It’s an era of digitalization where everything is online. Traditional classrooms are old now. It is time for modern advancement. Are you looking to build a new-age, modern e-learning management system? If so, we have got your back. Learn how to create an LMS from scratch in this detailed article.
Let’s first have a preview of an LMS.
What is LMS?
An LMS refers to an online learning management system. It is software that runs on the internet, connecting users/students from any part of the globe. It can be used in an institute to create digital classrooms and connect teachers with students. It can also be used in any office or organization to train employees regarding skills, policies, and compliance issues. Currently, many organizations (government and non-government) are using or thinking to start using an LMS due to its numerous benefits. The global learning management system market has skyrocketed and is expected to reach about 17 billion U.S. dollars in 2022. Sounds impressive, right?
While searching for an LMS, you need to keep a few factors in mind, such as:
- Which features are required in LMS?
- How many students or employees are you going to train?
- Are any extra add-ons required?
- How will the progress of students/employees be measured?
- How will the teacher communicate with the student or employee?
- What if more than one teacher is needed to teach a single class?
- Which solution is the best?
- Where will you set up the LMS?
- Who will help you configure the LMS?
Although these are too many questions, eventually, it will help you choose the right LMS for your institute or organization.
When it comes to the features of an LMS, there is a list of features that can distinguish an ordinary LMS from the one you require. You can also get a custom list of features, which is a plus point.
Let’s have a look at some must-have custom LMS features.
Must-Have Custom LMS Features
Features such as grading system, notifications alert, creating notes, and online libraries, creating and designing courses are some basic needs for any institute or an organization. Apart from these, custom features like live chat, announcement board, calendar for important events, tests and quizzes, file sharing, tracking the progress of the students are the main requirements from an LMS. If you are spending a good amount of money on building an LMS, you would want most of these features to be integrated into the LMS in the initial stage.
More advanced features can be added later in the LMS by using IT support.
Here’s a list of some basic features of a good Learning Management System. You can explore them further in one of the solutions created by our development team - NorthPass.
Course & Content Management
The main objective of an LMS is the teaching and training of the students and employees. This feature is a must-to-have in an LMS because it helps the teacher/trainer to design courses and create content for students/employees. May it be a course, quiz, assignment, or assessment test, you can create using this feature.
It is an essential feature for an LMS in any organization rather than in an institute. Accept it that training an employee is way harder than teaching a student in a class. You can not fix the hours or timing for lectures. This is why this feature helps the employee to learn at their own pace. They can collect all the material and complete the course at their own pace.
Analytics, Achievements, Statistics, Surveys
An LMS is a platform where students can get everything from one place, but so does the teacher. Having a feature that can provide detailed analytical reports regarding the progress of a student/employee, their achievements report, and overall statistics of the entire class or at an individual level. Teachers and students can also conduct a survey using this feature.
When you are modernizing the teaching ways by using an LMS rather than having a traditional classroom, then why not change the teaching methodology. Learning for the sake of learning is excellent, but at times it gets very dull. This is why the modern technique of teaching includes gaming. Yes, an LMS should have a gamification feature.
With gamification in long and dry subjects, you can get more engagement from the learner.
Socializing between learners and teachers is very important. Having a community experience enhances the learning process. This feature helps students connect with teachers and other students.
An LMS should have intuitive mobile-friendly apps for learners. Having a mobile learning facility starts with the designing phase. It should be included in the architecture of the LMS from the very beginning. This feature is helpful when someone decides to take a course on an off-day. Also, it is useful for distributed teams.
If that is not enough, you can find more LMS features in EdTech Trends To Watch In 2020
Now let’s move ahead to the main topic and discuss the steps to build an LMS from scratch.
Development Process – How to Create an LMS from Scratch?
Let’s begin the journey:
Step # 1: Start with Creating an LMS Project Plan
This is the first and the most important step to validate your idea. In this step, you need to find proof that investing a good amount of money in LMS is worth a try.
It will be more like a forecast for the future and the profit you will earn using the LMS in terms of having more students and fewer expenses or having more productivity from employees after training them. You will get a better idea of the LMS and eLearning marketplace with a deeper insight into why you need an LMS and who is your target audience for that. You should also think about the must-have features. Here, we recommend thinking in terms of MVP development, which will make the initial process easier.
You need to ask yourself:
- Why do you need to create an LMS website?
- What problems currently your organization is facing and how this LMS will solve them?
- Who will build the LMS from scratch?
- Who will take care of the LMS implementation?
- How much are you ready to invest in learning management system development?
After noting down the answer to these questions, you will have your LMS project plan in your hand.
Now, you have finally decided that you want to invest in an LMS. You already have a purpose, and you have already created a list of all must-to-have features. It is time to look for a service provider from where you will get an LMS. You need to hire the right LMS development partner that will turn your idea into a reality.
Let’s discuss the second step on how to choose a service provider.
