The first thing that you need to take into consideration when you are buying an LMS (learning management system) for your institution is its interface. The interface should ideally be a customizable one. It should allow you to change the appearance of the centralized location from where your end users would be getting all the information that they need. This would include the likes of tests and training materials, to name a few. There are some LMSs that offer better options for customization and have set up tools that are easier to operate compared to others. You do not need more than basic programming skills to operate these.
The audience that you are buying it for
You should regard the people that you are buying the product for as a kind of audience. There should be a number of platforms through which you should be able to access the LMS. You should be able to run it on a desktop as well as a laptop. At the same time, it should also run on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets such as iPhone, iPad, iPod, and various Android-based devices. The LMS that you choose should have the capability to deliver programs on mobile devices and track them as well.
It should ideally be hosted
The hosted LMS systems are basically Cloud-based and it is the software vendor who hosts the service in question. In these cases, the software providers would offer round the clock services each day of the year. Along with, they would also offer complete backup services each night. With these LMS solutions do not really need you to have an IT (information technology) department to take care of things. You also do not need to provide any server resources for these.
Does it have social learning tools?
It is very important to ensure that the LMS you are choosing comes with capabilities and tools that enable social learning. Social learning tools are basically websites that would encourage your users to interact with each other. There are plenty of LMSs that are using social media features like course discussion boards that are interactive by nature and function on a real-time basis. They also come with instant messaging facilities that are offered on a built-in basis. These tools are of great help when it comes to increase learner engagement.
It should be compliant
It is very important to ensure that your organization is using the best practices out there and this is the reason why you should use an LMS that has been created in accordance with the latest guidelines in this regard. The system that you choose should be at par with all the latest technical standards, specifications, and guidelines that govern such products and services. If your system adheres to these guidelines it means that it is blessed with characteristics such as durability, interoperability, accessibility, and reusability especially with regards to areas such as contents and systems. Thus, this would only be beneficial for you in the end.
It should be capable of being integrated with ease
The LMS software that you have chosen for your institution should be one that works with third-party systems without a problem at all. It should be capable of working well with systems such as iCal, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft Outlook, and Lotus Notes to name a few. At the same time, it should also work well with the likes of enterprise resource systems and student information systems. It should also provide you with top class databases such as MySQL, which has been designed by Oracle, or Microsoft SQL.
It should provide you with different ways to search for content
There are various LMS systems out there that provide you with various ways in which to search for content. This would include different search categories such as the following:
- keywords and phrases
- name of the instructor
There are always some ways in which you can search an LMS within a short span of time. This includes the likes of filtering user lists, courses, and curriculum. This is the reason why it is very important to make sure that the LMS you are choosing has a search function that is as good as it gets.
It should allow students to register themselves automatically
The top LMS systems out there normally let the students enrol themselves online straightaway. This reduces requirements related to paperwork and thus makes sure that there is less pressure on your staff. Thanks to such features the students are able to check out the features of a particular program before they sign up or register as such. Thanks to these features students may also withdraw their registration from programs if they want to. This particular feature also helps them get important information such as confirmation of their enrollment straightaway at their emails.
It should provide certificates and transcripts
The LMS that you choose for your institution should be one that provides your learners proper access to their grades. This is how they would be able to keep track of what they are doing and how well they are at it. At the same time, the scores of various tests and exams help them determine areas where they may be going wrong and thus focus on what needs to be done in order to get better in the same. There are certain LMSs that help the students get, track, and retain certificates on the basis of system or course.
Apart from this the LMS that you choose should come with automatic reporting facilities, it should have email functionality, it should be secure, it should have administrative monitoring facilities, its content should be diverse, it should be easy to implement such a system and train your people with it, and more importantly it should be well within your budget. The biggest benefit of automatic reporting is that you are able to chart the progress of your students. So, now you have some idea of the factors that you need to focus on while you are choosing an LMS for your institution.