Once reserved mainly for supplemental or niche education, e-learning has come an incredibly long way, especially over the past few years. Hardware and software technology has evolved enough to facilitate legitimate online degrees from reputable academic institutions, and many Fortune 500 corporations depend on e-learning as a primary training platform for new hires, as well as a direct way to provide employees with updates to procedures and policies.
Today’s E-Learning Platforms
Implementing the right learning management system (LMS) is absolutely critical to the success of an e-learning program. The LMS is the platform that allows administrators to create, store, and manage course content, and students to view training materials, take quizzes, play educational games, and much more. Selecting the right LMS for your organization’s unique needs can be challenging, especially if this is all new to you. Here are ten characteristics that any effective LMS should offer.
A Good LMS Should:
1. Be Intuitive and User-Friendly
There are some systems out there that are extremely difficult to navigate – even for experienced tech wizards. While these extensive menus of complex features may be necessary in some applications, most people – administrators and learners alike – would prefer a more straightforward, familiar learning management system. At the same time, you don’t want an oversimplified LMS that sacrifices important features.
2. Be Able to Handle All Types of Multimedia
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Today’s online learners expect much more than just a wall of text. In order for an e-learning program to be successful, it should utilize a wide range of multimedia such as video, Flash, PDFs, and gamification, just to name a few. Additionally, you may want to seek a learning management system that includes onboard course authoring tools. Besides making it possible to add various media types to your course, authoring tools let you repurpose existing content into your course, according to Romy LMS.
3. Be Capable of Motivating Learners
Because e-learning requires strong motivation and focus skills by nature, it’s important to reinforce these crucial traits with your course’s training platform. Some friendly competition can go a long way in invigorating a listless learner, and small rewards keep people coming back. Look for a platform that includes a leaderboard and gamification options. Studies have shown time and time again that having fun while learning yields excellent results.
4. Be Responsive Across All Types of Devices
Today’s e-learning programs aren’t just for computers anymore. Many users rely on a smartphone or tablet more than a laptop or desktop computer, and it’s important that you don’t miss out on that massive potential audience. Lately, many e-courses are embracing a BYOD (bring your own device) approach, rather than forcing students to rely on unfamiliar equipment. This makes learning more comfortable and enjoyable, unless of course your LMS doesn’t work properly on some devices.
5. Be Cloud Compatible
It’s clear that cloud computing is here to say. An effective learning management system should allow you to access and store your data securely using cloud servers. Besides protecting your data from physical hardware damage, cloud storage makes it possible for you and your authorized users to access course materials from anywhere and at any time. This is a huge advantage because it lets people complete course materials at their own pace. After all, not everyone runs on the same schedule.
6. Be Customizable
Whether your e-learning program is going to be used for higher education courses, employee training, or even an independent instructional course, you want your organization’s unique branding to be evident. For example, if you took a Harvard University online course, you might expect to see the signature burgundy color in the theme. In a corporate setting, aesthetics help learners to identify with the company more. Make sure your LMS sends the right message.
7. Be Scalable and Powerful
You may only have a few learners now, but what about a year down the line? What about ten years from now? If you’re assuming that your organization is going to remain the same size, then it probably will. However, if you have grand ambitions, you need to implement equally grand plans to make them happen. Just because you’re a small business now doesn’t mean you won’t grow, and it’s a good idea to get an LMS that can grow with you. Think long-term as you shop for the right learning management system vendor.
8. Be Able to Integrate Social Media
Communication between teachers and students and among learners helps to solidify concepts while fostering a community environment. Most learning management systems include message boards, email, and other ways of corresponding, but often social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus are more effective than communicating only through a training platform because they’re already so familiar.
9. Be Able to Track Progress
In order to teach effectively, teachers need to be able to recognize how individual students are performing. Quizzing and testing are clear indicators of how the student is doing, but other tracking tools may be beneficial as well. For instance, if your course is teaching how to properly handle an emergency situation, speed and response may be important factors to consider.
10. Allow Learners to Provide Feedback
Teachers should always be looking to expand and improve their training materials. This is especially relevant in an e-learning environment, as minor details and changes can make a major difference in the overall quality of the course. Look for a learning management system that makes it easy and anonymous for your learners to provide honest feedback on various aspects of your program.
Take Your Time and Do Your Homework
It doesn’t matter how good your training materials are if you don’t have the right LMS to make them work. Start by deciding exactly which features are most critical, and then start doing some research. Many LMS providers offer free demos and trials, so spend some time using each platform first-hand. It may take some time, but you’ll know when you find the right learning management system. Put in your due diligence, and give your organization the e-learning program is deserves.
Rohit Bhargava, an SEO expert at Coalition Technologies, has been actively involved in SEO and Online Marketing industry for over 5 years from website audit, link building, social media and search engine optimization. He is passionate for his work and finds innovative ways of providing excellent results for his clients. When he is not in front of his computer, he loves to write about software, programming, seo and how to implement new technology into education. Connect with Rohit on Google+ and Facebook.