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Searching for an LMS? Don't Forget The Top Features for 2021

Blog posts | 18.08.2021

Steve Lowenthal

CEO - Kineo US at Kineo US

A Google search for Learning Management System throws up 2,090,000,000 results! Where and how do you start when choosing an LMS? Let’s try and simplify the process.

Let’s take every mobile phone model out there: Each is built to fulfill specific needs, such as, android or IOS, housing a limited or unlimited number of apps, functioning speed, built in devices such as cameras – their resolution and special features such as optical stabilisation, Microsoft Office app compatibility, and the list goes on and on.

The big point is that all of these phones will allow you to make calls, surf the web and check email, but each buyer’s personal habits, preferences and loyalties will lead them to different decisions.  Similarly every organisation has its own business goals, company culture, and mode of operation. If you want an LMS to fit perfectly within your firm for present and future use, you’ll have to put your thinking caps on and take a deep dive:

The Deep Dive: Identifying LMS features that can help you accomplish your L&D goals

Let’s look at an illustration: ‘Roger’ is a graduate recruit at XYZ Inc. Hispanic, a visual learner, hobbies include playing video games. Roger’s telemarketing efforts generate new leads, thus increasing the number of prospects for the business. Include follow-up telemarketing and his efforts also contribute toward sales goals itself.

‘Roger’ is the persona that we’ve created for L&D to be able to visualise and plan to accomplish their goal (aligned with the business goal) of increasing quarterly sales. L&D can now design a course that’s less like a text-book and more like a game or scenario based learning where they can learn new telemarketing tactics. The course can be split into more than one level in order to achieve a progression in skill level.

Once L&D has created personas for each of their goals, it becomes easy to determine what kind of features they need in order to achieve their goals. From our illustration, we need an LMS that can host not just text-audio courses, but something of a more user-friendly nature. Branched learning – an LMS feature, is a great way to get learners to explore the subject they’re learning in an engaging manner. You may even include gamification and micro-learning as desirable LMS features.

Two Common Must-Have LMS Features:

Learning Needs

✔ Content Management: Content can be in the form of activities that aid learning such as: assessments, certificates, chat rooms, polls, surveys, feedback, quizzes, wikis, live workshops etc. Content resources are the more passive learning formats such as eBooks, embedded media, labels, IMS content packages, URLs etc. Flexibility to manage activity and resource settings contributes to effective content management.

✔ Integration: Your LMS should be able to pull in content from various sources. Integration includes launching learning experiences from other learning technologies. For example: Totara uses the LTI standard for this and has integrations for tools like Zoom so a VILT can be created by an admin enrolled in by a user, launched by a user and tracked by the organisation using Totara, without having to access Zoom directly.

✔ Reporting: Unless learning is being tracked and measured, there can be no guarantee of seeing improvement from learning. Report building tools help build customised, relevant reports and analyze their impact on L&D goals.  Reports can be built in any graphical form. Each report can be customised to display only viewer relevant information, based on their user-access levels. 

✔ Learner Management: Every learner is on a different path. The LMS should provide access to learners at their level alone. For example: a sales executive should have access only to courses and content relevant to sales executives. For larger organisations, managing this can be a challenge, and so access control can be given to respective team leads, managers and HR personnel. For example: the Kineo Totara LMS uses Roles/Position/Organisation Structure to manage users as well as manage audiences – together these give an organisation a wide span of control to customise user experience. This enables those who are in a decision-making position to decide what career path the learner wishes to pursue, or what skills gap needs to be addressed, and hence, which courses would be relevant for that particular learner. An LMS that can handle complex organisational hierarchies can help avoid frustrations post-LMS-installation.

Administration & Security

✔ User Management & HR synchronisation: HR usually operates on a separate platform (HRIS) where they maintain employee data. The LMS’ ability to import new learner (user) data (and export it in the event of an employee moving out of the organisation), and assign onboarding courses automatically & seamlessly reduces repetitive manual work and makes LMS administration an easy role.

✔ Personalisation & Messages: Communication of information from the administrators to learners can be integrated with the use of customisable messaging and personalised dashboards where each learner can view messages from their managers, instructors, or other administrators. Messages that can appear as notifications via mobile devices, or email are valuable when managers need to get a learner’s attention.  Features such as dashboards, Audiences, intuitive course catalogs and more can create a personalised, relevant and engaging experience for learners.

Take your time and find the perfect fit:

So your job now is to get to work creating personas. These come in handy for many years and can be tailored to evolving business circumstances. Based on your L&D goals linked with business goals on one hand and personas on the other hand, you will have a clear list of LMS features you require. Conduct this kind of persona-based application exercise across your organisation. Even focus on specific learner types, and you will be able to eliminate or add more features to your list of “Must Haves”. This is the perfect set of LMS features that you need to focus your attention on in order to land a perfect fit LMS solution.

If you don’t have the time to do an in depth analysis, contact us at Kineo: we have guides and experts who are ready to dedicate themselves to building the perfect fit LMS for you. Heck, we even have a full LMS glossary to help you better understand the world of learning platforms. 

Steve Lowenthal

CEO - Kineo US at Kineo US

Steve Lowenthal has over 15 years of experience in Learning Technologies in consultancy, sales and management roles. He's a regular speaker at US conferences and events on trends in LMS, elearning and technology.