How to Create a Learning Management System (LMS)
The e-learning industry remains on the rise for a few years in a row and offers more diverse and comprehensive knowledge in various areas. There is a colossal range of formats: from video tutorials and extensive master classes to high education ending in a Master’s degree. Such lessons and courses can be conveniently presented to students through educational platforms controlled by Learning Management Systems. If you are a businessperson, this would be a proper time to use the current trend to your favor and build your own LMS. This article will explain how to do it in the most productive way and what financial benefits you can expect from this type of software.
Two Scenarios of Use for Learning Management Systems
The main reason for choosing a custom learning management system is the ability to have maximum control over your educational platform. This involves the types of content, programs, administrators, students, tutors, certification, and much more. Ultimately, LMS software functions as a core and foundation of an e-learning system. So, if you are planning to create a platform for online learning, you won’t succeed without a good LMS.
However, this reason needs additional details. Namely, when exactly do you need an e-learning platform with the integrated LMS? There are two most popular cases:
- The e-learning platform is a business project available for any user on the web. This way, it will generate profits by providing paid access to educational courses and materials.
- The e-learning platform is designed to train the workers of a particular company and is not intended for public access. That’s why it has different priorities, scale, and requirements for its development.
Both cases of using e-learning platforms with learning management systems are beneficial in different ways.
Using LMS for an e-learning service
The first case implies getting financial payments for providing educational services. In other words, a learning management system is a foundation for an online school. The company that owns an e-learning platform hires tutors, promotes the courses with ads and other marketing methods, controls the capacity of the LMS platform to handle the number of students, and performs other business management routines.
This approach implies that the online learning platform belongs to a business enterprise that provides educational services. As such, the company monitors the existing trends and creates corresponding courses and programs to satisfy the current and predicted demand. It also selects the most advantageous way of conducting a particular course in terms of duration, types of instructional materials, pricing, etc.
According to the recent trends, online schools built on learning management systems are gaining more popularity every year. The current variety of educational platforms and the diversity of courses allow a wide selection of subjects and skills for modest prices.
Using LMS for Learning and Development departments
The second case is less straightforward. Any business enterprise that wants to succeed must understand the importance of a well-educated staff. Some of them encourage their personnel to improve themselves by compensating tuition costs or offering some privileges for degrees and certificates. Others use a more effective and targeted solution – a custom-made LMS and specially designed educational courses.
This approach ensures that an employee training program provides the full volume of necessary knowledge in the “concentrated” form and time-efficient manner. This method also helps to restrict the access from the outside to certain corporate information, as these courses are available only to the authorized personnel. The Learning and Development departments supervise the education of staff and share the respective data with other departments and administration.
Conversely to the “public” online schools, the number of L&D departments that use learning management systems is gradually decreasing. However, the importance of education remains undisputed and many companies, especially large corporations, will continue to use LMS to train at least their high-rank employees.
7 Reasons To Choose Custom Lms Development
Nowadays, there are hundreds of ready-made LMSs available with various pricing plans. So, one of the main questions regarding Learning Management Systems is “why should I use a custom LMS?” As with most custom software, there are several common reasons why a designated LMS is better than a generic solution.
1. Freedom and self-sufficiency
This is a core advantage of any custom software, including learning management systems. You are free to choose the features, target audiences, design, and many other aspects of your future software. You are not limited by the constraints of a third-party platform. The only limitation is the budget reserved for your custom LMS.
2. Tailored functionality
A custom LMS can be built strictly according to your specifications that result from your idea of a learning platform. Generic solutions often contain too many features to cover the needs of larger audiences. There is a high chance that at least some of them will be redundant or completely useless for your idea. The opposite situation is also possible: a generic solution may lack the required functionality even in the form of an additional paid module. You won’t have such a problem with the custom-made solution.
3. Improved performance and size
This is the logical continuation of the previous benefit. An LMS created according to your specification will contain only useful modules, so its size and performance will be optimized. The minimized length of code is also helpful for better testing of the solution allowing QA specialists to detect and correct mistakes faster and easier. This is a huge improvement over ready-made software where you can report the found errors but cannot control the bug fixing process.
4. Well-matched scalability
Generic software often has the “one-size-fits-all” concept to ensure maximum versatility. When you build an LMS from scratch, you have at least an approximate number of students in mind. Usually, you already have a business strategy, so you can predict the growth of users based on calculations and analysis of trends and market. That’s why you can include the desired capacity and proper levels of vertical and horizontal scalability before the development process starts.
In this context, LMS scalability involves the ability to provide educational services to a growing number of students as well as the ability to add new topics, lessons, courses, and programs to the online learning platform.
5. Tight security
Using a ready-made solution for business means relying on a third party in many crucial and sensitive aspects. An LMS built and available exclusively for your needs is generally better protected from unauthorized access and other malicious actions than generic solutions. This is especially true in case of open-source software where the source code and its vulnerabilities are known to the public. You may include as many additional security measures as you want if you have enough money to fund their implementation.
