August 12th, 2013 E-Learning


The learning industry is experiencing tremendous growth as lighter weight technology opens the doors to new learning theories and practices. Educational institutions and corporations both know how important a quality learning program is to their student/employee success. More than ever, it is important to pick a solution that is not only capable of helping your organization meet real, tangible goals – but also has the proper backing to provide your organization real value.

The LMS market is growing right in line with the rest of the learning industry. There are plenty of players in this space, all for a variety of reasons. Unfortunately though for the consumers, some providers have zero experience in the training industry. The usual suspects involving investment firms, internet marketers, holding companies, and the like. Doing business with these types of LMSs could mean potential problems for your organization.

First and foremost, an LMS is more than a piece of software – it is a strategic decision that has the potential to impact your bottom line. Even if you are one-person shop selling training online, you will save yourself many headaches by aligning with an offering that is backed by true professionals with formal elearning & LMS development and creation experience. No matter what your platform (WordPress, SaaS providers, Moodle, BlackBoard, eFront, etc.), you owe it to your future success to choose one that can offer you support beyond basic technical advice.

There are many offerings out there that are supported by learning industry professionals who have the experience to provide you practical advice, some of which could potentially improve your bottom line. Before purchasing any LMS, make sure you write the companies to get a feel for their response time, knowledge, and general ability to help you meet your desired goals.

One good question to ask is if they are currently involved in more elaborate consulting arrangements with customers. If yes, this means they are actively contributing in the industry at a deeper level, and they can likely provide you the benefit of their experience. Before making an LMS purchase decision, create a list of your most important LMS characteristics and features, then compare your options across each one, reaching out to your potential options with any questions you have. If you have questions about functionality, don’t just rely on email, pick up the phone and call the provider (they are available by phone, right?)

Putting in the necessary footwork up front will save you time and money in the long term. It can be a bit of a pain as you plan out your LMS implementation, but your due diligence will surely be rewarded in the end.

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About Justin Ferriman

Justin Ferriman started LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide for creating (and selling) their online courses. Justin's Homepage | Twitter

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A good one! I followed a lot of training the past 2 years about internetmarketing. I’m good in educational projects en developing all kind of things, but had tot learn something about marketing online. All the internetmarketing trainings I followed (with my wife who has her on bussiness) adviced to start an LMS. And they all have an simple LMS for you with a special price. I saw lots of people (small business) taking the offer and dive in to that, and most of them pay a price per month.

The problem is, that most of these small businesspeople don’t have an idea how much work it is to develop online training. They know about their own content, but how to make that attractive online… The bought a simple LMS system (not Learndash), but they forget that the have the know about how to make video, what kind of camera en microphone you need, how to edit video. That the need to know something about design, about websites and about LMS.
They say yes to the offer and don’t have an idea about how to do the LMS-job, they don’t even have any plan (and they don’t even know iff their costumers would need it).

My wife was one of the people who said yes to the offer, but she know I would help her. She bought the LMS-system more then a year ago (we didn’t know about Leardash then) and started 8 months ago with the job (you have to make time in your very busy schedule). It took her 6 months to do the job. She started with about 50 business people in the same training. One month ago next to my wife only 2 off the 50 people had there LMS online and working. And all of them found out that doing that job is very very very much work. And now they are online and have to find out that it’s even more difficult to find customers who will buy an online training. Now the know that the have only done half of the job. Finding customers is another big one. Because all of them thought that an LMS would be a solution for their clients and an passive income for their bussiness.

So, before you buy a LMS, make a plan. And find out what has to be done to make the content ready for the LMS. Also think about what special qualities you need to do the job and iff you can’t do some things yourself, who can you hire to do it for you. Most important, ask your clients before you start iff they would be interested. And what would they be interested in, and what would they be willing to pay. And what problems can be on your way.

My wife found out that her clients are not so interested as she thought they would be. The clients ar mostly between 60-80 years old, and they like the livetraining more because it’s more social and cosy. And another problem was the fact that a lot of the clients are not so in to computers yet. They have a computer or tablet, but the computerscills are mostly small, following a training online is a very big step for them.

That was about the small bussiness. Then a short story about big organisations. In the healthcare in the Netherlands lots organsiations are busy with or thinking about elearning and online training. Some of them work together because it’s cheaper. Iff just heard a story from one of them. Four big organsiations working together. They agreed about a system (I don’t know what system) and they agreed to all making their own content ready for the online sytem. The problem which came up very soon: trainers complain because every organisation has his own way of making content (the way it’s written, the structure, the design….), and they didn’t talk about quality because they thought they where all professionals so the content of the partnerorganisations will be professional. Now trainers complain about the difference in quality, structure…. And there is nobody who controls that.

Avatar Wilco

This is a well-written and informative post. (and you know how much I dislike agreeing with you)

I am constantly amazed at the ignorance displayed by those who hire ID’ers regarding what an LMS is, what it does, and how different one is from the other. Although “all men are created equal,” the same cannot be said of LMS designs. Not only are they not EQUAL, many are not even SIMILAR.

I just responded to a job posting that included a requirement of “must be experienced with using an LMS.” What the heck does that mean?

Hi Randy-
Thanks for the comment and feedback. I think the industry is too quick to over simplify LMSs (as with anything quite frankly). Sadly, many job postings are as you describe – here’s to hoping for an eventual transition!

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