Five questions to ask while selecting a cloud-based learning management system
LMS systems are complex. They have so many features. Clouds are intricate too. They have a lot of software and hardware components. Thus, a cloud-based learning management system is a reasonably large package. So many aspects need to be given a careful thought when contemplating acquiring a cloud-based LMS. Things need to be looked at from a couple of perspectives. One, how good is the cloud as a service. Two, how good the LMS functionality is. Below is a list of five questions that shall be asked when finalizing a cloud-based LMS.
How stable, well-maintained, and secured the ‘Cloud-as-a-Service’ is?
Clouds are relatively new systems. Plus, they have complicated and extensive infrastructure. So, maintaining a cloud involves complicated procedures. It requires a reasonably broad support and maintenance team with decent experience under their belt. Issues in a cloud may affect the availability and functioning of the hosted learning management system. Although the health of the LMS system may be right, it may not be useful if the host cloud malfunctions. It is necessary to ensure that the cloud system used is stable and well-maintained. How is data availability (backup and restore) guaranteed should be analyzed. The content aboard could be sensitive. The cloud platform must have decent enough security cover as well.
Is the system suitable for your staff, learners, and content?
Three things are going to be specific to the consumer-party in a learning management system: staff, learners and content. Your staff may involve tutors as well, apart from the administration team. An audience with specific knowledge and skills would view the content. The learning content will be of a particular multimedia category: Text /audio/video/images and would have a particular delivery mode: Self-paced, virtual classroom, or blended. It must be ensured that the LMS provides the must-have features and functionality, and its stakeholders would be comfortable using it.
How does the system comply with the present environment?
The current learning environment could an offline system or an online learning system or combination. A few aspects/functions of that system would be desirable, and you would want them to be present in the cloud-based learning management system you would adopt. It is essential to compare features of the LMS-in-contention against your wish-list and see how many tick-marks you get. In case the new LMS does not fulfil a majority of your needs, it may not be suitable for you despite being a comprehensive system in general. Check if there is a way to integrate useful components of the existing system with the new one, shortening its setup phase.
Is the system commercially viable?
Cloud-based learning management systems are expensive. Yes, they can offer a lot. What matters is value the LMS system you are contemplating would add to your system. However great the feature of an LMS maybe, if those do not add value to your learning environment, they are worthless for you. For example, an LMS may provide a comprehensive calendar facility that allows scheduling events. However, if you do not organize any events, then no point spending money on features that are not useful.
Another way a system shall be commercially worth is the ratio of ‘increase in staff performance to the amount of money pumped into the system.’ Ultimately, if the increase in the organization’s revenue is comparatively inferior to the investment, then it may not be the best thing to do from the long-term perspective. Staff training is not the final output for an organization. So it may be worth investing the amount for another purpose and settle for other good-enough LMS, ensuring the learning gaps if any get filled some other way.
Dose the system provide the insights I want?
Staff training is an important business process. Thus, it is vital to review the same periodically. Modern-day learning management systems have a lot of analytical capabilities that provide a lot of insights into the LMS’ activities. The parameters to be measured are unique to each consumer-party. Usually, methods of measuring such goals are tedious and may involve complicated math. It would take a lot of time and effort to get the results. Automating those processes may have considerable financial implications. Therefore, it shall be ensured that the system provides a decent percentage of the analytical insights that you want.
To put it in brief, cloud-based learning management systems can help organizations a great deal. Such systems have a large number of critical aspects, both infrastructural and functional. Hence, a system shall be selected cautiously. The hosting cloud should be analyzed for stability, maintenance, and security. The LMS must be analyzed from the usefulness, compatibility, and return-on-investment point of views.