- What is a learning management system?
- What are the core features of an LMS?
- Power your eLearning system with custom LMS features
- A comparison of an off-the-shelf LMS with custom software
Online learning is firmly in place due to the pandemic restrictions, and the technologies needed for it are being developed at a fast pace to meet the demand of the new reality. Listening to a traditional lecture in a crowded room to gain knowledge is not the most effective approach, and in pandemic times it is also not safe.
Using an online learning management system is worth considering for remote education and training employees if you’re not already doing it. In this article, we take a close look at the differences between a building custom learning management system (LMS) and a pre-developed one to determine which of the solutions would be more effective for your business.
What is a learning management system?
A learning management system is at the core of the eLearning process since this is the specialized software that is used for supervised or unsupervised online education. It is a web and/or mobile application that allows for the sharing of modular educational content for independent studying, staying in touch with teachers, getting evaluations on the quality of knowledge obtained, tracking progress and certification.
There are a lot of types of learning management system software depending on the target users, goal of the system, content that needs to be shared, and technical specs, so let’s take a look at some types of LMS systems.
What are examples of learning management systems?
- LMS for schools and universities. Students in school are the most intuitive examples of a learning management system for users in education. The process of adopting these technologies in schools was slow in the past primarily because of bureaucratic red tape, but the pandemic forced educational institutions to adapt to changes fast and integrate eLearning tools in their processes. Google Classroom learning management system is one of the most popular eLearning applications widely used in the educational sector.
- Learning management systems for businesses. These applications are corporate learning management systems that used for employee onboarding, training, and certifications. Generally, these applications come as Software as a Service (SaaS) like the Salesforce LMS.
- LMS for online courses. In contrast to enterprise learning management systems, learning management systems for online courses are intended for individual use in most cases. With the help of such apps, users can get started with an online course from any field they like or find useful, they can study at their own pace and they can obtain certification after the course is completed. Udemy and Coursera are examples of such apps, with the latter being an example of a partially free learning management system meaning the users can study certain courses for free).
There are also ready-made learning management systems that come with a pre-developed set of features, or you can create a custom LMS that has features that can be created to meet your specific business needs.
What are the core features of an LMS?
Below are the core features of the learning management system (LMS) software.
- Login page. This is where users first interact with the LMS.
- User management. With the help of this feature, an LMS administrator can invite, add, or delete users. This feature also allows for creating groups of users who are going to study the same material under the supervision of a teacher.
- Course creation. This is a core feature that helps with the creation, structuring, and sharing of educational content most often in the form of a course divided into modules.
- Tests and assessments. After each educational module is completed, users can take a test and evaluate their knowledge or skills. This feature of education LMS is a relief for teachers since the test results are processed and calculated automatically.
- Certification. After the course is completed, users can get a certificate that says they completed the course or there may be a report that has a more detailed evaluation of skills and knowledge the users have gained.
- Reporting and result tracking. This is an essential feature for an enterprise LMS since it provides insights about employee performance.
- Notifications. With this feature, users can receive a notification when their test results are ready or when there is a new training module they should complete by a certain deadline.
- Simple dashboards. With their help, a user can get reports on their progress, average learning time per session, and other metrics about their learning experience.
Power your eLearning system with custom LMS features
In the case of custom learning management system development, you can come up with a more advanced set of LMS features that will be created taking the specifics of your school or business and the expectations of the students and employees into account. Below are some custom functions that can make the learning experience more engaging and effective.
- Gamification. Gamification is an effective element of the learning experience, and this is true for pre-school children and beyond. An employee learning management system can be designed with gamification features to make the learning process more enjoyable and add elements of competition.
- Integrations. To make the training of your employees an integral part of your business processes, you may need to integrate your custom LMS with other solutions you are already using like customer relationship management (CRM), task management, and accounting software.
- Content management system. With the help of this feature, the system administrator can manage educational content and embed valuable information from external resources while taking business goals into account.
- Competency management. This feature is essential for tracking the progress of employees and making sure their knowledge and skills are sufficient to achieve business goals. This feature is even more important when it comes to training employees whose job is too responsible to take risks, for example, competency management is a must-have feature for a healthcare learning management system.
- Custom design. The design of a ready-made learning content management system is quite simple and this may be the right solution if you only need a simple user interface and experience. However, having custom-designed LMS software will allow you to create more specific eLearning experiences while accurately meeting and achieving business goals.
- Custom dashboards and data visualization. Using a custom LMS allows you to create dashboards that reflect the information you specifically need for your business, and data visualization capabilities that provide you with actionable insights.
A comparison of an off-the-shelf LMS with custom software
|Ready-made LMS||Custom LMS|
|Applicability||May be used across industries.||Can be used only by your business.|
|Available features set||Ready-made LMS comes with a pre-developed set of features that you can’t change. You can usually choose a costly subscription to unlock some additional functions depending on the LMS provider.||You can create as many features as you need.|
|Meeting business goals||Since this is a pre-developed solution, your business will be limited by the available set of features which can’t be business-specific because they are used by different companies across a variety of industries.||Each feature created as part of your custom LMS is developed taking your business goals into account. The development process starts with research and business analysis.|
|Effectiveness and expected results||An out-of-the-box LMS may be effective in the educational sector, however, the results are difficult to predict when they are used in other types of business.||Since each feature is business-specific, there is good reason to believe that your LMS will produce the desired results.|
|Scalability||When using a ready-made LMS you may need to pay for the next-level subscription to get the capability to scale your business using this software, though it may not cover the needs of a growing business.||A custom LMS can be scaled as your business grows.|
|Price||Some systems can be used for free. For example, some of the LMS courses by Coursera are shared free of charge. As for the SaaS solution, the fee depends on the functions you use for the learning process and the number of users.||The price to develop your custom LMS depends on the number of features you want to have and the complexity of the design. You don’t need to pay for a subscription, but you will have to pay for maintenance. If you consider the investment in LMS development as an investment in your human resources, the higher price tag is reasonable.|
A ready-made LMS may turn out to be the more affordable option to meet individual learning goals, while a custom LMS is a more specific solution created in compliance with a company’s business goals and scalability potential. Our development team has hands-on experience creating eLearning and EdTech solutions and would be happy to share our insights during a consultation. You are welcome to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to ask questions regarding your project development!