Picking an e-learning system is one of the first decisions you make in your e-learning journey. And, arguably, the most important one.
Your choice of platform has far-reaching consequences for your organization as well as your learners. You’re making an investment here. So, it is wise to go with not only a good LMS but one that is right for your business. One that is in line with your e-education goals and fulfills your learning needs.
Granted, some things are obvious, like the fact that it should be within your budget. But others need a little bit of contemplation. The usual method is to come up with a set of parameters and see how your choices measure up. But with a multitude of options, all of which do similar things and no clear winner, making a choice proves to be difficult.
So, we’ve made the process a little more comprehensive and broken it down into 6 tips that you can follow to make sure you do a thorough job. And end up with the correct choice.
1. Ask yourself, what do you want to achieve with this e-Learning System?
Identifying and setting concrete goals early in the process will help you keep it on track.
Everyone on your team is sure to have their own take on things. The aim here is to analyze and evaluate them one by one. And turn a vague idea into something solid. Take a beat to evaluate your goals with this e-learning system, what your needs are, and break them down into concrete requirements.
Having your objectives in place will also give you something to center your discussion around. Making for more productive sessions that don’t go around in circles. This will help you determine what your expectations are from this LMS, what features you need to see from the LMS and what is the level of engagement and interactivity you’re looking for.
Based on these identify functional and technical specifications your system needs to tick off.
2. Understand the people that will be using your eLearning System
Research your customer base. After all your ultimate end goal is to create the best possible learning experience for them. So before we settle on a list of features, assess if they line up with your learner’s needs as well.
Sometimes, it’s tempting to hop onto a new eLearning trend or add in a feature that you’re convinced is cool and will create tremendous value for your learners.
But this where you should pause. Take a step back. And evaluate whether this is something your learners actually need. Will it improve their experience significantly? There’s no harm in experimenting but do so with your learner in mind.
Also, take into consideration the limitations of your learners – are they tech-savvy? If you were to add a new feature will they be able to use it in the way you envisioned? Or it will just make things complicated?
This also stands true for how learners access your content. Does it work with browsers that are used by a majority of your learners? Do you need a mobile version of your e-learning platform?
Be sure to as yourself these questions as you come up with your feature list.
3. Divide your feature list into must-haves and good-to-haves
By now you should have a longish list of features you need from your system. But it would be impossible if we go looking for an LMS that checks of everything on that list.
So we’re going to widdle it down a bit.
A good practice is to step away for some time and then go over the list once more and strike off anything that doesn’t really hold up. Now, with the remaining list, divide it into two parts –
First, shortlist the must-have features. These are non-negotiable requirements that you absolutely need from your LMS. These will play a key role in eliminating e-learning system choices. So the ones that remain can be classified as good-to-have features. These will help you narrow down your options along with other things like your budget and vendor credibility.
4. Research your top candidates
So, now is the time to start shortlisting and eliminating options.
The number of features you can check off your list is an important criterion. Another crucial one is your limitations. For example, if you don’t have the infrastructure in place for a self-hosted LMS, you’ll need a cloud-based system. This will help cut down your list.
But you also need to remember that this is a long-term commitment and you cant run to the first LMS that advertises great features. Do your due diligence on the vendors as well. Do a lot of users use this vendor’s product? Are they experts in their field? If you need custom work can they help out?
An important thing to look into is customer support. Check how long their support period is. What is the level of issues they provide support for? Can you access it over email, phone? Also, see if it’s available around the clock or just business hours.
User reviews and testimonials are an excellent way to see other people’s experiences of using an LMS over a period of time. Vendors also often have ‘success stories’ on their page. If they offer live demos, always test them out. You could also talk to their customer service rep about what you’re trying to achieve and how their LMS might be able to help.
5. Plan ahead for changing requirements
Every e-learning system owner thinks about how to attract more learners and grow in numbers. But what sometimes slips their mind is that they also need adequate infrastructure in place. One that can handle the growing number of learners while giving them the same quality of learning experience.
This also applies to all the features you might not need right now but will like to add later down the line. Or modules that you will require once you hit a certain threshold.
So, when choosing your LMS, bear in mind that you will want to scale your it up in the future and your current LMS should support that. This will spare you the hassle of going through this whole process again to pick out a new system that satisfies your new requirements.
Hopefully, after taking everything into consideration you’ll be down to 2 to 3 choices. And you can that you make a final choice between them.
Bonus Tip: Test, test, test!
This tip is for when you want to go the extra mile. Before making your final choice, take the time to test our final candidates to see how they work with your requirements. And which one you like better.
Most top-notch LMSs offer a free trial period that you can use to do this. If not, they usually have a return policy so you can opt-out if you realize it isn’t what you want.
Understandably this is a little bit of a time-consuming process. But the end result will be absolute confidence about the choice you make.
This is where we leave you…but here’s something you can take with
The tips above should give you a broad idea of how to go about picking your perfect e-Learning system. They can serve as a good guide for making sure you’ve selected the optimal LMS to accompany you on your eLearning journey. We’ve also broken it all down into smaller steps and compiled it into a checklist that you can take with you. You can also check this amazing comparison of the best LMS plugins on WordPress. This way you’ll be sure to not miss out on anything.
Good luck with your eLearning endeavor!