There are over 600 LMSs (Learning Management Systems) on the market (you may also know them as VLEs or Learning Platforms just to add even more confusion). In this series of blogs, I’ll be taking you through the process of finding the right LMS for you. I’ll look at seeking recommendations, defining your requirements and researching LMSs.
Part 3: Researching
In the final part of this blog series I will look at things you need to think about if you are looking for a new LMS and would prefer to do the research yourself, rather than use an expensive consultant*
*Did I mention that we offer a free no obligation, no sales pitch consultation which could save you hours? Still, want to research yourself? Read on!
Hopefully, by now you have defined your requirements – if not, go back to as you’ll need a point of reference before you sift through 600 LMSs. Even if you think you have standard requirements, you will find that most of the 600 systems aren’t suitable for you in one way or another.
As a starting point, you can generally bundle LMSs (or VLEs/Learning Platform/Some other name) into one of 3 categories:
- Academic: Primarily designed to be used in an educational setting
- Corporate: Primarily designed for businesses to deliver in-house training
- Commercial: Primarily designed to sell or distribute courses to customers
The focus of an academic system may, therefore, be around things such as blended learning, assessment engines, group work and portfolios. A corporate system may have a course booking management and learning plan tools. Commercial systems will likely have eCommerce and multi-tenancy functionality (we may look at all of this in future blogs).
I have however come across many clients who want many features from multiple categories – for example, they primarily need an academic system but with the ability to sell courses directly through eCommerce. Of course, there are solutions for this too and some LMS all-rounders that do lots of things well, but may lack the finesse/detail of some features which are essential to you. In the example above, however, I would suggest starting the search with the academic LMSs as that’s your primary function – and it would be much harder to find a primarily commercial system with a wide set of academic features.
My other top tips when looking for an LMS include:
- Google! There are loads of websites that list LMSs – use these as a starting point only and if you find one you like, do some more searching around similar systems.
- Be Realistic, you’re not going to get a 6 seater Lamborghini for £2k (revisit of the blog series!).
- Try it out. Most LMS companies will offer free trials/demos.
- Ask the LMS supplier questions:
- If you can’t find a feature you want/need, there may be a suitable workaround.
- But don’t just take their word for it – ask to see things in action. Of course, LMS suppliers won’t outright lie to you to get a sale, but their interpretation of your requirement may not be the same as yours. It is therefore important that you check the LMS will work in exactly the way you want it to (or at least in a way that works for you).