In the previous blog, we had a good background on the training function; now let’s see what an LMS is and what its uses are, and also have a look at the basic features of an LMS.
As all of you know, LMS stands for Learning Management System. So by definition it should help in implementing, or in other words, administering training. And, it should help in maintaining records and generating reports to justify the effort, in other words to evaluate the training effort and expense. That’s all. But being a software platform, with a database, it can also act as a “host” for eLearning courseware. It can help monitor learners’ progress and also help evaluate courseware.
Some LMSs have also added the initial steps of training needs identification and some have even added performance or talent management systems into their LMSs.
But I am of the firm opinion that an LMS should do only what it is essentially meant to do, that is, manage learning. I think it will lose its utility when you try to make it do everything and make it dance to your tune, as most companies have realized of late.
Essentially, what does it do? There are 3 main areas in working with an LMS. I have categorized them as User Management, Course Management and Records & Reports. Users can be learners, trainers or authors, line managers, training managers and administrators. Courses may be eLearning courses, classroom sessions, e-books and other training resources. Finally, records and reports deal with monitoring, recording and reporting about the other two activities.
We can also make the LMS take care of training plans of individual employees, in addition to managing training, tracking activities and reporting them. Let’s look at each in detail:
Training Plans for Employees: LMS can easily develop training plans for each individual employee based on his or her training needs analysis or on performance appraisals. When the training is scheduled, the yearly training is displayed on the training calendar.
Based on the training needs analysis, each employee can be assigned a learning path including classroom and online training. Training plans can also have the facility for self-registration of training programs or the manager can assign him some, depending on his training needs and business requirements. So the training plan of an individual employee looks like something which you see on the screen of a dashboard.
Manage Classroom & Online Training: Most organizations use blended learning approach; very few organizations stick to one mode of delivery. They use both and they blend them. LMS can manage classroom training very effectively by scheduling training, getting registrations done, taking online attendance, conducting assessments after the classroom sessions and finally evaluating the training completed by the trainee.
As far as online training is concerned, LMS can host eLearning, and record learner progress and then evaluate the learning. And as I mentioned earlier an LMS can also act as a repository for resources that can be useful for learning.
Training Progress and Certification: When it comes to monitoring training progress and certification, recording training progress is a piece of cake for the LMS. You can actually monitor the progress of an individual learner even to a screen level. You can know how much time a learner has spent on a particular screen let alone the whole course. Of course, we can evaluate test results right down to a single question level. You can have a facility to certify a learner online and in real time. If a learner successfully completes a course he can actually print his own certificate. It will be a unique certificate with a unique number and these certificates are usually accepted by statutory or regulatory agencies as a proof that training is completed.
Reports for Effective Decision Making: We all know that good information is essential for effective decision making and the LMSs for generating reports. I will touch upon some of the common reports which we can generate with an LMS.
- Group Users/Audience Reports: They give the complete details of a user. Also, about total number of users available in the LMS. We can of course filter and get data related to specific list of users.
- Course wise users’ status reports: This report will give complete information about the courses with respect to users. It will show the current status (Registered/In Progress/Completed) and score for the selected course and particular user. This will help us analyze and monitor each training and user status.
- Course Registration/Enrollment/Completion Reports: This report gives status of various types of trainings. This will give information about how many have registered, what is the current status of registration and how many have waived or cancelled the registration. This information of total number of registrations and number of completions for a particular course helps the training managers to know the ROI for a particular training. It will help them to know the interest of learners on a particular course.
- Course Evaluation/Feedback Surveys: This report will give graphical representation of all the user feedback on a particular course. It will be useful for the training managers to analyze feedback and take appropriate actions to improve the training. This should be kept mandatory as this feedback will be very much useful for developing new training and make LMS easy to use. This report will give option to view the consolidated feedback and individual feedback as well.
- Knowledge Assessment Status, Time Spent & Averages: This quiz report will give a very detailed report on a quiz. It will show the following details:
- How many have attempted the quiz
- How many times each learner attempted
- Quiz start and end date along with time spent
- Show the correct/incorrect indications with question weightage
- Gives the average scoring of all the learners scores total as well as question wise
- It also gives information about very detailed response history about a particular user attempt. It shows which option learner selected and what the correct response is and how much score for that question.
- It also gives overall scores of all the learners in a graphical representation.
- Export to excel and save it for sharing or to do more analysis.
As you can see, LMS can do a lot of things. But do you need all of them? If you want to get the best out of your LMS, you need to know EXACTLY what your organization needs now and in future. In the next blog we will find out what you need from an LMS.
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