LMS-features
Training & Learning

LMS Features to Consider When Choosing a Learning Management System

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.

Standard LMS features

At its core, every LMS offers course creation, course management, and course delivery tools.

Course creation tools

Course creation tools let you build courses 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, videos, and other kinds of media. You can combine original content and properly sourced media from the internet to convey the information you need to share.

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.

SCORM compliance

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Your LMS should be SCORM-compliant, although the format is quickly becoming outdated as more companies realize the importance of custom learning content. Many SCORM courses available for purchase out generic, old-fashioned looking, or simply outdated.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

Content management features let administrators define how different learners use the same system. An LMS with content management capabilities allows for actions such as:

  • Setting permissions: As part of course creation, most LMSs allow you to define user roles, such as teacher and student. Roll assignments determine access to course content, grades, and other elements of the LMS.
  • Assigning courses: Higher-level users may assign courses individually or as part of a training program.
  • Tracking completion: After assigning a course, users with higher-level permissions can monitor a learner's progress.

Analytics

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:

  • Grade averages: Your participants’ average score or grade help you determine if you created a course and scoring system that matches their learning style and pace.
  • Completion rates: By understanding how many people complete a course after starting it, you can catch potential issues that discourage them from finishing the class.
  • Participant satisfaction: In LMSs that allow for student feedback, analytics from that feedback assist with editing and creating courses that feel genuinely useful to participants.

Asynchronous learning

Course delivery is the last step of the LMS lifecycle. With an LMS’s asynchronous learning 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.

Advanced LMS features

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.

In-course feedback

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

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.

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

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:

  • Application programming interfaces (APIs): Developers use APIs to create custom integrations between an LMS and technology that their company uses.
  • Content integrations: Some LMSs work with platforms like YouTube and Wistia to enable the user to insert videos and other media directly into a course.
  • Software integrations: An LMS can also communicate with other LMS programs or cross-department software in areas like HR or sales. For example, you could coordinate your LMS with your CRM software to monitor salespeople’s training progress as it correlates to performance.

Co-authoring functions

Some LMSs include co-authoring features where multiple users can collaborate on course creation. Platforms that implement co-authoring might have collaborative features like:

  • In-course chat and comment threads
  • Simultaneous editing by multiple users
  • User permissions for course review and editing

With these capabilities, users can work on the same course synchronously or asynchronously and share input.

Collaborative Learning platform features

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.

Course request function

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.

Easy course creation

On a Collaborative Learning platform, any participant can create a course for their peers. As a result, anyone at your company has the chance to share their unique knowledge.

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 more simple, Collaborative Learning includes course creation features like:

  • Reusable content
  • Embeddable web content
  • Drag-and-drop interface

Instant feedback

Because of Collaborative Learning’s nimble model, it requires easy methods for students to provide feedback. Collaborative Learning platforms promote instant feedback through features like:

  • Reactions
  • Comments
  • Group communication functions like forums
  • Ratings

These functions allow you to get even more granular as you assess the accuracy and efficacy of each course offering.

Find an LMS that works for you and your team

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:

Collaborative Learning demo