New year. New decade. New LMS? Maybe. Do an LMS review to find out.
The new decade brings with it many new and exciting learning technologies. But before you get swept away in all the hype, take a step back to review how well your existing LMS is serving your training needs.
Check out this Learning Technology research from Toward Maturity to help separate hype from reality before you continue.
Now that we’ve cleared that up, here are a few broad questions to get you started on your own LMS Review.
Does your LMS:
- Meet your immediate needs?
- Live up to minimum standards?
- Keep up with mainstream trends?
- Embrace emerging learning technologies?
Use the LMS Review to see where, exactly, your LMS is falling short.
With an abundance of features available on any given LMS, it is easy to fall down an LMS-feature rabbit hole. Once in that “hole,” you may find your head is spinning with possibilities and losing sight of the bigger picture: the changes and improvements your organization actually needs.
Yes, there are going to be features that fall into the “you don’t know what you don’t know” category; but start with what you DO know. And one of the best ways to do that is to ask.
Users Can Help with Your LMS Review
A well-crafted survey to your learners can reveal usability issues you had no idea existed. And reaching out to admins who are in the “LMS trenches” every day can reveal even more about where your LMS may be failing both your learners and your admins.
Another effective way to pinpoint usability issues is by applying Use Cases to your LMS. Software developers create Use Cases to help them better understand how users interact with a system. This tool can be useful in isolating LMS problem areas.
In its simplest form, a Use Case is like a volley between the system (in this case, the LMS) and the user, called the “actor” (in this case, Learner, Trainer, Manager, etc.). Each Use Case examines one specific task.
LMS Review Use Cases
Possible Learner Use Cases might include registering for an account. enrolling in a course, fulfilling compliance requirements, getting a question answered, etc.
Trainer Use Cases might include adding a course, updating a course, checking learners’ progress, etc.
Manager Use Cases might include running a report, deactivating a user, monitoring usage, and so forth.
Learn more about Use Cases here.
Combine your survey and Use-Case results with other data you’ve gathered (common help requests, skills gaps, completion rates, noncompliance numbers, sales, etc.) to form a clear picture of what issues need to be addressed right away.
Is Your LMS Living Up to Minimum Standards?
If your initial review uncovers many problem areas, you should check whether your LMS is even meeting what could be considered minimum standards.
While there is no “official” list of features an LMS should include; there are fundamental features you would expect any LMS to have in 2020.
Here are the features we consider fundamental:
- Intuitive user interface
- Branding and customization options
- Course management tools
- Video and SCORM lessons
- Resource libraries
- Assessment tools
- Reporting tools
- Learning paths
- Blended learning
- Certifications and compliance options
- Discussions or forums
- Accessibility and language options
- Custom notifications and permissions
- Ecommerce solutions
- Mobile-friendly interface
- Automations or rules engine
- Integration and API support
- Forced SSL and GDPR-level privacy
- Accessible documentation and support
If your LMS doesn’t offer these basic features, you should consider moving on.
Is your LMS keeping up with “mainstream” trends?
Beyond the most fundamental LMS features, are trending features that are quickly becoming mainstream. Though for many organizations, these features may already be necessary for effective training in today’s online learning environment.
Some of these LMS features include:
- Social learning tools
- Competency-based learning tools
- Personalization and adaptive learning
- Microlearning and drip content
- Content curation and user-generated content
- Continuous learning solutions
- Skills-gap testing and management
- Interactive video functionality
- xAPI content and reporting
- Sub-portal support for branches or teams
- Mobile app (iOS and Android)
- Integration with third-party services like Zapier and H5P
Research Your LMS’s Features, Updates and Future Plans
Now is the time to go down that “feature rabbit hole” with your existing LMS to get a clearer picture of all the features it has to offer.
In addition to existing features, seek out your LMS’s roadmap of upcoming features. This roadmap can also provide insight into how committed your LMS is to staying current.
Your LMS should also have a list of current updates – typically found in the help section under “release notes” or “product news.”
This list will help you stay abreast of improvements to features you are already using, but don’t stop there. Read every entry in the list. Even changes to seemingly unrelated features can help you solve issues you’ve uncovered in your Use Cases or other analyses.
Does your LMS embrace emerging technologies?
There is no shortage of new learning technologies on the horizon. Some of them will be relevant to your organization’s needs, some will not.
Here are the learning technologies we are most excited about:
- Virtual learning
- Augmented reality
- Artificial intelligence
- Learning Record Stores
- Learning Experience Platforms
- Mobile learning apps
Explore Ways Your LMS Can Accommodate New Technologies
Even if your LMS doesn’t offer built-in solutions for a specific emerging technology, it may still be able to accommodate. Here are a few examples of how an LMS might accommodate emerging technology:
- Virtual Learning experiences can be embedded in your LMS as SCORM lessons or as Web Objects from third-party services
- LMS and xAPI data can be reported to an integrated Learning Records Store for advanced analysis
- Mobile learning apps can share login credentials with an LMS using single sign-on (SSO) functionality
These are examples of how your LMS can “embrace” emerging technologies. A robust LMS will offer any number of ways to integrate with third-party services and other technologies, including LTIs, APIs, Microservice APIs like Zapier, and external tools like H5P.
Include a deep dive into the integration and API methods your LMS offers in your review.
New LMS? Maybe not.
Your LMS review may uncover too many problems that cannot be resolved using your LMS’s existing features. In this case, the search for your new LMS may be at hand.
However, if your LMS is “almost” there, dig a bit deeper into those integration and API methods for solutions or workarounds. There may be a third-party service to integrate, or a technology to embed that will get your LMS up to speed and save you a lot of time and resources.
Just because your LMS doesn’t do something “out of the gate” doesn’t mean you can’t find a workaround solution. But constantly trying to find workarounds can also be a red flag.
You have choices, and even though the idea of switching your LMS can be daunting, so can running into brick walls around every corner of your LMS.
Ready for your own review?
Great! We’ve got you covered. Download our new Annual LMS Review Checklist and start your own LMS Review today.
Elearning Delta’s LMS Review Checklist can help you:
- Identify problem areas with your LMS
- Stay apprised of new features and updates
- Recognize feature gaps in your LMS
- Keep up-to-date on trending learning technologies
- Find solutions and workarounds
How Elearning Delta Can Help
We can help you pinpoint problems with your LMS, research solutions and workarounds, and help you implement improvements. We work with most leading Learning Management Systems. And, if you decide you need to move on, we can help you find the right LMS for your current and future needs.