Before we dive into the key features of an LMS for e-learning, let’s clarify what an LMS is and the purpose it serves.
In short, an LMS is a digital system where you can store and manage all your organization’s e-learning content as well as keep track of your learners’ results. Because of this, an LMS can be used as both a central location to store company-wide learning content and a tool to facilitate corporate learning.
To learn more about the LMS and its role in e-learning, you can refer to our free LMS guide.
Beyond this basic definition, what you can do with your LMS will depend on what specific features it carries, which can vary greatly. That’s what we’ll cover today. By the end of this article, you’ll have a clear sense of the different options and which LMS features best suit your organization’s goals.
Whether you’re new to the common features of an LMS or looking to upgrade your existing solution, here is a checklist of 12 key LMS features we recommend you keep an eye out for:
An LMS, by definition, is a tool that allows you to store and manage your learning content. But choosing an LMS is more than just about meeting this basic requirement. It’s also worth finding one that keeps your content organized and easy to find, both for content creators and learners. For example, learners should be able to easily find the content most relevant to their profession without having to tediously scroll through other teams’ content. While LMSs don’t traditionally have a search function for users to quickly lookup the content they need, more of them have started adding one to keep up with the growing trend of on-demand learning. Finding an LMS that does can help your organization better meet modern learning needs.
Along with keeping content organized, it’s just as important that your LMS is easy to interact with. An intuitive user interface not only speeds up the time it takes for your learners to explore and identify the content they need but also makes for an inviting, hassle-free learning experience.
Learning paths are another feature LMSs are adding to keep up with the trend of on-demand learning. These are strings of courses tied together for a learner to complete and achieve a wider learning objective. Because learning objectives can’t always be accomplished through a single course, learning paths provide a guided route of courses and content. More importantly, learning paths provide a more personalized experience. By knowing exactly which courses it takes to complete a specific learning objective, learners spend less time exploring the database to determine and can dive right into achieving their goals.
Assessment and grading
There’s more to learning than creating content and pushing it out to learners. It’s also important to keep up with your learners’ progress, properly assess their learning needs, and even share feedback to help them improve. Assessment features like digital quizzes and exams can make a huge difference in understanding where your learners are at and what further guidance they may need. Grading features also allow you to respond to your learners’ assessments by giving them a sense of their grasp on the subject.
Just as giving feedback helps learners improve, receiving it can help the organization’s learning strategy. Having a dedicated space for your learners to share comments about their learning experience can shed light on the impact you’re making and whether you’re meeting your learner’s needs. You can make use of qualitative feedback to evaluate the quality of your learning content and adjust it as needed to strengthen your corporate learning strategy.
Learner tracking and reporting
Detailed learner tracking features are another way to gain insight into how your content can be improved. Most LMSs come with data-driven learner reports, allowing you to identify who’s completed your courses, whether they passed or failed, or even how many attempts they made at a question. These metrics can provide quantitative insight into your learners’ progress, enabling you to identify patterns or knowledge gaps that can help you improve your content.
There will likely be many participants in your LMS with different roles, from content creators to facilitators to learners. That’s why it’s important to have an intuitive user management tool that allows you to easily create new users and organize them by their roles and the specific access they have. For example, you could grant more senior L&D professionals with administrative rights to the system. You might also designate certain users as instructors, giving them more access to course management settings.
Certification and compliance
If your organization has compliance goals to keep up with, make sure your LMS has features that can easily facilitate company-wide compliance training. Additionally, you should also look out for certification features, allowing the company to prove its compliance. It’s worth noting that an LMS is particularly suitable for facilitating top-down, mandatory training like compliance and security. With these kinds of subjects, content is created by a company’s central learning department and distributed to the rest of the organization, making it a top-down approach to learning. We see the future of e-learning headed toward a bottom-up approach, which we’ll cover in more detail later.
As we’ve seen, an LMS stores all kinds of content and organizational information. It’s therefore especially important to look out for a feature known as data migration, which allows you to easily preserve any important data you don’t want to lose. This can be especially helpful if you are switching to a new LMS.
An LMS isn’t the only important digital system for corporate learning. This is why it helps when an LMS can easily integrate with other systems in your company, like talent management systems or other HR systems. Some LMSs can also integrate with widely-used video conferencing tools like WebEx or GoToWebinar.
You should be able to save your learning content in industry-recognized standards. SCORM and xAPI are the most common e-learning standards. But it’s not only important that your LMS complies with an e-learning standard. It’s just as important that it can handle the one you’ll be using the most. For example, if you create content with a separate authoring tool that only exports in xAPI, you’ll want to make sure your LMS handles xAPI too – not just SCORM.
In today’s digital-first era where more and more people are owning smartphones and tablets, it’s important to create learning content that can be easily accessed anytime, anywhere – including on mobile devices. An LMS that’s mobile-responsive can help you optimize your learning content for the modern, mobile-ready employee.
You might not even need an LMS
Depending on your organization’s goals, you might not even need an LMS. One thing to keep in mind is that the LMS is a complex digital tool that often requires additional training to use. As mentioned earlier, this means there’s usually a central learning team of L&D professionals who are responsible for pushing content out to the rest of the company.
As a time-saving alternative, consider a user-friendly authoring tool that doesn’t depend on a central team’s availability and still carries the key LMS features we’ve mentioned above. Our own solution, Easygenerator, is an employee-friendly authoring tool that allows anyone in your organization to easily share their expertise in the form of bite-sized courses or resources. Even if you aren’t a trained instructional designer, our intuitive interface enables anyone to create engaging content.
And if you have a preferred LMS, you won’t have to give it up. Easygenerator lets you export your courses in SCORM format, allowing you to continue storing content and tracking it in the LMS. And if not, you can use our detailed data insights to track learners’ progress, identify knowledge gaps, and easily adjust your content as needed.
Most importantly, a tool like Easygenerator empowers an approach called Employee Generated Learning (EGL). Under EGL, employees who want to share their knowledge are empowered to create learning content themselves. Not only does this free up the central learning team to focus on other tasks that can’t be handed off, but it also means learning content can come straight from the subject matter experts themselves.
This strategy accelerates the circulation of knowledge throughout the organization, saving time and money that would otherwise be spent on instructional designers and third-party content providers.