At the start of this year, a lot of learning experts and enthusiasts gave their opinions about where L&D will go. All the predictions were positive, talking about the growth and development of everything having to do with online learning, advocating the more rapid inclusion of AR, VR, and chatbots into most educational modules.
Then along came March.
Work from home became the norm rather than a perk offered to demanding Millennial employees and learning no longer smoothly evolved but was forced to transform almost overnight.
I have quite a number of friends and acquaintances in this business and I can say for sure that there never before has been a time when they had to be as creative as this year. Entire coaching sessions became online one on ones over a variety of video conferencing platforms.
4 LMS capabilities that make remote training possible
And while L&D teams did an admirable job under the circumstances, companies need to back them up by providing the right tools. LMSs are not new (their age itself even can be an issue for some organizations) but they also need to evolve in the face of the current health crisis and the times that will come once it is over.
Here are some compulsory features.
Expandability is more important than ever before
I was a corporate trainer when LMSs were still a novelty and even then, one of the greatest issues was that if you had many users accessing the same module, it lagged – if it worked at all. That number was ten. Today we have hundreds of employees, scattered geographically that demand that knowledge is available to them whenever they need it.
Since corporate learning is closely related to the tasks to be completed and to market challenges, odds are that a number of people will want to enroll in exactly the same course at roughly the same time. It’s important to also keep in mind that IT support is made up also by specialists working from home over VPNs and more or less performing internet connections.
So, if the LMS infrastructure starts to crack under the pressure of increased numbers of users there’s a good chance of it leading to utter havoc.
The optimal way to prevent this is for companies to either go for a new cloud-based LMS or migrate the existing one to such a solution as it offers the flexibility required to navigate the rapid-changing waters of the present-day business environment.
Read more: Top benefits of a cloud-based LMS
Data analysis holds the key to adapting training to meet learner demands
AI is incredibly useful when it comes to collecting and interpreting highly relevant data. It offers the possibility to learn almost instantly if a course is constantly being dropped, if participants struggle with some of the tasks or if one particular topic is seeing a rapid rise in interest.
It can also give a good glimpse into the engagement level of the learners and lead the way to genuinely personalized training paths.
Read more: Why each employee needs a learning path
AI also has the capacity to automate complex processes such as tests and certifications – in a context where it may be unsafe to have in classroom evaluations. Furthermore, AI-based exam-supervising solutions can employ computer vision and deep learning to oversee numerous exam takers at the same time and register suspicious activities faster and a lot more accurately than human supervisors.
Having such a tool on hand, organizations can easily and securely perform employee certifications remotely and be sure about the results they get.
Live communication is a high necessity
Even with a lot of people realizing just how many of the meetings they used to hold could have just as well been e-mails, live communication is essential for teams to function well. Working from home has severely limited all the relevant interactions we used to engage in at the office.
The opportunity for informal learning has been sorely diminished so formal learning has to step up and fill that void. Employees need the possibility to get assistance and ask questions of a coach or tutor even when the learning is done exclusively online.
Good video capabilities are greatly preferable to text options only – apart from the obvious advantage of allowing participants to resolve issues more quickly by speaking directly to the trainer, live video modules are also beneficial to a certain community feel. That does wonders for boosting engagement and morale – even the simple fact of having to dress up and make oneself presentable is favorable of a positive mindset.
Live video sessions — whether on independent platforms or within the LMS — allow participants to really work as a team to solve tasks, exchange ideas, and give each other feedback. That’s almost impossible and overly impersonal via text.
Corporate LMSs have to be optimized for mobile use
People generally use a wide variety of devices – greater than you may think. The devices vary, the operating systems vary, and so does the tech-savvyness of the users. Today’s LMS has to find ways to accommodate all of that and flawlessly work cross-platform.
A mobile-optimized LMS allows users to decide when, where, and what device they will access learning materials on. Even if stuck at home, desktops and laptops may not be the first choice so they shouldn’t be the only ones. With so many restrictions, this kind of flexibility is most welcome and bound to drive engagement rates up.
With right LMS, learning designers can harness the immense popularity of bit-size modules in order to be on par with the growing demand for microlearning.
We are well into the current crisis and nobody knows for sure how long it will last and what the effects will be once it passes. This is not a time for quick fixes and organizations need to thoroughly assess their current LMS solutions, as they can very well make the difference between merely staying afloat or genuinely thriving.
Graham is the CEO and Founder of CYPHER LEARNING and MATRIX. He is a serial entrepreneur, e-learning enthusiast, published author, and educator.