20 features you need in your next LMS
When choosing a learning management system for your organization, it’s important to opt for an LMS with the features that match your needs and the problems you’re trying to solve. And while those specific requirements might vary from one organization to the next, there are a few features that are especially important today as part of a modern workplace tech stack. While you determine the unique needs of your LMS, make sure not to overlook the universal must-haves, which include the following.
1. A trusted reputation
The most important feature really isn’t a feature at all, but it’s nevertheless an essential quality in an LMS. Great tech from a bad provider isn’t great tech at all, so you have to do your homework. For instance, you might consider reviewing G2 reviews, TrustRadius reviews, and Top Lists from leading analysts. You can also speak with organizations that use the platform already. You want to be certain that you can count on your LMS provider to deliver on their promises, provide timely updates and support your organization every step of the way.
It doesn’t matter whether your team is in-house or remote, frontline or behind the scenes. Mobile-friendliness is critical in a modern LMS. It affords your team the ability to access learning and support resources when and where they need them within the flow of work. The key is to offer ubiquitous access to learning and support resources, whether your employees work in a BYOD capacity or use a combination of personal and company tech.
Reinforcement is the key to retention. Learning concepts must be revisited on a continual basis to ensure that the information is solidified in the participant’s long-term memory. Consider that 90% of learned information is forgotten within 30 days if it isn’t reinforced. Companies spend a ton of time and money training their team, but most of that information is never revisited, which minimizes the impact significantly. A good LMS offers employees the opportunity to develop new skills while also providing ongoing reinforcement on concepts they’ve already learned to make sure critical information is retained well after initial training is complete.
4. Cloud hosting
This goes hand in hand with mobile-friendliness (as it’s a big part of what makes mobile accessibility possible), but SaaS cloud hosting offers a wealth of benefits beyond mobile learning. If your LMS isn’t cloud-hosted, it’s probably obsolete at this point. Cloud-hosted LMSs are more widely accessible, more scalable, easier to update and more sophisticated than their on-premise predecessors.
5. Robust security
The number of annual internet data breaches in the U.S. has nearly doubled over the past 10 years, and similar trends are being seen worldwide. When considering any eLearning platform, you should take a close look at their LMS security features. They should offer enhanced features like data encryption, firewall protection, IP blockers, user provisioning and single sign-on (SSO) capabilities.
6. Performance support
Your LMS should offer on-demand access to the resources people use to solve problems on the job. For instance, a new cashier might not remember all of the steps involved in closing out their register at the end of their shift. But if you have a handy checklist in the form of an infographic, the employee should be able to access it on demand from within your LMS—thus ensuring that they’re following all of the required protocols.
7. An experience that fits into the flow of work
Training shouldn’t interfere with work. It should accommodate the demands of the workplace. The easiest way to achieve this is to opt for a platform that supports microlearning. Not only does microlearning make employee training more engaging than traditional learning, but it supports continued learning without burdening the employee or the organization. Training sessions are delivered in short intervals, often just 3 to 5 minutes per day, so the employee can clock in, complete their daily lesson and get right to work.
To expand on the previous point, microlearning is especially engaging when coupled with gamification. Gamification uses common game mechanics like badges, rankings and leaderboards to introduce a competitive element to training programs. There are right and wrong ways to do it, though, and so it’s important to follow the do’s and don’ts of gamification. For example, you’ll want to incorporate a variety of different game mechanics, provide employees with real-time feedback, offer real-life rewards and avoid negative reinforcement.
9. Social learning
Social learning is all about harnessing social media conventions—in other words, allowing team members to communicate and encourage each other within the platform. This helps to build trust and camaraderie among learners. Axonify, for instance, enables participants to share their knowledge and engage with their fellow team members within the learning platform, bringing everyone just a little closer together.
