A to-the-point look at LMS software to help you choose the right elearning platform for your business.
Working in a quickly growing startup, I know the importance of finding and implementing the right platforms and software for your business - the right one can save you time and the wrong one will waste it and drain money.
I've found that the difference between the two comes down to knowledge, that is knowing your wants and needs and throughly knowing what each availiable platform can do. Working in the e learning industry has made me anxious to share what I know about learning management systems and how my company, Teachable, fits into it.
If you’re looking to create an online training program (for customers or your employees) or are interested in MOOCs, Online Courses or LMS software, it’s wise to do your research before committing to a Learning Management System software, and part of that research is truly understanding what an LMS software is.
So I did the research for you on LMS software and compared the three big things (goals, features and pricing) that help you choose between Learning Management Systems for your business.
What is LMS Software?
Learning Management Systems (LMS) are online platforms that corporations and businesses use to host e learning courses or training programs for new employees.
The software can be used for a number of different purposes, including employee onboarding, classroom supplementation, or as a business model. You might use LMS software to host and sell an online course, or to train employees in your company.
How Learning Management Systems are Used:
Employers use Learning Management Systems to create an onboarding flow to train employees. Rather than investing extra hours into training new hires many companies find that they are better off creating a series of videos and supplemental resources to get their employees up to speed.
In schools, many instructors use Learning Management Systems to supplement their curriculum and promote learning outside of the classroom. In addition to the regular lecture period, students will often be assigned videos and quizzes to reinforce what was taught in class.
Learning Management Systems are a great way to supplement what is happening in the classroom or bypass the need for a classroom altogether.
Some people use Learning Management Systems to run their businesses. Online course creators are on the rise, and most of them use an LMS software to host and sell their courses.
The 8 Features You Should Look for in an LMS
1. Mobile Capabilities
With 21% of millennials forgoing desktops altogether and accessing the internet via cell phones or tablets, mobile capabilities are an imperative feature to consider when choosing between Learning Management Systems.
With the shift towards mobile platforms, you’ll want to be sure that the LMS software you choose is mobile optimized.
While companies such as Docebo and Skilljar offer mobile capabilities within their software, Teachable does so at a more affordable price point. Compare paying upwards of $2000 a month on other platforms to Teachable’s $1299 for enterprise customers.
2. Automatic Enrollment
Depending on the structure of the instructor’s curriculum, automatic enrollment is a key feature to consider. Automatic enrollment allows students to sign up for a course without the need for instructors to spend time manually enrolling students.
Instructors who will be hosting courses for a large and open audience should look for an LMS software that allows automatic enrollment in order to run their training efficiently.
Latitude Learning offers automatic enrollment at a hefty pricetag, and Intellum's "automatic" enrollment feature forces you to jump through a number of hoops to activate the feature.
At Teachable automatic enrollment is available on all price tiers and is as simple as adding an enroll button to your sales page.
3. Multiple Author Capabilities
Learning Management Systems that have an authoring feature allow multiple authors to create courses under one account. When corporations have more than one employee creating courses, it’s only fair that each creator is given credit as an author.
This is important if you're working at a company where mutliple people are developing your new employee or customer training courses.
One example is Runrun.it, a tech company that uses Teachable to create a customer success academy where they've had several Runrun.it experts create courses to teach new customers the workings of their software.
If you plan on having another person create courses in your academy, choose an LMS software that allows authoring so credit can be given where it’s due. Many platforms don’t offer authoring at all, or it’s only available on their most expensive plans.
Kajabi offers authoring on their $199 plan and Thinkific allows 3 authors on their $79 plan. At Teachable authoring is available to all paying customers.
4. Course Catalogs or Marketplaces
Course catalogs are landing pages where an instructor’s courses can be found in one space. You can see an example of the The New York Times Academy here.
For people creating or selling multiple courses, or looking to create an academy like the New York Times Education (which we host here at Teachable), a course catalog is an essential feature. Having a page where your students can find your courses all in one place can help drive sales and create loyal customers.
Companies like Latitude Learning offer course catalogs if you're willing to pay an additional $1000 annually, and Mindflash doesn't offer a catalog at all even to those paying $1599 for their most expensive plan. Course catalogs are available for all Teachable customers - even those on our free plan.
