With the LMS landscape changing as quickly as it has been, there are a ton of new features and functions that are being introduced in the market. The question then becomes, which features are essential? There are certain things every modern LMS should be able to do. Here, we go over this list, broken down into features that benefit organization/admin, and features that benefit learners.
For Organizations and Administrators
1. Develop and administer reports (a reporting & analytics tool)
If you’ve implemented an LMS, chances are you’re going to need to prove the return on investment of your online learning platform. If your system has a reporting and analytics solution, you will have access to this type of data - you can access, analyze, and present data for administrators, management, and users through a variety of reports, interactive charts, and graphs. You can also determine how long learners spend working in a course, who has completed assignments and who hasn’t, how effective learning material is, and how you can improve your learning programs. A reporting and analytics solution will allow you to get the best insight on your learners, learning programs, and learning outcomes.
2. Grow with you (scalability/flexibility)
When it comes to the requirements users need in an LMS, scalability wins by a long shot. This shouldn't be surprising - having a system that can change and adapt to the growing needs of your training programs will be a key component in your organization’s growth. A scalable LMS will continue to accommodate you as you grow, saving you the time, effort, and resources it would take to find and implement an entirely new LMS. As well, considering how costly training programs and courses are to build, it’s not hard to see why scalability is on the top of everyone’s LMS checklist.
3. Customizations with custom development
Your organization is unlike any other - so your LMS should reflect this. A modern learning management system will allow you to customize your LMS to fit your organization’s unique style and requirements, by tailoring development services to meet your organization's unique design, functionality, storage, and performance needs. Additionally, if your LMS is hosted in the cloud, then your LMS vendor will be able to conduct customizations for you as you need them, without the hassle of doing it yourself, or finding a third-party vendor to do them for you.
4. Foster communication
Having a steady flow of communication is essential for learner engagement, and success, so the communication features that many learning management systems provide will come in handy. There are a number of different communication features including chat, discussion forums, direct messages, instant messages, and blogs. This is beneficial for a few different reasons. Learners are no longer limited to in-person communication with admin, so their window of time is unlimited. It also creates a two-way flow of communication, not just top-down (from admin, down to learners). Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, it fosters communication and collaboration between learners - they can have their own discussions, work on assignments together, collaborate, and answer one another’s questions.
5. Engage your learners with gamification
Games are engaging - I think we can all agree on that. Gamification is the use of game thinking and mechanics in non-game contexts/environments to motivate users to solve problems and contribute to learning exercises. Simply put, gamification is used to make everyday activities more fun and engaging by using our natural desire for social connection, learning, mastery, competition, achievement and status. When we play games, we are engulfed in the task at hand, as our competitive drive pushes us to win. Gamification in eLearning helps achieve this same laser-sharp focus on the learning activity at hand. Popular games that can be incorporated into learning are Crosswords, Hangman, and Sudoku.
6. Provide learning experience that cater to students
Every learner has their own unique learning style that is most effective for them. Some people are visual learners. Others prefer to take notes. Some learn best in small increments of time. Others prefer to hunker down and absorb information in one sitting. In-class learning that is led by an instructor, teaching 10-30 students at the same time isn't inclusive of different learning needs. There is no time to slow down, and spend an extra hour with one learner if he or she needs it. As an alternative, online learning allows individuals to read, learn, and process learning materials on their own time, so there is no pressure for them to keep up with the rest of their peers. With a learning management system, you can engage with learning materials in whichever method works best for you. Regardless of what your learning style is, a learning management system will accommodate you.