What is a Learning Management System?

What is a Learning Management System

Learning management systems (LMSs) have been powering the world of corporate training for years. What started as a teaching machine resembling a typewriter in the early 1920s, LMS tools have become a must-have platform for businesses and educational institutions everywhere.

In fact:

  • The LMS market is projected to grow from USD 13.38 billion in 2021 to USD 44.49 billion in 2028 at a CAGR of 18.7%
  • The average annual spend on Learning & Development per employee worldwide is USD 1,308
  • 64% of learning & development professionals agree that learning has shifted from a “nice to have” to a “need to have”

So, what’s so fascinating about these tools that more and more businesses are adopting them as their staple learning platform? 

To understand this, you need to begin by understanding what a learning management system is, how it works, who can use these solutions, and what are some of its features and benefits.

By the time you’re finished with this post, you’ll know all the answers to these questions. If you’re new to the concept of an LMS, you’ll certainly find it informative.

Let’s get to it.

What is a Learning Management System?

A learning management system is a software platform that enables users to create, share, administer, and track online courses and tests. Training departments, instructors, and teachers use it for regular in-house and remote learning. An LMS is a perfect solution for continuous learning programs in the workplace.

As a modern and smart training solution, LMS tools are instructor and learner-friendly and help you take full charge of learning. They do this by streamlining and accelerating training development and ensuring transparency and accountability in the process.

The best part of LMS software is that they take care of the nuts and bolts of online learning, encompassing the entire employee lifecycle. Keeping learners engaged is also easy with these tools through multimedia, quizzes, surveys, collaborative social learning, and learning paths.

11 Key Features & Benefits of a Learning Management System

Now that you’ve understood what an LMS is, let’s get down to examining the top 10 features and corresponding benefits you can expect from a standard LMS.

1. Course Building

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One of the most basic functionalities of a learning management system is its ability to build courses. It lets you build professional-looking courses within minutes. You can add audio and video multimedia files and even upload training materials in Word doc or PDF format.

You can even apply white-label by adding logo, messaging, and color schemes to meet your branding needs. Organize content topic-wise and by chapters.

2. User & Group Management

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Like in conventional classrooms, a learning management system allows you to organize learners into groups based on training type, location, and other criteria. After that, you can assign them courses easily.

  • Add group admins to manage learner groups
  • Save time and effort by enabling learner self-registration
  • Bulk-invite course participants
  • Send notifications on course due date, certificate expiry

3. Testing & Assessment

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Regular assessment remains indispensable in any outcome-based eLearning program. This is true whether you’re training 5 people or 500.

You should be able to measure progress against your L&D goals with the help of online quizzes.

Add these quizzes at the end of each course chapter as a final assessment to test retention. Better still, you can even embed quizzes right into your courses and make learning more exciting. 
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Leverage the social media sharing feature in an LMS so that learners find your quizzes more easily

4. Reporting & Analytics
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These let you access actionable learning data as and when you want them. View consolidated reports of individuals and groups. These reports present a bird’s eye view of the scores that your learners obtained in the form of a grade book.

Similarly, you can filter reports by time, such as today, yesterday, and the last 7 days. View just what you need without having to scroll all the way up or down a report.

5. Multi-Lingual Support
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Language is one of the major factors for learners to enroll in a course. Make sure the learning management system you choose supports multiple languages.

Remove language barriers and train learners in a language they prefer. Make your system available in numerous linguistic regions. This will enable you to teach or train a global audience in their mother tongue.

Get over the need to rely on Google translator, which is not foolproof when it comes to translation.

6. Self-Paced Learning

This feature in LMS is an acknowledgment that no two learners learn at the same speed. It addresses the need to calibrate learning according to individual needs.

Remove common scheduling issues, and let learners learn at their own convenient pace as long as they meet the deadlines. Allow learners to retake a course or test as many times as they want.

7. Discussion & Collaboration

This is a social learning feature common in almost all popular learning management software. It promotes collaborative learning, which is an essential element in modern learning.

Build an online community of learners and facilitate discussions and collective problem-solving in real-time. Promote higher-level thinking skills in learners through peer-to-peer learning and boost their confidence.

8. Reminders & Announcements

Another key feature in an LMS for training that enables learners to abide by course completion or certificate expiration dates is the reminders. Using this feature, instructors can set a complete-by date for courses or quizzes. Similarly, they can set certificate expiration dates.

By doing so, you can easily ensure ongoing compliance and achieve a higher course completion rate.

9. Integrations

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What if you could get the benefits of two tools perfectly merged into a single platform? 

A learning management system makes that possible. No more switching constantly between platforms.

Powerful integrations with popular tools such as CRMs and CMSs bring the advantages of software interoperability to LMS users and make these learning tools more powerful than they already are.

