Part One: Getting Started
Yesterday we held a webinar titled '5 Tips for Selecting the Right LMS. The turn-out was great and we learnt a lot from you about the challenges that occur in choosing an LMS. For those who didn't attend, not to worry as we have a recording of the webinar here. It is about 45 minutes long which I know seems a bit lengthy in our busy days. To save some time, here is a quick run-down on how to choose the right LMS. This blog will discuss the top 3 tips that participants found most helpful.
1. Determine and Set LMS Goals
Our first tip is probably one of the most important. Before you begin searching for an LMS that will meet (and hopefully exceed) all of your business or learning needs, it is vital to define what you want to achieve with your LMS. Further, ask yourself what your LMS users need and want to achieve. Do you want to increase employee engagement, compliance or health and safety? All of these needs are specific to organizations in various industries and thus crucial to know so you can ensure your LMS will help you achieve organizational goals. The best goals will always be SMART—specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. Here are some common questions that will help you better define your LMS goals:
- Who are the stakeholders of your future LMS? (Ex. Users, trainers, instructional designers, impacted departments, shareholders etc.)
- What are their primary interactions with the LMS?
- What’s most important to them?
- What will likely frustrate them the most?
- What reporting capabilities do you need? (Ex. Training results, employee progress and accomplishments)
If you are still having difficulties defining your goals, contact one of our experts and we will provide you with industry specific question that will help you set LMS goals.
2. LMS Specifications
Once you have set your LMS goals and clearly defined your needs, its time to start searching for your LMS. Analogous to purchasing a car, it is very important to determine what’s ‘under the hood’. Here is a set of questions to ask LMS vendors:
- What features does it come with out of the box?
- Is the LMS configurable?
- What features can be added and which ones are free?
- How many users are using the existing LMS and what are they using it for (make sure they service clients that have similar goals as you)?
- Is the LMS interoperable?
- What systems can be linked to it and what is the cost to do so?
What you will notice when speaking to vendors is that proprietary LMSs who charge licensing fees will typically be much pricier than open source LMSs. Don’t be fooled by the price tag though, this definitely does not mean you are paying for a superior LMS. Check out this research paper on the power of open source LMSs for more information.
3. Go for a Test Drive
Would you purchase a car before taking it for a test drive? Or even, marry someone after the first date? Before you purchase a LMS, demo it! If the LMS vendor does not provide demos then this is a very clear red flag. If the LMS is good, the vendor will be pushing a demo in your face because he or she knows you will like what you see after you take it for a spin. Don’t be afraid to ask for some introductory material so you can walk through key features as either a student/employee or teacher/trainer. This is a great method for getting an idea of what the LMS will do for you and your users early on.
Stay tuned because next week we will walk you through the final 2 tips for selecting the right LMS and answer a few of the most frequently asked questions that participants wanted answers to.