LMS- What is it & Why should I care?
A learning management system or (LMS) is a software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting and delivery of educational courses or training programs.
Purpose- An LMS helps to deliver and manage instructional or Online training content and typically handles student registration, online course administration and tracking and assessment of student work. Ideally an LMS allows students, employees, staff access to training material that is accessible anywhere at anytime. LMS’s are typically used in highly regulated industries, like insurance, finance, manufacturing. Many industries that require OSHA training and compliance tracking will utilize and LMS, with complete tracking and reporting on who has been trained properly and who has not.
Technical Aspects- Traditionally, Computer Based Learning or the precursor to LMS’s were managed on Servers and were extremely expensive to operate and maintain and difficult to setup. Usually requiring an IT staff to operate and maintain. These days most LMS’s currently are Web Based applications or Software as a Service (SAAS). Where the vendor will host the application and handle all of the updates and upgrades so the end user or Administrator’s do not have to worry about maintenance of the system or allocating additional resources to maintain the system. The newer systems are extremely user friendly and super easy for the Student/Employee to take courses that are required by their employers or industries. Newer LMS’s are also really easy to setup and maintain for the Administrator of the system. Many users of LMSs use an authoring tool to create content, which is then hosted on an LMS. GUI or Graphical User Interfaces allow Administrators or Authors to upload content and course material from a variety of media options with menu driven templates. Using videos, PowerPoints, etc., can help condense a lot of material into short bursts of information which are Ideally suited for an LMS.
Why should I care?-How do I decide which LMS is best for our organization?- Ideally, the system should be easy to use for the student to take a course and understand the course material. It should be easy to setup for the Administrator to import or add users into the system and should be really easy to report on who has taken courses with full reporting/statistics on who has passed or not passed the required material. The system should also include solid referenceable customer support and technical support to ensure a smooth user experience for the duration of it’s usage. I hope this helps to shed a little light on what used to be a complicated overly technical industry, as that is no longer the case.