For example, integration between an LMS and SugarCRM allows you to train your customers and channel partners while engaging in marketing automation at the same time.

10. Security & Permissions

Some of the top cloud-based LMS training systems available today are easily configurable in terms of security settings. You can set up secure access control and assign roles and permissions to users.

You can also control user login by using Single Sign-On (SSO) and REST API. You can keep your courses public or private through password protection.

A GDPR-compliant cloud LMS ensures the privacy of personal data and helps build trust with customers.

11. Content Library

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Some of the LMS providers offer a library of professionally designed courses. Generally, these resources are ready to use with or without customization. Learning management system courses can significantly reduce your course development time.

You can also create course bundles out of these courses and provide designated learning paths to each learner or group.

Explore Expert Training Courses Here

Types of Learning Management System Platforms

There are different types of LMS categorized according to the hosting type, pricing model, source, and other criteria. They are:

1. Installed LMS

This type of LMS is installed on a local server and maintained by an in-house IT team. It entails setup and IT infrastructure maintenance fees.

2. Web-Based LMS

It is an LMS available on a web browser via the internet. Software updates and maintenance take place online. It incurs just a fraction of the costs of an installed LMS.

3. Self-Hosted LMS

In the case of a self-hosted LMS, you as a business or educational institution are responsible for hosting the LMS themselves. You’re in complete control of the platform, including upgrades.

4. Cloud LMS

A cloud or SaaS LMS is one where the vendor takes complete responsibility for hosting the LMS for its clients. The vendor owns and manages the IT infrastructure.

5. Free LMS

Free LMS solutions are meant for those on a shoestring budget. They come with limited features and suit small organizations with limited learning needs.

6. Commercial LMS

This class of LMS is suitable for large-scale, commercial training programs. They come with a range of premium features, including turnkey course creation, e-commerce, scalability, and support. Such LMSs are more stable and dependable.

7. Open Source

Any techno-geek will readily understand open-source software products. As a learning management solution, an open-source LMS offers the liberty of development and customization. You have more control over data and features.

8. Closed Source

A closed source LMS is one with a proprietary code. Any changes to the software are done by the provider only and not by end-users. If we talk in terms of smartphones, it is like iPhones, which don’t share their original code.

9. Integrated LMS

LMSs that support integration with other applications come under this category. These LMSs are easily integrated with HRIS, payroll systems, marketing platforms, CRMs, and many other popular tools.

10. Non-Integrated LMS

This type of LMS is just the opposite of the above. They offer built-in core features and don’t support many third-party integrations. They are usually a one-stop solution and work best if those built-in features are all you need.

How Do Learning Management Systems Work?

Learning management systems take care of the entire training lifecycle – from identifying learning needs to developing, delivering, tracking, and evaluating training programs. See how a cloud LMS such as ProProfs works to users’ advantage.

  • Easily Create Online Courses & Tests

An LMS makes it super easy to create online courses and tests. While you can create these training resources from scratch by uploading your existing material, an LMS with a content library can save you a significant amount of time and effort on course development.

Check out this guide for more.

  • Share Courses & Assessments Any Way You Want

Generally, you can share a course or assessment as a link via email. You can also embed them on your website or share on social media.

Watch: How to Share Your Courses With Learners

  • Train With Virtual Classroom Software

A virtual classroom acts as a centralized platform for you to manage all activities. From here, you can add learners, create learner groups, share assignments, track progress in real-time, view detailed reports, and issue completion certificates.

To set up your virtual classroom for the first time, watch: How to Set up Your Virtual Classroom in 5 Minutes

  • Choose From Customization Options

A customizable LMS lets you tailor the platform according to your unique teaching and learning requirements. You can set up rules for:

  • privacy
  • course availability time
  • security
  • notifications
  • access control and more
  • Track Progress in Real-Time

Easily keep track of where your learners are in a course. View completed and pending courses. Identify learners who are falling behind schedules and take corrective action. View stats by individuals or groups.

  • View Insightful Reports & Analytics

An LMS reporting system auto-generates learning data on instructors’ behalf. More specially, it does the following:

  • Monitor individual and group progress
  • Track completed and pending courses
  • Identify top performers
  • Show points and scores
  • Help improve online courses

Watch: How to Analyze Training Course Results

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Who Can Use a Learning Management System?

The answer is almost anyone. Those who are engaged in online learning or training programs and looking to streamline the process can take the help of an LMS. The primary customers or end-users of an online learning management system include:

Businesses of All Sizes 

Generally, LMS doesn’t discriminate between businesses based on size. All of them can equally leverage these tools to meet their L&D needs, both in-house and remote. An LMS does the heavy lifting for you so that you can focus on your core training activities.

