And What Can It Do For Your Organisation?
I recently published a blog post that I hope helped steer a course through the competing learning management possibilities of Cloud LMSs and Dedicated LMSs (LINK). It does, however, take some previous knowledge on the part of the reader to follow that piece, and it occurred to me it may be useful to focus in on some of the terms and shine a light on some of the concepts involved. So, getting right down to first principles – we’ve already discussed the benefits of a learner management system to your organisation (LINK) but what is a cloud lms, and why might it be useful to you?
1- What is it?
A Cloud LMS is like any other LMS, but hosted remotely (in the cloud). Like any other LMS, it will act as a virtual storage space for elearning materials, a platform on which those materials can be used and a forum for your employees/learners to log on and access the materials and the courses they relate to. It allows you a great level of control over your staff training by providing an infrastructure in which you can plan and roll out a training and staff development regime which will work for your organisation, and will automate a great deal of the administration of such a system (such as participant enrolment, or the recording, reporting and analysis of results).
A Cloud LMS will allow you to do all of these things, but will be hosted remotely. To gain access you use your standard internet browser to access the system, enter your username and password, then log in. The system will then direct you to the part of the system where you need to be (depending on whether you’re a learner, a manager, an administrator etc.). The fact that (in the case of a cloud LMS) the system is hosted remotely means there is no software installation or hardware investment required, and getting the system up and running takes only the amount of time required to register for an account. For these reasons a cloud LMS is a very cost-effective, straightforward way of providing an LMS for your organisation.
2 – What are the benefits?
There are two ways to consider the benefits of a cloud LMS. The first is in general principles:
1) It allows for a greater level of control in the planning and a more efficient rollout of a training or staff development plan by providing an infrastructure in which to administrate and provide the training to your employees/learners.
2) It allows for a standardised, accessible format for training, and a convenient in-built recording and reporting of training results across your organisation.
3) It accommodates a deeper and more effective level of analysis of those results, allowing you to break them down based on organisation role, department, region, etc. depending on the size of your organisation.
Those benefits are very general, and any good learner management system should provide your organisation with these advantages whether cloud-based or not. A cloud LMS, however, has a number of other advantages over and above these:
1) Comparatively low set-up costs. A cloud lms is hosted on the provider’s server, which means you access it through a browser – there’s no new software to install or administrate and there’s no new hardware to invest in and run. You pay for your subscription to the service, there’s no further investment required.
2) Comparatively low set-up time and effort. Very much related to the last point – since the system is being provided by another party, it’s already up and running before you subscribe. When you do subscribe, it’s as simple as setting up an account, then you’re free to start uploading your learning content straight away. Once the content is up there, you can enrol learners and start your training straight away. Easy!
3) Accessibility. Since you’re accessing the system through a standard internet browser, your employees can access their training anywhere at any time, from any compatible platform. Seams Cloud, for example, is compatible with any HTML5 compatible browser, so your employees can complete their training from their desktop, a laptop, a tablet or even their smartphone. They can start training on one device then move to another; it’s a level of flexibility probably unachievable any other way and means training can really be optimised to fit into the day-to-day running of an organisation.
4) Ongoing maintenance. Because a cloud LMS is hosted and run by a third party, they provide the tech support. If a problem arises, they take care of it; you don’t have to devote your IT department’s time or effort to the system. There are no upgrade headaches – any patches or upgrades typically will be handled by the provider, they’ll happen around you while you get on with the actual meat-and-potatoes of administrating your training content and procedures.
These are the features which set a cloud LMS apart from the bespoke dedicated systems of the past, and why cloud LMS represent a revolution in learning management. For all the reasons above, cloud LMS put genuine, user-friendly LMSs into the hands of even SME organisations for whom the cost associated with a dedicated system would have meant investment in an LMS was impractical and beyond their means. Cloud LMS represents a real levelling of the playing field, allowing even smaller organisations to compete with corporate giants as regards their standard of training and their staff development.