An LMS is an infrastructure either in the cloud noted often as SaaS (Software as a Service), but in reality, it is a PaSS (Platform as a Service). Some systems are listed as “on client site”, which means the system is hosted behind the business’s firewall.
It is a place where a customer (YOU) could store (house) courses (WBT, ILT or both), content (word documents, PDFs, videos, media files, images, etc.), enabling learners to view, take and/or complete each piece or series of pieces (courses, content) as part of the learning path or as a standalone.
On the other side of this infrastructure, among other things, you can generate and print reports and view analytical information regarding learners.
What are The Standard Features for LMS’s in 2019?
- Ability to see/view, select/pick courses (and nowadays content too) somewhere in the system
- Course catalog
- Ability to add learners (users) to your system, regardless of method
- Ability for learners to pick their own courses, course, content, etc. from a course catalog
- Ability to assign learners (users) to a course or multiple courses including combination (i.e. you can assign one course to a learner, and then assign several other different types of content/courses to the learner – who knows, maybe you just want them to feel overwhelmed)
- Ability to add groups
- Ability to assign learners (users) to a group or groups
- Ability to assign a group or groups a course or a set of courses (including content, i.e. one piece of content, multiple pieces of content)
- Ability to upload a course built in a 3rd party authoring tool (not just PowerPoint, which uh, is not an authoring tool)
- Ability to upload a course or courses from a 3rd party course/content provider (example: Wiley, Skillsoft, etc.)
- Batch upload learners
- Some type of learning environment online
- A calendar – Should have scheduled items on it, could be webinars (online only), seminars (ILT), or a combo of both
- Has a learner side – regardless if it is user-friendly or not, although we all want user-friendly
- Has an administrator side – again, regardless if it is user-friendly or not or has several choices or hundreds of choices (in that case, way too many)
- Has at least one assessment feature
- Notifications – At least two functions, the base is the ability to send learners via e-mail verification they signed up for a course or other types of content
- Has at least one course standard (Standards : SCORM, SCORM 1.2, SCORM 2004 3rd edition, SCORM 2004 4th edition, AICC, PENS, xAPI, CMI-5). Most vendors today have SCORM.
- At least two social functions, the usual is a “profile of some sort”
- Multilingual – At least two languages
- Mobile responsive – means you can see it in a mobile web browser. It does not mean it includes native apps.
- Gamification – Minimum are badges and a leaderboard
- Analytics – Doesn’t matter if it is robust or a pie chart.
- Reporting – Ideally ad-hoc as one option, but a minimum are filters
- Browser Agnostic – at least viewable in one browser.
- Content curation or a course marketplace or both
- Video management – video streaming is the minimum
- Classroom management – for Face to Face training
Even with standard features, some of them can be “turned off” by the administrator.
Turn it off means just as it sounds, you click a button or icon on the back-end (administration) and the feature no longer is “live” in the system. At a later point, if you decide you want the feature “live,” simply click the button to turn it “on.”
E-Commerce: Beyond the Standards for Learning Management Systems
E-Commerce is not listed as a standard, because there are systems focused only for employees, and thus, they will not have e-commerce. If your system targets B2B/B2C or a combo of employees and customers, then e-commerce is a feature you will want.
Other “optional features” include a manager view and/or instructor view. If you are seeking a system for customer training/education, then you should select one that does not have a manager/instructor view. In this scenario, you would want multi-tenant with the ability to skin each tenant.
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