily (but not only) a learning-resources catalog. It’s got to be easy to search, so learners can find the right courses and materials. The LMS is also the delivery platform for eLearning or online learning, and it should be easy to learn and navigate.
The simplest LMS might support only conventional eLearning “courses” — collections of slides or pages with text, images, and perhaps embedded videos and quizzes. Other LMS platforms are more robust and support additional features like:
- Ability to create or import eLearning content in a variety of formats, like videos, podcasts, and more
- Message boards or discussion forums where learners enrolled in a course can use an email-like format to discuss the material
- Gradebooks or other mechanisms for managers or instructors to record learners’ performance on assignments and quizzes
- Wikis or resource sections where instructors and/or learners can post curated content and link reference materials
- A place for a course syllabus in an academic setting
- A way for managers or admins to collect and analyze data on learners, from the basic — course completion, time spent — to the complex and customizable
- Dashboards to manage enrollment and notifications or reminders for instructor-led and blended learning solutions
- Integration with social collaboration platforms, third-party content libraries, and more
An eLearning hub
The LMS is the central hub for all learning activity.
The learner experience often starts with a search for courses or other content. Learners — or their managers — might be looking for specific course or they might browse a “catalog” of offerings.
The next step is enrolling and perhaps configuring the notices and reminders.
Some LMSs include a calendar function and way to set and track due dates and deadlines. Learners often submit assignments, take quizzes, and complete surveys using the LMS.
Many LMS platforms support some form of scaffolding or prerequisites to steer learners into courses in an appropriate order and prevent them from enrolling in advanced classes until they’ve completed the fundamentals.
Managers should be able to see learners’ progress and help them choose their next courses.
All in all, the LMS should provide a great experience: for learners, for their managers, and for the L&D team who oversee the creation and use of learning content.
- Runs polls
- Shares slides and the whiteboard
- Watches the chat box for questions
- Watches for learners using the “raised hand” icon to signal a question or problem
- Monitors for technology glitches — remaining alert for any learners reporting problems on their end.
Simple games layered on top of content
Scenario-based games that use the content
Fan excessive competition among employees or teams by offering large prizes for top performers and/or shaming those with lower scores
Challenge employees to beat their own past performance, or design a leaderboard that shows each employee only the four scorers above and below them
Points, rewards, badges
Award points or levels for completing sections of training or playing for a set number of minutes
Award levels, badges or points for recalling or applying content correctly, demonstrating mastery
- Remember — bookmark, google, link, search
- Understand — annotate, Boolean search, journal, tweet
- Apply — chart, display, execute, present, upload
- Analyze — attribute, deconstruct, illustrate, mash, mind map
- Evaluate — comment, editorialize, moderate, network, post
- Create — blog, film, integrate, podcast, program, publish