This is the first in a two-part series.
You may be researching Learning Management Systems because you are new to online training. Or you may be researching alternative LMS Systems because it is time to replace your current product because the LMS doesn't have the features you require.
Either way, the LMS selection & evaluation process can be daunting: confusing industry-specific terms, hundreds of LMS Systems to choose from, superfluous vs. required features, and different pricing models. To help you with the process we’ve put together this LMS System Selection & Evaluation Toolkit. It includes infographics, guides, and checklists to get you started, as well as an overall plan to help you better manage your time, assets, and analysis.
STEP 1: BACKGROUND RESEARCH
Before you begin your research and evaluation of LMS systems, getting some background information will be helpful. It will familiarize you with industry specific terms and help you understand the scope of products available in the marketplace. You will see the variety of features offered and start to understand which features you will require in your implementation. You can get a high level overview of usability, reporting, and administration before you dive into the process more deeply.
Start Here: Learning Management System Glossary of Terms
Not sure what of the meaning of specific terms used on LMS websites? SCORM, AICC, learning paths – to name a few. Check out the LMS System Glossary to familiarize yourself with the nomenclature.
Next: LMS Roadmap
This infographic maps out the LMS selection process at a high level, giving you a great overview of key elements & decision points in the selection process. Download your copy today!
STEP 2: DEFINE THE PROCESS
In this stage you want to clearly identify your goals and objectives. Outline basic goals, processes and deliverables that you can communicate to team members. Establish the team, the selection time-frame, the methodology, and allocated hours. Have clear goals, whether that includes a budget limitation, time constraint, or other influential factors, and include them in the project definition. Create a project plan that details the overall objectives and budget. This will be given to the project team.
Become an LMS Expert
The process of becoming an expert user starts the same way you would research anything online: with a Google or Bing search to find potential sources of information and visiting those sites to gather details. This is a high level survey of what learning management systems have to offer in general. By looking through these sites, you are trying to become better versed on the products available, the scope of features offered, and scalability of the product.
Download white papers and other information offered on the websites. Are there particular vendors that appeal to you? Are there vendors selling products that are too complicated or difficult to implement? Conversely, are some vendors selling products that are too simple, that can't be customized or don't support your core requirements? Again, you are just trying to get a feel for the marketplace, so don't spend too much time here.
As you visit websites make notes of features that are common across LMS's. Be sure to include features that particularly stand out, or that you know you need in you LMS. Identify any industry-specific features that may be of interest. This list will be the starting point for your requirements list that you will generate in STEP 3. Before you begin evaluating specific LMS products, it's best to know your core requirements. This helps you avoid paying for features that you don't need, and ensures that you are evaluating LMS products that may be a good fit for your organization.