LMS Features: Top 10 Features of Learning Management Systems

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In a world where job skills change daily, ongoing training is an indispensable asset. That’s why businesses are investing in learning management systems so staff members excel. In the booming e-learning market, research can be daunting or even paralyzing. How do you find the best platform? Simple. Prioritize and analyze the top LMS features to find the ideal solution for your organization.

We’ve created a comprehensive guide to the top learning management system features and how to evaluate them. We’ll answer your questions along the way. What should an LMS do? What are the most essential features? And what features are a priority for online training software? Read on to find out.

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Top 10 LMS Features & Why They Matter

Now that you have a framework in place, it’s time to review a comprehensive list and comparison of the top learning management system features you should be on the lookout for:

Top LMS Features Comparison

1. Course and Content Management

The typical LMS has tools to manage training. It can create new material, copy and reuse classes and content, customize material to meet requirements and manage the participants.

However, it’s important to note that there are e-learning solutions that don’t come with such editors. In that case, the business needs course authoring software to supplement the software. A learning content management system or LCMS comes with creation capabilities built-in by definition. No matter what you choose, ensure that it’s compliant with AICC, emi5, SCORM or xAPI (formerly known as TinCan) to secure the best content.

From there, users can upload courseware, stream live training and edit existing data. This gives administrators full flexibility over the information in each module. One key admin feature is multimedia integration. That comes in handy if you want to upload audio and video files along with written materials. Get support for things like PowerPoint presentations, PDFs and MP4 files. By mixing various elements, it makes for a more engaging experience.

And it doesn’t stop there. Most platforms also support external embedding to insert assignments, quizzes and more from web pages. Docebo, for example, can embed videos, images, texts and pages. The goal is to create classes that stimulate engagement and enhance the experience using third-party sources.

Finally, most educational software includes a course library. This serves as a central repository for any extra assets. Having a library of pre-built training can help get you rolling while implementing the system.

Sometimes, you’ll get a marketplace that integrates with major content providers such as OpenSesame that cover topics ranging from soft skills to health and safety.

2. Customization

Your LMS is an integral part of the company. It makes sense to customize the look and feel to match your unique identity.

Docebo LMS Customization

Example of customization options in an LMS.

A customized and branded look creates a more unified experience. Companies show they’ve invested in giving employees the skills they need to succeed. By seeing your company’s fingerprints (metaphorical, of course) on the platform, they’ll associate their learning experience with your business.

Customization provides options to tailor the interface using your brand colors, unique domain names, logos and more. The ability to dress up the solution to align with a specific brand is an important feature for selling classes (more on that in the e-commerce section).

On the opposite front, it’s important to white label content. By turning branded information generic, it makes it easier to share with partners, different branches or under other brand names. Users can even design different portals for different audiences. This is useful for maintaining a singular experience that doesn’t confuse learners.

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3. Blended Learning

Blended learning refers to education that’s a combination of virtual and classroom methods. There are two ways a learning management system makes that happen.

First, instructor-led training (ILT), that is a form of synchronous learning. This one seems straightforward. The instructor leads the class, right? Yes, an LMS gives admins and instructors the ability to do that, either face-to-face or via a virtual classroom (known as VILT), but the software also has tools to facilitate the process.

The solution helps by:

  • Promoting the event
  • Sending reminders
  • Managing schedules to prevent double-booking for rooms, instructors or web conference accounts
  • Providing virtual training exercises to attendees
  • Managing registrations, participation and reports for online and offline events
  • Setting a max number of attendees

The LMS provides an online setting where students can interact, ask questions and engage in conversation. It works well for lessons, lectures, workshops and seminars.

Second, users have the option to pursue classes at their own pace. Here, they can log in and complete assignments without participating in a group. While some may flourish in a classroom setting, others prefer the flexibility and independence where they can tackle modules when it’s best for them.

It’s not always easy to get everyone on the same schedule. Everyone has different preferences. Blended learning ensures that each employee and new hire, no matter their style or schedule, attains the best skills to thrive.

Saba Virtual Classroom

Virtual classrooms include features like live video and chat boxes where attendees can communicate.

4. Social Learning

Let’s face it: humans are social. Sure, you have the extroverts, introverts and in-between-verts, but no matter where we fall on the spectrum, we all share a need to interact.

