Best Learning Management Systems (LMS)–2021
What is a Learning Management System?
It’s an eLearning platform designed to provide the framework for handling all the aspects of eLearning to make life easier for individuals in charge of training and development, and for the learners on the enriching journey of upgrading their knowledge and skills. So, what is used for and why would someone benefit from using a Learning Management System?
What is the Learning Management System used for?
LMS is used by anyone who wants to stay competitive and is thirsty for knowledge and some of the countless users and uses include:
-Organizations providing training to customers and partners
-Supporting employees upon their on-boarding, training and development of the current employees, and providing professional groups with any mandatory trainings needed for recurring certifications
-Educational institutions augmenting their on-campus resources and delivering their online courses to students who are not on-campus and possibly to widen their target audience to be outside campus
-Providing entrepreneurs with tools that offer short-term skills-based courses upon their needs
-Offering modules on varied fields for self-learners and hobbyists
Let's discuss the benefits of using a Learning Management System
Top benefits for a learner:
-Allows for training consistency in terms of both training content and quality.
-Keeps eLearning content organised in one location: meaning that instead of having the content stored on different online or offline platforms, the eLearning material is all in one location which could be a cloud-based LMS content all stored on a remote server or on hardware devices.
-Provides unrestricted access to eLearning materials: the learner will not have to wait for the next online learning session to be uploaded as all the content is already published and available for use and of course this is beneficial for audiences in different time zones.
-Reduces learning and development time: the learners are given the information needed in a direct, clear and organised manner instead of having to sit through the whole course to get a certain piece of information.
Top benefits for an organization:
-Cost saving in terms of teaching and development. Costs are reduced in terms of travel time, printing materials and site rentals.
-Allows for quick and convenient expansion of the eLearning course material and scalability. LMS is designed to smoothly and efficiently handle the company’s expansion in terms of accommodating new users and courses.
-Keeps organizations up to date with compliance training. Some industries such as pharmaceuticals, building and construction, communication and several others are required to regularly train, get assessed and reported for compliance purposes.
-Provides customization and tailored branding. Some LMS’s are adaptable and could be modified to suit the company’s branding which will give the users a sense of familiarity with the brand.
-Keeps track of the learner’s development and performance in real-time: allows organizations to easily assess and generate reports on an overall level or on a user level in order for the trainers to easily track the student progress and knowledge gains. Also, the learner could sometimes be able to know the areas they are possibly falling behind and the system could even suggest resources to improve their performance in these areas. If the system reports that several learners are suffering with a certain learning aspect or module, the content could be modified for clarification.
Different Learning Management System Models
There are endless ways of comparing different LMS’s and there is really no-one-size-fits-all. To choose the best LMS for an organization requires research and comparison. The comparison below will be in terms of the different models vs. one another:
LMS Deployment Models:
Cloud-based vs. On-premise
Cloud-based is hosted on the organization’s cloud where there is no need for installation of any specialised hardware or software, the users simply access the system by logging into their web portal.
On-premise is hosted on the organization’s multiple servers and is managed by the in-house IT staff so that they are completely in control.
LMS Pricing Models:
SaaS vs. Licensed Product
Software-as-a-service(Saas) which is also known as on-demand software, web-based software, and hosted software. With this model, the organization does not usually have tangible software available for the users, it is only available on the cloud and even the in-house IT staff will not really have technical control.
Licensed product, requires a single purchase then the software can be used unlimitedly which is ideal for those who want a permanent LMS solution but it has a higher upfront cost than Saas which does not make it feasible for all organizations. Plus, it requires constant in-house maintenance unless the user organization decides to pay for the ongoing support contract.
LMS Business Models:
Enterprise vs. Individual
Enterprise solutions are usually purchased by large companies that are expanding at a fast pace as it is easy to scale and can easily accommodate an unlimited number of users and courses.
Individual solutions are usually for smaller organizations and are usually sold via a subscription model and come with less features than the enterprise.
Top 5 Learning Management Systems in 2021
Now that a comparison between the different LMS models have been discussed, let's explore the top 5 that were chosen according to comparison between the performance on five categories and their features which include:
*The order below does not indicate that any of the LMS is better than the other
Moodle is an open source online learning solution that offers basic functions for free and offers advanced functions along with a wide variety of extensions at different subscription bundles. Moodle is considered one of the most stable solutions for medium to large organizations. This solution is not very customizable, the full setup takes a relatively long time, each server uses a separate hardware to run and the IT staff have to be constantly developing their own plug-ins and add-ons. However, given the subscription package options along with the organization having a strong IT department, Moodle can be the perfect choice for many organizations.
Canvas is a cloud-based, simple and mobile friendly platform that is mainly for educational institutes. It allows easy progress tracking and collaboration between the users, and is known for being easy-to-use. Although it falls under the open source category, some modules within the solution require intervention from outside the user organization. It is free but many of the advanced features have to be paid for along with the personal training for getting used to Canvas.
Blackboard Learn is a web-based LMS that can be deployed in three ways according to the needs: cloud, on-premise hosting and managed hosting. It is tailored to suit the needs of four different markets: Kindergarten to Year 12 in schools, higher education, businesses and governments. The platform is usually used for organizations with long-term needs as it could be easily customised to the organization needs and integrates with: school information systems, Microsoft OneDrive and Dropbox. It is not really customizable in terms of branding and the interface looks outdated.
SAP Litmos is a cloud-based training that offers user-centered solutions for five categories: employees, salespeople, customers, partners and compliance, making it easy to use by users of all backgrounds. It is easily customised upon the organization's branding and allows the user to: build their own learning paths, send messages, notifications and do some tracking. Also, the solution has gamification features which make the learning experience more engaging for the users. In addition, this system supports SCORM content, localization and being multi-language.
SaaS Cloud LMS
World Manager is a customised cloud-based training solution designed to be accessible from any device. The employers can always track the: employee user’s progress and live training, and sign off on employees’ training in certain areas and have it reported for compliance purposes. This platform does not have a fixed-term contract for a certain period of time and both product upgrades and ongoing customer support are for free. In addition to being fully customized in terms of branding and having several key tools implemented within, it allows for full communication between all the users with the organization.
How can Saudisoft help?
Saudisoft’s team has significant expertise in the eLearning market and are always keeping pace with the changing market dynamic in order to add value to your business. If you are in the phase of transitioning and want to publish content into your LMS, our team works with different tools such as: SCORM, xAPI, HTML5, AICC, and cmi5 to ensure the smoothest publishing process. If it is your first time with a Learning Management Solution, our consultants familiarise you with the best eLearning authoring tools and ensure finding the most suitable LMS for your organization. The team can also easily and efficiently migrate your eLearning courses from Flash to HTML5.