A learning management system (LMS) is a large investment for any company; choose from either open source, cloud solution or a server based solution. Take a look at our recent blog, Choosing the right LMS solution for your organisation for more information on how to make the decision.
Don't forget these key points when making the decision.
- If you decide to select one of the many server based LMS's on the market, you either host it on your own company servers behind your firewall, or you can buy it as Software as a Service (SaaS), which means the provider you purchase from hosts it for you
- If you decide on a cloud product then this is always SaaS
- If you choose an open source such as Moodle, it must be hosted on your own servers
There are pros and cons of all options. It will depend on your organisations individual requirements, but some things to consider are:
- Those LMSs purchased from a LMS provider whether cloud or server based will be configured by the provider, who will get the system up and running for you as well as offer full training
- You could decide to choose an open source LMS, the benefit comes down to minimum cost and full control of the code
- A cloud or server based LMS means you need to rely on the provider to make updates to the system, or respond to any problems you might have. It also means that if you want to add additional features there is often an associated charge
- Open source LMS’s can be built in different programming languages, so you will need the right server equipmentm configuration and teams of specialists. There is also the risk of disruption and getting assistance might mean hours of trolling through forums
Before making any decisions your first stop should be with your own IT department to find out if there are any constraints to self-hosting an LMS. In our experience, most organisations prefer the SaaS option as it eliminates any possible IT restrictions.
- Ultimately, you need to ask yourself what do you need your LMS to do? At Bray Leino we have many international users, so our in house LMS supports multiple languages. We also host webinars by incorporating Adobe connect video conferencing. Many organisations choose to use an LMS to host SCORM content, so it is worth ensuring your chosen system is compliant. Also bear in mind that each LMS will show reports differently, so see what works well for you and ask for examples
- Consider if you need your LMS to integrate with third-party systems; for example, social media has sparked a huge trend with integration into LMS’s, so it is worth finding out exactly the right platform for your learners. The interface on a LMS should be responsive and have easy customisation options; our in-house LMS at Bray Leino can be totally branded to suit your organisation
Some other top tips:
- Many LMS providers will supply either a sandbox or a demonstration model - if not, ask for one
- Look for reviews and determine the quality of the vendor
- Consider your requirements - can it be customised and, if so, to what degree?
- Ask questions and set a respond date. Rating responses should weed out any providers who are slow to respond, or give unsatisfactory answers
- Pricing models can be confusing and are usually based on criteria such as the number of registered users, amount of users simultaneously connected, licence period monthly/yearly or limited by courses. You will also need to take into account whether you are migrating from a legacy LMS and support ticket fees
Whichever route you decide on, implementing a system and leaving it for years is most likely going to cause headaches come upgrading time. With that said, it is worth remembering never to jump too quickly into new upgrades, just as you would with an operating system - wait for bugs to be ironed out.
Bray Leino Learning can help you create and deliver the right LMS solution for your learners. Contact us now to find out more.
Sue Dingle, Bray Leino Learning
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