6. Corporate branding and convenient design
Exclusive branded software adds prestige to its owner. It shows that the company understands the importance of education and implements a personalized approach instead on relying on existing services. It is a viable marketing move and a good way to remind employees that the company is interested in their professional development.
7. Better user experience and support
A tailored LMS is more convenient to use for both mentors and students than an off-the-shelf system. It is the result of a carefully selected set of features, corporate-inspired design, and optimized performance.
Another highly important aspect is the improvement of customer support when an LMS is supervised by the company’s system administrators, tech support, and other designated professionals. Sometimes, the users of third-party learning management systems report problems to the tech support and receive the answer “the problem is not on our side, check your computer / network connection / software updates, etc.” In case of a custom LMS, tech support is more responsible and helpful in solving the problems because the users are their co-workers and the LMS is the property of their company.
Learning Management System Development Process
If you have set your mind on creating a custom learning management system, it is time to examine the process of its development. Luckily for you, it is identical to the development process of any custom software, regardless of its type. So, you may already have an idea of its steps and peculiarities.
Step 1: Define the idea of LMS
At first, you have an abstract vision or a vague concept and your task is to clarify it, make it more definite and understandable for your business partners, and the future development team. A clearly defined idea is more convincing for investors, so the startup has a higher chance to get the approval and funding from the board of directors, sponsors, or whoever you turn to for money.
It is also highly important to select target platforms for the future LMS and e-learning service. Research the market, analyze the potential competitors or the capacities of your company to determine whether you need just a web application or a combination of a web app and a mobile app. A well-defined concept is easier to discuss with the development team, making the later planning stage much more effective.
Step 2: Pick or build your team
The choice of a team to realize your idea is crucial for the success of the whole endeavour. You can make your choice based on some ratings, average pricing, recommendations, or communication with potential candidates. Business reputation and solid experience are usually good indicators of reliability. So, you may want to prefer development companies that have already established themselves on the market, have large portfolios of successful cases that preferably contain at least one LMS. Also, it is a good sign if a software development company has won some awards and has positive feedback from its clients.
Step 3: Select the required set of features
Now it’s time to finalize the functionality of your future LMS. Make a list of core and optional features and think how to optimize and narrow it down. Keep in mind that each feature will take time and effort to implement and test it. So, the selected number of features will have a direct influence on the final cost of your learning management system.
Also, create an additional list of useful features that you might want to include in your LMS after its release. If will help the development team to make provisions for easier implementation of those additional features with subsequent software updates.
Step 4: Choose the tech stack
The development team will propose the technology stack based on the chosen functionality and target platforms for your LMS. Along with the selected features, the technology stack impacts the cost of the final product, so choose wisely. Many learning management systems are built using cloud-based solutions such as Amazon Web Services that offer a number of benefits and may reduce the time and costs required for their development.
Keep in mind that different operating systems require different tech stacks. That’s why it might be better to choose the most optimal target platform and add support for others at some point after the release. As a starting option, a cloud-based LMS would be a good choice with great potential. Another popular variant nowadays is a SharePoint-based LMS.
At this point, the development team has enough information to estimate the cost and time required to build an MVP or a final product.
Step 5: Plan the structure and design
You should not underestimate the importance of UI/UX design for the success of a software product. The learning and teaching routines are already difficult and sometimes frustrating; there is no need to overcomplicate them by clunky design. A convenient LMS will make the educational process smooth and efficient both for mentors and students. It also makes it easier to create new courses and change the existing ones
As a brand product, a learning management system should include corporate colors. However, don’t forget that some colors and patterns may add strain to users’ eyes making it difficult to concentrate on the screen.
Step 6: Build an MVP
An MVP is a functioning version of the product with the minimum amount of features. It conveys the idea of the final product, so you may use it to promote your LMS before the investors to get additional funding. You can also ask a test group of users to explore the features of your app and share the experience. This information is valuable for further improvements and additions before the MVP becomes the final product.
Step 7: Ensure proper testing
To provide the best possible user experience, the development team should perform as many tests as needed to reveal the bugs and fix them. With the help of OA specialists, your learning management system should be ready to make the best impression at its release.
Quality is always the highest priority. Just wait patiently until all the bugs are found and squashed. Otherwise, your learning management system will crash and burn instead of bringing knowledge and money.
Step 8: Promote the release and post-release support
If you have the patience and money to get to this stage, congratulations! Ensuring the highest quality is crucial for your newly-built LMS. However, its release should be accompanied by clever promotional activity to draw attention to your software product and showcase its benefits. Don’t forget the importance of marketing. Use the social networks to prepare or even tease potential users, make them count the days before the release.
Another crucial topic is post-release support. Keep your learning management system live by adding new features, covering new platforms, and reaching new audiences.
The importance of education remains undisputed in the business world. That’s why successful people consider the money spent on education a highly beneficial investment that will result in financial profits and personal development. If you have an idea of a learning management system, contact us and our specialists will provide the consulting and development services to realize your concept.