Learning Management Systems
On-the-job training and continuing education have long been part of the culture of many companies: The ability to acquire new skills is important for employees who care about advancing toward their career goals. Continuing education credits and certifications may be required by state or federal governments to keep certain types of licenses current. New employees may need to learn basic skills and/or how to take advantage of the fringe benefits you offer. Additionally, at times the entire workforce may require training when new processes or initiatives are introduced.
Delivering education and training via computer-based Learning Management Systems (LMS) is now widespread in companies of all types and sizes. The benefits are numerous:
- The quality of instruction is consistently high and you know exactly what you’re getting in advance.
- Employees can learn at their own pace.
- Workflow disruptions are minimized since you don’t have to fill a classroom with a large number of people at the same time.
- There are no logistics problems for employees in branch offices or those who work on the road.
Providers today offer a lot of flexibility in their LMS offerings. You can buy off-the-shelf courses or work with them to create content that’s customized to your specific needs. This latter option may be essential if you are creating a course about compliance processes that your company must follow—and document.
Other custom options include the ability to offer courses with a live instructor and real-time feedback from participants. Other collaborative elements include breakout rooms, whiteboards, communities, and learner dashboards. Pre-recorded video sessions are also an option.
Tests, written assignments, surveys, and 360-degree feedback can all be administered online, allowing you to assess the effectiveness of the training.
Choosing an LMS vendor
LMS is a crowded field; you can easily find a list of more than 100 providers online. You should begin by researching whether there are off-the-shelf products available that address your training needs. If so, you may be able to use an open-source product or one that describes itself as “software as a service” (SaaS). Open-source software exists in the public domain and is managed by developers on an ad hoc basis. That’s not necessarily a reason to avoid it, but do your due diligence.
In plain English, SaaS means that an IT company has found a way to package a process that used to be sold as a customized, consultative service and deliver it via the cloud. If this kind of off-the-shelf product truly meets your needs, then you can save a lot of money relative to a more customized approach.
However, if you need customized content, then you will probably want to go with a provider that has a track record of doing exactly that. As always, a recommendation from a trusted source is best. And a search of “learning management systems comparison” will yield many reviews that you can read online.