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    Best e-Learning Platforms And How You Can Benefit From Building Your Own LMS

    Learning management systems (LMS) are being actively used all over the world in various areas: school education, corporate training, whatever! Moreover, the global LMS market is expected to grow by an average of 25% annually.

    The coronavirus and the resulting pandemic have significantly influenced the popularization of LMS solutions, but not only. The world has long been ready for new cool technologies, and an e-learning environment is no exception.

    So if you have an idea to build an LMS platform, now is the best time to make it true. You have a real chance to succeed and get your share of profits.

    However, you must be aware that even the greatest idea isn't enough. Creating an effective (and successful) digital product requires the hard work of an expert team, including analysts, developers, marketers, etc. In addition, before starting your project, you need to carefully analyze your competitors, their pros and cons. You have to draw up your own strategy to rival them in the market. 

    If all the listed challenges don’t scare you away, we're happy to help you. And to begin with, we'll show you in detail how to build a learning management system from scratch. If necessary, we'll assist you in a more practical way too, of course.

    Anyway, first things first.

    What is a Learning Management System?

    Learning Management System or, in short, LMS is special software that allows both providing and receiving remote online training services. What's more, you can teach (and learn) any subject, from a simple school course to complex professional areas focused on experienced experts who wouldn’t mind improving their qualifications.

    LMS is comparable to a pocket-sized university or, say, a school that is always with you. The principle is the same as for any educational institution, only the participants in the learning process have more advantages (which are discussed below, in the section on benefits of learning management systems).

    That is, on the one hand, there is a course administrator who controls the learning process (with greater ease, since many processes are automated). On the other hand, there are users who want to go through some kind of training or get a certain skill.

    Who needs an online learning management system?

    • Schools and universities whose managers want to make their institutions as modern as possible. And today, in the context of the coronavirus, having the opportunity to study online is practically a must-have.

    • Online training providers. They’re welcome to add different kinds of training courses and provide paid access to them.

    • Companies, interested in corporate training of their employees. They can create a learning management system for business needs (which include improvement in staff's skills).

    However, we'll talk about popular LMS ideas in more detail later in the article.

    Main Types of LMS Systems

    There are several approaches to classifying an e-learning environment.

    Classification by price

    • Free LMS. Free open-source systems are available to everyone, but they have their drawbacks. And the main one is the lack of developer support. Besides, only a user with programming experience would be able to figure them out.

    • Commercial LMS. The second option is commercial systems. Being paid (which is natural), they are highly flexible, offer tons of cool features, and promise 24/7 LMS support. Pricing depends on the specific service provider.

    Classification by purpose

    Also, types of learning management systems can be based on the tasks of a company or a businessman:

    • Enterprise LMS. We're talking about corporate LMS solutions aimed at business training of 500+ employees. These services should have fairly advanced and diverse functionality, be understandable and easy to use. Such systems are usually chosen by the heads of large companies.

    • Individual LMS. They differ from the above option in targeting a specific teacher, online school, or small company.

    • Niche LMS. They are more specialized and aimed at a specific industry (niche).

    Classification by structure

    And the last way to break e-Learning technology into types of LMS systems is to pay attention to its structure.

    • Cloud-based LMS. This is undoubtedly the most popular and convenient option. Such systems are easy to update, and you can work with them anytime, anywhere, from any device. 

      • The content is uploaded to the platform server, and users access it via the Internet.

      • Cloud-based LMSs are often chosen by owners of private online schools and company executives willing to improve corporate training (if there is no need for increased data security).

    • On-premise LMS. These systems are also called server ones (because they are installed on the customer's server, that is, on-premise). The security of such solutions is higher, however, there are difficulties with updating, which leads to less flexibility of the product.

      • Server platforms are selected by the owners of large corporations who value complete control over the system and information security.

    Still in doubt about whether to create an e-learning platform? In our article, we detail why the game is worth the candle (especially in 2021).

    Key Benefits of Learning Management Systems

    • Freedom of access to the service. LMS platforms are available around the clock, in any convenient place: at night, on weekends, on vacation... There is no special class schedule. All you need is the Internet and a suitable device (laptop, tablet, smartphone, PC).

    • Unlimited learning materials. You can add any variety of content, and in different formats. Publish video tutorials, textbooks, audio lectures, whatever!

