So, you’re considering whether a learning managing system is the best tool for delivering learning. Maybe you want to upgrade your current LMS or perhaps you’re looking for the best way to upskill your employees. You’ve Googled ‘best LMS’ and ‘benefits of learning management systems’, but, after hours of research and endless scrolling, how do you decide which LMS will generate the change you want? For that matter, how effective is an LMS, really, and what are the limitations?
In this blog, instead of pitting learning management systems against each other to convince you one is ‘best’ let’s consider what they can’t do. Use this checklist to help you decide when choosing between platforms.
Your LMS can’t track course success
Learning management systems can be configured to capture ‘vanity’ metrics but they are less efficient at capturing ‘actionable’ metrics that prove the success of your training program. For example, your LMS may capture course completion rates and grades, but it may not track the amount of time learners spend on a single assessable task. This metric is valuable to course administrators who could:
- Compare this data against the percentage of learners who answer incorrectly
- Identify specific knowledge gaps, or common misunderstandings
- Update existing learning programs accordingly to improve learner success rates
Similarly, your LMS may not be capable of proving your learners’ confidence has increased as a result of course completion - an important factor for evaluating whether your course is successful or unsuccessful.
Recognising this deficiency in LMS capabilities, Guroo Producer has developed an ANALYTICS offering that supports capturing actionable metrics, including learner sentiment pre and post-learning. It also provides room for administrators to track the time it takes learners to complete each task, plot learning capabilities against business outcomes and on-the-job performances. While this doesn’t directly improve your LMS's ability to track success, it does provide effective scaffolding for administrators to plan and track actionable metrics.
Your LMS can’t guarantee learner engagement or help them meet learning outcomes
An LMS is great for housing and managing a range of learning programs and activities, but it can’t ensure your learners engage with the content. This is the domain of subject matter experts and program designers who:
- Identify specific learner goals and outcomes
- Distill information into relevant learning journeys and digestible programs
- Develop interesting activities to meet a variety of learning needs
They may even use an authoring and planning tool like Guroo Producer’s Learning Canvas to ensure learning programs align with business outcomes, stakeholder expectations and learner needs. Ultimately, without carefully designed and structured content, your LMS cannot engage learners or help them meet learning outcomes.
Your LMS can’t replace a project manager
While learning management systems facilitate the enrolment and delivery of learning programs, they cannot play the role of project manager. A project manager is critical to the successful implementation of your LMS, particularly when it comes to configuring your chosen LMS to your business needs, managing data and performing ongoing governance tasks, for example, migrating courses and managing stakeholders. To assist, the latest release of Guroo Producer’s Learning Canvas provides scaffolding for plotting stakeholder management. Administrators can capture and map stakeholder personas, their motivations and significance to the program. Relevantly, PRODUCER offers collaborative tools for project managers to track and share project progress with stakeholders, capture comments and action changes. Use this information to align your learning program more closely with business outcomes.
Your LMS can’t always integrate with the applications you want or need
When selecting an LMS, it is wise to consider the in-built integration features they offer - not all learning management systems are designed equally. You might investigate the following:
- Does the LMS support integration with external content management, analytics or e-commerce apps?
- Does the LMS support uploaded content in any format?
- Does the LMS contain native integration with these programs, or do you need to invest in a third-party LMS integrator?
- Can you build learning directly into the LMS?
You might also consider how easily your preferred authoring tool integrates with your LMS. Do they both support the same Advanced Distributed Learning standards (SCORM vs xAPI), or is there a mismatch? Do you need to exchange your current authoring tool for one that better conforms with your LMS? For example, would it be beneficial to swap your current authoring tool for one that uses SCORM wrappers to stream learning content and broaden cross-platform integration? Alternatively, you could choose an LMS and authoring tool that work together seamlessly like ACADEMY and PRODUCER.
Whatever you decide, your final LMS choice should be guided by:
- The goals of the learning program
- The needs of your learners
- The applications or tools necessary for meeting these goals and needs
Your LMS can’t upskill employees through digital learning alone
Your LMS is an efficient tool for enrolling learners and logically presenting virtual learning, but enrolment numbers and virtual learning completion rates do not indicate a cohort of upskilled learners. To truly upskill employees, provide opportunities for them to practice and reinforce virtual learning in real-world situations. This blended approach to learning:
- Boosts learner engagement and motivation through greater interactivity
- Delivers a more inclusive experience by presenting learning outcomes in multiple formats to meet diverse learning needs
- Offers assessors greater insight into employees’ upskilled abilities
Plan for a blended learning experience by offering face-to-face instruction, on-the-job challenges or problem-solving competitions in addition to virtual learning. For more blended-learning inspiration, check out PRODUCER’s Learning Canvas toolkit!
Your LMS probably can’t automatically meet all accessibility guidelines
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are a series of international guidelines ensuring online content meets anti-discrimination standards. WCAG compliance, however, cannot be delivered automatically by your LMS. Instead, it must be actively planned and implemented by LMS administrators and learning designers. For example, Moodle is WCAG complaint, however, Moodle acknowledges the way its users organise and develop content will impact accessibility (Verdaguer, 2020).
While it is possible to build eLearning modules using WCAG-compliant authoring tools, like PRODUCER, these still need to be embedded on your LMS in a WCAG compliant fashion. It is wise to test your LMS for WCAG compliance using screen-reader tools, such as JAWS or NVDA. This ensures your learning programs are accessible to the widest audience possible. Alternatively, take advantage of services, like Guroo Studio, which provides professional learning design solutions to ensure learning programs are WCAG compliant.
Your LMS can’t automatically build individualised learning paths
Imagine if your LMS could automatically offer individualised learning paths based on each learner’s prior enrolments, course completion, personally identified learning needs and desired knowledge. Currently, LMS administrators manually plot personalised learning paths according to business outcomes and a handful of learning needs broad enough to cover all learners. This can be challenging, particularly when dealing with a large cohort of diverse learners with varied prior knowledge, or divergent business outcomes. In this situation, how can administrators ensure every participant is engaged in a learning experience tailored to their individual needs? Using ACADEMY as an example LMS, let’s examine two possible solutions to this conundrum:
- ACADEMY administrators can build adaptive learning features at the beginning of every course. These capture learner diagnostics which will indicate the most appropriate learning path for every enrolment.
- ACADEMY supports custom learning journeys through badge pathways. Learners can browse available badges and complete programs that are relevant to their needs whilst skipping irrelevant content or prior learning. Essentially, learners are empowered to determine their own learning pathways. This can increase their motivation and engagement with content and, subsequently, improve their learning experience.
Considering the limitations of learning management systems is an effective way to decide the most appropriate LMS for:
- Your needs
- Your business needs
- Your learners’ needs
With the seven points on this checklist, you should have the information you need to consider what you want from your next LMS and to make an informed decision on which platform is right for you.