Believe it or not, there are organizations out there that don’t have a learning management system (LMS). It makes life more difficult for many without one, but surprisingly large organizations with 10,000+ employees can get away without one.
How do we know there are organizations without an LMS?
Because we’ve worked with them. Yes, even organizations that have more than 10,000 employees sometimes don’t have an LMS. We worked with an unnamed organization that had well over 10,000 employees without an LMS. They even figured out how to do required compliance training every year and track it. It’s not efficient, isn’t the best solution for compliance training (but what is?), nor should it be done. But it can be done!
This article isn’t going to cover the specific details of tracking compliance training without an LMS, but it will give you some ideas about how you can forgo an LMS if you’re set on it. No matter what type of training you want to make available to employees, there’s a way to do it without an official LMS.
It’s possible to make available self-paced eLearning courses (what this post focuses on), performance support, training videos, and more to employees without an LMS. Depending on your organization and the requirements for training, an LMS has never been less required!
Okay, maybe that’s an overstatement. Most organizations do need, should have, will benefit from, and will continue to need an LMS long into the future. But, there are many alternatives to the old LMS. Some applications have in-app help built right in which allows employees to get the help they need with no course or anything.
And then there are tools like 7taps which has a very simplistic LMS built in for microlearning.
And videos, those things can go anywhere. While it’s best to have a video hosting platform, even with that you can still embed a video on any page on the internet, no LMS needed!
We said you could do it, but you just want to get straight to it right?
Okay okay, here are some options of where you can put training content without an LMS.
It’s a good idea to keep reading, though, because while you can put training content almost anywhere, there are some major drawbacks to doing it anywhere outside an LMS.
Non-LMS Options For Where To Put Training Content
For a little context about the options we’re providing, our focus is on self-paced courses. That’s because those are usually the training type that is put into an LMS. It’s not typically necessary or common to place performance support or any other type of training into an LMS.
Even instructor-led training isn’t put into an LMS. Signups and tracking might be handled by the LMS, but the actual session isn’t hosted through the LMS.
And for live training, good luck getting that into the LMS!
How are you supposed to get those people into that tiny little box!?
Yay for hacking your employee’s workflow and getting them what you need without an LMS!
As a cautionary note, we in no way recommend you pursue these routes as a replacement for an LMS. It will remain true for a long time that an LMS is more helpful and better at hosting training content than any other method, including those listed here.
So onward with ways you can host digital training content without an LMS.
You may have to pair this one with another option, but your company intranet is a great place to either embed or provide a link to your course. If you store the exported course content on cloud storage, you can link to it in your company intranet or embed it right on a page.
This is the way eLearning was done at the company we mentioned in the intro. They ran a file server that hosted files internally (so it doesn’t even need to be cloud storage) that could then be linked to from their Sharepoint intranet.
Every rapid eLearning development tool exports a main HTML page in the root of the exported files. It could be an index.html file or anything ending in dot HTML (.html). You just have to export your eLearning project to an LMS (even though you’re not using an LMS) and you’ll get all the files you need to run the course.
You can see some examples of that on our portfolio page where we have courses that are embedded right on our website. Just upload that folder structure to a server you have available and then link to the HTML page.
Presto, you can now access course content from Sharepoint or whatever other intranet software you use.
It’s not an ideal solution but it’s a solution nonetheless. Your company intranet can act as a pretty decent front-end for accessing a course. That means if a department in your organization has a course they need people to take, it can be available right there on their department page on the intranet.
Just like if you have an in-house file server you can upload course files, the same goes for cloud storage. You have a file server that can serve up content no matter where employees are in the world and it’s quick too.
There are plenty of cloud storage providers that you could use for course content. Amazon Web Services (AWS), Azure Cloud, or Google Cloud are good options. They can provide you with as much or as little cloud storage as your organization needs and are extremely affordable. They’ll serve up content that can be linked to in emails, messages, or shared however else you might like.
You can even link to a course from the company intranet while the course files are actually in the cloud. But then again, if you’re using Microsoft 365 then your Sharepoint is already in the cloud and you can explore options there.
This one segues nicely into your company website because that is likely hosted on cloud storage anyway. Our website is hosted on cloud storage and your organization’s likely is too.
When you export an eLearning course from any of the major rapid development tools, they’re essentially mini websites. So, why couldn’t you use a folder on your company website to host your eLearning content?
There’s no reason you couldn’t if that’s the route you need to take. I’m sure it would require some approvals, security ironed out, and some other steps internally, but it’s set up for hosting content already. Just keep in mind that anything hosted on your public website is also public unless it’s secured to be accessed on your organization network only.
This way you could post a link to the eLearning content that is in a folder on your company website. It’s not ideal and shouldn’t be taken lightly as an LMS alternative, but you gotta do what you gotta do.
Anywhere you can upload files and a web browser can access the HTML files is a place you can make a course available without an LMS. That excludes Sharepoint unless you found a hack for that since Sharepoint wants to open an HTML page in its editor rather than opening the page.
