Looking to widen the reach of your continuing education courses with the best LMS? Or, are you looking to move your employee on-boarding training to an online platform? Whatever the reason, there are many benefits that a learning management system (LMS) can bring to your online teaching endeavors.
With an LMS…
- Allow students or employees to have 24/7 access to course content from mobile, tablet, or desktop devices.
- Sell courses or assessments online seamlessly with an integrated online payment gateway.
- Increase employee satisfaction by giving workers access to learning and development courses online that can help them expand their skill sets (Reddy, 2019).
- An LMS provides an organized, centralized location for internal and external trainings (Reddy, 2019).
- An LMS organizes learning outcome data for easy in-depth analyses and reporting to accrediting bodies.
- There is no need for IT staff to maintain the software because the LMS vendor will provide IT support included with your subscription plan.
Today, we will be showing you how to choose the best LMS for your training needs. Follow our guide in order to decide on the best LMS for your organization.
Step 1: Decide on the Type of LMS
There are several different types of online course platforms. Some of these include full-fledged, high-quality LMS platforms, online course marketplaces, and WordPress plugin options.
High-quality LMS platforms such as CertCentral typically do not have capabilities to design a custom website, or tools to help you market your course to the public (Smith, 2019). Despite this, the best LMS platforms do provide wonderful solutions for internal trainings and external trainings for small businesses, hospitals, clinics, universities, and other organizations that want an LMS that seamlessly integrates with an established website. Sell courses directly to potential buyers on learning management systems with integrated online payment processors (Smith, 2019).
Unlike LMS platforms, online course marketplaces provide marketing assistance in getting your course out to the public. Online course marketplaces are online course platforms that provide you with the technology to build and sell your courses online, and also actively act on your behalf to market and sell your course (Smith, 2019).
OpenSesame is one example of an online course marketplace. This is a great option for first-time course creators that want to understand how profitable their course can be before making a large investment in a full-fledged LMS platform that would be all his/her own (Smith, 2019). One con of an online course marketplace is that in order to post courses to these platforms–they typically take a large percentage of your sales. For example, on OpenSesame, 50% of the profits from your courses go back to OpenSesame (Smith, 2019).
Finally, there are options for WordPress plugins. The benefits of an LMS WordPress plugin, is that this allows you to create and sell courses seamlessly through your already established WordPress website (Baidhurya, 2019). With an LMS plugin you get a lot of flexibility in regard to the design of your courses and the features of your plugin. Despite this flexibility, you do have to be more tech-savvy in order to create and sell courses on WordPress using the LMS plugin (Baidhurya, 2019).
Step 2: Make a List of Features you Need
Once you decide on the type of online course platform you are looking for–the next step you should take in order to choose the best LMS is to create a list of features you would like in your online course platform.
Below you will find a sample list of features that can help you start off a list of your own.
- Single sign on between the registration system and the LMS
- 24/7 tech support for course takers and course creators
- User friendly system for course takers and course creators
- White labeling capabilities
- eCommerce capabilities
- Ability to support multiple course creators for real-time collaboration in the course creation process
- Abilities to download and print invoices
- Secure website
- Ability to export data reports showing electronic evaluations of courses
- Ability to have self-service password reset for course takers and course creators
- Ability to track, download, print, and save certificates
- Ability to customize certificates
- Ability for course takers to view course history
- Ability to send notifications to course takers with expiring licensure
- Ability to track course taker’s online class progress
- Ability to handle multi-component courses: 100% online classes, blended learning classes (online followed by an in person assessment, or in person only classes that are registered for and paid online)
- Ability to import registration list
- Ability to collect demographic data
- Ability to set specific time requirements
- Ability to allow integrations with other systems
- Ability to print class rosters
- Ability to reissue programs to course takers
- Ability to host video lectures
- Ability to deliver programs on mobile, tablet, and desktop devices
- Ability for the course taker to create individual student credentials
Step 3: Research the Best LMS Platforms
Begin your research for the best LMS platforms by looking at search engines such as Capterra or Google. Use the keyword search “LMS platform” in order to search through thousands of learning management system vendors.
Also, search for articles that compare the top LMS vendors in order to help you narrow down your LMS options.
Once you gather a list of 20 best LMS vendors, contact each of their support teams and see if these vendors can meet your feature needs and ask for price estimates. Once you gather that information, create an excel document where you compare each of the plans that can support your needs.
Step 4: Try Out the Best LMS platforms with Free Trials!
The best LMS platforms offer free trials. Sign up for a free account and test out uploading your training materials in an online course or assessment. Is it user-friendly? Do you like the way the features function? This allows you to answer these important questions and others before you have to commit to a subscription plan.
Step 5: Deliver Your Online Program to a Test Sample
The last and final step that helps you choose the best LMS platform for your training needs is to deliver your online program to a sample of students. Incentivize a population with gift certificates or by other means and have them test out the course-taking experience and provide feedback.
The LMS vendor that gets the best reviews by the test sample should be the best LMS for you to choose.
We hope this 5-step guide aids in your ability to choose the best LMS platform for your organization!
Baidhurya. (2019, February 16). The 15 best online course platforms (and how to choose the right one). [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://sellcoursesonline.com/best-online-course-platforms
Newszii. (2019, February 12). Why do I need a healthcare learning management system? [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.newszii.com/healthcare-learning-management-system
Reddy, G. (2019, February 28). Advantages of online continuing education management software. [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.howtocrazy.com/advantages-of-online-continuing-education-management-software/
Smith, S. (2019, February 23). Best online course platforms in 2019. [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.inthow.com/best-online-course-platforms/