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How do I set up and use an LMS? Beginners Guide

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How do I set up and use an LMS? Beginners Guide

Learn how to set up and effectively use an LMS with our comprehensive beginner's guide. Discover step-by-step instructions, tips, and best practices to optimize your learning management system implementation.

So you've decided to set up a learning management system or LMS for your organization.

Great choice, an LMS can be a game changer when it comes to training and developing your team.

But if you've never set one up before, it can seem pretty daunting. Where do you even start?

Well, don't worry, I've got you covered. In this beginner's guide, I'll walk you through the basic steps to get your LMS up and running.

By the end of this, you'll have a fully functioning LMS ready to use for creating and delivering courses, assigning training, tracking progress, and more.

And the best part is, it's actually a lot easier than you might think. So take a deep breath and dive in. Before you know it, you'll be on your way to streamlining learning at your company.

Table of contents

You can also check out all the free guides available at the Course Creators Academy.

Ready to learn about learning management systems? Let's get started!

Choosing the right LMS for your needs

Choosing an LMS is a big decision, so take your time to find the right fit. There are a few things to consider:

First, determine your goals. Do you want to train employees? Educate customers? Host online courses? Defining your objectives will guide the rest of your decisions.

Do you need a simple solution or lots of customization?

Because some LMSs are very basic while others let you tweak everything. Think about how much control you want over the look and features.

Hosted or self-hosted?

Well, hosted LMSs are convenient since the company hosts them for you. Self-hosted ones give you more control but require maintaining the system yourself. Consider your technical skills and available resources.

There are many options like OnlineCourseHost.com, Canvas, Blackboard, and Moodle.

Evaluate free vs. paid, open source vs. proprietary, self-hosted vs. cloud-based. For small businesses, a simple cloud LMS may suit your needs. For universities, an open-source or enterprise LMS is better.

What about Integrations and mobile access?

Do you need the LMS to connect to other tools like your website or HR system?

Will learners access it on the go? Look for an LMS with robust integration and mobile options.

Another is the cost and pricing model. LMSs vary in price from free open-source platforms to expensive enterprise systems.

Choose a pricing model that fits your budget like per user per month, annual licensing fees, or pay-as-you-go.

Other factors to consider include:

Ease of use. An LMS should be intuitive for both administrators and learners.

Look for a simple, clean interface with built-in help and tutorials. Read reviews to determine how easy the system is to navigate.

Support and training. Make sure any LMS you consider offers helpful customer support and resources to get you up and running.

Video tutorials, documentation, and live support are all valuable.

Figure out your content. Will you create video tutorials, interactive courses, or static materials?

Decide on a format and who will develop the content. You may need instructional designers, subject matter experts, and multimedia developers.

Don't forget branding. Use your organization's colors, logos, and style to create a seamless experience for users. Branding also builds trust and credibility.

Finally, plan for launch and marketing. How will you announce and promote your LMS? Offering free trials, demos, and tutorials helps drive adoption.

With some upfront work, you'll have an LMS set up and ready to empower users.

But remember, an LMS requires ongoing maintenance, updates, and improvements to achieve your goals. With the right platform and content in place though, you'll be well on your way to success!

Setting Up Your LMS: Accounts, Courses, and Content

At this stage, you’ve chosen the right LMS to implement for your organization. Congrats! Now comes the setting to set it up for success.

Create Administrator and Instructor Accounts

As the admin, you’ll first want to set up your own account to manage the LMS.

You’ll also want to create accounts for any instructors who will be adding content or teaching courses. Keep track of the login credentials for all accounts in a secure place.

Build Your Course Structure

Next, start constructing the framework for your courses. Add categories to organize related courses together.

Build out courses by adding sections, modules, lessons, topics, units, or whatever terminology works for your needs. Determine prerequisites and enrollment options for each course.

Upload and Organize Your Content

With your course structure in place, it’s time to add content. Upload any presentations, videos, documents, images, or other files you want to include.

Organize this content into the appropriate sections within each course. Provide clear names and descriptions for each content item to make them easy to find.

Consider including:

  • Written summaries or transcripts for any audio or video content
  • Interactive elements like quizzes, surveys, or discussion forums
  • Additional resources for students like reading lists, worksheets, or cheat sheets

Set Up Assessments and Assignments (Optional)

If desired, you can build quizzes, exams, assignments, essays, or other assessments into your courses. Set due dates, point values, and grading options for each assessment.

Provide rubrics or grading guidelines for more subjective assignments.

Test and Review

Before launching your LMS, thoroughly test each course to ensure all content is displaying properly and accounts/permissions are working as intended.

Get feedback from instructors and make any necessary changes. Review all content for quality, accuracy, and accessibility. Then, you're ready to open your LMS to students!

Engaging Learners: Communication, Assessment, and Feedback

Once you have your LMS set up, it’s time to focus on engaging your learners. Keeping students motivated and helping them succeed is key.


Open communication is essential. Send welcome emails to introduce yourself and the course.

Be available on the LMS messaging system and by email to answer questions promptly. Post announcements to keep learners up to date on deadlines, updates, or tips for success.


Include interactive assessments like quizzes, discussions, and short-answer questions to gauge understanding.

Space them throughout the course and provide feedback for incorrect answers. Consider offering low-stakes practice assessments before high-stakes exams. This helps learners feel more at ease and better prepared.


Provide constructive feedback on assessments, discussions, and assignments. Be specific and focus on observable behaviors and actions.

Explain what was done well and how the work could be improved. Share strategies for improvement and offer encouragement.

