The acronym LMS stands for Learning Management System and is typically associated with online learning programs or e-learning. Simply put, it is the software that makes an e-learning program function. But it really is so much more.
E-learning is a general term for online training where employees access a website (internal or external) and complete courses on a variety of topics from general safety training to productivity improvement to HR policies and procedures. All true e-learning courses rely on an LMS to function correctly so when your employees log on to take a course they are actually logging on to an LMS.
Some of the largest companies have their own LMS in-house but the high cost and technical expertise required makes that unrealistic for most employers. A more cost effective option is to utilize the LMS of an on-line learning provider. These companies often have their own LMS they will allow you to use via the Internet to take courses that you have purchased from them.
So now you know that LMS is the software that runs online training courses but what else can it do and why is it so important to find a partner with a world-class LMS? Here are some of the features you should expect from a top-tier LMS and why they are important.
- Detailed tracking – All activity must be carefully tracked so you can provide details of all training in a simple to access format on a 24/7 basis. A good LMS eliminates the need for manual training records, the annoying sign-in sheets and the paper files you can never find when you need them.
- Multi-lingual courses– The LMS should support multiple languages. Employees learn best in their native language and the LMS should have a number of the most common languages to choose from.
- Multiple device platforms– The LMS should support PC’s, laptops, tablets and phones. It should know which device you are using and automatically switch to fit on that specific screen. You may not need smartphone or tablet training today but with the speed of technology change you may need it soon.
- Flexible reporting– Most LMS’s can provide basic reporting but as you progress in the e-learning world you will want flexible and customized reporting to fit your needs. Reports by name, department, location, date, score, frequency, etc. A self-serve reporting system is nice for those who want to create their own reports.
- Support other types of training– Not all training is done online so when you hold classroom training using Word documents or Power Point the LMS should allow you to track those classes also and report on them along with online courses.
- Embedded knowledge checks- These are small 2-3 question quizzes spread throughout the course to check that the employee understands what they just learned. It also breaks up the course and makes it more interesting.
- Hands-on activities embedded in the course– Especially for a warehouse or production environment these computer-based, often animated activities allow the employee to practice what they just learned. This really improves retention and connects with the younger, millennial generation.
- Integrate with your HR system– The LMS should be able to “talk” to your HR system. When you hire or lose employees the LMS should know about it and automatically add or archive the names. One of the most frustrating, and manual, parts of many LMS’s is making sure the employee names are current. Let the LMS do it for you.
- Reminders– Some training needs to be renewed annually or in the case of lift truck certification, every 3 years. A good LMS will be able to send reminders when re-training is due. It knows when the initial training happened and sends a reminder 30 days prior to the due date so your team is never out of compliance.
- Immediate reporting of scores– Employees take the courses and quizzes on their own but if they fail the quiz did they really learn what you intended? Imagine this scenario- John takes a lift truck safety course but fails the quiz. He goes to work and 2 days later is involved in an accident. OSHA arrives and asks to see John’s training records. You go to the LMS, show them his records and OSHA sees that he failed the quiz at the end. They ask you why you allowed John to drive when you knew he failed the course. A world-class LMS will send e-mail or text to a supervisor or administrator every time an employee does not pass so they can quickly address it before it becomes a safety issue.
- Learning Series-Not all employees need to take all courses. A great LMS will separate courses into Learning Series. These can be by department so receiving, shipping, order selection or assembly operations all have their own group of courses that a new employee must take. Of course, some training is common to all departments so the LMS should allow the same course in multiple Learning Series.
- Training Basket- You know what courses you want employees to take and in what order. By placing specific courses in their personal online basket you keep them focused just on the desired courses. When an employee logs on, their basket comes up and gives access to only those courses.
Not all e-learning companies are created equal and often it is the quality of their LMS that sets them apart. If you expect your business to grow and you want to expand the safety, knowledge and efficiency of your team then be sure to choose an e-learning provider with a world-class LMS. It will make a difference to your business and certainly to your employees.