It’s very easy to assume that everyone who works in L&D knows all about the tools available to them. But in fact, many people are brand new to the idea of technology-enabled learning, as their organisations may still be tied to the face-to-face training approach. That’s why we’re getting back to basics in this post to answer the question, “What does LMS mean?”
LMS: a definition
A learning management system, or LMS, is software that facilitates the delivery, administration, tracking and reporting of learning activities. The LMS acts as a platform, or a mini website, that your chosen audience can use to access all of their learning from one place, and managers and administrators can monitor progress, upload courses and resources and set goals.
From simple to complex
The simplest learning management systems may be little more than course repositories, where learners can access and launch a catalogue of e-learning courses. However, with a flexible platform, such as the open source Totara LMS, there’s no limit - you’re free to customise the platform however you see fit. In most organisations, the LMS will comprise a combination of e-learning courses, resources (such as PDF files and documentation), multimedia content (such as videos and infographics) and links to external content. It can also integrate with other systems, such as HR software and e-commerce platforms, to fit seamlessly into your organisation’s IT infrastructure.
One of the easiest ways to respond to the question ‘What does LMS mean?’ is with the answer ‘it’s software to facilitate learning management’. But what does this really mean? An LMS can be used to launch all learning activities from one place, and managers, supervisors and administrators can decide who sees which activities for more efficient learning. This could mean creating personalised learning plans, competency mapping or even the automatic suggestion of relevant content based on things like job role, previous performance or learning goals. Face-to-face learning can also be managed via an LMS, keeping the management of blended learning programmes consistent. Understanding of content can also be assessed and certified for compliance purposes, and evidence of learning can be made ‘portable’ and taken from workplace to workplace with Open Badges.
The other key function of an LMS is to manage performance. This often combines the learning and HR functions, and can include everything from setting goals to monitoring performance. It is also useful for collecting feedback on an employee, or for conducting and recording the results of an appraisal. This helps managers link learning with performance, and can help them suggest specific learning activities to help improve performance over time. Some organisations use the performance management aspect of their LMS to inform salary and benefits decisions, making it an integral part of the employee development experience.
Do you need an LMS?
Organisations of all sizes in all sectors around the world use learning management systems, from small 200-people hospitality companies to multi-million employee organisations. These learning management systems help them save time and money, increase productivity and improve performance, which can have a significant impact on the organisation as a whole.
Wondering if an LMS is for you? Get in touch with our team today to find out how Totara LMS can help you get the results you want. You can also download our FREE guide dedicated to helping you find the right LMS below, complete with tips and contributions from across the Totara Partner network.