5. White Labeling
As mentioned above, there are people running their entire businesses on Learning Management Systems. For these people, being able to customize the software to reflect their brand adds a level of professionality to the academy.
Corporations who are using an LMS software as an extension of their business should look for software that offers white labeling in order to create a cohesive brand.
Skilljar offers white labeling to those who pay for their $1000 a month plan and $3000 onboarding fee and at LearnUpon white labeling is available on their $800 a month plan, but that plan is missing many key features.
Teachable offers white labeling for all corporations on our enterprise plan along with premium support and a dedicated account manager.
6. Drip Content
Drip content allows you to create customized emails alerting students when new content is made available to them. This works well for people creating training that is not going to be released all at once.
If you have a set curriculum and timeline for your students to follow, look for a platform that supports drip content to save yourself time having to manually drip content out yourself.
Drip content is a new feature on the Teachable platform that is available to all paying customers, and a feature that most competitors are lacking.
Even some of the priciest softwares don't have drip content yet. Topyx, for example, boasts a "low flat fee subscription" of $27,500 a year, but drip functionality isn't included in that pricetag. Percolate has drip, but they charge per enrolled student which adds up quickly.
7. Exam/Quiz Capabilities
For many users of Learning Management Systems, quiz capabilities are essential. Quizzes offer an easy way to engage your audience, summarize essential information, and monitor the progress of students taking your course.
If you plan on monitoring your student's progress and understanding of the course material you will need to choose an LMS software that supports quiz capabilities.
Skilljar's Enterprise plan costs $2000 a month but doesn't include quiz capabilities and Latitude Learning doesn't offer quizzes or exams, either. Teachable allows all customers - free or paid - to create quizzes.
8. Email support
Email support is an important function for any software and it’s definitely a feature that most customers will want included with their Learning Management Software. If you get stuck or run into bugs, being able to reach out directly to support is beneficial.
Anyone looking to purchase an LMS software should choose one that offers email support. Select a platform that gives you a timeframe because not all email support systems are created equally and if they aren’t open with their numbers chances are they’ll keep you waiting.
Even on Mindflash's $1199 plan they don't offer a timeframe on when customers can expect support tickets to be addressed and Kajabi doesn't make mention of support on their sales page at all. Teachable promises our professional users support withing 6 hours.
Finding the Right Pricing Structure
An important feature to keep in mind when it comes to Learning Managements Systems is the pricing. There are countless price points and four main pricing models to consider.
Pay Per Learner
With the Pay Per Learner model, instructors will be paying a small fee for every student that signs up for their course. This pricing structure works for instructors who know exactly how many student that they will have signing up. This is not an ideal pricing plan for individuals who may have an unexpected surge of students, as it can become quite expensive.
Companies such as Grovo charge anywhere from $69 to $139 per active user, with limited features at the cheaper pricepoint.
Pay Per Use
The Pay Per Use model is similar to the Pay Per Learner, but rather than paying for each individual person, the instructor pays for each time a student goes through the course.
Again, this works well for instructors who know the number of students that will be enrolling in their system, and know that they won’t be going through the course over and over again.
Skilljar charges up to $2 per student, making it incredibly expensive to host a successful course.
Pay Per Course
With the Pay Per Course structure, instructors will pay for each individual course that they host and can have an unlimited number of students go through their course an unlimited number of times without any extra charges.
On Teachable our instructors can host mutliple courses regardless of their plan, and many users making 6 figures on our platform do host more than one course.
The license fee is the superior model for individuals looking to host multiple courses and enroll many students. Instructors can license out the software for a set amount of time and host an unlimited courses with no extra charge.
This is how Teachable structures our pricing. We allow instructors to create an unlimited number of courses at a more affordable price point than the pay per course model allows.
Some companies boast a license model, but it's conditional. For instance, Mindflash charges $1599 a month but caps out at 1000 students. In contrast, Teachable allows unlimited students for one flat price.
Many people are switching to Teachable because of our platform’s broad range of features and competitive pricing. Whereas some platforms such as Mindflash or Docebo can run at several thousand a month, Teachable is a far more affordable with plans ranging from free to $299 a month, or our enterprise plan that starts at $1299 a month.
Want more information on Teachable's features and pricing? Check out our pricing page here!