    • Reduced training costs. Learning can be expensive, as is providing knowledge. Students spend money and time traveling to university and purchasing books and other materials. And knowledge providers are forced to rent an office, pay salaries to various teachers, take care of business trips, and the like. The digital learning solution helps to remove all these costs or significantly decrease them. 

      • According to statistics, the use of digital solutions reduces the cost of corporate training by 3-5 times.

    • Learning flexibility. The benefits of LMS systems for business (and other areas) also include flexibility in the learning process. It can be personalized, customized for specific requirements. Among others, it is quite possible to vary the degree of academic load.

    • High-level analytics. Sophisticated analytics tools aren't the least part either. They allow monitoring the learning progress, and if necessary, adjust the strategy. When it comes to advanced professional training, effectiveness is a key criterion.

    • Ease of use and maintenance. Well-designed LMS platforms are intuitive and easy to use. The adaptation process also takes a minimum of time. LMS support and maintenance are just as simple.

    • Maximum automation. All routine tasks (even checking progress) can now be automated, which greatly simplifies the educational process.

    • Real-time feedback. These cool digital systems don't limit the communication of the participants in the training. You just need to add a few useful features for LMS, such as a feedback form, personal and group chats, reviews, and more.

    • Interactivity. You have the opportunity to take full advantage of all kinds of game and interactive learning formats, introduce competitive elements, and so on. Of course, this is possible with offline training too, but digital technologies automate and simplify these processes. Therefore, gamification wouldn't require you and your teachers to be constantly creative.

    • Impersonal, objective grades. Let's face it: the personality factor plays a certain role in testing the knowledge of staff or students. Well, there is no such problem with learning management systems. The knowledge test is being performed by a special algorithm, which has no personal preferences.

    • Relevance. Modern hi-tech e-learning solutions allow the company to keep pace with the times and provide the most relevant knowledge. Updating the content and functionality of the program is extremely easy, which means you and your business will always be in trend.

    • Higher team efficiency. All of the above results in increased staff efficiency. According to the latest research data, thanks to LMS, employees adapt to a new position 9 times faster. In addition, much less time is being spent on their training (about half as much). Isn't it a reason to create a learning management system for business needs?

    Must-have Learning Management System Features

    LMS functionality is extremely simple. We see no reason to describe all the features separately because the essence of each is intuitively clear. Instead, we’ll describe at length what the purpose of this set is, what user actions it is designed to perform.

    features for LMS

    Okay, what actions does the course curator perform using these features?

    1. Check-in. Firstly, tutor registration is required. There is no point in reinventing the wheel.

    2. Creation and management of courses. We hope you’ve figured out where to get educational content and in what format to submit it to users. If not, it's time to tackle this issue.

      1. You cannot create a course and forget about it for good. You need to update the content, improve it so that it remains relevant.

    3. Access control. Also, features for LMS should include the ability to open access to certain lessons.

      1. It all depends on your goal. If you’re engaged in corporate training, you just open access to employees of a certain profile. If you provide a paid online learning service, you should set up a payment system before opening access.

    4. Tracking the learning process. LMS training systems offer special algorithms to assess student knowledge. And the course curator can monitor the progress of users, whether they are university students or company employees.

    5. Adjustment of the training program. If the results of a student don’t suit the tutor, he can change the learning strategy: increase or decrease the academic load, offer a different learning option, and so on.

    What about users getting training? How do they use learning management system features?

    • Registration, an inevitable stage of working with an application or site of any type.

    • Training program search. Usually, the curator assigns the course to the student, but in some cases, the user himself searches and selects the program to his liking.

    • Taking lessons. The most important feature is undoubtedly the ability to exercise the lessons, listen to audio lectures, watch the video, take tests, and more.

    • Tracking personal progress. And of course, the user must have access to personal statistics in order to be able to track his progress in learning.

    Also, the online learning management system should have features that will help in solving the following tasks:

    1. Communication of participants in the learning process. It’s not only about group chats (which is extremely important), but also about organizing discussion forums, sharing knowledge, and more.

    2. Smart notifications, which inform users about anything that might interest them.

    3. Calendar of events, offering the possibility to schedule training events and receive reminders when each one is upcoming.

    How to Build Your Own Learning Management System?

    Be prepared to follow these steps:

    1. Defining your goals. A lot depends on the goals of your project and the tasks that the platform should perform. The system of distance learning focused on students is fundamentally different from the solution aimed at improving the qualifications of employees.

