Businesses are more and more frequently using LMSs to enhance online training and elearning initiatives, making these systems increasingly key parts of instructional design and employee training. These articles are to share high-level views of some of the major LMSs for:
- Instructional designers and training professionals trying to stay up to date with all the different LMSs organizations are using, and,
- Business leaders looking to implement a new LMS or better understand the one they have
This article series explores different LMSs on the market today, considering their various applications for designing and conducting corporate training and education initiatives.
Companies of LMSs are constantly updating their systems to make them more user-friendly, offer more features, and keep up with changes in technology. There are hundreds of companies that offer LMSs and it has become quite a competitive market. Because there are always new systems emerging into the market, schools and corporations have begun to reevaluate their current LMS with emerging systems to weigh the benefits of each and decide whether to stay with their LMS or switch to a different provider.
There are several up-and-coming LMSs that compete with well-known brands like Blackboard, CourseMill, and Moodle.
New LMS options share similar basic features with the more established LMS systems. These general features include:
- Facilitated interaction between instructor and participant
- Management of assignments, quizzes, and other course content
- Tools for participant performance evaluation
Innovation in the areas of content creation, customization, and especially in using contemporary social media is what sets these up-and-coming LMSs apart.
Canvas LMS is an open source system from Instructure Inc. It offers free, hosted installation. Some of its key features include:
- Advanced communications: Receive all of your notifications via email, text messages, and even social media like Facebook. These preference options allow you to constantly stay connected to your courses. Teachers benefit by being able to connect with students quickly and conveniently.
- Integrated calendar: All of your events automatically populate into one calendar so you can easily find all deadlines, presentations, and other dates in one place. It is compatible with Google, Outlook, and iCal.
- Rich content editor: Even the most novice user can quickly embed audio, video, and other Web content into course materials.
Other features include:
- Online testing
- Assignment submission
This LMS is completely centralized around social networking. It is a complete hosted LMS that is flexible for educational institutions, company corporate training, and eCommerce.
- Unlimited users and usage: Customers can continuously add users at no extra charge.
- Customization: You can integrate your institution’s branding and logos for complete personalization.
- Social tools: Users can incorporate personal blogs, social media, pictures, and more to enhance the overall experience.
UpsideLMS, another example of a social LMS, was named one of the “top emerging LMS” by Chief Learning Magazine in 2010. It incorporates formal and informal learning to increase user satisfaction. It is targeted at businesses for corporate training solutions.
- Customizable user management: Create various user roles, including: instructor, learner, and administrator. Each user can customize their profile for optimized efficiency.
- Scalability: Manage multiple portals on one system. It also supports clustered systems.
- eCommerce: Define free and paid courses; accepts PayPal and credit/debit cards. It is also compatible with other third-party payment gateways.
- Social connection: Links curriculum to forums and online tools. It offers blogs and integrates a live Twitter feed. Users can share content through social media outlets and it also features a “friends” concept so users can stay connected more easily to course instructors and other learners.
All up-and-coming LMSs are working to incorporate social aspects to increase usability and synchronization. With the continuous development of social media, linking the two is imperative.
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