The e-learning industry is on a stable rise with an annual growth rate of around 9-10%, while the market size is projected to reach $239.30 billion by 2027. It is no surprise that companies are eager to deploy online learning platforms either to make money or utilize them internally to train employees. However, according to the Brandon Hall Group, most of the companies currently using LMS solutions are quite dissatisfied with the services they get both in terms of functionality and the value that these systems deliver. Another study shows that 75% of employees are dissatisfied with their company's learning and development service, and 88% do not put what they have learned into practice. This means that investments in L&D do not lead to solving the problem of employee engagement.
As far as many are contemplating change making and integrating a custom and highly adaptive LMS seems to be a reasonable move.
There are many ways to onboard and train your employees. Organizing offline seminars and workshops, delivering lengthy classroom-based training is not always the best way for most employees to learn or improve skills. All that can lead to taking off the job, losing some opportunities or using their time unproductively. Therefore, one of the most effective ways to train employees is to use an online learning platform or LMS (learning management system) that contains a series of courses prepared by experienced personnel. There is a wide range of online learning platforms, and choosing the best one is undoubtedly overwhelming.
What’s the idea?
Once the major DDI Development expertise is delivering e-learning solutions, we often receive requests to develop customizable learning management systems for various business needs. It’s no secret that there is a vast number of ready LMS solutions available on the market and designed to serve all types of businesses.
However, as a prudent executive in the logistics company, you have a vested interest in making the most of each new employee you hire. That’s why developing an online learning management solution that includes training and onboarding programs helping new employees quickly integrate with the rest of the staff is a must. Otherwise, you may start to see a decrease in employee retention that harnesses the company name.
DDI Development has developed a concept of an online e-learning system for the logistics company that includes all the necessary elements for efficient and successful employee training. These include the ability to share files of various types, track learning progress, grade assignments, interact with all participants and tutors, communicate with virtual assistants, support all types of media, allow mentees to access the e-course on various devices, etc.
We have tried to implement a custom solution that maximized efficiency when it came to introducing employees to your corporate culture and training them as well. The LMS platform had to be equipped with the tools necessary to perform a number of tasks:
- Provide onboarding and training programs to build company culture and improve employee skills.
- Track the learning progress and grade the assigned tasks and tests, deliver certification.
- Deliver virtual on-line consultations.
- Interact with all the participants and mentors in real time.
- Encourage competition with gamification techniques.
- Personalize the learning path with a chatbot - virtual assistant.
- Support all types of media and offer access to different devices.
Are you interested? Let’s delve into details below!
Here we are going to define roles that give certain privileges to the user and grant access to platform features and functionality. There are three user levels within the learning management system for the logistics company: Mentee, Mentor and Administrator. Let’s dive into details below:
- Mentees are most course users with basic permissions in the learning management system, able to view training materials and unable to manage functionality.
- Mentors can create courses, view enrollments, mark attendance, upload and manage training material, view course reports, and manage course layout.
- Administrator is able to manage every aspect of the platform. They will have visibility to all apps, features, and settings.
Project structure and technologies
Here you can find the structure of the project and see the technologies used for development:
To login in the learning management system as a Mentee, you should choose a Mentee account type, insert your username and password into the login form. Also, you can sign in with Google. And welcome to your learning platform!
After you sign in, you can see a list of courses available, choose the ones you want to join. Developed LMS provides the following courses:
- On-boarding program (company history, values, culture, team)
- Health and safety (first aid, fire safety awareness, sexual harassment, data security)
- Job-specific courses (Logistics management, Supply chain management, Supply Chain Analytics, Supply Chain Principles, Business operations management.)
- Marketing (SEO, SMM, Google Analytics, Google Adwords, etc.)
Discussions, webinars and conferences
Sharing views on specific topics previously learned is a good practice. That’s why facilitating discussions can not only help mentees learn from one another but also help them understand and retain the materials better. Discussions feature allows mentees to chat, ask questions, leave comments and add a deeper dimension to the course they’re studying.
They can start the conversation, or can reflect on the course material that boosts participation. Also, mentees can attend webinars and web conferences. Webinars are those that mentees attend online via videoconferencing and divided into sessions. To take these webinars, mentees will access the video conference directly from their account so their progress can be tracked. Also, they may be asked to attend one or multiple session dates in order to complete the course. This provides context for the information mentees want to retain and also gives them a chance to interact with experienced instructors and leaders in the logistics sector in real time. Mentees are also able to connect to the webinar session and display live broadcasting. It's no secret that webinars are useful when engaging learners (mentees) and creating ongoing value.
Webinars include how-to videos or best practices that showcase training in the field of logistics. This sort of training can be done online, broadcasted live and in real-time, and mentees can give immediate feedback in question through real-time comments.
