Do you need a learning management system? A learning management system is an investment that should produce a measurable return and become an integral part of your overall learning strategy. There are some pretty common reasons coordinators cite as triggers for their initial search into learning management systems:
- Managing a department or organization responsible for training others or monitoring job skills
- Frustration with spreadsheets and databases currently in use
- Creating individual e-mails to students, instructors, etc.
- Using HTML or PDF forms to register students for training
- Grading exams manually
- Printing and mailing student certificates
- Charging fees for training or materials
When you take a hard look at whether you need a learning management system, there are three basic questions you should ask.
1. Do I spend a lot of time on tasks that could be automated?
Automation of daily tasks in the training center can not only save time, it can help the center grow without additional staff. Automated confirmation letters and reminder notices helps to increase attendance rates. How about automating student history, student certificate delivery, and certification reminders? Would you like to assign an entire training program based on someone’s job, or membership in a specific organization? Would you like your instructors notified when they are assigned to teach a specific class? Automation of day-to-day tasks is a major benefit of a learning management system.
Each training center has unique methods – traditional classroom sessions, self-paced online programs, or even webinars. With a learning management system, students can easily register for any training you offer. Do students need to complete a variety of classes as part of the on-boarding with your organization? They can register for all those classes with one process as part of an education program. Students can easily find and register for a course, class, program, or self-paced learning opportunity with ease. You control minimum and maximum registrations; whether wait-listing is allowed; and even which specific confirmation e-mail the student gets.
Communication is key in any training organization. Students expect you to contact them about upcoming training, to confirm registrations and to alert them to changes in location or schedule. Clear, effective communication helps ensure students arrive prepared for your classes. Confirmation letters can include directions to the site, instructor contact information, and almost any other information you wish to provide. How often do you communicate with students after training? Send a quick thank you note to all attendees. Was there a question that was unanswered in class? Use a follow-up e-mail to clear up the issue or provide links to additional information.
When students register but fail to attend training it affects the organization. A learning management system can be configured to send reminder e-mails to students asking them to confirm their planned attendance or giving them the easy option to cancel the registration. Confirmation e-mails can include specific directions to a room or site and instructor contact information. Last minute changes to a class can be easily integrated to the confirmation e-mail. For self-paced learning activities, the confirmation includes all the pertinent links or access information.
Does your organization have a new training program or service that your students may be interested in? Do you have students who need refresher or recertification training? Send notices prior to expiration, encouraging students to attend a class to prevent expiration. Automatically generate marketing e-mails based on demographics, classes taken or not taken, or group assignments within the learning management system.
2. Do I need to centralize, secure and share data?
A learning management system is a window into the activity of your training center. Data can be used to support your center’s business goals. A learning management system creates a central repository for your training data. Rather than have key information locked away in a office filing cabinet, a learning management system allows individuals to access authorized information at any time.
Data centralization is another key benefit of a learning management system. Permissions allow an authorized user access to data and tasks relevant to their role in your training center. Students want to know what classes are still accepting, instructors want to know who has registered for their class, and staff members want to know the status of the training center at any given time. Centralized data provides real-time data access, helping all users to make the best decisions with up-to-date information. Centralized data also helps ensure data security and reliability. Data centralization also allows for easy backup and storage for business continuity purposes. How about all those old paper records? Scan them into a standard document type such as Adobe PDF™ and attach them to the appropriate record in the learning management system.
If you use Quickbooks™, you can easily pull invoices directly from your TrainingForce site. Web services allow quick integration with enterprise systems.
Know your numbers! The ability to rapidly create and share meaningful reports is another benefit of a learning management system. Managers must be able to readily explain how efficiently training is being delivered, and how effective that training is. You’ll need access to both big picture operating statistics and granular metrics to help you analyze the true health of your training.
Occasions arise where you will have to move large amounts of data into or out of your learning management system. Whether you’re adding 150 employees as students, or exporting information to your accounting program, a learning management system should easily move data for you.
3. Do I need to deliver programs, courses or classes online?
Your use of self-paced instructional activity (distributed learning, e-learning, etc.) is a third major reason to consider use of a learning management system. Self-paced activity can include:
- Fully interactive classes, such as SCORM-conformant material produced using Adobe’s Captivate, Articulate’s Engage, or Techsmith’s Camtasia software.
- Launched classes, where the content is developed and/or hosted at another location
- Other self-paced classes, such as computer-based or video-based training and webinars.
Simply, a learning management system should allow you to deliver the content to your students in the methods you choose.
Learning Management Systems: The Next Step
If you answer “yes” to any one of these questions, you should consider a learning management system for your training center. These systems are an investment that can provide many training centers a solid return on investment and multiply the efforts of a small training department. Visit our KnowledgeBase for more on selecting your LMS.