K-12, Colleges, Universities

Educational institutions rely on these innovative software applications to make learning more efficient and effective. Ease of administration and seamless learner experience are the main takeaways.

Independent Tutors

Independent and private tutors can take complete charge of online learning with an LMS. No juggling administrative tasks with teaching. Most of the tasks are automated in a learning management system.

Let’s now see some case studies from ProProfs for each category of users.

Access to Counseling

Problem: As a growing organization, there is a need for a significant amount of training for contractors and employees. Keeping up with the training records was a daunting task. It was imperative for Access to Counseling to simplify and organize a large amount of training data required by its accrediting bodies.

Solution: With ProProfs Training Maker, it’s much easier to organize the information in one place and maintain records of employees and contractors who have completed required training sessions. Access to Counseling can strive towards being a paperless office by maintaining electronic records.

Result: ProProfs has made the difficult task of maintaining training records simple and efficient.

McKeel Academy of Technology

Problem: McKeel needed a foolproof and sustainable mechanism to test its students. It wanted to get an indication of their level of understanding. It also wanted the students to get immediate feedback after each test. The paper-based assessment that it used until recently was time-consuming.

Solution: With ProProfs, McKeel can easily find out whether students have and have not taken a training or test. Its students also prefer the platform because they receive immediate results and feedback.
McKeel could provide its students with a link and they then can take training with all randomized questions and, at the end of the day, the academy doesn’t have to deal with papers.

Result: ProProfs Training Maker has helped McKeel to really organize its lessons. It is so easy to make pop training and tests. The results, the data, students’ tests, cumulative reports, and stats are all in one place.

Ali A. Habib

Problem: Teaching elementary school kids and sharing the course material was time-consuming for tutor Ali Habib. That’s why he was looking for software that could streamline his job and help him easily create engaging tests and share them quickly.
Solution: Ali Habib always felt there should be a technological solution for testing and courses. That’s when he came across ProProfs Training Maker, which helped him do everything that he used to imagine. It is helpful for his students as well.

Result: Ali Habib witnessed a remarkable improvement in how his students study. ProProfs Training Maker simplifies and speeds up how he prepares his lessons and tests at home. Likewise, his students can now solve tests at home without any problem.

LMS Use Cases

Learning management systems enjoy a large customer base as a user-friendly, highly functional, and effective solution. It is made up of both private businesses and government agencies. They deployed these platforms for different use cases. Some of them are:

  • Employee Training
    Businesses use learning management systems for different employee training requirements, regardless of their industry. Onboarding, sales training, HR training, safety training, and sexual harassment training are some common examples.
  • Employee Development & Retention
    Hiring and onboarding employees are one thing and retaining them through continuous development is a different ball game altogether.
    Organizations use LMS as a support tool in training and retaining current employees. They assign courses to help employees acquire the right skills for the job and grow in their careers.
  • HR Training
    Whether it is employee recruitment, termination, leave policies, or resolving workplace conflicts, LMS platforms prove useful for countless organizations in deploying HR training. This keeps HR personnel efficient in their roles and responsibilities and helps build positive and healthy relationships with employees.
  • Customer Training
    The utility of an LMS is not restricted to employee training. Enterprises also use it to train their customers. By providing information and other training materials, an LMS can help educate customers on products and services to extract maximum benefits from them.
  • Volunteer Training
    Many non-profit organizations keep their volunteers motivated, engaged, and clear about their social roles and responsibilities through intensive training programs. For this, they often turn to a learner-friendly solution such as an LMS. Training on admin tasks, fundraising, and spreading awareness is commonly undertaken with LMSs.
  • Sexual Harassment Training
    Sexual harassment training is compliance training mandated by federal and state governments. You can deploy it easily using a learning management system.
    Organizations use LMS to train both supervisors and employees 1-2 hours, every two years or as required by law. You can also train your remote employees with an extended enterprise LMS.
  • Employee Onboarding
    It is one of the most common use cases of LMS deployment. Employers use LMS to bring recruits up to speed and integrate them successfully into their company culture through various education and training programs.
  • Sales Training
    Salespeople are central to business survival. Several organizations use learning management systems to train their sales teams and keep them up-to-date with the market trends. They impart the necessary knowledge and skills to attract potential customers, close deals, generate revenues, and achieve business goals.
  • Safety Training
    This is another area where LMS tools find applications. Employers use these tools to train their employees on workplace hazards and accidents. This ensures compliance with industry regulations and keeps employees safe in the workplace.
  • Partner Training
    Extended enterprise training such as channel partner training is strategically important for businesses. Using an LMS, they easily train their partners locally and remotely. The training programs encompass onboarding, training, development, and certification.
  • Online Education or eLearning
    In-person teaching and learning are not enough in today’s society characterized by increased mobility and extensive use of personal devices. That’s where cloud LMS tools become significant.
    A learning management system supports asynchronous and blended learning online. Teachers and training instructors can use LMS to create and share online courses, quizzes, and tests super-easily. They can also leverage real-time tracking and reporting features.

