How To Select an LMS 

January 17, 2023

A learning management system (LMS) is an application used to handle the ins and outs involved in the delivery of courses or training modules. You can use an LMS to create courses and collect and analyze assessment data. Some utilize LMSs for skills testing, while others use them for onboarding and compliance requirements. Many programs began on LMSs feature gamification, video conferences, social forums, discussion boards, and virtual labs. Universities, businesses, trade societies, and entrepreneurs often use LMSs to generate high-quality online learning experiences. Check out this information concerning LMS selection.

Why Is Selecting an LMS Such an Important Choice?

An LMS represents an important choice for a couple of reasons. First, it can impact multiple departments since a learner from one department can take a course offered in another department, and instructors from one department can access assessment reports from another department by using a well-equipped LMS. Second, LMSs are critical for scaling courses. This is because LMSs allow instructors to state learning objectives, outline instructions, showcase course content, incorporate knowledge checks, summarize course content, and develop or add assessments. 

A resource-heavy investment, an LMS can cost a great deal of money and require a fair amount of labor to set up. Once an organization has adopted a specific LMS, it is often difficult to change systems. Transferring and translating information from one system to another can be tedious. Plus, learners and instructors typically get so accustomed to one system that getting acquainted with another can be challenging and stressful.

What Are the Different LMS Types?

The four main LMS types are cloud-based, self-hosted, proprietary, and open-source LMSs.

Cloud-Based LMS

You can obtain a subscription to access a cloud-based LMS. You acquire this type of system through a third-party vendor, so you do not have to worry about installing and updating it. The third-party vendor will regulate the LMS, and all you have to worry about is the plan and pricing you are most comfortable with. Many vendors will offer their clients the chance to purchase plans that consider their storage and backup needs. One drawback associated with a cloud-based LMS is its inability to allow active users the chance to customize the system.

Self-Hosted LMS

A self-hosted LMS is, in many ways, the opposite of a cloud-based LMS. While you subscribe to a third party’s cloud-based system, you procure a self-hosted LMS product and install it yourself. You also assume responsibility for the updating needs of the LMS software. A self-hosted LMS has many advantages. It can be more secure than a cloud-based LMS if you and your team take extensive data protection measures and regularly monitor the system. It can also be more flexible than a cloud-based LMS because you have the opportunity to customize and upgrade it at your will.

Proprietary LMS

A proprietary LMS has a closed code, and the only entity controlling the code is the LMS vendor. A proprietary LMS is copyrighted, so you can only access it under a licensing agreement. This means that you will have to pay licensing fees. Proprietary LMSs are known for their reliability and have all the LMS features needed to readily and steadily push out courses and training programs. Moreover, the proprietary LMS vendors manage the security and safety of the system. Integrating a proprietary LMS with another system is possible, but it will usually cost a fair amount of money.

Open-Source LMS

An open-source LMS is unlike a proprietary LMS because anyone can access or alter its source code. Thus, it is usually copyright-free, and you do not have to pay licensing fees to keep it. Scalability is more cost-friendly on an open-source LMS because adding users to the system will not increase fees. To have an open-source LMS, you must invest in an IT department. An open-source LMS needs developers and programmers for installation, customization, and maintenance. Millions of people develop and test open-source LMSs, so data security is possible but not guaranteed.

How Does Your Target Audience Impact the Selection Process?

To select the best LMS platform, you must know your target audience. Your target audience members represent your LMS users, so you must choose a system that will cater to their learning needs. Think about who you are going to be teaching. For instance, if you plan on teaching people 50 years or older, you must know that they are not digital natives and may not be familiar with online learning or using learning technologies. Therefore, you should probably select an LMS that is easy to navigate and has technical support functionality.

If you plan on teaching individuals between 18 and 25, know that they are digital natives and are very familiar with navigating online systems, especially on their smartphones. During your selection process, look into systems that your learners can use on their mobile devices. If you intend to teach students with postsecondary or postgraduate degrees, they will need a system that can support large amounts of content because postsecondary learners frequently work with large chunks of complex information. 

You may want to get an open-source system if you notice that your audience size will be relatively big. An open-source LMS will give you the chance to host a large number of active users for free. If you know that your target audience will consist of different learning styles (visual, verbal, auditory, kinesthetic, and social learners), invest in a system that allows you to post diverse content, such as interactive labs, and supports social learning like discussion boards.

What Features Do You Need?

There are a plethora of LMSs in existence, and each one has a unique set of features. Some have course customization capabilities (e.g., branding, logos, and color schemes), while others do not. There are LMSs people can use on their smartphones and tablets. Some LMSs have built-in forums and proctoring functions. Think carefully about the nature of the courses you aim to add to your LMS. Doing so will help you pinpoint and prioritize specific LMS features. 

If you plan to push out several self-paced courses on your LMS, selecting one with excellent course progress tracking features would be wise. If you aim to develop courses with many live lectures, choose an LMS with a video conferencing system or one that integrates video conferencing applications. Many instructors treasure LMSs that accommodate gamification because they believe competition fuels learning. Other instructors despise competitive activities and seek LMSs that allow pupils to collaborate rather than compete by sharing their perspectives through surveys, polls, and discussion boards.

Which Technical Elements Are Most Important to You?

Consider which technical elements within an LMS matter most to you. Data storage is a technical aspect of an LMS you may want to consider. If you plan to store content that does not take up a great deal of space, such as word documents and PDFs, then you will likely have no use for a system with a large storage capacity. However, if you wish to store data-heavy items, such as videos, games, and webinars, you will need a system with plenty of storage capacity.

