Dornubari Vizor June 10, 2023
LMS Features Guide: 15 Most Have Learning Management System Features
Looking for a learning management system (LMS) can be a daunting task, especially with the variety of advanced systems available. To make an informed decision, it’s important to know about key LMS features.
This guide provides a detailed overview of the 15 key LMS features that you should know about. By checking the features that are required or can add value to your organization, you can make the right choice.
Let’s start by understanding what a learning management system is.
An LMS (Learning Management System) is a software-based platform that allows you to create, deliver, track, and report online training and e-learning programs.
LMS software is a comprehensive management solution for online education and training. It includes standard LMS features and may also have advanced features.
Furthermore, an LMS can support both synchronous and asynchronous learning. Modern LMSs also enable the creation of a blended learning experience with instructor-led videos, live webinars, and other options.
Let me break it down for you.
L – Learning – This aspect covers the need to deliver online training courses, create learning paths, and offer training materials.
M – Management – This aspect refers to course management, training management, and tracking learner progress. It also includes building learner engagement and working with analytics to improve performance.
S – System – The system, or LMS platform, represents a centralized space for keeping track of all aspects of online training.
These aspects of an LMS come together to form a comprehensive e-learning solution. Each aspect has dedicated features that correspond to the required actions.
Additionally, an LMS has two components.
An LMS has two components:
It’s similar to a backstage or back office, where all the action happens.
Professionals perform core functions here, such as creating, managing, delivering, and tracking online training programs. They also analyze progress and engagement while it acts as a data repository.
This interface interacts with students and instructors. It runs within a mobile app or browser.
Next, let’s talk about the types of LMS.
Over time, learning management systems (LMS) have significantly improved and become more robust. There are three main types of LMS, and it’s helpful to understand these types to determine what’s right for you. Additionally, several LMS features can vary depending on the type of LMS.
Below are the three types of LMS.
This is one of the most common types of LMS used today. It is cloud-based, meaning it runs on the provider’s cloud or server. It operates on the Software as a Service (SaaS) and subscription business model, allowing learners and instructors to access the LMS on their devices.
Cloud-based LMSs are usually offered by SaaS businesses with various pricing plans. Users can choose a plan that suits their budget and needs. The provider is responsible for updates, customer support, server monitoring, and data privacy.
This type of LMS is both scalable and flexible, and you don’t have to worry about maintenance.
An open-source LMS is free to use, but you will need a dedicated team or manager with specialized expertise to handle installation, setup, functioning, upgrades, debugging, and security. This means that while you won’t incur licensing costs, you may need to spend money on maintenance, expertise, and setup.
Additionally, you will need to host this type of LMS on your own server or hire a third-party server and an external team to customize it, which can come at a cost.
This is an exclusive LMS that is owned by a business. It does not share code, resources, or rights with any other business, creating a secure learning environment that optimizes performance.
For this type of LMS, you are responsible for everything, from installation to troubleshooting. You have direct access to the LMS, which is integrated with your business’s IT infrastructure.
Exclusive LMSs are usually very expensive and come with a lot of complexity.
It’s time to review the 15 key features of a learning management system (LMS).
Before we begin, please note that not all LMSs will have every feature listed here. You should determine which features are important for your business’s training needs.
However, it’s important to find an LMS with the must-have features necessary for it to function properly.
Additionally, there are features that can enhance the overall performance, efficiency, and outcomes of your employee training or e-learning programs.
Keep in mind that the quality and nature of a feature can vary among different learning management systems.
Lastly, ensure that the LMS you choose provides an effortless user experience and perfectly fulfills all of your online training needs.
With that being said, let’s start with the standard LMS features.
These are the features that are mandatory to create an LMS.
The core feature of any Learning Management System (LMS) is the course builder. This tool provides all the necessary features to create courses, training programs, and learning paths.
The course builder typically offers various formats to create learning courses and programs. You can divide a course or training program into modules for gradual-stage learning, which also helps you to create learning paths.
With the course builder, you can incorporate documents, PDFs, pre-recorded course videos, assessments, and group projects. In some cases, you can also embed original media from the internet in different formats.
Additionally, this feature will come with essential course settings. For example, Moodle LMS offers various course creation settings as shown in this documentation.
Search for an LMS that includes a drag-and-drop course builder to speed up and simplify the process.
Creating online courses or training programs is one thing, but managing how they run and function is another.