Consider allowing resubmissions of some work. This gives learners an opportunity to apply feedback and improve, which aids learning.

An LMS is meant to be an interactive platform for learning.

By maintaining open communication, offering continuous assessment and feedback, and creating opportunities for improvement and interaction, you’ll keep your learners engaged and support their success.

The key is finding the right balance for your particular course and learners.

With regular interaction and feedback, you’ll gain valuable insights into what’s working and how you can improve the learning experience.

Ongoing LMS Management and Optimization

Once your LMS is set up and running, the work isn’t over.

To keep your system optimized, you’ll need to perform regular management and maintenance.

Review Analytics and Make Adjustments

Check your LMS analytics regularly to see how users are engaging with the system. Look for:

  • Courses or content with low completion rates. You may need to refresh or redesign these.
  • Areas users seem to struggle with. Add additional instructions or FAQs to help.
  • Features that aren’t being utilized. Determine if they should be promoted more or removed.

Based on what you find, make any necessary changes to improve the user experience.

Update Content

Course content, especially for technical topics, can become outdated quickly. Review all courses at least once a year to:

  • Ensure information is still accurate and up to date.
  • Refresh design and multimedia elements as needed.
  • Add or remove content based on user feedback.

Provide Ongoing Support

Even with an intuitive system, users will still have questions. Offer multiple support channels, such as:

  • Email support: Have a dedicated email for user questions and feedback. Aim for 24-48 hour response times.
  • Chatbot: An AI-powered chatbot can handle common questions immediately.
  • Online forum: Let users help each other by creating a space for discussions and Q&A. Monitor and contribute as needed.
  • Webinars: Host live or recorded webinars to provide overviews, updates, and guidance on using your LMS.

Keeping your LMS optimized with regular management and updates will lead to the best experience for administrators and end users alike.

Continuous improvement and support can help turn first-time users into lifelong learners.

Setting Up LMS User Roles and Permissions

Once you have your LMS set up, it’s time to establish user roles and permissions. This ensures that the right people have access to the right content and admin capabilities.

Set up instructor and student roles

The two most basic roles are instructors and students.

Instructors can create and manage course content, view reports, and communicate with students. Students can view and complete course content.

Create custom roles

You may want roles beyond just instructor and student. Some common custom roles include:

  • Course creators - Can develop new courses but not edit other instructors' courses.
  • Group managers - Can organize students into groups for group projects or discussions but not edit the course content.
  • Program administrators - Have access to multiple courses and groups within a program to oversee progress and make high-level changes but don’t create or edit the course content.

Determine permissions

For each role, establish what they can see and do in the LMS. For example:

  • Instructors - Can view all courses, create/edit/delete courses and content, communicate with all users, and view reports.
  • Students - Can only view courses they are enrolled in, and communicate with instructors and other students in those courses. No admin access.
  • Course creators - Can create/edit/delete their own courses. Can only view other courses. Limited admin access.

Make changes carefully

Be cautious when changing user roles and permissions.

Start with more restrictive access and open up permissions slowly based on user feedback. It’s easier to give more access than to take it away.

Carefully track how the changes impact your users and make adjustments as needed. With the right balance of roles and permissions, your LMS will run smoothly and securely.

Testing and Launching Your LMS

Once your LMS is set up, it’s time to test it and officially launch it to your users.

Before launching, test your LMS thoroughly to identify any issues.

  • Check that all courses, lessons, and assessments function properly.
  • Ensure any interactive elements like videos, images, or widgets are working.
  • Try accessing the LMS on different devices to test responsiveness.
  • Have a small group of users test the LMS and provide feedback.

Make any necessary changes or fixes before launch, and when you’re ready to launch:

  1. Announce the launch to your users through email, social media, and your website. Explain what the LMS is and how they can access it.
  2. Provide resources to help users get started like video tutorials, quick start guides, or FAQs. Offer support for any questions.
  3. Continue monitoring the LMS after launch to ensure there are no new issues. Make ongoing improvements and updates based on user feedback.
  4. Market your LMS to increase usage and engagement. Highlight key features and benefits to attract new users. Offer promotions like free trials or discounts.
  5. Analyze LMS usage and performance regularly. Look at metrics like number of logins, time spent, and course completion rates. Make changes as needed to optimize the user experience.

Launching an LMS is an exciting milestone, but the work isn’t over. Maintaining, improving, and promoting your LMS will be key to its success and impact.

With regular attention and care, your LMS can become a valuable resource for your users.


So there you have it, a quick and easy guide to setting up your own learning management system.

While it may seem daunting at first, taking it step by step will have you up and running in no time.

Once your system is live, you'll be creating courses, uploading content, and engaging learners before you know it.

The key is to start simple. Focus on one course or one group of learners. Build up from there as you get more comfortable.

Don't forget that your LMS is meant to make life easier, not harder. If at any point you feel overwhelmed, take a step back and remember why you wanted an LMS in the first place.

Keep learning and improving, and soon managing your learning platform will feel second nature. You've got this! Now go spread that knowledge.

And, if you're looking for an LMS platform to help you publish and sell your online course with ease? Look no further than OnlineCourseHost.com!

Our customizable platform provides a variety of tools to assist you in the easy setup and sharing of your course. With options for personalized branding, secure payment processing, and detailed analytics, our white-label solution empowers you to create and distribute your content effectively.

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Ready to learn how to launch your first coaching program or course on OnlineCourseHost.com? Here are the helpful guides for you to check out:

I hope you found this post helpful, let me know in the comments below what other topics you would like me to cover or any questions that you have.

Thanks for reading… and enjoy the course creation process! 😉

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