The New Way Of eLearning: Learning Management Systems (LMS) And Its Types
Gone are the days when an instructor would give a lecture in front of a class of students or employees would sit through a lengthy conference or workshop. Virtual-based learning is the new education and training avenue, especially when connecting to people online is easier than face-to-face. The e-learning market has seen rapid growth over the century with the evolution of technology. More and more businesses and educational institutes are opting to deliver training programs and coursework online. And the best way to do this is through the different types of Learning Management Systems.
What is a Learning Management System (LMS)?
You can think of a learning management system as an online learning platform that helps subject matter experts (SMEs), educators, and business professionals deliver a faster, productive, cost-effective, and trackable learning experience.
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It is software that allows administrators to upload content for their target audience, share data with an online community, administer assignments, and manage the entire course content. An LMS goes a long way to bridge the gap between the instructor and the learners as the former can monitor the learner’s growth through virtual tests and evaluations.
Many learning management systems have made their mark on the online training and education market and offer a wide range of benefits. Some of these include:
- Time and cost savings: You do not have to spend any money or time to track a learner’s progress. An LMS automatically generates a progress report and provides grades based on the learner’s performance. Instructors can also create customized learning modules for the learners based on their performance.
- Effective management: An LMS allows you to efficiently manage administration, communicate with teachers, learners and trainers, and manage online course content through one platform.
- Customization: One of the best LMS features is that it allows any enterprise or institute to personalize their course to suit their requirements. Some enterprise learning management systems also support various languages to help learners access the same features and benefits no matter where they are.
- Easy access: An LMS is often operated on a web browser through a secure login process. Due to this, students and instructors can easily access structured learning programs anytime they want and from anywhere.
- A multimedia platform: A learning management system offers a user-friendly platform where instructors can create comprehensive learning content using images, video, audio, and text to enhance the learning experience. Learners can also communicate with educators and their peers through online chats platforms and forums, which creates a collaborative and interactive environment.
- Latest content: The virtual education and training platform allows you to update the courses instantly and add materials and resources to keep learners in touch with the latest information.
Although most LMS offer similar training benefits, you will find that some of them are more suitable for your learning and industry goals when compared to others. So, understanding the various types of learning management systems can help you choose the best platform to support your learning and training requirements.
Different types of Learning Management Systems
All learning management systems are designed to deliver online training and education. However, like any other software, an LMS can be of various types, offering different individual features. Choosing an LMS from the vast collection of choices can get a little overwhelming.
Fortunately, we can classify the different types of learning management platforms based on specific features. So, let us take a look at the various LMS types to help you understand which one is the best fit for your business and education needs.
Free or Commercial
A crucial predicament of organizations is choosing between a free or a commercial platform since both have their benefits. Apart from its obvious advantage of being free, a free LMS also offers an open-source code
Anyone with the knowledge can use the platform or modify it to suit their organization’s learning needs. However, an open-source LMS may require more time and attention to operate. It also lacks a support system such as online forums to help learners.
On the other hand, a commercial LMS offers a real-time forum and 24/7 customer support service. It is much easier to use and comes at a price that depends on the level of features you require. A commercial LMS needs constant updating, but it ensures learners have the latest learning tools at their disposal.
SaaS or Licensed
One of the most popular types of LMS is the cloud-based SaaS (service as a software) type that is offered as a service by external vendors. The responsibility of system upgrades and providing IT support falls on the LMS vendors, which helps the users focus more on the content and learning process. Although it offers the flexibility to scale up or down based on usage, the customizing features for the platform are limited.
Contrarily, a licensed LMS offers more customization options and can be tailored to suit the needs of individuals or organizations. You can choose when to implement it, and you can install it on the cloud or on-premise. The user license cost can be a concern. However, in the long run, the cost for ownership and cost per user may be much lower than the Saas LMS
Cloud-based or installed
As the name suggests, a cloud-based LMS is accessed from the cloud and is hosted on a safe offsite server. Users can access the learning content anywhere through phones or computers and even view it offline through applications.
An installed or on-premise LMS, on the other hand, is designed based on an organization’s specifications and is hosted on a local server. It stores user and corporate data securely but is not as scalable as a cloud-based LMS. Organizations may also have to use several servers to support a large number of users.
Enterprise or Individual
Enterprise LMS solutions are designed for large companies and are very scalable. They have a wide range of features to support any training need. You can customize the LMS to match the company’s growth and to support new courses. Meanwhile, an LMS for an individual or organization has limited features. However, it offers various learning materials that suit a small organization or an individual.
With built-in authoring tools or without
The latest type of LMS offers authoring tools on a pre-programmed and ready-to-use interface that makes content creation faster and easier. Instructors do not require technical knowledge and can develop unique content through templates, media, tools, interactions, and tests.
However, not all LMS platforms offer built-in authoring tools and instead rely on third-party content creation platforms like LCMS/CMS. A product like a content management system (CMS) can allow instructors to design and store learning materials before publishing them on the actual LMS.
Learning management systems have come a long way in the eLearning market. Modern LMS exhibits this by allowing organizations to integrate pre-existing software and compatible products on an online platform to enhance the learning experience.
Although you may not always require integrated LMS solutions, they certainly offer opportunities that other LMS platforms lack. Some LMS also allows the integration of talent management systems that offer human resource support for recruiting, performance management, and payroll.
Learning management systems (LMS) have evolved to match the demand in online education and training as companies, instructors, and learners understand the various benefits of eLearning. However, not all LMS are the same, and to choose the right one for your organization: you need to analyze all the features and benefits of each type.
Focusing on the method your organization wants to adopt to deliver its online learning initiative and the amount of flexibility you will need in the future can help you narrow down the right LMS product for you. You can learn more about the various types of learning management platforms and how to use them through online courses at Dan Institute to help you get the best out of learning management systems.