ShareKnowledge Blog

What is a learning management system? And why do I need one?

Amber Rasmussen January, 2015

Did you know that approximately 40 percent of US organizations report that they have an LMS? In fact, according to global market research firm, MarketsandMarkets, the LMS industry will grow by 25 percent every year through 2018 – making it a $7.83 billion industry. So, what is a learning management system anyway? And why do I need one?

What is a learning management system: The Nuts and Bolts

Often called an LMS for short, a learning management system is a software application that provides the framework that handles all aspects of the learning process – administration, documentation, tracking, reporting and delivery of training programs. While most often called an LMS, other names include talent management system, learning activity management system or competency management system.

LMSs can range from systems that specifically manage training and educational records to software for distributing online or blended/hybrid courses over the Internet with features for online collaboration.

You name it, an LMS can do it. Designed to make life easier for those in charge of training and development, a comprehensive LMS can do everything from identifying and assessing individual and organizational learning goals, to tracking progress toward meeting those goals and collecting and presenting data for supervising the learning process. In addition to delivering content, an LMS can also handle such things as registering for courses, course administration and skills gap analysis.

Pretty cool, right?

There is also another term, LCMS that is similar but not the same as an LMS.

  • The main purpose of an LCMS, otherwise known as a Learning Content Management System, is to create elearning courses – workflow, version control, re-use and re-purposing content. It also is capable of providing virtual spaces for student interaction such as discussion forums, live chat rooms and live Web-conferences.
  • An LMS on the other hand is designed to deliver training courses and keep track of progress and performance.

Despite this distinction, the term LMS is often used to refer to both an LMS and an LCMS, although the LCMS is actually a complementary solution to an LMS.

BONUS TIP: SharePoint + SharePoint LMS = combined benefits of an LMS and LCMS.

In today’s fast-paced environment, there is no time to duplicate efforts. Who wants to mess with multiple systems, passwords and formats?

It’s a fact, two out of three organizations use SharePoint, which naturally reigns supreme when it comes to content management. Not only that, but it’s also touted as the ultimate tool for collaboration.

For ultimate efficiency or the "icing on the cake", it’s possible to combine SharePoint with a SharePoint LMS to streamline the training process even further. A marriage between the systems allows for easier communication so a trainer can login just once, manage content and collaboration and then seamlessly move training modules into the LMS because everything is housed under the same SharePoint platform.

Learn more about the total cost of ownership of a SharePoint LMS.

What is a Learning Management System: Benefits

If you’re still wondering what a learning management system is and why you should have one, let’s discuss the benefits.

The LMS market has been on fire and that mainly is a result of the increased adoption of elearning, a strong emphasis on continuous learning, accountability mandates and the trend of employing cloud technology to streamline the learning process.

A few benefits to consider:

Administration: Easily manage and administer the learning function including classroom, enrollments, course catalog, instructors and more.

Facilitate learning: Facilitate, manage, and build all eLearning programs and courses.

Company wide solution: An LMS can be used throughout the entire company, rather than only for the learning/training department.

24/7 Access: Most LMSs are Web or cloud-based applications that allow access to eLearning and training courses anywhere, anytime.

Consistency of training: Training and course delivery via an LMS is consistent since it is centralized. It delivers a consistent training and learning quality to all employees by supplying a single source for content, course materials and instructions.

Tracking and reporting: LMSs allow the company to easily generate training reports on an overall or user/student level basis. By utilizing an LMS for eLearning courses and/or online training, trainers can easily track goal progress, knowledge gains, ROI and more.

Meet regulatory compliance: Many industries may be required to train, assess and report for compliance purposes. Just a few of these industries are oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, communications, and building and construction. An LMS can help you satisfy these legal and regulatory requirements.

Cost savings: Training and teaching via an LMS reduces employee travel, optimizes training expenditure and usage, and minimizes facilities and instructors to pay. From the cost savings aspect, an LMS is a no-brainer.

Generally, learning management systems have many more capabilities than these listed. However, these are the most popular selling points and the top identifiers to whether or not you and your organization can benefit from an LMS.

What is a learning management system: Return on Investment

If you’re not sold yet on why you should invest in a learning management system, let’s discuss the numbers. Simple as it may be, the numbers don’t lie! Take a look at this example:

 Let’s say that your company annually sends a group of 200 sales team members to a one-day training conference.

·        200 people @ $200ea = $40,000

·        Course development = $1,500

·        Trainer cost = $3,000

·        Equipment = $400

A total of $44,900!!!

With an LMS and elearning, this same training can be completed in ½ day with a cost savings as follows:

·        Trainee cost = $20,000

·        Course Development = $3,000

·        Trainer cost = $0

·        Equipment = $0

A total of $23,000. Just this small change in process saved $21,900 or 48.7 percent.

While this is a very simplified example, there are a multitude of ways to figure out return on investment of a learning management system including lower administrative costs, reduced travel and facility costs, faster time-to-proficiency, less financial risk associated with compliance and decreased employee turnover to name a few.

There you have it. You can now officially scratch off “what is a learning management system?” from your to-do list. Not only do you know what it is but also the benefits to your company along with important return on investment information. As to the “why do I need an LMS?” ask yourself these questions: Does information in my company change faster than I can communicate it? Do I need to reach people in the next cubicle and a world away? Do I “grade” assessments by hand or physically issue completion certificates? Do I have minimal time, a small staff or limited budget for creating online learning? If the answer is yes, and use SharePoint, consider learning more about how CorVel saved $500k by using SharePoint as an LMS.

 

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