Virtual personal assistant - a chatbot
Being a virtual personal assistant available at every step of learning path, it interacts with the mentee just like a live person in the form of messaging, engages the mentee in realistic practice conversations, helps the mentee to complete the course step-by-step and perform the tasks better. Also, it helps mentors by lowering the burden when explaining the same things over and over to different learners and answering the questions raised by students on a daily basis, checking their homework regularly, identifying spelling and grammatical mistakes precisely, assigning projects and keeping track of mentees’ progress and achievements. With the chatbot, the learning process is more personalized, productive and adaptive. Sounds impressive, right?
Also, you can see a course roadmap, a sequence of well-structured learning activities that teach specific skills. Essentially, this is a way to map out training, making the learning process smoother and understandable. That’s why to achieve the best possible results from the employee training, mentees follow a strategic, well thought out training roadmap. A training roadmap ensures that your learning course is always guiding mentees to the desired learning outcome.
Virtual online consultation
Online consultations are highly effective to help mentees with challenges they may face when learning. Thanks to technology, there are ways for mentees to reach their mentor and ask questions virtually. With an online consultation, mentees can get the following:
- Get a quicker response, rather than waiting for a consultation in person.
- Do not have to wait for the next available appointment.
- Get the same level of consultation and necessary activities or explanations as if it would be a face-to-face consultation.
- Increase their levels of engagement and confidence to perform tasks better.
- Enjoy a comfortable space where even the most self-conscious or shy mentee can have a voice by asking questions or sharing thoughts and ideas.
Dates of events, webinars, conferences, assignments, tests fly around constantly, filling up mentees schedules even before the week begins. That’s why, calendars provide many benefits for our life - whether it is an academic or personal one. Having that in mind, we have embedded this feature into the LMS solution for the logistics company. It allows mentees to schedule time on important activities such as conferences, webinars, tests, etc. allowing them to complete those that are a priority or have deadlines. They can use the calendar as a tool to help them get things done and stay on task.
The right reporting has a significant impact on an organization, fundamentally changing the way mentees perform their tasks. Are your corporate mentees actually completing the online training modules and activities? Are they progressing according to plan? How many courses did mentee complete? These are all questions that can be answered by reports extracted from the developed learning management system. Let’s dive into details!
The Progress feature provides users with the following capabilities:
- Learning Management System reports on mentees' progress and completion rates enable you to track individual performance so that you can intervene in the learning process as needed.
- Mentees can see how long it takes for them to complete each online training module or activity.
- Mentees see their test results, activity timeline and how many points they got.
- You can keep track of the certification process to make sure each case is up to code.
To login in the learning management system as a Mentor, you should choose a Mentor account type, insert your username and password into the login form. Also, there is an ability to sign in with Google. And welcome to your learning platform!
In the learning platform, the mentor can manage the content of a course through a single page. Mentor has the ability to upload the training materials, edit content, provide forums and social tools, share links, and enable all of the features that you deem necessary for the course.
Mentor can do the following in terms of the course Content:
- Add content: a mentor can upload materials that allow mentees to upload and download these materials.
- Change content: the mentor has the right to change the course program, which is automatically updated in the roadmap and mentors are notified accordingly.
- Edit course information: a mentor can edit course information.
- View as a Mentee: a mentor can view content as a Mentee.
- Add event: a mentor can add a webinar, or conference or schedule a virtual online conference for mentees assigned to the course.
- Share: a mentor can share a link with mentees assigned to the course.
- Ensure mobile app compatibility: the site can be viewed and used on mobile devices.
In terms of the Course Rules, mentors should keep an eye on the following:
- All units must be completed
- Certain units must be completed
- A percentage of units must be completed
- Test passed
Mentors can add and manage learning content for users, such as videos, texts, lectures and images.
Mentors can view all users (mentees) enrolled in the courses he or she teaches. To do this, you need to go to the user's page. This page will show a list of all mentees who are enrolled in the Logistics course or another one. Each mentee will have their account status (active or inactive), name, e-mail, account type and actions.
To login in the learning management system as an Administrator, you should choose an Administrator account type, insert your username and password into the login form. Also, you can sign in with Google. And welcome to the learning platform!
Using several tools available in the platform, the Administrator can organize, manage, monitor, and report on all course activities. Once you’ve logged in, you will see the Administrator home page that includes the following:
- User types
Let’s discover the most interesting feature - Reports. In the learning management system, the Administrator can quickly and easily check course progress and statistics by accessing and managing reports. Reports include the following:
- Course reports
- User reports
- Branch reports
- Group reports
- Test reports
- Survey reports
When the User Reports tab is selected, you will see a list of all of the users enrolled in the system. If you click on the username in the user’s row, you will be redirected to the user’s summary report for the course.
Now let’s take a closer look at User reports. Once you’ve chosen the user (mentee), you will see a number of statistics at the top of his/her page:
- Course reports
- Branch reports
- Group reports
- Test reports
- Survey reports
Also, you can see Course, Certification and Timeline statistics displaying a graph and a timeline for the user’s course accesses.
Is your business equipped with robust LMS solution?