While we don’t condone the use of any of these methods, they can work in a pinch. Sometimes the importance of getting training content to employees is more important than the how. And if you don’t have an LMS up and running then these solutions can help you in a bind.
What You Lose With These Options
We’ve mentioned a few things you lose when you don’t have a real learning management system. There’s a reason why LMSs are so popular. They offer a lot of important features that can help an organization work more efficiently.
There’s nothing like an organization that cares enough about its employees to invest in an LMS. That’s why we recommend you get an LMS as soon as possible. Just like training shows you care about employees, an LMS also shows you care about them and that you value their future and want to invest in them.
So, let’s look at some of what you lose when you don’t put training content into an LMS.
Tracking And Reporting
As we mentioned, there are some ways to get around this without an LMS, it’s just not easy and it’s not going to be as thorough. Every good LMS makes it easy to track if someone has completed content or not. They also make it easy to report who has done what and who still needs to do what.
That’s great for compliance training!
I know, nobody likes compliance training, but sometimes it’s necessary. An LMS makes it extremely easy to track and report whether we like the content or not. Having an LMS also makes it nice and easy to require that a course be taken before gaining access to company software.
We built a course that saves an organization money every year, and the LMS is essential in making it all work. For employees to gain access to the system, they have to first take the course. The LMS makes it easy to track if that employee has taken the course and can be granted access to the system.
The tracking and reporting also make it easy to monitor performance, generate reports for completion, and get other metrics to help make decisions. The right data can make it easy to make big decisions and an LMS helps collect that data.
There’s nothing more convenient than having all course content managed from one place. That means employees who manage loading courses into the system and assigning them can do it all in one place. Not only that but all metrics are available in one place.
If you try to track course completion without an LMS, you may have to compile several different lists to track who has done what and who still needs to do it. It’s not an easy process and an LMS makes it easy by centrally locating all important training metrics.
It’s also easier to synchronize computer accounts with the LMS so user management is completely automated. More systems can be automated with an LMS that you simply can’t do with course content scattered all over with no accountability of who has taken it.
This is along the same lines as central administration. It’s nice for employees to have one place to go to take training and register for classes for all company training. They don’t have to go to the department website, find an email, or jump through any hoops.
When your organization has an LMS, it’s as simple as the employee going to it, searching for what they want, registering, and taking the training. That means employees can also easily discover new training that could be relevant to them or help them work better.
An LMS is a great way to centralize all training and help make employees better at their jobs. How’s that for investing in your employees?
This is a big one! Your organization’s training is intellectual property and likely proprietary at that. If you use some of the janky ways of getting courses to employees without an LMS, you’re not always doing it securely.
If you use a public folder on your web server or even cloud storage, it’s difficult to get that content to be private. That means anyone on the internet could potentially access it no matter how hard you try to secure it.
An LMS inherently is only accessible to your employees. That means your proprietary information remains within your organization and no intellectual property gets stolen.
In addition to security from the outside world, an LMS provides administrators the ability to show a course only to certain employees. And get this, they can do it all from one central location!
There’s typically even the capability of making one course required to gain access to another course. So, you can have a whole curriculum that has to be completed in order. That simply can’t be done if a course is just out there in the ether available in any order and at any time with no organization or accountability.
While this one won’t always be an issue, it could be if you host course files on a company server. If you’re using cloud storage, this won’t likely be an issue because cloud storage can scale up or down nearly infinitely. I mean, think of all the videos people are watching on YouTube right now. That’s massive scaling.
An LMS is designed to scale with your content and employees, though. It’s designed to host course content and manage the load of people accessing content. Just keep in mind that it’s not designed to be a video host. It’s always best to host training videos (even if embedded in a course) on a dedicated video hosting platform.
Other than that, you can load your LMS up with courses that are useful to employees and help them grow in their jobs. Big emphasis on courses that are useful to employees.
While you now have some ideas of where you can put digital training (mainly eLearning) without an LMS, we hope you don’t. It’s always ideal to have an LMS and nothing can compare to it. Even though it’s the best solution and we recommend it hands down, sometimes it’s not realistic and you still need a course available to employees.
Just be sure no matter what option you choose, you’re not making protected company information public on the internet. Or, worse yet, making private employee or even patient information available on the internet.
It’s always possible to do without an LMS but it’s not a good investment in your organization or employees. The better investment (of which the return is phenomenal) is to have an LMS that fits your needs. You’ll gain a lot of valuable functionality that’s essential to help your organization succeed.
A good LMS is a great way to deliver training content to employees and make it easier on them, all while giving more data to your organization that can ultimately lead to better decisions.
While we can’t help you choose the right LMS (not our specialty) we can help you build amazing custom software training solutions. That’s just as important because it helps your employees work through an ever-changing environment from all the technical innovations to grow your organization.
If you want to talk digital training, schedule a free consultation so we can learn more about your project and goals. If you do want to talk about getting an LMS, while we’re not the experts we do know people so feel free to reach out.