Typically, course management is facilitated through a centralized dashboard with controls. For example, the following shows a course management dashboard from EdApp.
Access to this dashboard is restricted to authorized administrators only.
To gain access, you need a dedicated feature. A content management feature enables you to:
This feature takes care of the management aspect of a Learning Management System (LMS). Please note that in most cases, this feature is a combination of many sub-features. For instance, the analytics feature can operate within the course management feature.
Another important feature of an LMS is compliance with SCORM (Shareable Content Object Reference Model) and xAPI (Experience API). This allows for the standardization of learning content on your LMS.
Additionally, the LMS should allow for easy uploading of SCORM and xAPI files and be compatible with the chosen authoring tools.
Compliance with SCORM also enables secure importing and exporting of course content, making it easier to switch LMS platforms without needing to recreate training content.
Note that these compliances are becoming less important as more companies move towards custom course content. However, certain fields still require standardized learning content.
Having a solid reporting mechanism backed with analytics is vital for measuring the impact and performance of your Learning Management System (LMS) and e-learning courses and training. Every LMS should offer a simple mechanism to pull out data for analysis, usually with filters to generate tailored data reports.
Most LMSs present data in a centralized dashboard that is updated in real-time. By analyzing different metrics such as completion rates, learner engagement, student performance, customer experience, assessments, feedback, and satisfaction rates, you can improve the effectiveness of your e-learning programs.
Some LMSs even present data visually with graphs and charts for better understanding, such as Docebo LMS.
Assessment tools are crucial for online learning and training since direct supervision is not possible. These tools include online exams, assignments, quizzes, and simulations, and they help ensure that learning and training objectives are met in a timely and efficient manner.
Assessment tools benefit both learners and instructors. For learners, they provide accountability and help test their knowledge. For instructors, these tools allow them to test student performance and evaluate the impact of online learning.
Assessment tools are especially useful when it comes to learning paths. Based on assessment results, instructors can determine if students are eligible to advance to the next course module.
Furthermore, assessment results help to evaluate the impact of instructors, training, and learning materials. Based on these results, courses or overall training can be modified to enhance performance and impact.
This feature focuses on delivering courses with a learner-first perspective, which is crucial and a must-have for modern LMSs. The asynchronous learning feature enables learners to access and complete courses at their convenience, which is the opposite of the synchronous learning approach, where the instructor and students engage in real-time.
Asynchronous learning features include pre-recorded lectures, exams, quizzes, and sessions. This also allows you to offer blended learning experiences at the same time. As learners progress at their own pace, data for tracking and reporting is updated in real-time.
In short, advanced features are like the cherry on top!
Their purpose is to enhance an LMS’s value and improve the user experience. The availability of these features depends on the LMS provider.
Having advanced features in your LMS is certainly a plus, but you should ensure that each feature is relevant and actually adds value to your e-learning system.
Now, let’s discuss the 14 advanced features of an LMS.
Creating a gamified learning experience will definitely put you ahead. It will help you enhance the impact of learning. In fact, 67% of learners agree that a gamified learning experience is far more engaging and motivating.
Plus, it helps to boost engagement by 48%. That’s why having a gamification feature in your LMS is very beneficial.
You can set milestones with success criteria, progress badges, and rewards. Learners can compete against each other to complete milestones. However, the nature of gamification features can vary for different LMSs.
For instance, the LearnUpon LMS offers a gamification feature called Leaderboards. This feature presents progress and top performers to boost motivation to compete.
A gamification feature also boosts knowledge retention and creates a positive user experience.
An LMS becomes an integral part of any business or organization. That’s why it needs to represent the organization’s identity and theme. For that, a branding feature is a must-have.
Having an LMS with a consistent visual identity will create a sense of belonging for the employees. The branding features are not the same among LMSs. Some LMSs allow you to add your logo while others even let you change color theme, font, and visual elements.
This feature is quite useful in validating the completion of online courses and training. A certification will let you create custom digital certificates. You can award these certificates after the successful and meritorious completion of any learning path or training.
This also instills a sense of accomplishment among the employees and learners. That in turn leads to better performance.
The top LMSs out offering a certification feature make sure the process is automated. That means you can just set up a digital certificate and it will be automatically awarded after completion. This comes in handy for asynchronous learning.
Below is an example of setting up a digital certificate in Docebo LMS.
Now we have a feature that takes branding to a whole other level. This feature will let you completely hide the LMS’s own branding and visual identity. You can add different visual elements that will mask the LMS. This feature will make your employees or learners feel totally at home.
