In this article, you’ll learn:
- How investing in a learning management system can take your business to the next level by allowing you to focus on community and learning enrichment
- Must-haves in any LMS you decide to choose, like:
- ~Support for live and async online courses
- ~Customization options for your environment
- ~A focus on community and growth
- ~Reporting and analytics
- ~Opportunities for monetization
- How the top 5 best learning management systems of 2022 stack up against one another:
The future of learning is growing rapidly because anyone, anywhere can create, market, and sell access to online learning programs.
Entrepreneurs everywhere are looking to get a cut of what will become a trillion dollar industry by the next decade.
A good learning management system can be the difference between launching a lucrative learning community or succumbing to common failures. Knowing how to support a learning community and get courses, events, and other enriching learning experiences off the ground that generate revenue isn't intuitive.
That's where great learning management software comes into play and take away the operational and administrative stresses of running a learning community.
If you have the right LMS in your tech stack, your only focus should be changing the lives of members in your learning community.
We're breaking down the considerations you need to make before deciding on a learning management system for your community and giving you five options that tick those boxes:
What you should look for in a learning management system
Support for both synchronous and asynchronous courses
According to Studocu, e-learning increases intention rate by 82%. This includes both self-paced and cohort-based formats and is likely due to the fact that e-learning is more accessible to the masses and, therefore, learners can be more intentional with the subjects or topics they’re choosing to learn. Regardless of the format or subject, online learners are retaining the information they're learning within these courses and using their newfound skills both professionally and personally.
Whether your learning community features synchronous, asynchronous, or blended learning, your LMS software should have the functionality and the integrations to support all models, such as:
- Video conferencing integrations with services like Zoom so you can hold live courses, events, and other online training
- Bulk calendar invites so everyone in your community can join in their respective time zones
- Member profiles and progress reporting so you can track the learning process and coursework proficiency of each individual student
- Course creation and duplication so you can repeat successful curriculum with each new synchronous or asynchronous cohort
Great learning management systems support all kinds of learning experiences — not just sync or async opportunities — because offering more experiences unlocks more revenue opportunities. (More on that later!)
Highly customizable environment
Put your best face forward with a branded, customizable interface so your LMS platform is yours and yours alone. A customizable environment lets members know what your community is all about and allows you to integrate brand elements like logos, banners, subdomains, and colors.
Another consideration for your learning management software of choice is user interface. In addition to helping founders seamlessly sell online courses, top learning management systems make it easy to develop customized learning paths, create mobile learning programs, and manage the online learning experience by making features and customer journeys simple to use.
When your environment feels true to you and the impact you're wanting to have on members of your community (and is easy for both your students and your support team to use), your content will resonate that much more powerfully.
Focus on community cultivation and growth
If you look at any successful learning community, they all share one key element: a strong, active community.
When you bring members together in the spirit of learning a new skill, launching a new career, or mastering a new interest, community is critical to shaping that online education experience — and an LMS that fosters that community is critical to keeping it alive and prosperous through social learning tools.
Look for a learning management system that either integrates with communication tools like Slack or offers a proprietary messaging system that allows direct messaging between members, as well as community-wide posting, dedicated channels to different groups and interests, and feeds so you can follow specific topics.
Giving your members different opportunities to share knowledge, experiences, and feedback in a variety of forums only adds to the learning enrichment and the network they're inevitably building with others in the community.
A good learning management system can support the communication tools for small, intimate groups of collaborative learning all the way up to massive open online courses.
Member profiles are a must-have so you can log info about members, track student progress, and pair kindred learners together for even more impactful, intimate learning. With features like polls, Q&A, and other custom content widgets, you can engage your community efficiently and frequently.
Developing a new skill or interest is incredible — and ultimately what your members are there to do — but that development is only made better by fostering an online learning community that supports the growth and success of each member.
In-depth analytics and reporting capabilities
Your community can only grow and thrive if you can gauge how your members are performing and feeling about their experience. An LMS should offer reporting and analytics around the health of your community as well as your membership.
Take Disco, for example: our comprehensive reporting dashboards let you view all types of data about your members, like:
- Member engagement (including what content is resonating with them and what's not sticking within your learning experience)
- Attendance reports for live lectures, courses, and events (or any other types of learning experiences you offer)
- Training program effectiveness so you know what to keep or change about your training materials like your online courses
- Daily member progress to ensure learners are completing relevant coursework, so you know to step in if need be
- Feedback reports that help you iterate and improve coursework and community offerings
A good learning management system creates tailor-made reporting decks so you can share feedback internally and make pointed efforts to improve the learning experience for your entire membership or individual members specifically.
