Episode 101

Learning Management System All-In-One Software vs. Integrated Software Solution

If you’re deciding between learning management system all-in-one software vs. an integrated software solution, Chris Badgett can help you determine which is best for your learning management system, online course, or membership site requirements in this LMScast.

A lot of companies claim to have a turnkey all-in-one solution that will give you everything you need in one simple package, but can they deliver on that promise? Our own LifterLMS course development platform can function as an all-in-one solution, and for many people it provides everything they need for their online courses. But it’s not a complete solution for everyone right out of the box.

If you need services that are not included in any all-in-one systems available, then you’ll want to explore integrated systems. These allow for a variety of third-party tools and services to work together with your LMS. We provide a service for LifterLMS to bring integrated services together in a customized system for your specific needs. We give you the convenience of all-in-one software with the power of integration.

We designed LifterLMS for WordPress, because it provides an integration-friendly ecosystem readily compatible with a world of plug-in tools. One of those tools is Gravity Forms, and we’ve just released a LifterLMS add-on for it. The internet runs on forms, because they’re the best information gathering tool you can use, and Gravity Forms is a long-time favorite. You can use it for simple or complex forms, testing and evaluation, surveys, and signable forms. Plus it’s compatible with a wide variety of other solutions. You can find out more about Gravity Forms integration and LifterLMS by visiting our blog entry on the subject.

A big part of your online success is about creating the right connections to facilitate your goals whether that’s sharing information, developing online courses, selling products, or creating software. Whether you choose learning management system all-in-one software vs. an integrated software solution, or a custom hybrid solution from our LifterLMS service, your possibilities are endless.

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EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Chris: Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. My name is Chris Badgett, and in this episode, we are going to be talking about a big debate between learning management system all- in-one software, versus an integrated software solution. What do I mean by that? Well, a lot of companies out there claim to have it all figured out, to have an all-in-one solution. The other approach is to have a learning management system, or an online course delivery system, or a membership site system that does a lot of great things, but then further integrates with other best-in-breed third party services.

Let me give you an example about this debate. It’s really easy from a marketing perspective or from a customer or a business looking for a solution perspective, to want to find that magical all-in-one unicorn if you will, that just does everything you want it to do in terms of delivering an online course or managing the complete LMS, or members area. For sometimes you do find a piece of software, like some people may come to our software LifterLMS, and it does everything they need without needing to even use our own add-ons, or integrate with a third party service. For them, LifterLMS is an all-in-one solution, or perhaps LifterLMS with our add-ons does everything they need it to do.

In other cases, people come to it and they’re like, “Okay, I love what you do, you’ve got me 80% there, but I need to integrate with these other services.” You can do that through other products, you could do that through other WordPress plug-ins. At LifterLMS we also have a customization service we can do if you’re looking to build a custom solution from the ground up, on top of Lifter where there’s not a good fit for our products suite, or our boost implementation program doesn’t quite cover all the scenarios you need to do. We have custom developments for that, but in that case we basically build for you the all-in-one solution. That’s the difference between custom development versus off the shelf, or out of the box custom solutions.

We sit in the middle of this debate, in some cases we are that perfect all-in-one solution. In other cases through integration we are part of an ecosystem that creates a solution, which is one of the reasons we chose to develop on WordPress because there’s other plug-ins, and other integrations already in existence that you can integrate with to get the desired outcome you want either for free or for a low cost. That’s the beauty of the WordPress ecosystem is the connectivity or the integration possibilities through plug-ins and what not to other WordPress products or other third party services. As of this recording, this is being recorded in the mid-summer of 2016, we’ve just released a gravity forms add-on for LifterLMS. What that does is, that allows you to, instead of a student pressing mark complete at the lesson, they have to submit a form. Now, if you’ve ever worked with forms, and done more than a simple contact form, you know how powerful a form could be.