Think about the support features of a specific LMS before using it. Some systems have excellent customer support, meaning that help is available 24/7, while others do not. Integration is also crucial. Many LMS allow users to integrate other services, such as video conferencing, movie streaming, and virtual lab services. Security is another technical element you must think about. If you plan to post sensitive content on your LMS, you may want to pick one with a wide range of security features, such as password authentication, data encryption, and IP blockers.

The number of user seats is a technical feature that can impact pricing. Many proprietary LMSs will add user registration and maintenance costs as user enrollment increases. User seats are less costly to scale up for open-source LMSs. You can switch from having ten users to 1000 users on an open-source LMS without running into price or quality issues. Decide whether you want a system that does or does not support enrollment fluctuations. 

What Are Your Demo and Testing Requirements?

E-learning programs require a good deal of testing before launch because you want to ensure that all course elements are well-sequenced and in proper working order. Consider selecting an LMS that will work with all your content types. If you have data-heavy content, the last thing you should do is pick a system that constantly crashes due to its inability to support all your data. You also do not want a slow system that takes a good chunk of time just to load your course content.

Encourage your learners to participate in testing sessions. Have them provide feedback about specific modules they have tested. They should comment on whether each course element was functional, elaborating on the course’s ease of navigation, readability, engagement level, and efficacy. Use student feedback to make necessary changes to the programs you wish to push out. Many people use their students’ end-of-course evaluations to change their courses continually.

Remember that there are different instructional design models. Learning designers use these models to create courses, so be sure to select an LMS that can meet the needs of one or more of these models. Check out some information about the most common instructional design models and learn how understanding their nature can help you select the best LMS for your organization.

Analysis, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate (ADDIE)

There are five phases involved in the ADDIE system. The first phase is the analysis phase. This is when course designers gather information about their target audience and create extensive profiles so they can launch the subsequent stages of the system in a strategic and informed fashion. The second phase is the design phase. This is when course designers create objectives and select relevant instructional materials and assessments. The development phase represents the third part of the ADDIE system. Designers use media and tools during development to craft instructional materials and assessments.

Implementation is the fourth phase of the ADDIE model. The designer, during this phase, allows instructors to launch the course they designed and developed. The implementation phase is essentially course delivery. Evaluation marks the final phase of the ADDIE process. At this point, the designers and stakeholders (e.g., faculty members, administrators, HR officials, or operations managers) look at LMS analytics to determine their course’s effectiveness. They also use analytic data to restart the first phase of the model, analysis.

Taking the elements of the ADDIE model into account, you should pick an LMS that will allow you to perform all five stages of the model. The LMS you choose should allow you to record learner details, set objectives, create instructional materials, monitor course delivery, and examine course analytics.

Merrill’s Principles of Instruction (MPI)

The MPI model consists of various principles designers use to create and push out high-quality courses. The first principle is the task-centered principle. This principle states that the learning in a course should consist of real-world tasks that prompt learners to hone their problem-solving skills. The second principle focuses on activation. This principle claims that, for a learning experience to be effective, learners need to activate their knowledge base (i.e., their prior knowledge).

The third principle centers around demonstrations. It asserts that a course needs to demonstrate knowledge via visual and auditory mediums so that learners can use different segments of their brains. The fourth principle is about the application of knowledge. It argues that learners must apply the new information they have acquired by seeing how it works in real-world situations. The integration of knowledge encompasses the final principle. It states that learners should integrate their newly obtained information into their own lives. They can write reflections or deliver presentations about their learning experience.

For an LMS to accommodate the needs of a course based on the MPI model, it must allow learners to engage in various problem-solving tasks, connect previously attained skills with newly attained ones, stimulate the visual and auditory sections of their brain, apply knowledge to concrete examples, and open up channels for reflection and discussion. An LMS that does not let learners participate in virtual labs or discussion boards will likely not be a good fit for an establishment that uses the MPI model for instructional design.

Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction

Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction is a framework that consists of nine steps. It employs behaviorist learning theory, which states that learning occurs via interacting with one’s environment. The steps are:

  1. Gaining students’ attention by using new ideas or questioning strategies
  2. Informing learners of objectives so that they are aware of learning expectations and achievement criteria
  3. Stimulating the recall of prior knowledge to add new knowledge
  4. Content delivery
  5. Providing learner guidance via examples or instructional support
  6. Eliciting performance by having learners practice what they have learned 
  7. Providing corrective or informative feedback
  8. Assessing performance 
  9. Enhancing retention by taking advantage of summarization, rephrasing, or mapping techniques. The last event also directs students to transfer their learning to the real world through what-if scenarios and realistic assignments.

Ultimately, learners taking a Gagne-based course should be able to apply what they have learned to their everyday life. When selecting a new LMS for an organization that uses Gagne’s model, acquire one that supports interactivity. It should have multiple questioning, content delivery, and assessment formats. Plus, it should allow instructors to set objectives and present detailed feedback to their students. Moreover, the LMS you pick should offer first-rate user experiences. An LMS that supports interactivity but is not user-friendly will not help learners taking courses based on Gagne’s model. Try to find an easy-to-navigate LMS that supports diverse content, including video presentations, simulations, and discussion forums.


Selecting an LMS can be challenging. You must consider the various kinds of LMSs on the market, your target audience, the LMS features you want, the technical elements you prioritize, and your demo and testing needs. Use Caduceus LMS to deliver your health science programs. We have an in-depth understanding of health science curricula and content. We also streamline our proctoring capabilities, offer concierge-level support, and provide flexible delivery options. Contact us today to understand how we can help your establishment deliver top-notch online learning experiences and help your students thrive.

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