ShareKnowledge Blog

Will SharePoint as an LMS work for my training needs?

Amber Rasmussen February, 2015

Learning Management Systems aren’t going anywhere according to analysts. This year alone, they are expected to produce revenues exceeding $2.5 billion. The benefits of an LMS include a centralized learning environment, collaboration, cost savings, employee retention and organized compliance procedures for example. SharePoint has a variety of features that work very much like an LMS and because of this many trainers wonder if a SharePoint LMS is an all-inclusive solution for training.

Statistics show that Microsoft SharePoint is one of the fastest growing applications in the company’s history and continues to surge. In fact, one out of every two Fortune 500 companies are operating the software. Many training managers are beginning to ask the question…wouldn’t it make sense to save money and utilize my company’s investment while taking advantage of all the LMS rich features of SharePoint that are available at my disposal?

Here is a short list of areas that SharePoint as an LMS exceeds at and are available right away:

  • Mutual Content Management. SharePoint is a leader when it comes to content management. Being able to connect content management and an LMS allows uploading training material that much easier. Version control and approval workflows also ensure a better-managed compliance system.
  • Project Management Team Sites. SharePoint team sites offer project management to run flawlessly with task lists, reminders, calendar and social collaboration. For more efficiency, just sync Microsoft SharePoint with Microsoft Project.
  • Setting permissions by folder and content level. Set permissions that allow only the right people access to specific training content.
  • Social Teamwork. Social features in SharePoint make is so much easier to collaborate with blogs, communities, Wikis, RSS feeds, gamification and discussion boards.
  • Single sign-on and active directory sync. Learners won’t have to remember yet another username and password. SharePoint automatically syncs with an organization’s active directory and other systems.
  • Training requirements and feedback. Utilizing surveys can help identify what is good and not so good about a training program.

As you can see, SharePoint does offer several effective solutions for LMS functionality. However, it has its limitations.

To help clear up any confusion, in the next few paragraphs, we’ll explain LMS features of SharePoint that can work with a little customization as well as areas that only a separate Learning Management System can accommodate.

SHAREPOINT AND CUSTOMIZATIONS

  • Testing. If you want to give basic quizzes, SharePoint offers this with lists. However, for more detail, a program like InfoPath or SharePoint Designer can create custom tests.
  • List view. Basic list view customization can be done with SharePoint like filtering, changing the sort order, and showing or hiding columns. It’s possible to get more tailored using SharePoint Designer. It can perform this same level of customization as well as adjust the layout of the list, apply conditional formatting, connect the list view to others lists, and much more.
  • SQL Server Reporting Services. Microsoft SQL Server 2014 Reporting Services integrates with SharePoint and is a server-based reporting platform that provides a full range of ready-to-use tools and services to help create, deploy, and manage reports for your organization, as well as programming features that enable the ability to extend and customize reporting functionality.
  • Custom Code. Custom code can be used for course administration requirements.

SHAREPOINT WITH AN LMS

If after customizing SharePoint for your training needs and there is still features missing, it might be a good idea to think about using a SharePoint-based LMS. Adding in an LMS built for SharePoint will close the functionality gaps even further while also offering a lucrative total cost of ownership. Here are a few feature deficiencies of SharePoint and where adding an LMS can accommodate:

  • SCORM / AICC / Tin Can compliance.
  • Instructor-led training management. Enrollment requests, wait lists, multiple days training management.
  • Compliance training management. CEU tracking, digital signature, recurring events.
  • Training tracking and reporting. User and team transcripts, custom reports.
  • Customized learning. Learning that is targeted by title, department or personal learning objectives.
  • Managing learning trajectories. Course prerequisites, combined courses that consist of several learning activities.
  • SCORM tests. Question-level reporting, embed multimedia in questions, various answer types.
  • Auto reminders and notifications.
  • Managing webinars from within SharePoint.

There is no denying that SharePoint features out-of-the-box are quite impressive and for those looking for very basic characteristics…yes, it can work satisfactorily. However, depending on business needs and goals that are little more complex, it is safe to say that SharePoint will need customization and/or a separate LMS in order function as a full, all-inclusive training experience.

SharePoint as LMS
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