Social learning features capitalize on this ingrained desire. Things like chat groups and forums allow course users to communicate and collaborate as they work through their modules. They can engage in peer-to-peer discussions, ask questions and get answers. Knowledge sharing takes place via blogs, wikis and FAQ sections.

Scheduled classes always have their place. That said, going to others for advice and help comes with advantages, such as:

  • Immediate responses, which are helpful if someone has to solve a time-sensitive problem.
  • A sense of community, where each employee invests in the success of his or her peers.
  • More participation from people who shy away from speaking up when in-person or in a group.
  • Less demand placed on trainers, freeing them to focus their energy elsewhere.

You haven’t truly mastered something until you can explain it to someone else. Social learning encourages users to absorb the content so they can do more than answer questions on a quiz. Meanwhile, social media integration helps them get excited and share additional information in their day-to-day life.

Want to ensure everyone crushes their training rather than becoming robots who repeat facts? Give them the opportunity to help their peers. Once they can do that, they’ll have a deeper understanding of the material. That equips them to tackle the demands of their roles to the fullest. Last, tracking allows organizers to monitor participation and see who’s really invested in the conversation and who needs a gentle nudge.

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5. Gamification

People love games, and yes, that goes for adults too! Why else are video games, fantasy football and group activities like Cards Against Humanity so popular? Games are designed to engage our attention and keep us entertained.

It turns out that’s a perfect way to help inspire and motivate workers. Recognizing this, software vendors include gamification features as part of their offerings. Here are a few examples:

  • A point system, which rewards users for accomplishing various activities.
  • A leaderboard that shows point totals.
  • Notifications to advertise incentives like gift cards, bonuses and more.
  • Badges and awards based on certain achievements.

Besides keeping users engaged, gamification also encourages participation and effort. Nobody wants to see their name at the bottom of the leaderboard. Healthy competition can foster an environment where each employee puts their all into training.

Elogic LMS Learning Leaderboard

This LMS contains a leaderboard that shows employee performance.

Ultimately, the learners are happier and retain the information better. This is great for compliance and other essential processes. Everyone learns faster and leaves satisfied.

6. Learning Paths

Getting a basic understanding of a subject before moving on is what learning paths are all about. It guides learners down a path of courses, exploring more and more advanced concepts. Having a learning path in place is critical to master a subject — and not just during schooling.

It wouldn’t make any sense for a new employee to jump into the middle of a complex process without laying a foundation. If you want to train a new social media manager to run Facebook ads, don’t start with setting the details for the ad to publish. They must understand how to create a campaign first.

If a new hire gets frustrated because it’s not clear what modules come in what order, that slows down his or her progress and makes everything more complicated than necessary. Tailor this to completing a specific goal, showing competencies or improving a set of skills.

You can customize each user’s learning path so they get the specific info necessary to ace their roles. After all, it makes no sense for your new IT guy to go through the accounting module. If someone is getting through a topic faster than another, tweak it so the slower learner stays on track and the faster one keeps their interest.

No matter the topic, learning paths ensure everyone receives the information in the proper order so they can develop the right skills.

7. Certification and Compliance

The last thing you need is well-trained workers who lack the required certifications for their jobs. Especially when it comes time for an audit. That’s why typical e-learning has features for tracking compliance and monitoring certifications.

TOPYX, for instance, has embedded e-signature capabilities to ensure learners have verified their compliance. Other solutions use archived reports and activity logs to ensure compliance. It tracks deadlines and notifies someone when their certification is about to expire.

An LMS simplifies compliance with your industry’s specific regulations. This also ensures that every learner is following the same baseline as the rest of the industry. If an administrator is tracking important compliances for government, health care, construction and other industries, it provides a way to track the progress of many learners at once.

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8. Mobile and Other Accessibility Issues

We live in a world where people want to access information on their terms. Your workers aren’t any different. That’s why most learning management tools are mobile-friendly and ready to play on any device.

Content must have a responsive design, meaning a layout that adapts to the small screen of a cell phone or a 30-inch monitor. Some have an online version, others have an app or can even customize or white label an app for various purposes.

What does that mean for the process? A couple of things:

Greater Flexibility: Users can log in to the LMS platform. One person could watch a video on his iPad while she rides the bus to work, while another could take a quiz on their laptop while sitting on their couch.

