LMS Comparison

LMS Comparison: The Key Criteria To Follow


Colin Fraser

You know that training is important for your organisation. It boosts engagement and is great for productivity and profitability. You also know that you want online learning. It’s cost-effective and it’s easy to manage. However there are a considerable number of learning management systems (or LMS) in the market. So how do you sort apples from oranges when there are so many features to choose between? How do you make a meaningful LMS comparison?

It’s true that few learning management systems are the same. So first of all, you should consider what you want to get from an LMS. What are your business objectives, and how will you meet them? Think about the people who will be using the system. Are they in the same building or spread around the country? Who will manage the LMS? What support and course-design skills will they need?

It sounds like a headache, but it’s not. When making an LMS comparison, here are some of the key criteria you should consider.

Do I Even Need An LMS?

Well, yes. Digital learning isn’t the future, it’s the present and it’s the most effective way to train staff and students in your organisation. It’s cheaper than running physical classes and its online mobility means better course engagement and completion. That leads to increased productivity and an improved bottom line.

What Kind Of LMS Do I need?

They come in a number of flavours starting with Installed (hosted on your server) vs Web Based (hosted in the Cloud). Installed has security benefits, but It’s yesterday’s way of doing things. Web is often cheaper and is much more flexible. Next there’s Hosted (you maintain the system) vs SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) which we think is better. The LMS vendor is responsible for management plus fees are typically lower. There’s also Open Source (you cherry-pick and build your own system) vs Closed (the vendor has done this for you). The former is more flexible, the latter is easier to manage.

What’s The Difference between LMS and LCMS?

A Learning Content Management Systems includes software to design courses. With a standard LMS you’ll need to integrate tools you already have to create learning modules. That’s seldom difficult, however a good LCMS will do the hard work of optimising design so  courses are available anywhere at any time (on a phone, laptop or desktop). This can save a lot of time, effort and money. 

What Features Will I Need?

Here are some that a good LMS will offer:

  • Reporting tools
  • Course analytics
  • Socials Integration
  • Payment gateways
  • Video conferencing
  • Gamification
  • Online teaching
  • Online support
  • Scalability and Platform agnostic

I Hear Some LMS Are Free, So Why Should I Pay?

Most software packages offer a free version but they’re usually scaled-down and don’t have a lot of features. However they can be a good testing ground to see if a vendor’s LMS is one you like working with. In fact, it might be all you need. Plus you can usually upgrade to a commercial version later, unlocking features as you go.

This is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to making an LMS comparison. Take the time to find the right system for you, and unlock its full potential. Because when you do, everyone benefits.

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