How to Build a Custom Learning Management System (LMS)
A learning management system (LMS) is a software designed to facilitate administrative functions, analysis, reports, data collection and the way in which education is delivered. Although it was initially intended to improve e-learning, LMS is now being used by top companies due to the many benefits it offers. The main advantage of using this technology in a business is that it improves employee training, making onboarding and team building more effective and efficient.
How To Develop a Learning Management System - Do I Really Need One?
An LMS makes life so much easier for the learner who is your employee, especially if he or she is a newcomer knowing nothing about your business processes, products or services. According to Capterra, the LMS market will reach up to $15.72 billion by 2021. It shows that more companies are using this software for effective learning solutions. Additional reasons for using an LMS include the following:
"All in one" tool for training your team
An LMS is a perfect tool for all kinds of training in your business. You can watch the progress of each employee, track the time, monitor results, and assess the statistics. An LMS system can operate across all your business departments, 24/7.
It significantly reduces the resources needed to educate new employees
There are two ways in which an LMS will reduce the resources used for training new employees:
- Reduce training time and make learning process more efficient. An LMS gives learners the information they need in a direct and organized manner. So learners do not have to waste time reading long papers or taking live courses. Instead, they can simply click on the needed module and start learning.
- LMS is a kind of digital mentor that is always around and prepared to help - unlike the real manager who might not be ready to dedicate their time for newcomers.
It is cost effective
While you need to spend up to $80,000 having 3-4 training courses with real business coaches, it may take 2X times less money to develop a learning management system and take your team through any courses whenever you want. Using an LMS also reduces the cost of training new employees because you do not have to print out hundreds of manuals or any study materials. Also, you do not need to rent space for training your staff.
It provides learning statistics and reports
An LMS can help track each employee’s learning process, thus telling you who is doing well, who is lagging behind and who needs to be replaced by a more skillful person in a certain position. Analytics and reporting allow you to focus on the areas where learners need to improve. You can also provide additional material to assist trainees.
It helps to maintain a high level of expertise of your employees
The more skilled your employees are, the faster and better they can communicate with clients and do their daily tasks. Even those that may be lagging behind can still be assisted so that they too can acquire new skills. You can also update modules to keep up with the latest trends so that learners will not be left behind.
Learning Management System Development: Core Features
What are the main features of an LMS that each learning system should have? When you decide to develop a learning management system, be sure to include the features listed below as you embark on your mission of LMS development.
1. Course Builder
The most important feature of an LMS is the ability to create courses that will be used to train employees in your company. It should be able to create various kinds of courses from topics to quizzes for testing learners.
2. Content Management
Just like how content is essential for a website or application, it is of equally high importance when it comes to the development of a learning management system. When you build your own LMS, the content management feature should allow you to create content that will be used for training employees.
3. Skills Assessment, Testing
In addition to the course builder, an LMS should have a tool to manage and assess skills that learners acquire during training. Skills assessment is vital to see whether training is adequate. Assessing skills can come in the form of quizzes and assignments.
4. Achievements, Statistics, Surveys
A well-developed LMS should give you the ability to track the progress of learners. This includes the number of quizzes taken, how long it took to complete a quiz, and the number of assignments completed. You can even add incentives based around an employee’s achievements to encourage continued use of the LMS.
5. Social structure
When you build a custom learning management system, you intend on making the learning process for trainees easier. One way of doing this is by giving employees the chance to have a community experience. You can add a live chat or forum section where employees can get quick answers to the questions they might have. These will make it easier for learners to connect and share information with other people within your company.
6. Mobile support
When you create a learning management system, make sure it is accessible on all kinds of devices. The goal is to provide access to an LMS throughout the day. Since most people use their mobile devices more often than computers, having an LMS that works on mobile devices is a must. Mobile version also gives them the flexibility to take courses when it is most comfortable for them.
Like most software applications, an LMS should provide real-time updates on its programs, particular lessons or even exams. Employees would receive notifications like: Hey, [employee name]! The new block "How to close deals more effectively" goes live tomorrow this time. Don't miss it!
System can send notifications in the form of:
- Simple text
- Action buttons
The security of your LMS should not be overlooked. It’s important to make sure that only credited persons can edit or remove courses from your learning portal. Security also prevents you from losing business data and exposing the private information of employees.
There are a lot of options that the market offers when it comes to LMS software. However very few of them have all the features you need an LMS software to have. Moreover, if you want to get "one stop shop" solution, it's better to create your own learning management system by opting to work with a team of developers who know how to do so. For example, at Trust Sourcing we developed Mr.Tomato - a learning tool for restaurant staff. It offers gamification, real-time performance updates, and full mobile optimization - these features are hard to get from an off-the-shelf solution.
Development Process and Learning Management System Costs
Now that you have an idea of what to look for in an LMS, the steps below will assist you with how to make a learning management system.
1. Choose a platform
The platform you use to create a learning management system can be a ready-made SaaS tool, WordPress based or a custom engine made solution. The platform you choose will depend on how much money you are willing to spend and your comfort working with different systems.