    2. Asking yourself important questions, such as:

      1. Where do you plan to get educational content?

      2. Do you want to choose a ready-made solution or create your own from scratch? The market is full of examples of learning management software, but your job is to find one that fully meets your needs, which isn’t always easy. Explore all the possibilities, and if you don't find your perfect solution, go for custom development. The option is more expensive but gives you a better chance of getting what you want. 

        1. By the way, to understand how to build a learning management system from scratch, keep reading our article.

      3. What monetization methods will you use? Even if your main goal is corporate training and increasing the efficiency of personnel, monetizing the service won't hurt either.

      4. What about the budget? Determine how much you’re able to spend on building and promoting the platform.

    3. Drawing up basic requirements. The list of your system requirements should be as detailed as possible. It usually includes the main features, technological characteristics, and so on.

    4. Dev team search. Now is the time to find experts who can build an LMS. Take your time and choose professionals who know what they're doing.

    5. Plan approval. The first step in communicating with your hired team is to discuss and document your platform requirements (the ones you’ve determined earlier). This will allow you to avoid future misunderstandings. 

    6. Creating design of the LMS. The interface of a digital product should be modern, clear, consistent with the brand of your company, be it an online school or a corporation.

    7. Project development and testing. Next comes the most crucial stage, namely, the development of the platform and its thorough testing. It is this stage that takes the most time and costs the most money. 

    8. Post-launch activities. After launching the platform (or better before launching), you should start a marketing campaign. Such initiatives as contextual advertising, promotion in social networks, and so on will come to the rescue.

    9. Improving the platform. And now you just have to analyze the behavior of your users and collect their feedback and wishes. All this information will help you compile a list of required product updates.

    We describe the stages of educational app development in more detail in the article at the link. feel free to follow it.

    Your Perfect Learning Management Systems Software

    What should be considered when creating your own LMS to achieve the maximum effect?

    • Ease of use. Modern people are used to working with intuitive interfaces; they don't want to deal with complex systems. And why should they, if the market offers a great many user-friendly solutions?

    • Responsiveness, which is a must for any successful website. So your platform should be compatible with all browsers and operating systems.

    • Artificial Intelligence. Of course, AI technologies are expensive to implement, but they help to bring complex scenarios to life, which is beneficial in the long run.

    • Personalization of training. Among other things, AI features will help you provide users with a personalized experience. And the more personalized the user experience is, the more likely it is to make your LMS system popular and in demand.

    • Gamification. Learning is boring, isn't it? Make it more fun with gamification. Fortunately, the digital product offers a lot of ways to add a game element.

    • Integration. You definitely cannot do without useful integrations, whether it is the introduction of payment systems or interaction with services for hosting webinars.

    • Mobility. And of course, LMSs must be mobile-friendly. Ideally, create a dedicated mobile app (in addition to a website).

    The Cost to Build an LMS

    As we often repeat in our articles, in order to know the exact cost of development, you first need to understand the specifics of your project, namely:

    • features you plan to implement (and their complexity);

    • approach to development (from scratch, using ready-made templates, etc.);

    • your contractor (the more famous the company, the higher its rate).

    The time spent working on a digital product also matters. And when it comes to various types of learning management systems, development experts are likely to need between 1,200 and 2,500 hours to complete a project.

    The further calculation is simple: we multiply the development time by the rate of the contractor company and get the result.

    By the by, do you want to know how the rate of the developer's team depends on its location? We have the answer to this question.

    • How to Build a Learning Management System

       

    Now you know how to build your own learning management system and understand what budget should be prepared. It's time to take a look at a few of your competitors who are active in the market today.

    Best LMS Examples

    Moodle

    types of LMS systems

    Moodle has become especially popular in 2020. It is being used by many universities in different countries. The system boasts its convenience, simplicity, intuitiveness, and affordability.

    Today the number of its users exceeds 115 million, which is rather impressive, right?

    Pros:

    • Free access to the program, which largely explains its popularity among representatives of higher educational institutions;

    • Own mobile application (Moodle Mobile);

    • The ability to create all kinds of tests, courses, lectures, trainings, and surveys;

    • Advanced reporting;

    • Useful integrations (including with some CRM platforms), CMS

    • Multilingual support (over 100 languages).

    Moodle looks like a pretty good learning management systems software, doesn't it? However, it has its annoying drawbacks.