Monetization opportunities for revenue generation
Revenue is the name of the game, so an investment in a learning management system should not only pay for itself — it should pay off in additional profit.
To start, the best LMS tools on the market allow you to collect payment directly on the platform by integrating with payment processors, rather than adding yet another tool to your tech stack. That way, you can track revenue alongside other data reports and see how your learning community improves over time, and you can create discount codes or scholarships based on your unique pricing plan.
A stellar LMS unlocks additional monetization opportunities and supports them in the same way they support other aspects of your learning community. Some tools create affiliate selling opportunities. Others allow you to host unlimited courses and communities so you're consistently generating revenue by hosting overlapping cohort-based or self-paced courses.
Moreover, you can host event series, lectures, or additional features outside of your base offerings that eager members can pay for for even more learning enrichment.
The following five learning management systems combine some or all of these important components. Depending on what your community looks like now and what you hope to grow it into in the future, one of these tools could be the best choice for your learning environment.
The 5 best learning management system options in 2022
Learning's most comprehensive and most powerful learning management system for community-minded founders and operators that want to shape the future of learning
Disco is one of the younger LMS options on the market, but we've made a name for ourselves in a short time by bridging the gap between learning and community in a way that allows founders to build, operate, scale their learning communities, and create something that changes the lives of others.
Disco makes social learning accessible to both those founding these communities and those joining them. Disco is the flexible learning platform that really lets you own the experience from end to end.
Pricing for Disco
Disco Pro: For $75 a month, Disco gives 1 admin and 3 instructors access to create unlimited learning experiences plus built-in community messaging if Slack isn’t a part of your existing tech stack.
Disco Organization: At $399 a month, you receive 5 admin accounts and 10 instructor slots plus the ability to brand your platform with custom logos, colors, and photography. You also receive member progress reporting which is fundamental to helping your community grow and thrive.
Disco Enterprise: Our tailor-made plans for corporate partners or learning communities that are ready to support a staff and a large community to scale revenue goals. With Disco Enterprise, your onboarding process is custom to you, and you have a dedicated success manager who will support your journey end to end.
Key features of Disco
If you simply want to put a course online and generate passive income while people learn your curriculum, Disco isn't for you. We're the LMS for people who want to have an active role in their learning community and in the lives of their members.
- Support for all kinds of learning experiences, including both synchronous and asynchronous courses, live events, pre-recorded events, and masterminds
- Advanced integrations with hundreds of tools
- Membership profiles and progress tracking (so you know when to step in and offer support)
- Full monetization functionality, from collecting payments to creating discount codes
Some learning management systems only support particular types of learning experiences. Others are purely focused on helping you make money which, while great, defeats the purpose of creating a vibrant learning community.
With Disco, you can host event series, cohort-based courses, and self-paced courses right on the platform, where your community lives and thrives. With our deep integrations and easy functionality, Disco becomes more than just a platform — it becomes the central, and possibly only, hub for your growing community.
The LMS for hands-off profit generation
An interactive slider on the Kajabi homepage shows how much annual income you stand to make as you scale and grow your community, revealing Kajabi's main objective — help creators make money. There's nothing wrong with wanting to generate income, but where Kajabi falls short is bringing community to the forefront of both the founder and member experience.
Pricing for Kajabi
Build Mode: You don’t have to spend any money to sign up for Kajabi and check out their key features, build a website, and send marketing emails. In order to make sales or publish content, you have to upgrade.
Basic: At $149 a month, you can sell three products and create three funnels through unlimited landing pages. You unlock access to templates and the option for creating assessments for your courses at this stage.
Growth: For $199 a month, Kajabi lets you customize your platform and generate additional revenue through affiliate selling. You get more seats for admin users and have the freedom to add more products and funnels.
Pro: Kajabi’s Pro Plan adds additional functionality and, most importantly, a code editor that allows you to really make the site your own.
Key features of Kajabi
- Support for memberships around online courses, personal coaching, and podcasts
- Additional marketing features to launch web pages, sales funnels, and email campaigns for growing your learning community
- Differentiation between premium paid content and free content on your platform
If profit is your ultimate goal, Kajabi provides a ton of features dedicated to helping founders make money. But learning communities thrive when people are put before profit, and if your goal is to enrich the lives of your members, Disco may be the better option for scaling your community.