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LMS Licensing & Pricing Models

There are basically five different pricing or licensing models for an LMS. Providers use one of these models for their software products.

Model How Does It Work? Who Is It Suitable For?
Pay Per Learner You pay a flat fee based on how many learners are signed into the product rather than for simply buying it.

You’re charged irrespective of the usage.

The total price is usually calculated monthly or annually.

The plan is suitable for enterprises who know how many learners they exactly need to train.

Calculating monthly or yearly expenses becomes easier.

Pay Per Active User You’re charged for only users who actively used the LMS during a billing cycle. Those businesses that need to train different batches of learners at different times can avail this plan.
Pay As You Go It is directly linked to your LMS usage pattern. The price increases only with a peak in usage. You aren’t charged for inactive users. It best suits organizations with inconsistent demands for training. As a result, the final bill will fluctuate from one period to another.
Subscription-Based You pay a fixed license fee for a certain period and add as many learners as you want. Generally, the price is tiered based on the features on offer.
You know the total cost upfront and do not have to worry about the number of registered users.
Enterprises with a large number of users can benefit from this plan.

If you know the set of LMS features you need, you can easily settle with a suitable pricing model.

Free or Open Source You don’t pay anything for accessing the LMS. But you may incur costs in the setup, customization, hosting, and maintenance of the software.

Comes with limited features.

Go for this model if you want the freedom of LMS customization independent of the provider. It gives you features tailored to your specific needs.

However, you need to have your own IT team and be ready to manage with limited features.

How to Choose the Best LMS

Even as you read this, several new LMS platforms are being released across the world. But with more solutions, it gets harder for people to pick the right one for their needs. Still, you don’t need to lose hope.

Just make sure you keep the following features in mind while shopping LMS on the market. These attributes are highly valued as they work great for any use case.

  • Ease of Use
    Ideally, the LMS you choose should be intuitive. The layout, design, and navigation should involve a flat learning curve. This will ensure that you can implement the tool quickly without spending much time learning the ropes.
  • Easy Course Creation
    Courses are at the heart of any L&D program and without the right tools, these take a long time to create. So, you should be able to develop courses through drag-and-drop. 

Choose an LMS that allows you to import existing materials through an integrated course builder or provides access to a library of ready-to-use courses.

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  • Virtual Classroom
    This is another must-have feature. It can help you bring together learners and admins in one centralized and secure place. Course assignments, assessments, reporting, and certification – you can do everything via a classroom
  • Customizations
    Different LMS users have different training and branding needs depending on the type of their audience and what their business plans to achieve. The LMS you adopt should be flexible enough to customize it according to these requirements. Make sure it offers settings for privacy, security, notifications, design, and integrations.
  • Quizzes
    A quiz-making tool with templates, questionnaires, and other helpful resources should be one of the primary considerations in an LMS. This will make learner assessment easy and quick while keeping your learners engaged with beautifully designed quizzes and tests.
  • Surveys
    Gathering regular feedback on your course content and instructors is necessary to continuously improve training delivery. You should find in-app surveys and polls to collect immediate feedback on these areas. This will reveal engagement level, learner satisfaction, and the overall effectiveness of your programs.
  • Reporting
    For any training to be effective, it should be measurable. You should be able to track learning progress in real-time and get actionable data. The LMS should offer consolidated reports on individuals and groups so that you get a complete picture of each of your learners both during and after training.

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  • Customer Support

    l14Never overlook the customer service aspect of the LMS, as it will decide your experience and relationship with it. Go for software with a service that has got your back for after-sales services. They should be available 24/7 through emails or phone calls.

10 Best Learning Management System Software to Consider

After learning everything you can about learning management systems, you would certainly want to ask: Where can I find a list of LMS software with all these enablements? 

Well, we’ve done the groundwork so that you can sit back and go through the list anytime you want.

Go through the following list of 10 best LMS systems that can support you and your learners in learning & development.

Explore Top LMS Options Here

Kick-Start Your Delightful LMS Experience!

A learning management system is the backbone of modern workplace training programs. They act as a one-stop solution for both training managers and learners. Using them, you can streamline and standardize online training for optimal results.

Switch from the old school learning practices to a fully virtual training experience with an LMS. Easily create online courses and assessments and train employees, partners, and customers, in-house or remotely.

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About the author

Kamy is an eLearning & training expert. He has been published in eLearningIndustry, TrainingMag. As a corporate trainer at ProProfs, he has been instrumental in building an awesome eLearning management system that has simplified learning and training for thousands of customers across the globe. Follow Kamy @kamyanderson