Increased Productivity: Imagine if they only allowed you to work on assignments while in the classroom. No homework in the evenings (or on weekends if we’re being honest). That would knock your grades in the teeth. The same goes for the trainees. With mobile access, they can move through courses and take quizzes after they’ve left for the day. That frees them up to focus on other tasks while they’re at the office.

Better Engagement: By accessing the information on the device they feel most comfortable and the time best for them, workers can take in the material when their mind is at its peak. This means absorbing things more effectively and keeping their attention high while discovering possibly life-saving important safety and compliance knowledge. This helps with any regulation that requires training outside of the workday.

9. Reporting and Analytics

On the surface, these features might seem better suited for a CRM or ERP solution, but having them in e-learning software opens up a world of possibilities.

LMS software creates reports for learning outcomes, completion rates, company-wide education initiatives, e-commerce analysis, assessments of exams and a range of customizable reports and data fields. These tools provide the wherewithal to improve initiatives. It can even show what workers get the most excited about.

It’s easy to analyze each employee’s progress as they work through their modules. Come progress report time, managers can clearly communicate areas for improvement and reward them for areas where their competence has increased.

Once someone takes an assessment, test or survey, you can view the score. This offers a clear outlook of who’s performing well and who needs retraining.

iSpring Everest Quiz

With an LMS, you can easily track results for quizzes and tests.

Automated grading is another common function. You can use the pre-defined criteria or configure the software according to specific needs. Certain solutions, such as TalentLMS, even let administrators choose the default number of grades and adjust it up or down depending on the instructor or program.

When you have dozens or hundreds of people using the LMS, being able to track every report, quickly analyze results and automatically grade everyone’s work saves loads of time. It also ensures that workers understand their subject.

No more guesswork or wondering if the new HR assistant knows everything she should. That’ll give you confidence each employee can perform well in their day-to-day responsibilities.

10. E-Commerce

Recently, Salesforce began selling its training software. It may seem strange to sell your courses to other companies, but many systems now offer integrations with e-commerce tools or built-in functions to make it possible.

It takes time for companies to create course materials—time they may not have. If you have some killer content, why not capitalize on that and make it available to a broader audience? That way, companies can improve their workplace education and get rewarded with some extra revenue.

Typical functions include:

  • Online store
  • Payment gateway either native or integrated
    • E.x. PayPal, Stripe and others
  • Subscriptions
  • Support for marketing initiatives/integrations with marketing automation
    • E.x. Retargeting, cross-selling and more
  • Shopping cart
  • Pricing options (for things like discounts and coupons)

If your company wants to follow in Salesforce’s footsteps at some point, getting e-commerce is nonnegotiable. Monetizing what you’ve already created helps the bottom line and boosts brand integrity as organizations move into the thought leader and influencer space.

Compare Top LMS Software Leaders

Other Features to Consider

Now that we’ve gone over the main list, here are a few other options to consider when finding the right choice. For a more comprehensive list, check out our article on LMS requirements.

  • Automation: One of the biggest benefits of getting an online education platform is saving time by completing administrative tasks. It helps with auto enrollments, managing learning paths, sending notifications for upcoming due dates and events, and automatically adds or removes users.
  • Integrations: When picking out a solution, it’s important to think about what it must integrate with. This could include compliance software, enterprise resource planning tools, an HRIS or other HR option, payment processors, talent management, webinars, workforce management and legacy software used by the organization.
  • Interoperability: Going one step beyond integration, interoperability measures how easy it is for the software to communicate and work with other programs. By using a RESTful API or software such as Zapier, an LMS can easily enroll students with third-party data and share data with other systems.
  • Video Conferencing: The ability to speak face-to-face with trainees is crucial. Consider the live video capabilities or examine any third-party apps users might need access to this feature. If this is an add-on, factor in the added cost before deciding.

What are the Benefits?

Now that we know what we’re looking for in an LMS, we can discuss the purpose of this solution in your organization. On a big picture level, it manages all skill development within the organization. It can tie in with talent management or HR platforms, so executives can facilitate career building for all workers.

There are many benefits of using an LMS such as:

  • Cuts down on training costs and time
  • Reduces tedious admin tasks
  • Creates more efficient onboarding
  • Makes it easier to keep excellent employees
  • Organizes data

Sounds great, but even the highest-rated LMS won’t help unless it aligns with your company goals and requirements. Expert insights and user reviews are important, but ultimately, you need to base your selection on what’s best for your company.

