10 Factors For Picking Your New Learning Management System

Brainier Editor’s Note: This blog came completely as a surprise to us at Brainier.

We were thrilled to see such a well-thought-out guide from the buyer’s perspective and hope that it resonates with any prospective customers, as well. The author is a former customer of Brainier and obviously is quite informed on the industry as well as the challenges that a “super admin” faces, and the Brainier product, in general. Please enjoy this guest blog and use it as a guidebook to find your next learning management solution.

Headshot of Robin Borneman
Robin Borneman

Guest Post: Robin Borneman

Full-Time Educatorđź—ŁPart Time Superhero Igniting the education of Digideck to help your team achieve their goals. Open for Speaking Engagements

During the change of COVID-19, many of our children were sent home from school and taught online. All of their assignments were just a click away. You could see their progress, scores, teacher comments, and what was missing. You might not have realized it, but your child was functioning in a Learning Management System.

Many companies see the need for such a system as they grow, need tracking for regulatory reasons, or to invest in new hires and tenured staff’s learning experience. There are many different Learning Management Systems to choose from. The choice can be daunting. So, allow me to give a few tips when deciding on the Learning Management System (and yes, I will even share my favorite one).

Having worked in training and development for almost the last two decades, I have watched the platforms grow from very basic to very intricate systems meant to manage more than just an assessment, now they truly help manage people.

  1. The Cost – We all have budgets to meet and the launch of an LMS can be expensive. It’s not always easy to justify the cost of these systems when there are more pressing budget needs in the eyes of the executive team or the board. The cost can have several factors. Make sure you are getting all of the info upfront. The cheapest isn’t always the best. There are even some free Learning Management Systems you can manage in-house, but don’t forget to factor the labor hours it will take to run it, the server you will need to power it, and the lack of resources available to you should there be an issue. Depending on your organization’s size, you may opt for a per-user fee (the more employees you have, the cheaper it gets) or a base all-inclusive package. 
  1. The User Experience – During your vetting process it’s very easy to get caught up in the details from an admin point of view. I strongly encourage you to spend the majority of your time on the experience your users will have. If the system is great on the back end but clunky for users you will spend a lot of your day explaining and re-explaining the system to your staff. Does the system have user feedback and survey results? Get a few test users ahead of time to see how your select staff feels self-navigating. This system should make your job easier. Get their true and real feedback prior to committing. If the launch of your new tool is clouded with noise around use of the system, your leadership team will wonder why you selected such a system. Don’t forget the “when” and “where” of your learners. Will they be looking at learning materials on their iPads or cell phones? How does the system look in all formats?
  1. The Admin Experience – While not as important as the user experience, this is still a high-ticket item. Be sure to drill down during your discovery to see what reporting you will have, the ease of building reports, the process for loading documents, and the types of learning material you can load. Ask how many super admin accounts you can have based on your pricing. It’s never a good idea for one person to have all the knowledge or power. Make sure you will be able to have a team of people identified to update and change anything on the back end. 
  1. Does the System Allow for Cloud-Based Learning? Cloud-based eLearning is online learning that takes place in the cloud â€“ a virtual space that is not tied to any one computer. There are various cloud-based eLearning management systems available, and they bring with them a whole host of benefits for the classroom at all educational levels. According to The Tech Advocate, there are 7 main benefits of using cloud-based training: Remote access. Learners can access the materials remotely from wherever they are. This facilitates independent learning and makes it easier for distance learners to participate fully in the course. Security. The cloud is a very secure option for securing data, including learning materials. Protection from crashes. If your institution’s eLearning system crashes, students and educators alike cannot access their course materials. This is not a danger with the cloud, so you can use cloud-based systems with total peace of mind. Data backup. The cloud securely backs up data in real-time. That means that even if an individual educator’s PC breaks down the course materials will not be lost. Support for a wide variety of learning styles. Cloud platforms can support video, interactive quizzes, student discussion forums, and more. You can turn your cloud-based eLearning platform into a highly engaging, multimodal learning site. Can be tailored to your needs. Educators can build and develop their cloud-based eLearning platforms to suit the needs of the module, and the students, that they are teaching. Cloud based LMSs (Learning Management Systems) are thus very flexible tools that can become whatever you want them to be. Building digital learning environments is easy with the cloud. Cost effectiveness. Compared to the cost of both traditional LMSs and of non-digital teaching methods, cloud-based eLearning provides great value for money.