Gravity forms has been around a long time in the WordPress ecosystem. There’s other form solutions out there, that work with WordPress that we’re looking into developing as well, if there’s enough interest. With gravity forms, through their platform, you could design like a simple … Okay, “I want to collect this assignment, or I want to create this advanced quiz or test or I want the students to upload a picture of something like a piece of art I created, or a picture of me doing my work out routine, or a picture of whatever real estate property I just sold.” Whatever makes sense for you, in your niche, in your learning management system when you need to collect data, forms come in a lot of handy. A lot of the beauty of the internet is actually built on top of form functionality.

By integrating with gravity forms, we’re able to leverage their ecosystem, even though we didn’t build our own form solution so we’re not technically an all-in-one solution. We can now leverage that integration and let gravity forms do what they’ve been working on, for many, many, many years. Even gravity forms from there, integrates with other solutions. For example, they have add-ons to work with Slack, or Dropbox or with Help Scout, or with other email marketing systems like ActiveCampaign and so on. Through Lifter, you can then integrate with gravity and maybe you’re happy there, or maybe you need to integrate further with their third party integrations, with these other services.

This is just a good example of … It would be great to be the all-in-one WordPress learning management system or LMS solution, but by building complete form systems from the ground up, we get to leverage the power and the connectivity of existing solutions and integrate that out there. If you’ve been studying the web for a while, you’ll notice that a lot of the internet is all about this web if you will. It’s not like the internet itself, is not an all-in-one solution. It’s more about the connections and creating the right connections that make sense, for whatever you’re trying to do. Whether you’re just trying to create information or sell products or create software and so on.

If you’d like to find out more about the LifterLMS gravity forms integration, we wrote a blog post about that. You can go to blog.LifterLMS.com/gravity-forms, and in that blog post we describe 9 ways that you could use gravity forms and create a more powerful learning management system or online course, or just further add value to your membership site. Just to go through some of those real quickly, you could create a survey or testimonial which is a great thing to automate or at least automate a part of.

You could create more advanced tests, you could create signable documents, which is important for some learning management systems or course content. You could sell products from within lessons. You could collect registration details, you could get into the point of learning aspect of having people register for an invent that is either online or in person. You could collect assignments or other uploads, and you could collect all kinds of information with a form building plug-in solution. You can have forms that are formatted to collect things like phone numbers, name. You could have long answer, you could have short answer, you could put something what’s in this conditional logic in there to make forms more … Have simple programming in there. Like if somebody clicks this, then display this kind of thing.

You could even with the LifterLMS integration, you could customize the information you collect on new user registrations. You could tap in to the gravity forms, user registration add-on there. Like I said, you could interconnect or integrate with third party applications like Slack and Zpn or Dropbox and so many more. Head on over to blog.LifterLMS.com/gravity-forms, and you’ll get an idea for what’s possible there. Back to our original debate, when you’re looking for a solution for your online course, or your learning management system, or your membership site, just keep in mind that it is nice when you can’t find an all-in-one solution, but it is also nice to be able to integrate with different services. Really what we find is a sweet spot where you find something that’s 80% all-in-one solution, but then that other 20% is achieved through integration.

You’re never going to find that perfect all-in-one solution. That’s why we get a lot of people who are leaving these hosted platforms like Udemy or Teachable or some of these other ones out there. They come to LifterLMS and the WordPress ecosystem because they’re not happy with the all-in-one solution. They felt too boxed in, they didn’t have the ability to integrate with other third party solutions that they wanted to. There wasn’t this rich ecosystem like WordPress has of existing, integration and customization options through plug-ins and themes and so on. When you’re shopping around, you’re looking for an LMS or an online course solution, be sure to think deeply about how achievable that all-in-one concept is. If you do do that, you’re going to make some sacrifices which might be okay for you, but also think about what you’re going to want to integrate with, or have the option to integrate with later.

Thank you for listening to this episode of LMScast. Go to LifterLMS.com and check out gravity forms to see an example of an integration, and we’ll catch you in the next episode.

Take the mess out of your head and find success on the web by getting your online course membership site project organized with this free simple worksheet

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