While cost is always a consideration when evaluating LMS software, there are unreasonable risks that require careful consideration when reviewing your options for CME.
Low-Cost LMS Software Doesn’t Always Mean “Unusable” but can You Afford the Risk?
A low-cost LMS may be able to give you just enough of an admin panel for you to launch a single course and manage it, but this won’t be valuable if your organization wants consistent sustainable growth. It also means that your organization will have to be okay with providing a featureless educational experience to your members—a state of affairs that will only deteriorate as your program expands.
A featureless educational experience isn’t a quality issue in the strictest sense of the term—but it is a user experience issue.
“We offer the fewest educational options with zero attention to learning experience design” is likely not the message that you want to give loyal members or potential audiences.
Unfortunately, without competitive features and an LMS structure that lends itself to scalability and innovation, your CME program will have problems attracting new members and keeping those students who remain engaged.
Price Point Versus Value: 3 Questions to Ask About Low-Cost LMS Software
Choosing a low-cost LMS can be a risky venture. Here are some key considerations that can help you avoid the pitfalls of a poorly designed and functioning platform:
How will this LMS handle critical program and member data?
How an LMS handles data is critical to the success of your CME program. From clean data collection for accurate outcomes reporting to the ease of data reporting for strategy building, optimizing the value of your data is key to sustained CME program growth. A low-cost LMS is unlikely to provide you with the enterprise-grade information management features that you will need to make data-driven decisions.
Choose an LMS that provides enterprise-grade data management and analytics in an all-in-one solution.
Will low-cost LMS software insulate human resources from administrative task overload?
When your program grows, so will the administrative demands on your staff. From transcript imports to reminder emails, an inability to automate repetitively time-intensive tasks can limit growth by overtaxing your staff and forcing new hires to keep up with the ever-increasing workload.
Mounting busywork can also drain productivity across the entire organization, as staff members with varying skill sets pitch in to keep up with the ebb and flow of program management. Unfortunately, growth comes with opportunity costs, but your LMS should take up the burden of document management and related tasks, not your staff.
Select an LMS that offers comprehensive task automation and scheduling that you can manage through a single dashboard.
Will this LMS empower or hinder curriculum innovation?
One of your biggest challenges in choosing an LMS is determining if your prospective platform can scale and provide the tools that you need to create an innovative curriculum. Not only is the ability to respond to the unique needs of your learners with creative content essential for the success of your CME program, but it’s also vital to ensuring that your results are always improving.
If your goal is educational excellence that consistently exceeds industry standards, then an LMS that allows for quick and easy additions of immersive content like video, animation, and webinars is a must-have. Most low-cost LMS platforms do not offer these features but, when they do, they require you purchasing a pricey added feature.
Choose a media-savvy LMS platform that makes content enhancement a matter of a few clicks.
Price Point vs. Value: Here’s How to Get What You Want in an LMS
When it comes to retail bargain shopping, the price certainly shouldn’t be your only consideration. Quality always beats a cheap price tag. When choosing your LMS, be mindful that price is often an indicator of the number of features you will have access to out of the box.
If you don’t have the time and budget to throw away on building a workable LMS solution from the ground up, here are some of the administrative and data management features that should be on your checklist:
- Send members automated reminders when due dates near.
- Schedule notifications to alert staff of new information or changes to important data (such as learner withdrawals or course registrations).
- Automated data collection directly from the LMS and select external sources.
- Share visualizations of data with organization stakeholders.
- Provide instant, customized feedback to learners before, during, or after a quiz, exam, activity, or when a specific milestone is reached.
- Bulk import learner data for existing members and new learners.
- Automatically generate learner transcripts.
- Print course completion certificates on-demand.
- Monitor educational and credit accumulation by learner, by course, and program-wide through a single dashboard.
- Automate educational interventions for struggling learners by sending offers for additional resources when assessment scores fall below a predetermined point.
- Easily add video, animation, live-streams, and webinar access.
- Sync offline workshop attendance and activities with the LMS.
- Manage offline and mobile check-ins and activities progress from the Admin panel.
- Easily transfer data from your AMS to the LMS with a custom integration managed by your platform.
With a Low-Cost LMS, Your Options are Limited to the Whims of Your Platform Provider.
You won’t have the administrative support that you need if your program proliferates. You won’t be able to get to the data that you need to find actionable insights without fumbling with a spreadsheet. You’ll be limited to whichever design options your LMS provider offers in its basic package.
If that isn’t enough, be prepared to pay over and over in more ways than you’d imagine. Like an unfortunate purchaser of a deceptively shiny used car, the “engine” of a low-cost LMS won’t take you very far.
At EthosCE we believe that every CME program should start with all of the tools it needs to grow, whether you start with a few dozen to a few thousand students. The EthosCE Analytics suite offers a comprehensive data management and analytics feature that makes data collection, warehousing, and segmentation effortless. View all of your critical program and member data through customizable dashboards that give you complete control over what you share and how you format your insights.
Our task automation features allow you to schedule the most time-consuming tasks ahead of time and provides you with the ability to customize everything from emails to payment reminders through the Admin panel.
With EthosCE, you start off with the architecture of your success already in place. Ready to step up to an enterprise-grade LMS? Connect with us for a demo.