What is an LMS?

What is an LMS? Industry expert, Craig Weiss, weighs in

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.

Find an LMS, is the only Learning System Search Platform on the market from Craig Weiss. To access FindAnLMS, register for free now.