Learning management system software has become a huge logistical player in corporate eLearning. Entire HR departments are built with teams intended to efficiently onboard and train new employees. Customer service teams and sales teams use learning software to manage clients and stay up to date on best practices. The internet has changed the learning experience. It’s become faster, with fewer resources used up. With that said, without using the right software, learning administrators can get caught up in the workings of the software as opposed to the learning abilities of staff. Learning management system software can be very complex, but because software is always improving, the best LMS software now eliminates that complexity so that teachers can teach and learners can learn.

The evolution of online learning management systems

An online LMS has evolved employee training, and continues to develop year over year. Because of this, the online learning management system has become mostly software-as-a-service, or SaaS. LMS vendors that house, maintain, and develop a learning software platform usually do so for a contracted fee. This tends to be a big weight relief from the shoulders of businesses because they need to focus on training, not how to implement or fix the system software in use.

Learning management system features used to be very limited compared to what is provided today. There was no such thing as a web-based learning management learning system. Learning software was hard-wired to computers, meaning in order to access it, the program had to be installed onto each computer it was used on. Even further, content had to be created outside of the learning management system, then processed through a model called SCORM. LMS could then comprehend content.

So, you can imagine how tedious of a process this was and how many people it took to maintain a system. There had to be content created, server space, and someone (or a team) to maintain it all. Because creating and programming content was so time-consuming, recycled training content became repetitive and outdated. Luckily, those days are over. Now, learning management system vendors tend to offer, within their software packaging, free LMS hosting and the essential learning management tools you need to store, deliver, and track great employee training materials.

At the end of the day, online learning software has enabled learners to learn in their best environment and trainers to reinforce that information through performance. Even further, because learning software has become so simple, anyone can contribute to a joint knowledge online learning management system. By having a collection of resources and lessons for joint knowledge online, help desk services become a thing of the past! The best LMS software available is a software that makes the tasks in learning simple, so that the actual learning retention of employees remains a top priority.

We’re going to talk about three types of online learning management systems: web-based, SCORM-compliant, open-source learning management systems. These three systems aren’t necessarily separate entities but have outstanding factors that differentiate one from others.

Web-based learning management systems

This is exactly what it seems. Instead of having to hardwire the LMS software to each computer, you can access the software from any computer. The software takes the form of a platform LMS. Learning management system information is stored on the platform for users to simply log in with credentials to access. A hosted learning management system means that the company you chose for your LMS software will host the LMS on their servers. Today, most LMSs are web-based, but the best ones tend to be licensed as well, i.e., you don’t have to pay to house your own server space or the team to maintain it, the software is always being improved for its users, and there’s a customer experience team ready to answer any questions.

SCORM learning management systems

SCORM stands for Sharable Content Reference Model. When LMSs were created, content needed a format that would comply with the LMS, thus, SCORM came into existence. Now that LMSs have been modernized and are always improving with progressing technology, SCORM isn’t really necessary anymore. Companies that still use SCORM LMS software likely don’t know of a better learning management system or feel that they’re in too deep to change. The use of a SCORM LMS today is likely by older companies that haven’t made the switch to a more modern LMS.

A SCORM-compliant LMS has three parts: the content, the SCORM, and the LMS. Content created outside the LMS is to be SCORM-compliant so that the LMS can read it. SCORM is a technical standard that helps developers write the code so that content and LMS become cohesive.

Open-source learning management systems

An open-source LMS can be web-based and SCORM-compliant and even free. However, open-source means that the framework of the software is given to you, a lot of the time for free, but then you have to obtain and manage the assets to support it. That is, you’d have to host it yourself and hire a team of developers to customize, maintain, and develop the LMS. This becomes costly, and if you’re part of a growing business, there’s a likelihood that you don’t have time to take on the implementation of a large system like this.

With an open-source training software, you’re likely to run into some usability issues. Many functions feel restrictive and there’s a common lack of features compared to supported, web-based software. Essentially, you’re creating the online course software. Open source LMSs are best to customize and implement with time on your side. You don’t want your learners to feel led through something clunky. They won’t take the process seriously, and in turn, they won’t learn.

In a learning management system, an open-source framework is not the best choice when immediacy is a deciding factor. In turn, if it’s a free open source LMS, you could end up spending quite a lot of money as your business grows. Altering the software and hiring the team to maintain and handle customer support will easily put you in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Never stop growing.

