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  • Tom Brooksher

Questions to Ask When Seeking an LMS

Most Learning Management Systems are costly and complex. Do you really need that expense and headache?

Many issues may factor into your decision, but for the most part they boil down to just one: student management. Do you need to control and document student activity in your courses? Or is it good enough to make your online training available and let students study or not study, or complete or not complete, with no concern for keeping track of what they did or didn’t do in the curriculum?

Sure, an LMS has many more capabilities than student management. It controls the delivery of modules and functionality of the content, facilitates testing, stores content, manages version control, and provides a host of other features. But with the exception of advanced interactivity, you can work around most of the other features of an LMS.

For example, can you publish your learning module in a common video file format, put it on a server or web page and direct students to it? They can watch it and interact in simple ways. Maybe that’s enough for your situation.

Do you need to quiz your students, correct their exams and record their test scores? Perhaps it's enough to pose questions to students, let them click an answer, and then display the correct one. That doesn’t require typical LMS functionality.

Can you forego the benefits of a good Learning Content Management System? You could store all of your learning program files in a folder on a shared server and keep track of versions manually.

Do you really need a record that shows student "Allison Smith" completed the first module of the onboarding course? Maybe it's enough that she checks a box on her onboarding training log and turns it in to get input into your Human Resources Information System.

There are no right and wrong answers to these questions; rather, the answers depend upon your situation. But they’re worth asking before you buy and implement an LMS, or before you upgrade the LMS you already have.

We believe that for most situations, the benefits of an LMS outweigh the factors of cost and complexity. But that’s not always the case. Even if it were, forcing yourself to challenge the assumption that you need an LMS can help you better understand why you need it and what features are most important to you.

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