Technology is constantly evolving and so are the learning management systems. Gone are the days when the sole purpose of an LMS was to host courses and track user completion of the courses. Today’s learning management systems can do a lot more than that.
In an LMS feasibility study published by University of North Carolina
/2010/08/osc_feasibility_study_summary.pdf) the following attributes were considered important to define the best LMS solution.
- Interoperability and Flexibility
- Cost Effectiveness
- Support and Training
- Ease of Use
- Scalability & Sustainability
Interoperability and Flexibility: The LMSs of today are based on modular components that support different services and are not bound by a single platform. This ensures interoperability between LMSs and provides the flexibility to tweak and change learning paths and modules as per the changing demands of learners and organizations. Therefore, this is an important aspect to check if your current LMS can do this.
Cost Effectiveness: Cost of learning management system involves licensing, hosting and per user/ seat charge. Organizations might also incur ongoing costs of customization, administration and vendor support in addition to the fixed one-time costs. Sometimes, open-source LMSs such as Moodle have an advantage as there are no licensing costs and the money saved can be used to provide better user-support and administration. If operating costs of your existing LMS are escalating, you may wish to consider more cost-effective options because though the initial costs involve migrating an LMS may be high, it might turn out to be viable in the long run.
Support and Training: In our experience in managing and administrating client LMSs, we realized that usability of LMS and user-support are critical in making an LMS successful within an organization. If you do not have an in-house support system to enthuse and motivate users to use the LMS, you may want to think of hiring an external help that supports your LMS administration and management. Ideally, you should choose an LMS provider who becomes your partner in training and supporting LMS implementation within the organization. If your existing vendor fails to deliver, you can shop for other providers in the market.
Ease of Use: In a survey conducted by Training Inc, most organizations have rated Usability as most critical factor in the success or failure of an LMS. The design and folder structure in an LMS needs to be intuitive and standardized across the organization. This ensures that the user does not get lost and knows where to find what he/she is looking for on logging into the system. An LMS that helps create such an environment and provides the flexibility to do so according to your organizational needs would be ideal. Does your existing LMS fulfill these criteria? If not, it is time to shift.
Scalability & Sustainability: When you first adopted an LMS, you might have catered to say 1000 users with a handful of courses. However, as you grow and expand, users have increased, number of courses hosted also increases and per user costs are no longer cost effective and viable. You may also require a higher data storage space and you might want to look for a more sustainable option in the long run particularly if you are in dynamic environment with numbers of users and courses varying from time to time.
If your existing LMS does not fulfill any of the above criteria, it is time to think of migrating to another LMS that best handles your learning requirements. Shifting to a more compatible and viable LMS is no longer a complicated matter as it seemed to be a few years ago. Of course, it takes time and effort and involves careful streamlining and planning. But it is an effort that is best taken in the long term interest of the organization.