How to Pick the Right Software for Your Company

Want to be competitive in the modern market? Developing a strong company culture and equipping your workforce to win big are two top ways to position an organization for success.

And one vital part of making those goals a reality is investing in an e-learning solution, but where do you start?

It’s a market poised on the edge of explosive growth, with forecasts predicting it to swell from its current size of $9.2 billion to $22.4 billion by 2023. Plus, over 750 vendors offer learning management systems. Talk about a lot of choices.

As you conduct the search, use these questions as a guide.

What Are My Company Goals?

Don’t fork over a chunk of change for new software because it’s the trendy thing to do or because something shinier comes along.

You must understand what you’re trying to achieve. For example, if a manager has uncovered a skills gap among employees and requires a way to improve the process and take the time to consider the options. Whatever goal (or goals) you identify should act as the compass for the decision.

What’s Best for My Industry?

You may wonder, “Does the industry really matter?” It does.

Corporate professionals and the academic industry are the two major categories that online education vendors serve. If your organization is a university, you’ll have different requirements for what you need from an LMS than a banking firm looking to increase the effectiveness of its onboarding process.

What Are My Must-Have Features?

Answering the previous question helps with this one. Brainstorm a list of what you need, along with the nice-to-haves. There’s a difference, so be specific.

Listing the requirements makes it easier to vet vendors. It also encourages the consideration of advanced functionalities. If a company has offices in North America, Europe and Asia, you may want multilingual support to deliver the content in multiple languages. For a guide to LMS features, download our features checklist.

What Level of Support and Training Do I Need?

A new platform won’t do anyone much good if the admins don’t know how to use it. Pay close attention to what support a vendor offers. For example, Cornerstone Learning has a Client Success Center, where you can collaborate with peers and turn to experts for help.

An LMS features tools to educate admins including webinars, courses and a knowledge base library. This can create a much smoother rollout if the team isn’t familiar with managing such software. Many e-learning solutions come with implementation support to guide users through switching and help with administrative headaches.

Outside of onboarding staff to the new solution, keep ongoing technical support in mind. Is there a ticketing system if users run into issues? How does the vendor handle data security and backup for a cloud solution? You may need software with a representative who can help you with issues that arise.

Gain a thorough understanding of the exact ways vendors deal with such situations. Otherwise, you might find yourself driving down a road full of potholes in the future.

How Should I Integrate Online and Offline Learning?

With the growing popularity of blended learning, it’s important to have a game plan for how the different educational initiatives intersect and get measured. That means you’ll need a game plan and a way to measure participation at live events, on-the-job exercises, recording projects and more.

In terms of requirements, this may translate into the ability to include xAPI, a standard that is uniquely qualified to track training that happens offline. Something as simple as watching extra YouTube videos can fit the bill. Tracking is possible through various mobile apps, by integrating with an LMS or by uploading the information into the database. Others have capabilities to track offline learning built right into their app. Consider how important this is to your strategy before buying.

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Final Thoughts

A skilled and engaged workforce is crucial to thriving in today’s volatile, competitive landscape. Learning management systems provide the tools your company demands to equip current employees with new skills, streamline onboarding and attract top talent. Every business in the modern age requires a larger training strategy with specific goals or outcomes to be effective. Once that’s squared away, prioritize features based on the company’s needs, talents and worker interest. It’s the best way to get the most out of your solution. Last, don’t forget to compare the top choices to see who comes out on top and who gets left behind.

It’s impossible to make every day feel as important as graduation, but an LMS can ensure that education never stops. The drive to improve every day is a way to a happier, healthier and more productive workforce. Learning management systems can get you there.

Compare Top LMS Software Leaders

Let’s Hear From You!

What LMS features do you see bringing the most positive impact for your company? How has going online shaped training in your job? Share your comments below.

Grace SavidesLMS Features: Top 10 Features of Learning Management Systems

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  • Kseniya - April 13, 2020 reply

    I love that you’ve mentioned customization. In my opinion it’s really important to develop LMS that will fully satisfy all your business’s needs and when you develop a custom one.

    Grace Savides - April 20, 2020 reply

    That’s very true. Larger or more complicated businesses, in particular, might need a solution that’s different from the out of the box version. Thanks for the comment!

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