Lisa Everts, Test Developer, Business Development
June 15, 2018
Our blog about confronting the dragon of offering training programs highlighted the desire of certifying bodies to add training and education as a service for their members. Now let’s discuss the role a Learning Management System (LMS) fills in training that dragon to fearlessly offer educational services.
In case you missed it, our blog about confronting the dragon of offering training programs highlighted the desire of certifying bodies to add training and education as a service for their members. Now let’s discuss the role a Learning Management System (LMS) fills in training that dragon to fearlessly offer educational services.
Educational organizations of all levels, from grade schools to professional organizations, rely on Learning Management Systems for a variety of purposes. Grade school children regularly access various systems for instruction. Businesses may use an LMS to deliver training material, orientation presentations, corporate policy reviews, and non-disclosure updates. Professional organizations may use an LMS to deliver continuing education courses or webinars.
A Learning Management Systems (LMS) is essentially a software system used to coordinate a learner’s experience. The learning sponsor (the certifying body, for example) provides the learning material and grants the learner access to the LMS and to specific materials. There is no standard for the services an LMS provides, but most provide the following features:
- Custom branding for the education sponsor
- Ability to add, change, or delete learners, instructors, and courses
- Assignment of instructors and learners to a scheduled course
- Facility to import eLearning materials
- Presentation of course materials to a learner (including tests or quizzes)
- Tracking system of scheduled assignments, quizzes or tests
- Chat forums for learners and instructors to communicate
- Email blast generator
- Online library
Learner User Experience
The learner generally accesses the LMS through a browser or a mobile application. While installed client software still exists, the more mobile the better. Mobile applications that feature augmented or virtual reality are entering the mainstream. When the learner logs into the LMS, it displays the list of courses and forums to which he or she is subscribed. A learner can be subscribed to more than one course or forum simultaneously, just as in a traditional school setting.
The LMS may provide a gateway for library access, profile management, course schedules, and grade history, and consequently the learner may access the LMS even when not actively enrolled in a course.
LMSs offer flexible scheduling of courses and topics. Courses can be offered on a fixed scheduled date range or they can be “open”; the learner can take the course at any time. Courses do not always follow a traditional educational model, and an LMS can be used to set up a flexible course structure to accommodate distance learning or ad hoc training events. For example, a course can be a one-time event to attend a webinar or an invitation to read and electronically sign a new company policy.
What’s a MOOC?
A MOOC is a massive open online course. Massive means that the number of learners can be quite large or possibly unlimited. Open refers to open access via the internet and either free or affordable participation. MOOCs were developed as part of the boom in distance education and so online access is the standard. MOOC courses feature the use of forums and promote online community learning. The content may feature open licensing of content or structure. MOOCs can be used for anything from corporate training to informal quick lessons, as in the popular Khan Academy.
A forum is a digital medium for exchanging information and views. There may be several forums for each course topic for communicating with the instructor or for project work groups. The LMS provides the forum capability but an administrator or instructor decides whether to include forums and the purpose of each one.
LMSs are generally not stand-alone systems. To provide management of the learning experience, an LMS integrates with other systems.
- The learning materials are generally created outside of the LMS and then imported. Learning materials can be PowerPoint-like presentations, documents in formats such as Word or PDF, videos, or any file format that the LMS supports.
- An assignment is any task the learner must perform. The task can be completely offline or it may be linked to other submissions such as taking a quiz, making a diagram, or linking with an augmented or virtual reality device for grading by the instructor.
- An assessment is a test prepared by the instructor – most often outside the LMS and then imported. Outside software used to create the assessment provides the material, options for timing, number of attempts, and the ability to review items.
Understanding the features of a Learning Management System is the first step in training the “Dragon of Learning Management”, but it’s only the prerequisite to understanding the range of training support services that are required to deliver the entire learning experience. The LMS is used to coordinate that effort Upcoming articles will dig further into ancillary systems that help support the LMS’s mission by creating content, managing content development, delivering assessments, and sharing training records.
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