If you are new to the realm of e-learning or are making the switch to training your employees, the learning management system is a great solution you should keep in mind. So take advantage of the features and functionality of the LMS, read reviews from those who have had experience with this tool or created successful eLearning courses.
Top 3 e-learning platforms you can use for LMS development
There are three main types of LMS software on the market today: proprietary, partly free, and open source. The most popular representatives of each type are Blackboard, Canvas and Open edX, respectively. We will describe all of their benefits and flaws below.
Blackboard is a proprietary LMS platform that has been on the market since 1999. It is distributed under a license and you are able to use the features and modules provided out of the box. On the one hand, this LMS has the most stable and reliable paid technical support, as well as a huge and well-organized documentation. It is well-proven for small and medium-sized businesses.
On the other hand, Blackboard requires a lot of supplementary software in order to provide full functionality, which results in high monthly expenses. Customization options are also limited.
As you can see, Blackboard might suit companies that have stable business practices, don’t require frequent changes or deep customization, and can afford a decent monthly subscription. Canvas by Instructure positions itself as a “learning management system with features you will actually use”. Their point is that many LMS provide tons of features the users don’t even know about, let alone use. On the contrary, Canvas provides a simple and intuitively understandable set of functions and features, only the ones you will absolutely need. This is supposed to improve the adoption rates and the overall user experience.
However, the cost of deep customization and the lack of specific functionality often results in students and authors dropping Canvas for good.
Read also: Best elearning designs
Open edX is a free open source learning management system built on Python and structured around the xBlock ideology. Courses are constructed from xBlocks that are small separate sections, each containing a complete unit of information. They can be combined with each other in any sequence. Open edX Studio is a powerful course constructor, which contains all the xBlocks currently available, which allows for composing and deploying new courses in mere hours. The major problem with Open edX relates to the technical issues that constantly appear when installing and managing the software. Partly due to this reason, the potential behind it hasn’t yet been realized to the full extent.
However, Open edX can be the most easily customizable solution, which can suit all your needs after correct adjustment.
Should you make a custom LMS?
As you can see, all of these e-learning platforms have their flaws and benefits. This leads to another popular solution: you may hire engineers to create an elearning product from scratch (such as Notesmaster we have developed) as it can solve a lot of issues. For example, you can include all the features you need, while avoiding paying for the functionality you will never use.
Thus said, if you want to know how to build a software platform from scratch, you should know what useful modules can be added to your online elearning platform. Here is the list of the modules you can benefit from:
- Virtual studio helps to visualize the outcome of physical or chemical experiments, which is essential for said disciplines, as it allows you to save budgets on purchasing the consumables.
- A telegram bot can be added to course content in order to split it to easily comprehended nodes. Studying each node is coupled with bot interactions like push notifications on course updates and other events, suggestions for new material, notifications on new replies in student collaboration dialogues, grading reports, etc.
- Micro courses contain concentrated knowledge on a certain specific problem and can be completed in less than 6 hours. This aids in the rapid training of employees with the new business practices or solving the issue at hand without getting too much information, most of which is currently unnecessary now.
- Online classrooms working as a video conferences provide team collaboration and direct learning with a tutor.
- Games and simulations contribute to the experiential learning by imitating the real-life problems. It also helps learners to stay engaged.
- Utilizing xAPI will help to collect and analyze all bits of learning experiences across various sources not only within LMS but also in social media and videos.
- Automatic proctoring systems help authors gather grading results and statistics, as well as analyzing students’ performance and adjusting the course content if needed.
- Integrating quizzes to the course content and providing mid-course grading allows for better tracking of students’ progress.
Literally, any module can be built to meet specific requirements, provided you choose the right team to handle development and further customization. We, at DDI development company, utilize both PHP and Python based frameworks to build elearning software. And a lot of third-party applications that support any type of features you may need are also around to deeply customize a product without reinventing the wheel.
What should I know if I want a custom solution?
Prioritize. One of the core issues that companies usually stumble over is a complicated system having a broad range of unused features. They don’t quite contribute to the learning experiences but rather set a higher adoption threshold. Before outlining a tool set try to prioritize the core learning goals you’re planning to achieve.
Invest in cross-platform development. One of the leading reasons to use digital learning is the ability to access learning materials anytime from any device, especially mobile. Making desktop only software will restrict learners from the digital potential. So it’s reasonable to invest into mobile development services as well.
Leverage experiential learning. Most of the existing LMS simply replicate traditional educational techniques. Online classrooms, modules, tests, and case studies reduce costs compared to an old-fashioned classroom learning but they fail to employ new technology available. Games and simulations can introduce truly new experiences that are close to the real-life conditions.
Consider adaptivity. Off-the-shelf systems in most cases are too rigid to embrace rapid changes. Modern LMS should provide means to redesign the entire learning frameworks in order to meet the needs of the actively changing environment.
What are your experiences and difficulties with LMS? Please share and stay tuned.