If you’re in the market for a learning management system (LMS), you’re likely experiencing an all-too familiar predicament: finding an LMS with the features you need using the limited budget you have. You’ve probably researched open source LMSs only to realize that, while the system itself may cost little to nothing, the servers you need to host it are expensive. Next, you may have investigated proprietary LMSs that may or may not have the features you want, but—regardless—the price tag simply puts it out of reach. #LMSprobs
What Else Can You Do?
If you’re looking for a low-cost alternative to building a custom LMS, consider choosing a community-developed LMS. When your LMS provider uses a community-driven development model, customers like you drive LMS development by requesting and paying for changes that are shared across the community. Of course, all customers in the community should be able to opt in or out of any new changes to the system.
Why Should You Pick a Community-Developed LMS?
1: LOW IMPLEMENTATION AND LIFE-CYCLE COSTS
Since changes to the system are funded by customers, they should not be amortized into the hosting cost. Due to the community model, hosting costs for customers can remain low compared to other LMS platforms.
2: YOU DECIDE HOW THE LMS EVOLVES
With open source LMSs you get what you get. With custom LMSs you drive the design—but at a high price. With community-driven LMSs, you still get a stake in the development process but at a much lower cost to you. This is possible because all organizations in the community contribute to making the LMS better as they request modifications, and in many cases several organizations that want the same new feature can split the cost of development.
Here are just a few examples of modifications an organization might request:
- Incorporate a help desk that offers technical support to learners and LMS administrators.
- Integrate Google Analytics™ into the LMS so you can analyze learner behavior and make more informed business and training decisions.
- Automate the process of re-enrolling learners in courses that must be completed regularly (e.g., once per year).
- Store video files on Vimeo to reduce the hosting costs associated with large video files.
- Market specific training assets to learners.
How Does It Work?
1: IDENTIFY A NEED AND PRESENT IT TO YOUR LMS PROVIDER.
When you identify the need for a new feature in the LMS, bring your request to your LMS provider. They can partner with you to clearly define the problem you are trying to solve and design an effective solution that would benefit you and organizations within the community that are facing similar issues.
2: FUND OR CO-FUND THE LMS MODIFICATION.
Based on the popularity of the change you are requesting, you might fund a modification on your own or split the cost with other organizations who want the same upgrade. When you fund a modification, you should be involved in the development of that modification to ensure it meets your organization’s specific needs. This is your chance to have a stake in the process and drive the evolution of your LMS.
3: ALL ORGANIZATIONS IN THE COMMUNITY CAN OPT IN OR OUT OF THE UPGRADE.
The modification you fund will be rolled out to all organizations in the community, with the option to opt in or out of using the new feature. Likewise, when other organizations fund a modification you will receive it at no additional cost to you.
Questions to Ask a Community-Developed LMS Provider
If you aren’t ready to give up the features you need or spend more than you have, explore your community-developed LMS options, including TraCorp’s LMS
. As you interview providers, get the information you need by asking the following questions:
- Do you offer a community-developed LMS?
- How many organizations are in your LMS development community?
- What hosting and supporting costs do you charge?
- Are there per server or per user licensing fees? (The answer should be no.)
- What types of LMS modifications have customers made in the past, and what did it cost them?
- What is the approval process for making an LMS modification?
- What happens when the LMS modification request is approved/not approved?
- Can we decide to opt out of changes we don’t want? (The answer should be yes.)
- Can we split the cost of LMS modifications with other organizations in the community? (Again, the answer should be yes.)