Despite the number of solutions out there, only a few LMS really count as top-of-the-line. But even among them, experiences are uneven. As some focus on modularity and extensibility, others strive to provide the most seamless user experience possible. In the end, the options are as varied as the different types of LMS customers out there.
Don’t let an LMS salesperson convince you that a certain feature is inherently good for you. You can be sure that every advantage comes with a drawback. Courtesy of EdSurge, we highlight 6 of the most common trade-offs you should be ready to make when choosing the right LMS.
#1. User-friendly vs. Full-featured
Teachers who like to keep it simple expect their LMS to let them do their job in as little time as possible. On the other end, geeky teachers will always be ready to try the next cool plugin and have no problem staying online in their LMS all day long. Nor do they mind if their students do too.
So make sure you know your audience. Is your faculty made of mostly tinkerers or more basic users?
#2. Access control vs. Administrative load
Does the following sound like you? ‘We have a large list of courses, each with a specific set of Activities for enrolled students to access depending on the groups they belong to and the other courses they are taking. Their performance is monitored by tutors, divided among levels of seniority. We would also like parents to be able to see what their kids do and have the option to contact a teacher…’ If so, you’re access-control heavy. However, lots of small rules quickly compound on the admins’ backlog.
Be sure the LMS you choose allows the level of detail you are looking for, but also make sure you have an admin team that is properly staffed to service it.
#3. Adequate communications vs. Alert overload
No one can argue against an LMS that keeps students looped into their interactions with teachers and other peers. A system that gives reminders, real-time updates, alerts when a task is due, and so on, can be a blessing… until it’s too much.
So choose an LMS with plenty of communication and notification options, but choose one that allows students to keep them under control, too.
#4. Personalized analytics vs. “Too Big” Data
Knowledge is power. But having reams of data at one’s fingertips is also a challenging thing to make sense of. This is true for people’s brains and it is true for computers. If your organization makes enormous efforts to track every student interaction, you might actually be better off putting some of that work into understanding the person behind the data.
So choose an LMS that gives you analytics and reporting tools that you would actually use. This depends mainly on the level of analytics integration into your organization’s mission and culture.
#5. Interoperability vs. Integration workload
An LMS that plays nice with third-party services is hardly bad news for the users, but it can also be a strain on developers, who have to master the documentation for an API each time an organization wants to link one system with another and then they must spend a lot of time making sure a secure solution is ready for broad use.
Work with your developers to find an LMS that achieves the level of integration between systems you desire and can handle. Alternatively, you can choose an LMS that features similar functionality but is less sophisticated and is much easier to set up.
#6. Price vs. Support
At the end of the day, the bottom line is the last word. But don’t let a price tag fool you. Too low a fee, and it means someone in your organization is bound to spend many sleepless nights trying to find the solution to that tiny-but-pesky bug that, almost miraculously, no one else seems to have experienced before. Too high a fee, and you are likely paying for high levels of support and warranty you are unlikely to use.
So choose an LMS that finds the right balance between your budget and need for support. If you decide to implement a free, Open Source LMS, make sure you invest in the right people, with the experience and tact to handle any issue that comes at you.