Whether your school LMS is outdated and simply can’t meet all the needs your teachers and students now have in order to deliver the best online courses and learn from these, or you haven’t used an LMS until now and realize it could make everyone’s lives better, it’s a tough decision to choose a new school LMS.
The e-learning industry is growing as there are always new players penetrating the market. Each LMS vendor has a unique selling offer, and your educational institutions has a unique set of needs. Wherever you turn, keep in mind that there is one type of LMSs that could be better in the long-term — one with a cloud-based architecture.
8 Reasons to choose a cloud-based LMS for your school
Cloud-based may not be perfect, but it might be currently the best. Here are a number of reasons to opt for a cloud-based LMS for your school:
Minimal initial costs
Cloud-based LMSs don’t require the purchase of any software or hardware, so the sign-up process is quite straightforward. Once you create an administrator or a teacher account and log in, you can immediately start creating online courses.
Most LMS vendors offer a free trial at first for a limited period of time and if that time turns out to be not enough for your team to decide if the new LMS caters to all the school’s needs, you can choose a monthly subscription instead of a yearly one. This way, you only pay for what you use and you can change your mind at any time. Of course, if you decide on one LMS or another, the yearly subscription is usually more convenient.
Cost transparency and planning
Opting for a cloud-based LMS for your school increases your chances to avoid many hidden costs that can be tied to other types of learning management systems. Hidden costs are those costs that are not obvious from the beginning; some LMS can charge set-up fees, licences fees, upgrade fees, customization fees, maintenance fees, and so on.
When very few to no hidden costs arise after the purchase of a new LMS, school managers can actually rely on the initial budget planning. The monthly fee of a cloud-based LMS covers the details of the selected package, and any package upgrade or downgrade can be totally controlled by the educational institution.
Considering that the online makes up for a great part of our lives now, you can rest assured every student and every teacher — or the majority of LMS users — expect the best user experience from anything on the web. And the system they’ll spend most of their time on while at school will make no exception.
Once the courses are set, the teachers teach them and the students learn from them, you don’t need to worry about any program glitches or system failure. The LMS vendor usually has a professional team of IT staff who know their software product very well and can jump to and fix any operational issue in no time.
They also take care of system upgrades, as they always have to improve their product. For simpler technical issues, a support team of the vendor should make sure to guide all your steps until a solution is reached. So, maintaining a cloud-based LMS is as hassle-free as it sounds.
Even though school happens for a limited period of time during the day, learning is always ongoing. Teachers need to prepare for the next class, and so do students. Whether it’s for creating a new lesson or adding an assessment, or for doing homework or looking for extra resources, accessing the school LMS at any time from any device is important for your users. A cloud-based LMS is always on for them.
Although it’s getting hard to imagine a world without the internet, sometimes we’re just stuck with a bad connection. This is where the native app of the LMS saves the day, so online training can really be available any time, anywhere.
Infinite storage space
The cloud is infinite; it can gather and store a huge amount of data on the learning activity of each user. The sky really is the limit for storing learning materials within a cloud-based LMS.
Since all data is stored in the cloud instead on personal computers, human error can rarely affect it. If for some reason the computer of a teacher or that of a student at home gets corrupted, the data stored in the cloud remains safe. Again, if someone accidentally deletes a file, it can easily be restored from the cloud. Some LMSs keep the deleted files for 30 days to give owner time to reconsider their actions.
In a world of data abundance a cloud-based LMS is probably the safest option for an education institution that handles massive amounts of sensitive data about students, faculty, the supporting staff and external stakeholders.
LMS vendors adopt a series of safety measures against cyber villains, from data encryption and password protection based on level of access, to SSL, which ensures any sensitive data is only seen and managed by only those who need to. What’s more, the system automatically tracks data on any suspicious activity, which makes it easy to identify any data breach before it gets serious.
Powerful analytics and reporting
Not only does a cloud-based LMS register incredible amounts of data about its users, but it also sorts it and delivers it in comprehensive and sometime eye-catchy reports. Therefore, it’s easy for administrators and teachers to generate updated reports on any kind of data they’re interested in: course status, course completion, module progress, missing work, assessment grades, and so on.
Understanding this data is a step closer to delivering personalized learning experiences to all students, which should be the ultimate purpose of getting a school LMS in the first place.
All in all
Choosing a new LMS for your school is a job for a team. A tough job. I hope the above arguments made it a little easier, at least in terms of what type of LMS to go for.
Graham is the CEO and Founder of CYPHER LEARNING and NEO. He is a serial entrepreneur, e-learning enthusiast, published author and educator.