Comparison of 5 Learning Management Systems (LMS)

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Learning Management Systems
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Icecat has been awarded a Slim Subsidy to enhance our learning culture. Therefore we have been considering integrating a Learning Management System (LMS). As a part of this project, we have looked into five different options and compared them up against having a google folder linked to an Airtable.

The slim project aims to build a learning culture in our company. The project plan mentioned an online portal/Learning Management System. It is a tool to facilitate learning in a company or an organization. An LMS is not a bottle of learning culture but a tool to help us share training material more effectively. And another option is to centralize our training material in a google folder. And couple this with an overview in an Airtable.

Next to the Learning Management System / Google Folder and Airtable, we need a system that ensures people to learn and grow. With peer-to-peer learning, accountability, and the opportunities to take more responsibilities.

The user stories

Creating a learning program is a big project and having the proper focus throughout the project is essential. There are many decisions to make and many components that need different people. Therefore we have borrowed a practice from Scrum to start by defining the user stories of the different roles that will use the learning program/ portal.

They define how it should be and feel for the new hire/learner, the course creator, and the manager/mentor to use the system. In this comparison, I compare the LMSs on six main points: User Friendliness, Automation, Gamification, Forums, Certificates, and Videos. I have also made spreadsheets where I compare 18 critical points.

User-friendliness 

The system we use must be user-friendly. The system we use should be inviting and fun and encourage people to use it. Then it is a good tool for creating a learning culture. Adoption of the system comes first. Otherwise, we do everything for nothing.

Automation

The tool should help automate manual tasks related to learning and teaching.

Scheduling

Scheduling and planning training sessions is a manual process that can be improved if we can automatically send all onboarding invites. And all invites for a learning path.

Certificates

We can automatically send out certificates based on the rules we define if we want to use that.

Assignments

When assignments are submitted in an LMS, they have gathered automatically under the student profile and in each course, and an administrator and teacher have access to this. This will be automatic; we don’t have to submit assignments by email. Of course, we can design a standard process for this if we do not have an LMS. Still, that is one step less we have to do and one less step to tell new employees how to submit work.

Overview and dashboard

Another part of automation is that the student can see how far they have come in the course. And the managers and administrators can see where all the learners are. It is easy for HR to see where people are learning and progressing at one glance. When you are onboarding two people, this is not very challenging. But when you have more people starting at the same time in different positions and teams, it is pretty hard to get an overview of how everybody is doing. In an LMS, you can get this at one glance. Most LMS es also has a feature where you can set up updates via mail if you do not want to log in to check.

Gamification

Most of the Learning Management Systems we have looked at have gamification elements. For example, giving people points and badges for completing tasks motivates learning. 

Forums

When an LMS has a forum, it invites people to communicate and ask questions about their learning. It is also in view when they are in the program, making it easy to ask questions. One can also ask questions to other learners on the same path or onboarding. Most people are introverted and do not easily ask questions. A forum facilitates this. And it encourages active learning.

Certificates

A certificate is a good tool in an LMS. We can use this to train people on important material and encourage employees to take more learning paths. We can choose this for additional learning paths that strengthen employees’ leadership qualities, sales qualities, communication abilities, and other points that we think are important for them to be successful here at Icecat. It is also something that can help employees further in their careers.

Certifications can also be used to create courses for clients. And clients can be certified in Icecat technology. When clients have a good understanding of our systems, it helps us. And they could be able to solve some problems themselves. And helps them understand the value of our services. 

Video

Because we have the format of online Masterclasses that we can record, it is good if the tool we choose has tools that help us edit videos. Some of the LMSs have this, and some do not. If we can record within the interface, that is also a plus.

Possible tools to use

In this analysis, I have compared Moodle, 360learning, Juno, Edex, and Camilio. And using a google folder with links to an Airtable. 

There are many options, and it’s hard to get an overview. So we chose two commercial options that have gotten great reviews for user-friendliness, Learning360 and Juno. And where the interfaces look similar to the social media channels we use daily: YouTube, LinkedIn, and Slack. 

Then we chose three open-source alternatives. Moodle is the most used open-source learning platform and is recommended even by people selling other solutions. Moodle is open source, but they also have a good cloud application that can quickly be adopted and is reasonably priced.

Edex and Camilio are open-source alternatives. They, however, do not have a cloud version available. It would require that we download the code and install it on our server. Or that we work with a partner. There are many partners to choose from. 

360Learning

What we like the most about 360Learning is its built-in video editing. And it performs the best on this of all the LMSs we have looked at. Moreover, it is in a simple form. You can say where a youtube film should start and stop if you want to show a part of it before you give some tasks or ask some questions. You can also record yourself in the portal, and students can submit video answers. This is an essential point for us as we have many recordings of Masterclasses that we want to use. And as the masterclasses are a format, we use internally in training and announcing new features and developments on our products.

360learning is very user-friendly with the same setup as social media channels that everyone is used to using, like Facebook and YouTube. It feels intuitive, and although there are many great guidance videos available. You do not need to watch them figure out how the portal works.

Maybe for specific thighs, and then there is a training available. 

It also offers forums within each course where you can chat with others taking the system simultaneously. And ask questions to the teacher within the portal. You can also see questions and answers from people who have gone through the program before you.

360Learning is the most expensive option, with a starting point of €8 per person per month. Still, with the dedicated customer success manager and the number of tasks it easily automates, I think it is worth the investment.

You cannot download a course from 360learnig unless it is a SCROM course. SCROM is a format you can upload in. And you can make a workaround to make this work if you want to change portals later. But it would be more complicated than with Moodle.

