This month we’re going to be focusing on learning management systems (LMSs) and sharing the do’s and don’ts of selecting your organization’s new LMS system. As LMS technologies continue to advance and improve, it can be overwhelming to begin a search for the perfect system. To feel confident in your final decision, you’ll need to be aware of your options.

For instance, not every LMS is created equal. Different industries lend themselves well to different learning management systems. Currently, there are over 300 different open source and commercial LMSs available! In this post, we’ll compare two types of LMSs: the traditional, commercially available, learning management system, and the standard LMS’ little cousin, the “lite LMS”.

Starting with the basics – What is a Lite LMS?

A lite LMS is similar to a traditional learning management system in that its main purpose is to deliver eLearning. However, many of you are just now beginning to hear about these new LMS alternatives.

The biggest difference between lite LMSs and their more traditional counterparts is cost. Generally speaking, a lite LMS will be more affordable. In fact, the cost of the platform is often the first clue that you’re looking at a Lite LMS solution. Part of the reason these LMS systems are typically more affordable is that they include a storage option. This means that while traditional LMSs tend to offer a turn-key solution with hosting and data storage included, a lite LMS is more of an “a la carte” solution. Generally, storage pricing for the LMS will depend on how much content you plan to store and deliver through the portal. It is common for lite LMS systems to feature a fixed price per month or year based on the amount of data stored and transferred in a given period. A lite LMS also allows for a steeper discounts when it comes to user licensing, with most systems charging a flat fee for a fixed number of users. As the name suggests, lite LMSs are more basic in their features and capabilities. Let’s explore the benefits of a lite LMS, aside from the cost.

Benefits of a Lite LMS

• User pricing starts very low as compared to a standard learning management system. Most offer packages for 25 users, 50 users, and go up from there.

• Lite LMS systems are also useful if you only need a system for a limited time; with some LMS companies offering month-to-month usage options rather than yearly contracts.

• Smaller organizations with limited users benefit from the system’s affordability and speed to deployment.

• The system’s limited functionality and feature set can be beneficial to organizations that don’t need advanced reporting or tracking – making them a very simplistic option.

• The simplistic design can sometimes be equated to a more user friendly LMS.

• Increasing popularity of the “lite LMS” is making it easier than ever to seek out and select a platform almost immediately.

Drawbacks of a lite LMS

• The system is very limited. Some common and highly desirable features that you would expect to find in a traditional LMS such as: social learning, individualized learning paths, assessment tools, reporting and e-commerce are often absent in a lite LMS.

• Most lite LMSs (if not all) are not mobile friendly and do not support mobile learning for tablets and smart phones.

• Lite LMSs cannot handle large numbers of users and are generally limited to fewer than 2,000 users, making them unrealistic for mid to large organizations.

• Customization of a lite LMS may not be possible. Because of their inexpensive start-up costs and limited abilities, lite systems don’t lend themselves to the kinds of customization you may be used to with a traditional LMS.

• Analytics and corresponding reports are often non-existent or not as robust as the reporting capabilities you will find in a standard learning management system – limiting your ability to track learner progress.

• Lite LMS systems may lack technical support. Basic packages often exclude any type of system maintenance or technical support, no less learner/end user support.

• Most organizations plan to use their LMS for more than a few months, negating the need for a month-to-month system “rental” .

• Lite LMSs will usually dictate the number of end user seats available in the system, which may not always correspond with the appropriate amount of storage space needed to support the volume. You’ll have to be careful that both the number of users and storage constraints meet your requirements. If you only pay attention to one aspect, you might find your deal wasn’t as great as you thought it was.

• You have to pay special attention to your allotted GB or MB of storage. Lite LMS providers are liable to charge for any overages, which can add up quickly if you’re not careful.

As you can see, lite LMSs and traditional learning management systems both have their benefits and drawbacks. In the end, your decision should come down to which system better meets your business objectives. Consider your budget, how long you plan to utilize the system, how many end users you have (not just now, but in the future) and whether or not you need the ability to track, test and report on learners.

Shopping for a tried and true Learning Management System? Visit our LMS page to learn more about Knowledge Direct.

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