What a free LMS can’t do that others can

Some learning management system software is offered for free — but free doesn’t come without caveats. A free LMS is easy to find, but if you’re needing a platform for distributing learning to many people, it isn’t the most efficient choice. A free learning management system has limitations in features and functionality. Even the best free LMS comes with drawbacks. Many are offered as open source, meaning the bare bones of the program are provided, but the development and maintenance of the software is left to the user. Some offer professional help, but that comes with a price.

“Free LMS software” is a loaded phrase. It works if, say, if you only have a few training resources to post and only a few people to train. But, if your company is planning to grow, you’re going to need a lot of space to store more learning materials and an interface with simple usability. And you can start out with free learning management system software, but it takes foresight to customize, grow, and maintain it. You would have to have a team of developers and programmers to fix any errors, purchased server space to house a myriad of materials — all of this on top of the actual employees that have to manage the training process itself. It takes months to grow a free LMS to run well enough for bulk onboarding.

A free course management system works in the education industry for a small classroom situation, but in corporate learning where ROI is a prominent consideration, free eLearning tends to not pan out well.

SaaS has quickly become more ideal for corporate training purposes. Instead of a software company creating a system software behind a curtain, revealing it, then selling it — with new versions year after year — a SaaS is a company in itself. Its software is constantly accessible, and any updates are readily available as soon as they’re launched. The service that comes along with the software is definitely an important part. With computer-based software programs, there isn’t someone at the ready to help you tackle any problems. You have to figure it out yourself or hire a third party IT specialist to problem solve for you. A SaaS is not only constantly developing its product and offering resources to help clients, but they generally tend to have a service team at the ready to directly communicate with specific problems or questions a client may have.

Software-as-a-Service is more cost effective in comparison to taking on a free LMS or a computer-based one. There’s no team to hire to customize and develop the product, and there’s significantly fewer people required to manage it. A company doesn’t have to pay the salaries of a team dedicated to the LMS, but instead pays a significantly less fee to have the software maintained for them.

Learning management system comparisons

The most pertinent part of choosing the best LMS system for your company is knowing exactly what features and functions you need from an LMS. Learning management systems, open-source, SCORM-compliant, or licensed, it doesn’t matter if you don’t know what’s best for your business. Sit down with some of your team members and learners, and write out the learning management system features and functionality you want from an LMS software.

By searching for or creating your own comparison of learning management system companies, you can gather information to make the best decision. LMS reviews that compare learning management systems can be found online at sites like G2Crowd and Software Advice. The sole purpose of these sites is to supply sufficient information about software for the benefit of customer discovery.

When looking at these sites, be able to differentiate between the best learning management systems and a popular LMS. Hopefully, the two can be one, but sometimes that’s not the case. If you’re looking for quick, efficient eLearning on an admin and learner-friendly platform, you’re likely to go with a licensed learning software-as-a-service. If you don’t have a small team and simply need to host a few courses, a free learning management system might be right for you. Keep in mind that as you grow, a free LMS will require money and resources to build upon.

Learning management system software reviews display features, functions, testimonials, ratings, and even some demos for people searching for software. Use your needs list to check off boxes of the LMSs you find fitting. Likely, you’re going to discover more features and functionality than you need from any software. In that case, think about the growth in your company and add to the list the features and functions you’ll need in the future. Then, use the testimonials to search for similar situations. Some testimonials provide insight on things to come and go within the development of software.

When searching for reviews, note if the software has a demo. With a demo, you can try the software out for yourself. This is a great option if you’re at a standstill between two or three choices. No one learns anything quite better than experiencing it first-hand. When it comes to learning within a business, having a great product from the administrative and learner end will prove its worth in efficiency.

Lastly, contact the companies with the software choice you think you’ve decided on. This may be the last step for you in searching, but this all depends on communication. For example, if the sales rep you’re in contact with doesn’t manage your time well or acutely answers your questions, it may feel a bit foreboding to your service from that company in the future. We believe that communication is key. From the first contact with a sales representative to sticking by a client’s side when technical trouble arrives, we make sure our service is just like our eLearning software: seamless.

Learning with Lessonly by Seismic

Lessonly by Seismic’s learning software is not a traditional learning content management system. We’ve taken the traditional eLearning paradigm and shifted it. We help clients understand the importance of learning and how efficiently it can be done with the right tools. If you’re ready to get started, get a demo.