Effective data collection is an important aspect of any LMS. Surveys allow you to determine user attitudes about specific content (or the training program as a whole) and learn specific information about what’s working and what isn’t. For instance, Axonify gives users the ability to embed surveys right into the daily training experience, so you can solicit specific feedback and use it to improve your training materials.
11. A personalized experience
Adaptive algorithms are revolutionizing the digital learning experience. Rather than providing the same content to every user across the platform, an adaptive algorithm uses machine learning to determine the needs of each learner and tailor learning paths accordingly. This makes for a more productive learning experience, as each user is presented with a unique learning path that’s best suited to what they already know and what they still need to master.
12. Adaptive streaming
Adaptive streaming promotes an optimized user experience. The platform automatically adjusts the content streaming settings for users to accommodate various bandwidth issues and connectivity challenges. This amounts to less lag time and more reliable access to the training courses whether the user is working with lightning-fast Wi-Fi or spotty cellular service.
13. Hybrid learning
People generally associate learning management systems with virtual lessons (as opposed to instructor-led training), but a modern LMS should support online content as well as in-person and virtual classroom sessions and hands-on job training. By allowing for both synchronous and asynchronous learning, a quality LMS allows organizations to centralize their entire training experience. This type of blended learning is becoming increasingly important as remote work becomes more commonplace.
14. Management reporting
Management reporting includes actionable dashboards that managers can use to improve their coaching. For example, Axonify includes metrics like “Needs Coaching” and “Overconfident.” The “Needs Coaching” metric reveals areas in which users are struggling and require additional support. The “Overconfident” metric reveals areas where users’ confidence exceeds their skill level (further necessitating additional support from management).
15. Enhanced data and assessment tools
In addition to the basic reporting dashboard, a quality LMS should allow managers and L&D to hone in on specific data. For instance, a large business with multiple branch locations should be able to compare the training results of one branch to another. You should be able to see unique metrics like levels of learner engagement, confidence-based assessments and how your training reinforces your business KPIs. Refer to our guide to the top 10 LMS reporting features for more information.
16. Configurable user roles and permissions
Your LMS software should have a clear hierarchy of user roles and permissions. Administrators—like managers and HR professionals—should have access to the back end of the platform and possess the ability to add and modify content, add/terminate users and review company-wide analytics. Standard users should have their access restricted to the course materials that are assigned to them—as well as any universally shared content. It should be easy for administrators to assign roles and permissions to each user, and administrators should be diligent about removing inactive users as soon as they leave the organization.
17. Access to professional off-the-shelf content
Creating high-quality training content is time-consuming and difficult. Many leading LMSs will save you some of the trouble by offering a massive library of available content related to your industry and roles. This simplifies course management in a big way. For instance, Axonify has off-the-shelf training material for a variety of frontline industries, including grocery, retail, restaurant, sales and F&I—and it’s available to all Axonify customers.
18. Support for LMS integrations
You’ll want to choose an LMS that integrates seamlessly with other relevant company software, including human capital management (HCM) tools and workforce management (WFM) software. Some integrations might already be built into the LMS, while others can be added with the help of an API. Your LMS provider should be able to walk you through the process of integrating any compatible software.
19. Branding and white-labeling capabilities
If you’re like many organizations, you want to align your technology experience with your brand. A white-label LMS allows you to do just that. For instance, Lowe’s used Axonify’s software to develop Lowe’s University, a custom training platform that’s unique to the Lowe’s brand but built on Axonify.
20. Notifications and reminders
Reminders and notifications are essential for keeping trainees on track with their learning programs. They provide gentle nudges that encourage a habit of learning every day. Your LMS should support push notifications related to training goals, daily sessions, milestones and game mechanics.
Don’t neglect the most important LMS features
To keep you competitive, your LMS should offer all 20 of the above capabilities. After all, this is all existing and achievable technology that makes a difference to the learning experience. Why settle for less?
By ensuring that your eLearning platform is equipped with key modern features, you’re helping to ensure that your trainees are more active in their training, better engaged and better prepared to succeed at their jobs.