A company that already uses the Microsoft Office 365 tool for collaboration, communication, content management, project management and virtually every other team task may dither about whether to stick with Microsoft SharePoint as its web-based Learning Management system.
With a proper appraisal of this tool, however, it’s not hard to conclude that, instead of buying a third-party LMS, it may be wise to opt for SharePoint for employee training. For one thing, it makes for an easy learning experience if your team members and trainees are already familiar with the Microsoft suite. It’s easier to work with a tool that collaborates easily with other Microsoft tools and is rooted in the already familiar Office 365 collaboration environment.
On the other hand, it may be not as easy as it sounds, especially if your training program makes use of complex learning materials. This guide will help you understand the benefits of having SharePoint as your company LMS and decide whether it makes sense for you or not. Before we delve in, let’s understand what LMS is.
What is LMS?
LMS is an acronym for Learning Management System. It refers to any web-based system that employs planning, implementation, collaboration, and evaluation features in delivering training services and enhancing the learning process. There are numerous LMSs on the market and your choice will depend on several factors, including the size of the class, the technicality of the course, the complexity of learning methods and procedures, and how it is to be deployed.
Microsoft SharePoint is a popularly used LSM that syncs well with other Office 365 tools and is able to provide an all-round solution to LSM needs, especially when used alongside the Office 365 suite.
How Can SharePoint Be Used For LMS?
Considering the following factors, it’s safe to say that Microsoft SharePoint meets the LSM demands for many small and medium businesses.
Microsoft SharePoint’s out-of-the-box (OOTB) integration with Office 365 productivity tools aids learning by text.
With the collaborative resources of Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and SharePoint, e-learning content that contains text, image, and video files can be created in SharePoint. It’s possible to incorporate content from other sites—for example, videos from YouTube, Vimeo, Wistia, etc.—to Microsoft SharePoint lessons. SharePoint also allows you to create libraries with links to text documents and multimedia files.
The downside is that complex training content, such as maps, calculators and other complex elements, cannot be viewed on Microsoft SharePoint. This is because SharePoint is not SCORM compliant OOTB.
Another upside to SharePoint is its content management feature. The learning content on SharePoint is centralized, linking to metadata and powerful search systems. Users can customize how they search for information with basic features such as list view, search filters, search keywords, and changed sort order. They can access the same content easily from different types of devices.
One more point to note is that Microsoft SharePoint has specialized features that allow trainers access to discrete information trainees can’t access, such as test answers and teaching aids. Only trainers can view and modify backend learning materials.
SharePoint not only provides content management services but can also be used for personnel management.
SharePoint work flows offers automatic enrollment of trainees in particular courses depending on a skill and knowledge assessment. Courses are automatically assigned to members of staff given their organizational unit, level or needs. In the event a member of staff gets promoted, or changes to a different team, SharePoint automatically updates the required courses and learning materials.
Microsoft SharePoint as an LSM also helps connect trainees and trainers to a discussion board around their shared course of study. It assists in file exchange through blogs, chat, and group sites. One downside to SharePoint’s collaboration features is the fact that it isn’t integrated with an email service. However, Office 365 offers several collaboration and communication tools that fill the gap.
Creating a course calendar
SharePoint offers a good way to schedule important milestones in the course of training. Class dates, assignment deadlines and exam dates are synced into the calendar to ease time tracking.
This feature is activated with SharePoint’s OOTB connection with Outlook. The SharePoint calendar syncs with the users’ native Outlook calendar and gives real-time notifications and reminders of upcoming events. And that’s not all. As a trainer, you have access to the trainees’ calendar. Microsoft SharePoint offers an overlay feature for combining different calendars, which trainers can use to monitor the activities of a group of trainees so as to understand their free and busy time.
Real time notifications
After a user is enrolled in a course, Microsoft SharePoint automatically sends notifications about events such as completion of a topic or module, the release of test results or assignment scores, or changes made to the system, the course, or event dates. Messages from SharePoint also include information about pre-scheduled meetings, discussions or deadlines.
These notifications are sent as emails or text messages. This feature eases the learning process for both learners and tutors.
Remote training features
The fact that Microsoft SharePoint employs cloud storage removes the challenge of distance. With a good connection to the Internet, users can access e-learning materials regardless of where the trainer is located. This feature also helps students learn or review previously learned material at their own pace. The co-authoring feature also makes it easy for trainers to collaborate.
It’s important to note that Microsoft SharePoint does not support video live streaming.
In conclusion, if you already subscribe to SharePoint and Office 365, you have what is needed to roll out a robust learning management system. The cost of choosing SharePoint as an LMS is borne on subscription fees. Hiring an IT service provider for implementation of the tool is optional, but it’s another cost to consider.
The truth is that to achieve seamless LSM implementation, it’s important to engage a professional consulting service. ITSTEADY is a great partner for building LMS using SharePoint, offering excellent services to brands around the globe.
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