    Cons:

    • Complex interface customization, which slightly degrades the user experience;

    • Although the system is free, its high-quality work requires the installation of expensive extensions and plugins.

    Canvas

    learning management system

    Canvas is another wonderful online learning management system. It invites users to take courses, watch and listen to video and audio lectures, participate in video conferencing, share experiences, and even do homework.

    Pros:

    • Educational content, accessible to everyone;

    • Competently configured administration system;

    • SLA support;

    • Responsive UI;

    • An interactive learning approach;

    • Open-source API Canvas.

    Cons:

    • Complex interface, overloaded with details;

    • Insufficient reporting features.

    Open Edx

    online learning management system

    Open Edx is an open-source cloud-based LMS. It provides access to over 20,000 online courses and targets a wide variety of specializations. 

    If you want to create a learning management system for business needs, then Open Edx is your role model and example to follow. The platform is often chosen by companies willing to improve certain skills of their employees and help them delve into a specific subject. And of course, the world's largest universities resort to Open Edx too.

    Open Edx has at least 40 million active users, and the number is still growing.

    Pros:

    • Convenient division of courses into popular specializations;

    • Multilingual support (over 30 languages);

    • Ease of use;

    • Interactive online chats;

    • Useful integrations;

    • The ability to customize the program interface.

    Cons:

    • Many courses are paid (alas!);

    • No animation support.

    Who Enjoys the Benefits of LMS Systems for Business?

    Many world-famous companies have already implemented LMS solutions and are using them quite successfully. Do you want to know what results they have achieved? Then read on!

    Unilever

    Unilever is a Dutch-British organization with a host of brands, most of which you’ve probably dealt with. It produces food and household chemicals.

    Conquering the markets of different countries and opening more and more branches, Unilever is forced to find effective ways to quickly train its employees. Digital technology has been a great solution to the problem and has helped the company achieve the following:

    • the ability to train from 3,000 to 4,000 employees at the same time;

    • instant notification of personnel from several countries about company news;

    • increasing the productivity of sellers (on average by 10-15%).

    Honeywell

    Honeywell, a global leader in industrial manufacturing and one of the Fortune 500, also uses learning management systems software to deliver corporate training. And here are its successes the company can be proud of:

    • the chance to train new employees in three weeks (which is a cool result, compared to two months of previous offline training);

    • certification of personnel within a week (instead of a month).

    MW-Light

    MW-LIGHT, an international luminaire manufacturer, has achieved these results with its learning management system:

    • decreasing the cost of training employees by more than 5 times;

    • reduction of the term to one week (earlier it took almost six months).

    A Few Cool LMS App Ideas

    • Corporate training, which is the most common LMS use case. We've already talked a lot about it. However, it would be an oversight on our part not to mention it here. 

    • Service focused on disabled children. Let's agree, being able to help children with disabilities is true happiness and honor. If you do want to help them (which doesn't mean you won't earn on your app), start by consulting with healthcare experts. They'll explain to you which features for LMS of the sort should be included in the first place. After all, disability varies, and each case requires a special approach.

    • Customer training. An interesting idea, isn't it? Don't be surprised, an app like this is going to be very popular with businesses that have innovative and difficult-to-use products.

    • Learning foreign languages. Today, knowing foreign languages is extremely useful, so a service that helps to master them will always be in demand.

    • Studying for exams. Another good idea is a digital platform, which allows young people to better organize their exam preparation. Simply put, the tasks offered by the service are designed in such a way that students can determine in advance whether they are ready to pass the exam successfully.

    • Tracking your learning progress. Of course, most LMS systems include tracking progress features, but why not create an application specifically focused on this specific task?

    • Onboarding new employees. What about training new employees? No matter how experienced they are, a new place of work implies certain challenges, and assistance with an adaptation period will clearly be a bonus.

    • Sales training. The ability to sell is appreciated in almost all business areas, so a service that teaches to use such a complex skill is likely to be useful to many people.

    • Partner or supplier training. Also, you can build an LMS to improve rapport with partners and suppliers. After completing a special training program (based on digital technologies), they'll be able to delve into your business in the shortest possible time. 

    • Choosing a career path. The application will be of great use to representatives of the young generation who don't really know what exactly they want to do in life (professionally). Try to help them by offering a special service, which would test their natural inclinations and abilities and suggest the right choice.

    Our Agilie team offers you our qualified LMS development services. Interested? Then let’s talk business!

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