Juno

Juno is very similar to 360 learning. It is intuitive and has the same setup identical to social media platforms. Furthermore, it underperforms to 360Learnig on the video editing options. Finally, it is a little cheaper.

At €5 per person per month. You get a customer success manager, and the company gets great reviews on customer service. Unfortunately, you cannot export classes, so you can not quickly change to another portal.

Moodle

Moodle is one of our favorites. Because it is open source, it gets good reviews and is a widely used portal. It has all the essentials that an LMS needs and more. You can export courses if you want to change to another portal. We can start with the cloud version, later download the code, and adapt it to our needs. However, working with video in the portal is not as easy as with 360learning. You would need to edit the videos in another program. You could use the start time stamp on YouTube to tell the program where to start a video. But you can not tell it where to stop it.

The interface is relatively easy to use once you use it several times. But it takes some time for users to learn the interface. There are plenty of excellent and easy-to-understand videos on the moodle site. And if you go through all of them, you know how to operate the system. This is mainly for course creators and teachers. If you are a learner on the portal, you do not need to watch all the videos. You are up and running for just one or two of 3 minutes.

Moodle has forums inside each course which helps learners ask questions to the teacher and each other. And they can see questions others have had before them if we set it up like that. 

Pricewise moodle is free if we want to download the code and set it up on our hosting. Moodle also has a cloud option where we could start, and it is quite a low cost starting at $160 per year for 60 and 25 MB storage users and ranging up to 500 per year. But, of course, we would need more storage, and more users could be good if we want to make a certification for our customers. Still, videos can be embedded and hotels elsewhere; the same goes for presentations.

OpenEdex

Edex scores well on most points in the comparison sheet. It is user-friendly but not at the same level as Juno or Learnig360. As they do not have a cloud version, they also do not have an easy way to test the system. So our evaluation of this one is based on videos and reviews. It also does not support video editing inside the portal. However, adjustments can be made to the code. And maybe we can code to stop youtube videos timestamps quite quickly. 

Camilio

It is an open-source platform that scores high on user-friendliness. However, you cannot edit videos inside the tool. And it looks like we have gone back to 2010. Furthermore, it is from a Spanish company, and most training videos and material explaining the platform are in Spanish.

Still, the interface is intuitive, and you can drag and drop elements quickly inside. It has forums, gamification, and certificates. And it is free as it is open source. There is no cloud version to try.

Google folder and Airtable

We are also considering a google folder with all training collected and an Airtable. It means we have one less place to log in for teachers and students. From the spreadsheet, we can see that it performs the least as a tool for learning compared to the other options. It will not facilitate the automatic scheduling of the onboarding. This will remain a manual process. Testing knowledge with quizzes and assignments will be a more manual process with this solution, both for teachers and students. And with this option, we need to create separate forums for learners in Skype. And the information from this group is not automatically gathered to reflect how the training is performing. We can work around many of the points where there is a no on this in the spreadsheet. Still, a workaround might not be the best for the user experience.

We can not automatically create certificates. But we could set requirements and make them manually if we wanted to.

Do we need LMS?

With an LMS, we can gather more information from the students and get that in a dashboard overview. The system then gives us feedback on how the training is performing. And it encourages people to leave feedback on the courses. With the Airtable and Google folders, we need to send feedback forms to get this information.

However, we do not want to measure people on how they complete training. What we measure in sales is if they are performing well, which means they are booking meetings, conducting good meetings, closing deals, and upgrading contracts. We want people to focus on these parameters, not if they have completed the training or gotten badges or certificates. 

Still, when people are onboarded, it is essential that they complete the training and that they understand what they are learning. So additional data about how far they are in training and if they know the training is essential during onboarding. 

And when people are not performing in sales, an LMS might give us more information about why they are not performing. For example, we can see if someone has not understood something more efficiently. Suppose they have not completed training. Or that they are not active in forums, this could be helpful information.

The best argument for an LMS is that forums and feedback within our portal gives us valuable information about how the training program is performing. How user-friendly it is. How useful it is. And people can make suggestions as to how to improve the training. Also, you can find this information within the training. And people will give feedback when they come across it at the point where the problem is in the forum. This is automatically gathered so administrators and course creators can see it easily.

With the LMS option, we can also, at extra cost, add a learning library for Juno and 360Learnig this comes at €5 per person per month. So then you have a library where employees can access learning from Linkedin learning and Udemy. So again, this is something that will increase our Employee Value proposition. 

Certification is an argument for using an LMS. If used correctly, it can elevate our training and give us an extra incentive to go through it and to do it to the best of our ability. It can provide the training the attention it deserves and should make itself deserving of. Adds a quality mark. 

It would also be good to give our clients access to the interface to get an Icecat technology certification. So again, Moodle will be a good option if we want to do that because you can add many users for a relatively small price. But we can also charge companies to access our training and get certified.

One argument against having an LMS is that we get one more interface to log into; therefore, it is better than the overview in one of the interfaces we are already using. And therefore copying a Google Drive to the Airtable can work, and then the students can go and tick off when they have completed a task. This works well for team managers. It is one extra step for learners that is not automatic. And for further training after onboarding, we can have a new table that team managers and HR can access.

Still, in all the LMS, setting up an email notification with a dashboard overview is easy, so you do not need to log in to get the information. As a result, we get access to more information about how engaged people are in learning. And if they have understood what they are trained on more automatically.

Most importantly, it makes it easy to get feedback on the training from the people who are learning so we can adapt it to be better. And it makes it easy to cater to different learning styles. 


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