Step # 2: Choose Your Service Provider for LMS
Choosing the right service provider is very important. The platform you choose for creating an LMS can be a custom or a ready-made SaaS. There can be other platforms as well, but the most recommended are SaaS-based platforms. A ready-made SaaS-based platform can help you customize everything. Here you have two options. Either you can build the LMS from scratch or use a ready-made application SaaS.
If you decide to go with the first option, to build an LMS from scratch, then you should know that building a complex LMS with the features listed above, it could take about 400 to 500 hours. The work includes a lot of communication about the architecture, design, and arrangement of features. After creating the codes and integrating features, testing them one by one is another headache.
The second option of using a ready-made application SaaS, on the other hand, is pretty simple. In this application, you only need to customize base things like logo and branding colors. For using a ready-made SaaS application, you will be charged for the license fees or per-user fees. Once you pay them, you will get access to all the features of the LMS. In some cases, the ready-made LMS might need more add-ons for features that you require. To use the full functionality, you will need to use third-party software, which will charge you extra. This will definitely increase your expense, and sometimes it can be very expensive. Don’t forget that if you are not an IT expert, you will need a hand of help for the installation of this software, which will cost you separately. If you want to find out more about pros and cons of the popular Canvas LMS, read our article Canvas LMS Pros And Cons.
Both of these solutions have their own pros and cons. bis more preferable to its SaaS alternative because the SaaS solution is more expensive in the long run as it may cost you computing fees, monthly support fees, and installation fees apart from license fees. But at the same time, it has more efficiency and takes much less time to get installed and start working compared to a custom based LMS. This can be a perfect solution for large enterprises and corporations who have dedicated IT teams to do the job and don't incur extra fees.
Before finalizing the service provider, there are a few things that you must consider.
Make sure that the service provider you are choosing is providing you with a transparent communication with the team. They should be available to you at the time you need them. Also, they should keep you updated at every step of development by establishing clear communication. They should provide you with complete details on the tech stack and features your team is going to use. They should give you ownership of the codes as well.
Always check the profile of the service provider before signing the contract. They should have prior experience and expertise in the field or domain. Look for them in popular catalogues like Clutch or GoodFirms - they are fantastic places to read testimonials from real-life clients and review portfolios.
As mentioned and discussed earlier, a customer made LMS is a bit expensive as it incurs monthly costs of computing and support. You may also need to pay additional charges for extra features.
After-sales support is very important. You need to sign a contract with a service provider who at least provides technical support for a year or so. If need be, they can train your staff to manage day-to-day backups and maintenance.
Step # 3: Build Your LMS Website
When you choose a platform, you can start creating content – courses. In this step, you can start by creating a new course where you will need to add a description, attach some files, and maybe add videos and images in the gallery. In this step, you can also add some jobs/questions/networks. When you are done with adding content for the course, you can invite students to join the course.
At the initial stage, you can also add a feature to check the knowledge and capability of your student/employee by assigning a quiz or test to them.
Step # 4: Testing Knowledge of a Student/Employee
The best way to judge the capability of a student/employee is by assigning them a quiz/test/exam. With an LMS, you have the option to check the answers of any student while he/she is doing the test and assign him/her a note or give him some tips to improve. You can also chat with the student about his approach. When he/she is done with the test, assign them grading based on their answers. In most LMS, you can immediately inform the students about their results. And in some cases, after every answer student has been informed of his/her answer is correct, so they don’t need to wait for the result. There are many ways in which you can further improve your online learning platform. You can read about it in the post How To Improve Your Online Learning - Educational Technology Best Practices.
Step # 5: Responsive App and UI/UX
Your LMS website should be responsive, so it looks correct on all sizes of the browser. The app should work fine on all mobiles, tablets, and desktops. It should be responsive to all OS, including Windows, Linux, Mac, Android, and iOS. It should support all browsers like Chrome, Firefox, etc. The app should provide every user with an intuitive experience, may it be a teacher, student, or an admin.
Step # 6: Final Check
When you are done adding the courses and inviting users/students, now it is time for checking if everything is working as per your expectations. If there are no errors and everything is working fine, then you are done creating an LMS. Now, it is time to utilize it at its full potential to recover your investment.
Let’s have a preview of what will be the approximate cost of building an LMS.
What is the total cost of LMS?
Here’s the breakup of the cost that may incur while building an LMS. Keep in mind that this cost is an approximate estimate rather than being confirmed.
Annual License and Per User Fees
- License Fee: $20,000 annual
- Per User Fee: $2 to $5
- Fees for Self Hosted LMS: $25,000 (One Time)
- Extra Add-on Fees: between $99 and $1199 a month
- Hiring an IT Vendor: $4,000 (Monthly)
Summing Things Up
LMS is very important for your institute or business to teach and train your students or employees. It helps you to connect with them virtually from anywhere anytime. Not only can an institute reap great profits, but an organization can produce fruitful results like more productivity, a more specialized workforce, and, most of all, employee satisfaction.
Contact us to learn more information about custom development LMSs and get the best services!