There are many things to consider when creating the best learning management system (LMS) that matches your specific needs. Finding the right balance of essential features and courseware that are attainable to you within your budget can indeed be quite a challenge to learning and development professionals, and so below are some top tips to help you manufacture the best LMS that matches your requirements.
The very first thing that you will have to take into consideration of course is your budget. There is no denying the fact that many learning and development budgets are shrinking, albeit rather unhelpfully in line with rising demands for effective management of training programs. So, work out your budget, and stick to it. Finding affordable learning management solutions will indeed probably be your biggest challenge when designing your LMS, but, nonetheless, that is the likely challenge that you’ll be facing – so let’s continue the list and consider all the things that you will have to budget for in your design.
There are of course various platforms for which your learning management system will need to be optimised. Learners want to be able to access your learning material from any number of different devices – smartphones, tablets, desktops etc. – and so your courseware needs to be optimised to accommodate each. The thing to consider, then, when it comes to affordability is that the site through which your learning material is accessed be as mobile-ready as possible. You don’t want to have to fork out for different designs to accommodate all the different devices through which your courseware is likely to be accessed, so you need to customize your original site so that it is absolutely functional on all devices.
Following on from the last point, it is also essential to understand that the best LMs is often the simplest. Users, when accessing the material, need to be able to feel their way around the site, the various folders which are provided, and access the relevant media as and when they need to. Indeed, this is essential to ensure sustained user engagement with your material. The last thing you want is for your users to get lost within your site, and then ultimately abandon it through frustration. Navigation is key – from the moment users login, they need to intuitively find their way round all the features and functions that you have provided for them. If they can’t find it, then they may as well not be there, and they soon won’t be as a result.
However, even if you have managed to design the most user-friendly LMS possible, you will still need to ensure that you have proper user-support procedures in place. You will of course not always be the administrator of your course, and so proper training will need to be provided to those that are. All professionals as well as learners need to be provided at every level with the appropriate support in order that everyone may achieve the best possible usage of your LMS. Indeed, it is perhaps advisable that you work closely with your LMS provider to ensure this is achievable, as they will undoubtedly have even more insider knowledge of the system than you.
If you’ve designed a great LMS, then the likelihood is that more and more users will be wanting to access it. Therefore you must be prepared for this. When deciding on a platform on which to base your course, it may well be worth considering something open-source, not least because this will be kind on your budget. Open-source software is nearly always by its very nature scalable, and you will often find a very helpful community of other users who will be willing to aid you in getting the very best out of the platform. So, always ensure that your LMS can cater for growth – have a little foresight, what can’t be budgeted for immediately might not need to be, and so start to think about allocating future budgets to your growing needs when indeed you returns might be more healthy anyway.
The selection of the most appropriate LMS is the most important factor in getting you the maximized return on investment of your elearning expenditure. Budgets may seem limiting, but so long as the basic functionality, customization and scalability of your platform is enabled from the outset, then you can scale up from there. Always think of the end user first, and certainly consider an open source platform when deciding on an LMS that is right for you and your budget.