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Upgrading learning management systems: What to look for

As e-learning tools and technologies continue to evolve, so must learning management systems.

The world of e-learning has gone through a tremendous transformation over the years. The introduction and development of innovative tools, software and processes has given way to a new era of simulations, multimedia and content that has both reshaped and redefined the learning experience. One of the segments to see some of the most major affects of the education evolution has been corporate training.

The role of learning in business
As machines and computers become more intelligent and self-learning, it is causing a shift in the role of workers today. New strategies, systems and solutions are constantly being adopted, introduced and deployed in the workplace. Some would argue that the experience and skills of potential employees is no longer what matters most but, rather, their competencies. Top performers are often those who are capable, willing and even eager to continuously learn and develop. In addition, an increasing number of employees agree that access to education, training and development opportunities is a top factor they consider in a potential employer.

Given the important and various roles e-learning plays in corporate training, utilizing a strong learning management system (LMS) lends businesses a competitive advantage. The market is growing rapidly, with more organizations investing in these software applications. For example, a reported by Stratistics MRS recently revealed that, over the next seven years, the global learning management system market is forecast to increase from $4.27 billion to $17.08 billion - marking a compound annual growth rate of nearly 22 percent. According to the source, the corporate sector is leading this increased demand due to its need for affordable training solutions. As learning management solutions gain popularity, they are also continuing to evolve.

The corporate market is fueling the growth of learning management systems across the globe.
The corporate market is fueling the growth of learning management systems across the globe.

LMS evolution

The nature of e-learning courses has grown incredibly more sophisticated - and complex. For example, they now consist largely of microlearning modules, are delivered to mobile devices and incorporate a wide range of interactive and multimedia content, including video, audio, quizzes and games. The courses are often customized to the unique needs and preferred learning style of the user. Most of these advancements are what has helped make e-learning tools and technologies so popular and effective among organizations today. The engaging and bite-sized content, coupled with interactive design and flexible formats, make them ideal for modern learners. However, as with most applications, providing this level of convenience and ease often translates to a chaotic, complex and challenging task for system developers and managers.

Given the array of components and factors involved in e-learning courses, many of which are constantly being adapted and developed, it's easy to see that the evolution of e-learning programs have initiated the need for companies to adopt an updated learning management system.

3 critical factors to consider

Because the LMS affects the learner's experience and, therefore, the effectiveness of the corporate training strategy, corporations must upgrade from legacy systems to ensure their application is capable of handling the latest and emerging e-learning initiatives. Below are some of the most important things to consider when looking for a new learning management system.

"When it comes to learning management systems, flexibility is key."

1. Responsive and agile framework
In today's ever-evolving learning and business environment, flexibility is key. So you want to choose a system that is capable of meeting both immediate and future training and development needs. After all, there is little point in investing in e-learning and LMS innovations now if they are only going to quickly become outdated and inefficient a year or two down the line. The businesses that will stay ahead of competitors are those that adopt solutions that allow them to adapt in tandem with industry best practices and trends.

For a LMS that is scalable and easily updated, choose an application that uses open source software and HTML 5. In addition to ensuring the seamless delivery - and access - of training materials across all devices, this type of programming will guarantee that the multimedia content will automatically adjust to each screen size. In addition, you will be able to adapt learning and training programs on an as-needed basis. 

2. Tracking and reporting tools
It is quite difficult, if not altogether impossible, to determine the effectiveness of a learning management system without tracking the proper metrics. When looking for a new LMS, consider what features and functionalities a system offers for tracking and reporting essential analytics, including participation, pass/fail rates, scores and completion times.

3. Security and support
As Training Industry recently pointed out, in addition to the aforementioned factors, some of the most crucial things to look for in a responsive learning management system is data security and vendor support. As with all applications, LMS should be developed to ensure the highest possible level of protection on personal data and sensitive information. This includes using encrypted coding and a secure server.

Furthermore, if you were to run into any technical issues with the LMS, it is imperative you are able to access the necessary expertise and tools to resolve the issue. This is why it is critical to work with a vendor that offers continuous and on-going support for LMS. Check to see what kind of support services they offer, as well as the turnaround time and quality of communication they offer when you make a request. Also, consider the kind of custom solutions they offer. Are they willing to build an application to meet your specific needs? Finding a partner that is willing to work alongside you to create a cutting-edge LMS capable of exceeding your expectations will prove invaluable to the success of your corporate training strategy.

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