If you want to upgrade your organization’s online learning program, it’s a good time to look into the advantages of online learning software (aka a learning management system).
Online learning software helps facilitates the management and delivery of online learning content. Here's what you need to know about it.
First of all, it’s important to understand that there’s more than one kind of online learning software. Online learning software comes in all different shapes and sizes — and each kind suits different kinds of business and learning needs. For the most part, the differences relate to the way your business will install and maintain the learning software.
A SaaS LMS is a cloud-based learning management platform that’s hosted on the provider’s services. Like any other SaaS application, your organization pays to access and use the software, but it isn’t physically installed anywhere on your end. SaaS LMSs are easy and fast to set up, which means you can get straight to creating and uploading content.
A custom LMS is one that’s built to your exact specifications. If you have someone on your team with the technical skill to do so, you can build a custom LMS in-house. Otherwise, you can outsource the project to a 3rd party development team. This option gives you the greatest amount of control over the way the LMS functions, but it’s also the most expensive and time-consuming choice.
An open-source LMS is a free learning management application that you can adapt to your organization’s specific needs. Of course, you’ll need someone with the technical expertise necessary to actually pull off the customizations. Elearning open source software is a good compromise if you want to build a custom LMS but don’t have the time, resources or technical knowledge to create one from scratch.
An installed LMS is hosted on your organization’s own servers. This gives you full control over managing the software, but of course, this requires extra time and effort to be spent on maintenance. You should also consider that these maintenance requirements will only increase as your organization and its user education needs grow.
Different types of online learning software may come with different sets of features. It’s important to consider which features are most important to your organization’s goals. Here are some of the most common learning management software features included with the best e-learning platforms:
Working remotely or while traveling at least some of the time is now typical. It’s important that your business tools reflect this evolution. Many learning management systems can be used to deliver content that’s optimized for mobile experiences.
You should constantly be reviewing and improving your user education program — however, this is impossible without accurate data on which to base your decisions. The best online learning software comes with analytics features that allow you to track the way your users interact with your learning materials. This can provide the insights you need to make informed decisions about what content is working and what content needs to be adjusted.
It’s important to provide each person who uses your online learning program with a positive learning experience. This extends beyond presenting them with high-quality content (though that’s certainly part of it!). The user experience also includes how easily they are able to navigate the software. One great way to improve this experience is to use a customizable LMS that allows you to design personalized learning paths for users.
The best learning management systems come with advanced security features to keep your organization’s data and your users’ data safe. Features like single sign-on ensure your users can have a seamless, frustration-free experience without sacrificing security.
RELATED: 17 ESSENTIAL LMS FEATURES
A cloud-based LMS can be easily scaled to support hundreds of thousands of customers. The software can continue to function effectively even as demand increases. This prevents you from having to frequently upgrade or replace your learning software as your user base grows.
A common (and understandable) question many people have when considering online learning software is about pricing and implementation. Software pricing and implementation can work in a few different ways. Luckily, there’s almost certainly a way to find online learning software that fits your budget and your implementation schedule.
Paying per learner means you pay a certain amount per user enrolled in your online learning academy. If you pay $3 per learner and there are 500 learners who are signed up for your learning program, you would pay $1,500 per month. One of the biggest advantages of a pay-per-learner model is that it’s easy to calculate exactly how much you'll have to pay each month.
Paying per active learner is very similar to paying per learner. The difference is that a pay-per-active learner model only charges your organization for the learners that are actively logging in and using your learning academy, not the total number enrolled. If you have 500 learners at $3 per learner, but only 400 of them are active, you would pay $1,200 per month instead of $1,500. This is a great way to save money if you have a lot of inactive users, and it ensures you aren’t overpaying for learners who aren’t even using the resources.
A pay-as-you-go pricing model requires you to pay a certain amount (usually per month) according to how much you use the learning software. If you use the software very frequently, you’ll pay more; if you only use the software occasionally, you’ll pay less. This can be a good option for small organizations that want to get started with an LMS but still have only a limited need for it.
A licensing fee is one of the most common types of LMS pricing models. This model means you’ll pay a fixed price, often annually, in exchange for full control of the learning software. This is also called flat-rate pricing. Many licensing fees are all-inclusive, meaning you get total control over all the features included in the LMS. Some providers of online learning software also give you the option to pay different prices for different bundles of features. That way, you can pay for only the features you need instead of also being charged for features you’ll likely never use.
Once you’ve chosen the pricing model that will work best for your organization, you’ll want to review the process of implementing an LMS. Implementation usually involves these simple steps:
A kickoff meeting is your opportunity to discuss important matters like what aspects of your LMS you want to customize, what kind of content you currently have available, what kind of content you’ll need in the future, the technical capabilities of your in-house team and any other logistics that need to be addressed before the process can get started in earnest.
Next, you need to put together a team of people who can turn your content strategy into a reality. This team should include a few essential roles, such as a team lead, a subject matter expert and an instructional designer.
Now it’s time to think about the goals you have for your online learning program. Your goals should be split into two categories: learning goals and business goals. Learning goals relate to what you want to accomplish within your learning program — for example, improving customer or employee engagement with training resources. Your business goals relate to what you want to achieve for your organization via your online learning strategy, such as revenue growth or improved customer acquisition.
Once you’ve set your goals, you can build educational content that will further those goals. Don’t forget to include any previously created content that can be repurposed.
Once your content is ready, you can test and launch your learning program via your learning management system. Doing a soft launch first and testing your academy with a smaller group before you roll it out for all your users can ensure you iron out all the issues before you put the program on full display. Once you’re confident everything is working correctly, it’s time to launch for real.
Even after launch, there’s still more work to be done. It’s important to continuously monitor your learning program to find out where it needs to be improved or which users need additional help. Luckily, the best LMS software makes this step easy by including robust analytics features.
There are quite a few different online software companies to choose from. The best e-learning software depends heavily on your organization’s unique needs. Here’s a comparison of some of the most popular choices to help you narrow down your decision:
Northpass is a fully customizable, highly scalable LMS that gives businesses the freedom to create and manage their own online learning academies with ease. Northpass is also easy to integrate with the rest of your tech stack, and it’s the only LMS in the HubSpot Marketplace.
Docebo offers a convenient suite of e-learning tools that can help organizations manage and deliver training content to users. It also includes features to measure the impact those training materials have on business outcomes.
SAP Litomos uses one convenient interface to unite several kinds of learning, including virtual, classroom, mobile and social learning. It also comes with tools for building your own online courses and tracking learner progress.