If comments among eLearning practitioners are any gauge of their feelings, most of us use learning management systems, but many of us have mixed feelings about them.

In September 2012, The eLearning Guild put out a survey to find out about the experiences, needs, and practices of respondents around their learning management systems and received over 700 responses. The most common respondent roles were individual contributor and supervisor or manager. The full report, Evaluating and Selecting a Learning Management System, is available here.

LMS use by type and industry

As shown in Figure 1, survey data showed that over half of survey respondents use a corporate LMS, over a third use an academic LMS, and just over an eighth use an integrated LMS/LCMS (these categories are explained in more depth in the report).

Figure 1:
Type of LMS that survey respondents use

Survey results showed that academic LMS products are the system of choice for K-12 and higher education. This group accounts for 19% of survey respondents, 78.8% of whom are using academic LMS products.

Likewise, corporate LMS products are especially prevalent in eight industries where more than 70% of respondents use them, including financial/insurance/legal/real estate (82.5%), utilities (81.8%), transportation (77.8%), travel/hospitality/entertainment (76.9%), business services and consulting (72.7%), manufacturing (72.7%), healthcare/pharmaceuticals/biotech (72.3%), and telecom (72.2%). Corporate LMS products also have a strong foothold among government agencies, including 59.6% of federal, state, and local government agencies.

Integrated LCMS/LMS products are the least used of the three types among respondents. They have significant usage in computer consulting (66.7%), aerospace (33.3%), and media publishing (25.0%), but it’s important to realize that the number of respondents in these industries was relatively low.


Survey results showed that almost one-third of survey respondents were either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the LMS product they are using (Figure 2). Although this may seem startling, I wasn’t that surprised, considering the amount of griping I hear from practitioners about their LMSs. The report explains some of the major gripes about LMSs.

Figure 2: Satisfaction with LMS

Using an evaluation and selection process is important to satisfaction

One of the most interesting findings from the study was that satisfaction with LMSs appears to be related to effectiveness of LMS evaluation and selection efforts. We asked survey respondents whether they performed each evaluation activity (1 through 6) in Table 1. Of the respondents who performed each evaluation activity, we show the percentage satisfied or very satisfied with their LMS.

Table 1:
Satisfaction levels of respondents who performed each evaluation activity

This data indicates that, except for defining requirements, fewer than 45% of respondents used each of these best-practice evaluation activities. But for those completed these evaluation activities, the majority of respondents are either satisfied or very satisfied with their LMS.

What Steve Foreman, the author of this research report, says about this result, “these [evaluation] activities help you (a) focus on LMS products that best support your organization’s needs and priorities; (b) progressively narrow your list of product candidates; and (c) ensure that the product you ultimately select will deliver the promised functionality.” Therefore, it’s no surprise that organizations that perform these activities end up happier with their LMSs than those that don’t.

And there’s more!

This research report is filled with a great deal of information that will be valuable to many of our members. Author Foreman has even written a Learning Solutions Magazine companion article about these six steps in order to help organizations do a better job getting the LMS they need as a companion to the research report.

The LMS research report includes a great deal of detailed information on how to select LMSs from among different LMS product categories. It also includes information about different hosting models, core features, talent management features, content development and management features, eLearning interoperability features, informal learning and performance support features, social media features, mobility features, and the future role of the LMS. Because of the coming changes in tracking, the author has included an appendix on the Experience API (Tin Can) to help readers understand how that will change the future role of the LMS (Figure 3).

Figure 3:
Appendix—the Experience API