LMS stands for Learning Management System and is an online space where you can centralise your training in order to easily manage what’s going on, its a bit like an online classroom space. This is the basic explanation, a Learning Management System doesn’t need to be complicated.
What to expect from an LMS? – a private place to put your course materials, assessments and online course communication and where participants can sign on to access course materials. Trainers can communicate one on one with learners and there are spaces for everyone to communicate.
Being online means that people can access the course anywhere with an Internet connection (and computer) and at anytime of the day or night, making it ideal for distance learning, of course this can be changed if you want the training to be in-house. An LMS can be set up differently depending on your course or training needs.
A great example of an LMS is Moodle. A lot of universities and academic institutions use Moodle. Moodle is open source, which means its free and the code is open to be changed and so can be adapted by tech savvy people to suit different needs. Within the Moodle platform many classes can be hosted by different teachers, and it is relatively easy for teachers to set up their online classrooms. Moodle has calendar support, gradebooks, chatrooms and material can easily be hosted and downloaded.
If you were a participant going onto Moodle you would sign into your course, open your course home page, the trainer would likely have a welcome message with course expectations and instructions on finding your way around the space.
What LMS should I use for my course? When you’re considering putting your course onto an LMS the first thing you need to consider is what you want from an LMS, you might not need an LMS at all, you might just want interactive videos and discussions without creating too much of a classroom environment.
So think about the overall practical needs of your training, how many students, what kind of participation there is going to be, frequency of sessions, what format the materials will be in and how are people going to access them. Also consider the biggie – assessment. Having discussions in the one space means that you can assess by contribution and a good LMS will allow you to easily enable peer reivews within groups. Towards the end of the course all materials and discussions are there for some great reflection.
Most LMSs will cover all the basic needs but you also want something that is easy to use and looks good, your training should be FUN and the environment it’s hosted on needs to reflect this.
On this website I will review different learning management systems but remember to look at the LMS that will suit your course rather than developing a course for an LMS.
To give you an idea of just how many LMS are out there here is a list compiled by Craig Weiss at elearninginfo 24/7
Have a browse through the list, read the briefs, a lot of work has been put into supplying us happy people with this great reference.