2. Create Courses and Assign Your Departments To Each
Once you have chosen the platform, you can start creating content for your LMS, such as courses, schedules, and material for each topic. This step is crucial since you need to create relevant and useful content that will make learning easier for employees. Assign specific courses to a corresponding department in your company. Each course should include learning activities such as assignments, self-paced modules, attendance, and a testing module.
3. Add Testing Modules and Statistical Tools
Adding tests allows you to check the knowledge of learners. You can also check if the content you are providing is helpful based on the score that an employee gets on a test. An alternative to tests is using surveys and polls.
Statistical tools will allow you to track all the activities that learners are engaged in. These also show how far an employee has gone with a course, the number of courses completed, and the time taken to complete quizzes. The information gathered from statistical tools can help you evaluate how effective your LMS is. You can then make changes that will increase member engagement with the courses and eliminate ineffective courses.
4. Make It All Mobile Friendly
Your LMS has to be mobile friendly so that employees can access it from any device. This will make sure trainees are not restricted from accessing any learning material when it's convenient for them, thus increasing the usage.
5. Test It
Once you have completed building your learning management system, you can proceed to test it. Testing a product before launching allows you to review all functionalities and correct any errors.
What is the total cost of a learning management system?
The amount of money it will cost you to create a learning management system depends on whether you opt to build it from scratch or use a ready-made product (SaaS LMS). If you want a system that works the way you need it to, going with custom solution will be easier.
To build a complex LMS could take 400-500 hours just to come up with a prototype, which includes hours for business analysis, figuring out the information architecture, design, building functionalities, and testing. Local US agencies will typically charge from $80 to $300 per hour. So you may spend from $15,000- $60,000 within the first month.
Another option is using an existing LMS platform which you can customize to suit the needs of your company. Cloud-based platforms may charge a license fee or pay-per-user model. Self-hosted platforms may cover Perpetual and Periodic Licenses, as well as provide free models. Once you buy the license, you will have access to all the features that the particular LMS provides. You might encounter some limitations when it comes to customization. Also, you may require additional software for full functionality, which will only increase your expenses. You also have to pay set up fees for installation. This can all range from $5,000-$25,000.
Even though the initial costs with SaaS solutions are much lower, in the long run, you may experience even greater expenses due to compounding fees and monthly support costs. So it’s often better to develop a custom LMS.
There are several ways you can go about doing it. Aside from the previously described option of working with local agencies, you can either develop it within your own company (in-house) or hire an outsourcing company. Let's look at what makes these approaches different.
In-house vs Outsourcing Development
In-house Outsourcing You can face a high initial cost of gathering a professional team and building LMS, not to mention rental costs and tax fees. Outsourcing of a trusted professional team saves money considering you don't have to hire, train, and house your own team of developers. Provides your managers with more creative control and team building opportunities. With a highly skilled outsource team there's no need to spend a lot of time on control and team building activities. An in-house development has a lower risk of confidentiality breaches as all information stays inside the company. When outsourcing services, you have to make sure the company you are working with is reliable enough in terms of data safety. The in-house operations may not be time efficient, and it may be difficult to keep up with new trends regarding LMS systems development. Enhanced organizational efficiency of the outsourcing team increases the company profits, saves time and helps achieve results faster.
Although outsourcing has some drawbacks, it remains a more profitable and logical solution.
Best Learning Management System Examples
Overview: This LMS aims to put learners first, by providing access to study materials whenever it is convenient for the learner. It is customizable, with the ability to add a custom logo and content. Data analytics gives instant insight about the courses you provide. You can get direct feedback from learners on the effectiveness of your learning program. Loop equips management with vital tools that enhance the training experience. These tools help to create amazing contents, assessments, and schedules.
Features: Create and share content with ease, easy collaboration, comprehensive learning reports.
Plans: $299/month for 50 users, $699/month for 250 users, and $1,199/month for 500 users.
Overview: With this system, learners have access to the AI-driven recommendations that provide them with the most relevant information. You can easily add and share web content through learning pathways. Users can track the effectiveness of courses by analyzing important KPIs such as engagement, retention, and skills.
Features: Expertly curated library, social learning, SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) compliance, and sharing.
Pricing: $5 per user /month for 100-500 users and $4 per user/month for 500-1000 users.
Overview: A cloud-based LMS that enhances online learning and training. It provides analytics and can be customized to suit the needs of the user. It can also be accessed from both iOS and Android devices.
Features: Content friendly, SCORM & Tin Can (xApi) compliant, assessment engines, survey engines, learning path, and files repository.
Pricing: Free for 5 users, $29/month for up to 25 users, $99 for 100 users, $199/month for 500 users, and $349/month for up to 1000 users.
Summing Things Up
An LMS is very important for your business as it will help you to training employees simply and effectively. This will make training more efficient which also improves the productivity of your workers. Opt for a custom development solution as it helps you to design a system that works for your company. Contact Trust Sourcing to learn more information about custom development solutions for an LMS and get the best services!
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