Origin Stories: What is a Learning Management System?

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Ask anyone ‘What does LMS stand for?’ and only a small selection of knowledgeable legends are able to answer.

It’s a question many have pondered since its mysterious origins years ago. Though many have tried, few have uncovered the actual answer and the definitive definition.

No, it’s not the London Maths Squad, or the Lithuanian Moth Society (if only!). In the world of Learning and Development, it stands for one thing only: a Learning Management System.

Join us as we explore everything you’ve ever wanted to know about LMSs but were afraid to ask…

What Do LMSs Do?The Knowledge Economy

A Learning Management System (or Training Management System) is a web-based software solution that manages the distribution and analysis of a company’s training.

With an LMS, you are able to develop, administer and distribute eLearning content with ease.

Its purpose is to streamline the training process in an engaging and exciting manner.

Good learning management systems do this by utilising a variety of robust engagement tools such as: gamification, social learning and customisation.

But How Does an LMS Work?

The basic process goes something like this:

  1. You upload your learning content onto the platform (eLearning, Videos, Documents etc).
  2. The learners consume the content. Their progress is tracked as they do so and they are often rewarded for their progress.
  3. You analyse the results and identify ways to improve the learner’s journey and outcomes.

There are Two Components of a Basic LMS…

  • The Front End: Where learners go to consume content, interact with other learners and share their own knowledge with others.
  • The Back End: Admins and can configure and control the training platform. Here you can upload users, add and share content, configure your game mechanics, run reports and more.

What’s all this Talk of SCORM, xAPI and AICC?A row of three question marks, they are in different colours.

SCORM stands for: Sharable Content Object Reference Model. All clear?! Okay, let’s delve a bit further…

SCORM provides a list of technical specifications for eLearning content. If all content is made to meet these criteria, then it becomes much easier to provide a matching system to host and deliver it. Most content authoring tools are SCORM compliant.

Without SCORM, there would be no agreed structure for eLearning, so every piece of content has to be tailored for a specific delivery system.

There are currently two SCORM releases. The first is called SCORM 1.2 and SCORM 2004 (though we’re all still loved-up with SCORM 1.2!)

So, SCORM is the king when it comes to standards and specifications of online eLearning content. But there is another contender…

xAPI is the new kid in town! It’s also known as Tin Can API and Experience API. It stands for: Experience Application Programming Interface. Just like SCORM, xAPI delivers and reports on formal online content.

The main difference is that xAPI also records all of your informal learning.


What are the Features of a NextGen LMS?The Knowledge Arcade

A Focus on Engagement

Companies with great employee engagement outperform those with little employee engagement by 202%! A great deal of engagement is accomplished via gamification, social learning, customisation (or as we say, Epic Meaning!) and by ensuring your LMS is optimised for mobile use.

Let’s take a look at these engagement tools in a bit more detail:
  • Gamification

Gamification is the application of gaming mechanics to non-gaming environments. You can gamify your platform by doing the following:

  1. Introducing levels onto the platform.
  2. Implementing leaderboards.
  3. Offering virtual points that can be converted to online shopping vouchers, days off and more!
  4. Creating virtual experience badges.
  • Social Learning

Social learning is a huge part of engagement. In fact, the 70/20/10 model states that 20% of everything we learn is learnt socially. We encourage social learning with an array of tried and tested methods on our LMS. Some of these include:

  1. Creating ‘Clubs’ – discussion groups focusing on a particular topic or department
  2. Adding an Experts area to your platform
  3. Including social streams
  4. Installing a social Q&A
  5. Creating and sharing surveys
  • Customisation

If you’ve ever had your clothes tailored, then you’ll know how great customisation feels! In the world of L&D, customisation helps the training environment to resonate with the learner, creating more meaningful learning experiences.

If done right, a customised training platform helps the learner to feel like they are playing an important role in helping your organisation to achieve its goals!. It allows them to feel part of the learning journey.

The customisation goes both ways – the platform can be customised in line with your brand, vision, imagery and terminology. Learners can customise the platform by adding the elements that are listed here:

  1. Adding a profile picture
  2. Adding an ‘About Me’ section
  3. Adding work history
  4. Adding interests
  5. Adding a showcase
  • Mobile OptimisationMobile Friendly

With 98% of people now owning a smartphone, your LMS needs to be mobile-optimised. A non-responsive platform will leave the learner feeling unengaged. 94% of people will judge a website based on whether it’s responsive or not. With a platform that is mobile-friendly, resizing, panning and scrolling will be kept to a minimum. Millenials and Gen-Zs will then be more comfortable roaming around on your mobile learning platform!

  • Online Games

Online games are a fantastic way to engage your learners. 95% of teachers use digital games created specifically for educational use. Genie is our award-winning, game-based authoring tool. It allows the admins to create learning/educational games.

For example, we have a ‘Whack-a-Mole’ style game whereby learning quizzes and info inserts are placed in between levels. Learners have found this to be a hugely engaging experience! (In fact, we’re a bit addicted to the Whack-a-Mole game in our office)

What Types of Learning Content can an LMS Deliver?

Here is a list of compliant format types for the Academy LMS:

  • SCORM 1.2 Compliant eLearning
  • Videos in MP4 (MPEG) or AVI Format
  • Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint Documents
  • Pages, Numbers & Publisher Documents
  • PDF Documents
  • JPG, PNG, GIF Images
  • Zip and RAR Files
  • Embedded Youtube videos (on Social Streams)
  • URL Links (on Social Streams)

Who uses LMSs?The Knowledge Economy

LMSs are for anyone who has a thirst for knowledge, however, here are our top three types of customers:

  • Corporations (of all sizes)
  • Educational establishments
  • Online corporate training for eLearning establishments

Final Word

So now you know what an LMS is! That means no more embarrassing guesses such as; ‘Uh, the Latvian Milkshake Society?’ You are now in the know! A Learning Management System is software which manages the distribution and analysis of a company’s training. Good learning management systems also utilise slick engagement tools such as; gamification, social learning and customisation. Armed with this knowledge, you’re now ready to join the battle against dull online learning!

Try a free demo of our award-winning Academy LMS today!

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