LMS basics and how your business can benefit

The global learning management system (LMS) market is set to be worth $15.72 billion by 2021, and is expected to be one of the biggest sectors in the tech world. LMS are highly valued by many businesses, with 72% of those who use them saying they are vital to maintaining their competitive advantage. These stats are pretty impressive, but what actually is a learning management system? how have they evolved? and how can your business benefit from using one?

What does LMS mean?

A learning management system (usually abbreviated to LMS), is a software that lets institutions create, deliver and manage courses and training programmes. In simple terms, think of an LMS as a stockroom where products are stored, managed and tracked, and only those who know the code can get in. An LMS is exactly the same as this but online. For example, LMS platforms allow schools and universities to create and deliver lessons, exams and revision materials. They can also be used by businesses to provide training to staff and measure their progress.

The history of learning management systems

The first use of an LMS can be traced back almost 100 years. In 1924, Sidney Pressey invented the ‘teaching machine,’ a typewriter with a window that could show questions and answers. Then, in 1956 the first adaptive teaching system was invented, automatically adjusting the difficulty of questions based on the learner. The concept of LMS was completely reinvented when HP released the first ever mass-produced desktop computer in 1968, and again when the internet was launched to the public in the 1990s. 

Since 2000, learning management systems have got better and better. The launch of SCORM in 2004 made content shareable, and the rise in cloud computing meant that systems could be hosted online, rather than taking up storage on computers. Today systems are optimised for mobile as well as web, making content accessible for the 3.5 billion smartphone users.

What can learning management systems do?

The question should really be what can they not do? Learning Management Systems have evolved so much in recent years that they can now do pretty much anything you want them to do. These are just a few common features:

  • Mobile optimisation: as we mentioned before, almost half of the world’s population owns a smartphone. Mobile learning is on the rise, and most LMS platforms will be optimised so that content and lessons can easily be accessed on mobile.
  • eCommerce: many LMS platforms allow for eCommerce so companies can sell training courses and resources to third parties, expanding their audience and reach, and bringing in a little extra income.
  • Quizzes and exams: most LMS will allow you to check the progress of students through quizzes and exams. This lets you see how they are getting on and identify areas you may need to go over.
  • Interactive video content: 90% of the information covered in employee training will be forgotten after six months, but video-based learning can reduce that number. LMS platforms will support the creation of interactive video content to engage your students as much as possible and boost knowledge retention.
  • APIs (integrations): some LMS will allow you to further personalise your system through plugins and integrations from other software and platforms.
  • Social learning: collaboration, discussion and peer mentoring are all important parts of learning, and most LMS will have forums and chat facilities that let learners talk amongst themselves outside of the course or lesson content. 

How your business can benefit from an LMS

There’s no doubt that both learners and facilitators can benefit from LMS. Here are just a few examples of the advantages to businesses and educational institutions: 

  • Reduced training costs: For businesses, web-based courses on learning management systems reduce training costs. There are no travel costs, no printing costs and none of the other costs associated with training sessions such as food, drink and hotels.
  • Better knowledge retention among students and employees: Figures suggest that eLearning boosts retention rates by 25-60% and IBM reported that every dollar spent on online training returns thirty dollars in productivity. Not only this, increased retention means that less time and resources are spent on retraining or reteaching content.
  • Improved learner experience: 94% of learners prefer learning at their own pace, and LMS platforms give them the opportunity to do that. As well as this, features such as interactive videos, quizzes and forums give users engaging and personalised content, creating the best possible learning experience.
  • Reduced environmental impact: The Open University found that online learning has environmental benefits, cutting energy consumption associated with training by 90% and CO2 emissions by more than 85%!
  • Everything is in one location: LMS are great because you know where everything is, and it’s easy for learners to access everything they need. This also makes it easier to manage and update resources when you need to, and learners can quickly revisit any topics they want to go back over.
  • Ensure consistency and track learning: different people may deliver in-person teaching and training, meaning that learners could all have different knowledge and be at different levels. Learning management systems make it easier to ensure knowledge consistency among learners, and they also allow you to track each learner to make sure they are all where they should be. 

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