According to the Harvard Business Review, 75% of managers are “dissatisfied with their company’s learning and development function.” This is a massive problem: without a manager’s endorsement, it’s next to impossible to get the employee buy-in you need to make learning programs useful.
So, how can L&D departments create better learning experiences—ones that produce real results? Start with picking the right tools. Not every learning management system is created equal: There are various standard and premium features that come with each LMS. The right LMS can go a long way toward making your learning programs more effective.
Use our guide to LMS features to help you select an LMS that will enhance your learning programs and your L&D team’s workflow.
At its core, every LMS offers course creation, course management, and course delivery tools.
Course creation tools let you build courses or learning paths for your employees on the training topics you want them to learn, allowing you to choose the exact topics covered in your L&D program.
The available content formats for a course vary by program, but they can include text, documents, quizzes, assessments, videos, and other kinds of media. You can combine original content and properly sourced media from the internet to create the learning paths your employees need.
Some platforms also let you create training programs that consist of multiple courses. Once you create a set of related courses, you can categorize them into a program to ensure that learners take them in their intended order.
Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) is a technology format readable by most LMS software. SCORM compliance simply means that you can purchase courses from a third-party vendor and upload them to your LMS.
Your LMS should be SCORM-compliant, although the format is quickly becoming outdated as more companies realize the importance of custom learning content. Many SCORM courses available for purchase out generic, old-fashioned looking, or simply outdated. Still, for certain subjects, like compliance training, you may wish to purchase courses instead of creating your own.
Content management features let administrators define how different learners use the same system. An LMS with content management capabilities allows for actions such as:
LMSs also have analytics features that range in complexity. With LMS analytics, you can examine how learners interact with your courses. Some of the most common metrics analyzed in LMS platforms include:
Many LMS's will compile this data into regular LMS reports or dashboards so you can see how effective your programs are at driving the learning outcomes you desire. For example, monitoring your new employee onboarding training course module completion rates helps you understand how you could improve course material to improve retention and competency.
Course delivery is the last step of the LMS lifecycle. With an LMS’s asynchronous eLearning functions, employees can learn at any time they want from their own computer. This means they don’t have to log on at the same time as the instructor to complete a course, while also making it possible to offer blended learning experiences simultaneously.
Advanced LMS features aren’t necessary to the core functionality of an LMS, but they have a large role to play in a platform’s utility to the user. Look for an LMS with these features for an easier, deeper learning experience.
While basic analytics functions are useful, real-time analytics and in-course feedback help you create much stronger courses.
Common examples of these features include ratings and comments. Ratings provide quick pulse checks throughout a course that provide numerical data on learner satisfaction. Learners can also comment on a section, course, or program to offer more specific feedback.
Feedback features can also go more in-depth than comments and ratings for richer information. For example, our Reactions and Relevance Scores make it simple for learners to provide their opinions while giving you more nuanced insights on average.
Gamification features use game design principles to encourage learning. Research shows that gamification can improve learning outcomes for participants.
Gamification can take many forms in LMS learning. Learners can receive rewards and achievements for reaching learning milestones or compete with one another to get the highest learning accomplishment. Others use leaderboards to create natural competition between learners.
Many different learning formats work well with gamification. Gamification features can apply to competitive or Collaborative Learning. Trainers have opportunities to gamify both passive learning (related to absorbing information) and active learning (related to completing learning activities).
Third-party integrations enable an LMS to work with outside platforms across departments to streamline training operations. Examples of third-party integrations in LMS platforms include:
Some LMSs include co-authoring features where multiple users can collaborate on course creation. Platforms that implement co-authoring might have collaborative features like:
With these capabilities, users can work on the same course synchronously or asynchronously and share input. These features also provide customization opportunities for improving course relevancy to a broader range of people.
Some LMS tools also function as Collaborative Learning platforms that prioritize a bottom-up learning framework over the traditional top-down model. They promote the concept of Collaborative Learning, where employees learn from and with one another.
In line with the principle of decentralized learning, Collaborative Learning platforms let participants request training needs. Other employees can then step up and volunteer to meet that training need.
Letting employees propose topics they want to learn about makes training needs analyses more accurate and less resource-intensive for L&D departments. It also helps drive learner engagement, as regular feedback makes your learning paths more relevant to your employees.
A Collaborative Learning platform's user interface makes it easy for any participant to create a course for their peers. As a result, anyone at your company has the chance to share their unique knowledge, which helps drive peer and social learning initiatives.
Collaborative Learning platforms also prioritize fast and easy course creation to adapt to the needs of decentralized teams with various skill levels. To make course creation simpler and to build a better overall user experience, Collaborative Learning includes course creation features like:
Because of Collaborative Learning’s nimble model, it requires easy methods for students to provide feedback. Collaborative Learning platforms promote instant feedback through user interface features like:
These functions allow you to get even more granular as you assess the accuracy and efficacy of each course offering.
When choosing an LMS, consider the features available and how they can benefit your team. Set learning goals and find a platform with features that meet those benchmarks. Then, you can continually evaluate your learning needs and whether your LMS is meeting them.
Want to see how a Collaborative Learning platform works? Schedule a free demo with one of our learning experts: