The most important thing is to divide features that are important for administrators and those for users since those two groups use learning management systems in a different way and with a different purpose.
Features for Administrators:
- A clean and simple User Interface (UI)
A common misconception of start-ups is assuming your end-user has the same outlook of your product, for themselves. Although this may be true, and when a user is looking for an advanced computers course will seldom need information on how to use a simple LMS platform, assuming that everyone is of the same proficiency, is often recipe for disaster.
- An Intuitive content authoring tool
The system has to be easy-to-use for the administrator, and even when the administrator is well-versed with technology, this is no reason for unnecessary burdens. Graphical User Interfaces were made by the very people that knew the ins and outs of coding to make it easier for them, and the rest of the world to handle computers. So yes, when looking for an LMS solution, make sure that you feel comfortable with the software.
One of the most important things is the content authoring tool; the content authoring tool is the editor you use to create, format and rearrange content. It must provide you with all the required options to format and customize your content in a way that eliminates the need for many other external tools.
- Bridging the gap between the learners and teacher
Bridging the gap between instructor and learner is something we have been trying to do, and continue to find new ways to achieve, for quite some time in eLearning. One of the biggest issues with eLearning is the “missing face” factor. I just coined that term so please bear with me. The missing face is a simple title to the lack of a teacher’s physical presence. A teacher does not only serve as the vessel of information; a teacher is a sometimes a friend, a confidant, a tutor and a mentor.
- System reporting
In LMS terms, this is translated into Reporting. Reports help an administrator understand the learners’ progress, track trends, iron out imperfections in the content and tweak testing to engage learners better. All of that information and more is available to the administrator of a complete LMS. After all, the only way to measure success is to quantify it and do the math.
A simple user interface, an intuitive authoring tool, social learning tools, and a reporting system – the last thing you need is to automate some processes to make sure that you spend enough time building a community and less time trying to manage your LMS. There are several kinds of automation that can take place an LMS; for example, automated notifications for the upcoming conference, or a notification that learners soon completing a course, or that your certification will soon expire. A myriad of different types of notifications will be available to the LMS administrator and some LMSs will even allow the custom creation of notifications to cater to the specific needs of the administrator, for specific courses or even specific user groups.
Features for Users
- Your learning method: steep or gradual?
As online services strive to be as intuitive and easy-to-understand as possible, an LMS should be no different. If your LMS is a platform you can understand to the point where navigating through content, completing tests and submitting assignments is an effortless task, then you’re home.
- LMS that is mobile friendly
The whole point of eLearning is mobility and the freedom to arrange your studying habits in the manner best suited to your lifestyle. A good LMS should have a responsive design, meaning that it should change depending on the device you are using it through, in order to accommodate the appropriate viewing modes, resolutions and other features that assist in the use of other devices like tablets and smartphones.
- Have community features
This question is rather subjective because it is not always only up to the system to accommodate such a feature. This is part-LMS part-Instructor, and even in the cases of a platform that offers social features like Discussion channels, chat, courses etc. it is up to the instructor to engage with his learners in order to inspire an environment of collaboration, which can then be used by the learners to help each other and work as a learning community.
The end-user has no monthly subscriptions to worry about, but LMSs were designed to offer the ability to distribute content over the internet. Content and information, in general, is very valuable, so LMSs offer the ability to sell courses. As a user, having the ability to buy content in bulk (packaged/grouped courses) or use coupons/discounts is a very important feature, because you can ensure that quality content can be put on sale and even more people may be able to take up the opportunity of eLearning at a better price. As an end-user, eCommerce security is a great concern for users around the globe. A good LMS will offer alternatives to its payment methods to make sure that the different demographics can be serviced with the safest and most secure ways.