Not sure how to build your cloud-based training program to load into your LMS?  www.thedigideck.com has the best platform- hands down

  1. Branding – It is incredibly important for all of your staff to see your LMS as a system or extension of your organization. You’ve spent resources and energy ensuring all of the material you’ve loaded is branded with your company image (if you need help with that www.digideck.com is a fantastic resource), why not have an LMS that is branded as well? A good LMS will allow you to customize not only the functionality of the site but also the appearance. Branding is a huge and often overlooked detail in any rollout. Make sure you see samples of how other users have been able to brand their page to meet their company image.
  1. Resources – As with any rollout, there will be issues. Who is going to be there? What hours are they available? I found several times that my LMS support team was in a different time zone and didn’t have a team available until after 10 in the morning. That simply won’t be acceptable. Make sure their team is available during your business hours as well. There is nothing worse than trying to get an exciting new module out to the staff at 8 am on a Monday morning and to get some error you’ve never seen…. but then you have to wait until after 10 to understand why. UGH. 

Additionally, ask about their training process. How many hours or sessions do they provide your team to be as successful from the beginning with your new platform? How will their training be conducted? If they don’t invest in their customer training, do they even understand what a good training resource looks like? I want my LMS provider to care about education in the way I do. They better have darn good training for the onboarding, or I am out.

7. Networking Opportunities – As adult educators we all need a little revamp once in a while. If your LMS has networking meetings or even user conferences you are going to get so much more out of the system. It’s incredibly beneficial to see how others are using the system. They are the folks using it everyday and will understand your struggles and have insight on what works and what doesn’t.

8. Security – What are your client and industry requirements? Ensure that your partnership with your new LMS vendor will meet those. Also, does the LMS vendor share your loaded material with other users? Is this something your company is comfortable with?

9. Partnership – Every vendor relationship you have should be more than just an exchange of service for a payment. Find out how they partner with their users. Does your company sell a tech service? Will they be willing to mention you when another user has a need your company will fill? Partnership should be a part of the relationship from the beginning. Notice how they are speaking of their other users.

10. Community Involvement – I will always prefer to do business with a company that gives back. Also, will they give back when your company is hosting a community outreach event? Find out how they support their community or how they support their clients’ efforts to leave the world a better place. Look through their social media. Are they sponsoring holes at a golf event for their client? What they are doing should align with the core values they shared with you during their pitch. This might not be a deal breaker, but if they say they give back and you see no evidence of that, can you really trust the other promises they have made? Maybe. Maybe not. 

Alright- so after all of this and the 6 different LMS implementations and Super Admin roles I have had, I can confidently say that one LMS stands out to me. Brainier is by far my favorite system. www.brainier.com They hit every point on my list above and cultivate such a wonderful relationship for the life of your contract and beyond. It doesn’t hurt that they have the best user conference I have attended, complete with user guest speakers and food galore. Food aside, my experience with this Minnesota-based LMS has been nothing short of amazing. This is a true review with zero givebacks or even previous knowledge of this article. Their staff makes sure that every step of your admin and user experience is exactly what you need, want, and desire. I cannot say enough positive things about this LMS and will be a true supporter of Brainier for a lifetime. 

If you decide to go with Brainier or another LMS, make sure you have really considered all of the factors above. Additionally, I encourage you to review your material and creation process. What’s the point of launching a new LMS if you are still using that boring old PowerPoint to create it? Take the time to build a dynamic program that will have your user engaged and not dreading completing those assignments. TheDigideck.com has the best platform to build your content, oh and your sales team will love it too. Their platform allows you to create content fast and focus your energy on the bigger items on that never-ending to-do list. Launching an LMS is exciting, switching to a new LMS can be scary. Hopefully, this list can help navigate through the process. No matter what- Invest-Invest in your staff! Happy Learning!