A customizable option for learning management
Founded just a year before Disco, Thinkific has become another household name for creators of online courses to host and grow membership. The platform is highly customizable and aims to be the one-stop shop for founders who want to create, market, and scale learning products.
Pricing for Thinkific
Free: We’ll hand it to Thinkific — their free package offers the most functionality out of any other platform we’ve highlighted today. It’s not just a free trial, either. You can use their drag-and-drop feature to create courses, run assessments, and access their app store to add integrations.
Start: For $74 a month, you earn Thinkific membership capabilities like individual profiles and setting members up on payment plans. You unlock live learning features and more advanced web editing options to make the platform yours.
Grow: At $149 a month, Thinkific customers can remove platform branding and incorporate their own. You can also scale your platform usership with more administrators and communities. However, this Grow package’s bulk student emailer and enrollment features come standard in more affordable packages with other learning management systems.
Expand: Thinkific’s $374 a month plan is fit for larger learning communities looking to scale and support hundreds if not thousands of members. Support up to 10 communities, 5 administrators, and enjoy priority support.
Plus - Custom
For enterprise-level customers or massive communities with large memberships to support, Thinkific offers custom pricing and dedicated customer support that can address your every need at any time.
Key features of Thinkific
- Thinkific offers one product — their online course platform — and everything you need to market and sell that course. It doesn't support other types of learning experiences
- They have strong community features like member profiles and spaces for members to communicate within, but they don't have a features like Disco's Progress Tracker to ensure members are engaged and up-to-date on coursework and event attendance
Thinkific is a strong learning management system, but it won't support your current and future learning experience endeavors if you want to create more touchpoints for your members.
A content management system for entrepreneurs, but not a learning management system
Podia is as user-friendly as it gets for uploading, marketing, and selling online courses, but it's not a functional learning management system the way Disco and other platforms are. Rather, Podia lets anyone create online workshops, courses, or sessions to monetize for their community.
Pricing for Podia
Free: The free plan that isn’t actually free – Podia collects an 8% fee plus a transaction fee from Stripe (their preferred payment processor) for every sale you make.
Mover: Podia’s Mover plan removes the transaction fees and lets you start monetizing coaching and courses. You can’t yet sell webinars, but you can create a full website and start selling unlimited access to your offerings.
Shaker: At $40 more a month, Podia’s Shaker plan unlocks affiliate selling and unlocks access to create and sell webinars.
Earthquaker: Podia’s top-tier pricing gives you priority support, onboarding calls with a dedicated team, and access to their monthly masterminds with other creators and founders in the space.
Key features of Podia
- Anyone can use Podia, whether you want to be hands-on in your business or create a one-stop shop where new people can access your digital product offerings
- Podia is not a learning management system. You cannot host live courses, events, or other learning experiences. You also can't track member progress and guide them through your curriculum through mentorship
Podia is great for the passive income makers and the folks who want to sell a digital learning product. Creators, founders, and operators of live learning who want to move the industry forward and build lasting, successful learning communities will find more comprehensive support on platforms like Disco.
The premium choice for enterprise-level businesses
If Docebo's offerings sound like they come at a premium, that's because they do. While AI-powered learning management and in-depth business analytics are incredibly useful tools, they aren't feasible nor necessary for businesses below enterprise level. Docebo works with corporate partners and massive learning communities to scale their offerings and weave learning seamlessly into a company's culture.
Pricing for Docebo
Because Docebo’s solutions are integrated into a company’s existing workflow, their pricing is custom and unique to each use case. Huge organizations like Walmart, Coca Cola, and Salesforce use Docebo, so their pricing isn’t attainable for most standalone learning businesses and communities.
Key features of Docebo
- End-to-end support for weaving learning into your organization's culture to train partners and employees
- Fit for learning businesses or corporations that are too large for a traditional LMS
Try Disco free for 14 days!
Learning and community were meant to coexist, and it's this philosophy that has led Disco to create the most comprehensive learning management system on the market for 2022. There's no one-size-fits-all solution to learning, either, which is why we support the creation and distribution of all different types of learning experiences.
But rather than tell you, why don't we show you? Book your live demo with one of our rockstar teammates or, better yet, start a free 14-day trial so you can experience all Disco has to offer founders of vibrant learning communities.