Plus, you can customize your URLs and eliminate any references to the LMS. You will be able to create a bespoke LMS that identifies with your business.
A white-labeling feature usually incurs an additional cost. In many cases, a white-labeling feature is only available in the most expensive packages. But it depends on the LMS provider.
Integrations can make processes more efficient. An LMS with the ability to integrate with third-party apps can help you automate and accelerate functions. You can integrate your LMS with CRMs like SalesForce or automation tools like Zapier.
Please note that the number of integrations permitted differs among the LMS options. Moreover, many top LMSs offer the sub-feature of creating custom integrations with APIs.
There are also drawbacks to using this feature.
In fact, an LMS that heavily relies on third-party apps is not a good choice. That means it’s not very self-sustaining. More integrations mean more costs and more time required for maintenance.
The co-authoring tool is ideal for collaborations in e-learning. With this tool, multiple experts or instructors can collaborate and create online courses, training programs, and learning materials.
This feature can increase the impact of any type of e-learning and boost its reach. A co-authoring feature gives permissions and credits to all authors involved.
Imagine creating, delivering, and managing courses and training anytime, anywhere. Yes, that’s possible if an LMS offers a mobile app. That makes it easier for learners. This can significantly help in improving user experience and satisfaction.
However, not all LMSs with apps offer access to the complete feature set.
LMS portals are much-needed in the case of extended enterprise training. An LMS portal is a learning environment, or you can say, a mini-LMS. Some LMSs, such as LearnUpon allow you to create sub-portals under a top portal.
Multiple LMS portals enable you to house learning paths and training for different departments or target audiences. Each portal will have its own courses and learning materials that are specific training needs.
Finally, we have a rare advanced feature. Not many LMSs offer in-built e-commerce features instead, they rely on third-party e-commerce apps like WooCommerce.
This feature will give you the control to build an integrated digital store. You can also connect your digital store with Shopify or Stripe.
Using this feature, you can market and sell online courses and learning materials as digital products. Plus, you will be exposed to wider markets.
Before picking an LMS, it’s good to know what’s wrong and missing in the LMSs available today.
Hear me out.
We are living in a different age now. The way we interact online in any aspect has evolved, including how we learn. More and more people are turning towards social learning online. Social learning can help enhance learning impact and engagement.
Harvard Business School achieved an online course completion rate of almost 85% with the help of social learning.
To pursue social learning, people are actively using online communities.
LMSs now seem like a boring playlist, and learning within an online community is exciting and motivating. In fact, 94% of people use online communities to learn about something new. Plus, an online community can improve employee communication efficiency by 49%.
Unfortunately, traditional LMS platforms do not offer any specific features for community building. That prevents companies from benefiting from social learning.
If you are not harnessing the power of online communities and social learning, you are missing out big.
Another feature that I observed that many LMS platforms lack is a built-in event feature. Live sessions and events have become an integral part of online training and learning. That’s why an in-built event feature is vital. Many LMS providers rely on third-party apps like Zoom for online live events.
Finally, you won’t find a membership feature in an LMS. Having this feature is a plus if you are an independent course creator or trainer. This feature will help you create a recurring income from regular membership payments.
You can create a multi-tiered learning environment with different access levels using this feature.
Keeping these points in mind, do we have a solution that facilitates community building?
Yes, there is a solution! We are living in an exciting era with flexible and evolving digital solutions. One such solution is an Online Learning Community Platform.
Let’s learn more about it.
An online learning community platform is a dedicated digital space for community-based learning. Along with the community-building feature, it comes with a membership feature, a built-in feature, and all the standard LMS features.
You might also find some advanced features, but that depends on the provider.
Here’s the big question.
First, a learning community platform is simple and flexible, unlike an LMS which comes with a lot of complexities. Plus, it’s affordable, and LMSs usually come with a hefty price tag.
Next, it facilitates social learning through community-building features. Moreover, you can create membership levels and packages to build a recurring income.
Lastly, an online learning community platform can cater to the learning and training needs of small to medium-sized businesses and online creators.
That sounds great!
Just like LMSs, not all online learning community platforms are the same. They differ in features, price, and several other aspects.
If you need to see what a reliable online learning community platform looks like, you must check out GroupApp!
GroupApp comes with:
Now, that is a flexible and evolved mini-LMS.
What about you? If you want to experience it, create your free GroupApp account.