How to Determine, Evaluate And Select Your LMS: 5 Proven Practices

With the arrival of virtual-based learning, gone are the days where we have to attend lectures and workshops physically. This system has now become a new training avenue, mainly because we can connect with people from different parts of the world at a click of a button. The learning management system is now one of the key developments in the past few years.

Learning management systems are intend to understand the gaps in the training and the trainees’ learning process. This methodology utilizes analytical data and reporting. They have various applications and advantages today. The most important application is that it acts as a platform for availing online courses and their content. These courses might be either synchronous or asynchronous. Today, LMS provides classroom management for the training instructional design or even a flipped classroom.

Almost all the LMSs give similar benefits, but some of them could be more suitable to fulfill your requisites. There is no universal training process; each differs from others, and those concerned can test the waters till they understand which type they prefer.

Benefits Of The LMS Evaluation Criteria

  1. Savings in terms of both cost and time: The instructor doesn’t have to spend literally any time tracking the time spent by the learner and their progress in developing the skills.
  2. Automation: LMS automatically generates the progress reports based on the outcomes. The instructor can even create a customized learning experience if the need arises.
  3. Management efficiency: It also helps the management to coordinate with the instructors and trainers. Communication between the learner and the teacher can be managed efficiently. Allowing management to create personalized course content to enhance the trainee experience.
  4. Customization: Customizing the course content is one thing, but the LMS also has several advanced features that help us contemplate and develop the content in various languages. This helps the learners from different regions acquire the necessary skills without a language barrier.
  5. Secured accessibility: Since most of the time it is operated by a browser, the security features are better than the traditional system. At the same time, it can be accessed by anyone anywhere in the world without worrying about their personal information being leaked.

Types Of Learning Management Systems

We know that all types of LMS are basically designed to deliver online training sessions & impart education. But there is always variety in the LMS to meet the needs of the particular program. Before understanding how to efficiently evaluate whether a particular learning management system is suitable for you, you have to understand the basic differences and types of LMS briefly.

1. Free or Commercial

While free software is the most preferred due to its easy and cheap access, one has to understand it needs more time and energy to work with it. While commercial or paid versions make your work much easier, they are comparatively more user-friendly compared to the free version.

2. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) vs. Licensed

Cloud-based SAAS (software as a service) is preferred since it is a much cheaper version than licensed. The external vendors offering the LMS perform the updates and storage-related tweaks. The licensed version is more credible because we can decide whether we need the updates and the basic tweaks. The licensed version becomes cheaper than the SAAS version in the long run.

3. Whether Cloud-based or Installed

The basic difference is from where they are accessed. The first one is from the cloud, while the second one is stored in your system.

4. Business or Individual

This distinction can be made based on the customer, whether it is an individual educator or an enterprise that needs this software.

5. With Built-in Authoring Tools or Without

Nowadays, the LMS comes with pre-programmed tools which ease out the process for us.

6. Integrated Learning Management System

Modern LMS allows the user to integrate things with pre-existing software, creating a synergistic effect.

If there is such a wide range of LMSs to choose from, how to select the best LMS software tailored to your needs? Let’s discuss it in detail.

How Do You Evaluate An LMS?

There are five LMS evaluation criteria:

Analyze The Needs Of The Concerned

This is the first step in the whole process. It has to be done with a proper discussion with your focus group stakeholders in your organization. If there is already an LMS that is in use and you want to replace it with a new one, then it needs a much deeper analysis of the shortcomings of the one currently in use. The shortcomings can be understood by discussing them with the training groups. Another key detail is what the new determinants may be that you may need in the future as your business grows. The most important section you cannot afford to miss is the IT section, where you have to ask about the technical standards and constraints.

These details can be used as guideposts in determining the LMS.

Once you have collected sufficient input, you should be able to identify strategic, operational, and technical drivers that you can use as guideposts for defining your LMS evaluation checklist. The data can be classified into different drivers, where your leadership is the strategic driver, your trainer team becomes an operational driver, and the IT department, the technical driver. These will highlight the goals of the LMS.

Clearly Define And Delineate The Requirements

The requirements become the key factor in the LMS selection criteria. The clarity in requirement determination will make it easy to evaluate. The focus should be on what the trainers and learners can achieve with a given LMS evaluation. Remember each requirement represents a need, not a solution. There should also be no overlapping of the details. If the final draught has 30 to 60 requirements, it has the right level of detail and aspects of instructional design.

Similar to the first step, it can be distinguished into three types of requirements: operational, strategic, and technical requirements. One more important aspect is the cost requirements, based on your database management system and the anticipated number of users and requirements.

Understand The Available Products

In this step, we understand the type of products available and narrow down the given choices to reach a final list of the ones producing the best results. The first step is creating an LMS evaluation checklist based on the requirements and qualifying them based on the given requisites. For example, If you need a multi-language option, choose LMS, which gives the languages you require.

The cost requirement LMS evaluation checklist is also very important to ensure that you don’t spend an unrequired amount for buying LMS.

After this vetting process is done, you should be in a position to shortlist 8 to 10 products which will give you a better chance of evaluation in the next step.

Evaluate The Products

This is not a single step, but a combination of five different steps, including

1. Information Request

After the shortlisting process is completed, we have to ensure the RFI is given to the vendor. The questionnaire must be based on the burning questions you would ask a vendor.

2. Demonstrations Of Used Cases

The next step is to ask each contender to demonstrate the products and check with your training and IT team whether this could be utilized appropriately. A case is to be presented by the person representing the organizational needs.

3. Sandbox

The next step is to request the testing software versions to test the process.

4. Check The Customer References For The Product

Evaluate the vendor’s financial health if you want to have a long-term relationship.

5. Select The Most Suitable One

After completing all the processes, we can finally select the final LMS software by properly analyzing the details we derived from the evaluation process.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How Do You Evaluate An LMS?

There are five steps in evaluating an LMS:

  • Needs analysis
  • Delineation of requirements
  • Vetting the products
  • Evaluation of shortlisted products
  • Selection of the final LMS product suitable

2. What To Consider When Choosing LMS?

Some of the important steps to consider are:

  • Audio-visual component: Unlike traditional systems, the audio-visual tools and graphics have ensured the content reaches the people properly. At the same time, it is more engaging and generates interest in the course.
  • Content update: Quick tweaks and updates can made to the content based on current trends and the client’s needs.
  • Peer influence: The multimedia presentation of the platform helps us create a comprehensive learning process where the learner can communicate with their peers and they can encourage each other.

The LMS evaluation allows the instructors to upload the relevant content for the target demographic or onlookers. Most importantly, the LMS evaluation ensures efficient allocation of tasks as well as the management of course content. The data can be shared with the online communitry with ease due to its significant association with social media platforms as well. For more details, you can also refer to DAN Institute’s website.