While Learning Management Systems have been around for some time now, their popularity skyrocketed in the context of the global crisis. Not only are they useful in delivering remote learning modules on topics that become relevant, a lot of the onboarding process for new employees has also become an integral part of how corporate LMS is used.
Still, some professionals either don’t see the benefits (usually those in charge of software acquisition, who are trying to keep the corporate purse closed for as long as possible) or fear that implementing an LMS will cost them their jobs (some trainers and instructional designers fall into this category).
Most vendors (including us) have blogs that feature numerous articles that support the practicality of having a corporate LMS. They are all about the wonderful things one can do for a company.
This article is about those things that such a system can’t do and should not be expected from it.
4 Things you shouldn’t expect from your business LMS
The one thing that should be clear (but it’s not always that way) is that a business LMS is a tool. Having a tool does not automatically equal getting the desired results, and that is true no matter if we’re talking about a hammer or an LMS. What matters most is how people use that tool. So here are four things that an LMS alone can’t do, but it can prove to be of great assistance to those who can:
Learning objectives cannot be created by an LMS
The first thing that learning specialists and instructional designers learn is that before they can set about to either create or buy a certain course, it’s essential to know what the outcome of the educational intervention needs to be.
There is a lot of academic and non-academic literature on setting these outcomes. It discusses everything from attainability to sentence structure and semantics. The most popular framework for objective design is the SMART one. According to it, any learning objective should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Going about it this way helps greatly in creating the appropriate assessment tools.
While a good LMS will be of tremendous assistance with the evaluation part, creating learning objectives will still fall to the learning specialists. Simply put, an LMS can help assess whether you got where you needed to be, but you are responsible for typing in the right coordinates into the GPS!
An LMS cannot handle alignment with company goals
The ultimate goal of any corporate learning strategy is to give employees the knowledge and change their behavior in ways that will lead to the timely fulfillment of company targets. Incongruence between where the organization needs to get and the skills it offers its members to get there can lead not only to delays but possible to utter failure.
Read more: On measuring the impact of learning
You can’t grow your sales by providing time management training to your retail employees. It might help slightly by increasing productivity but what they need is obviously sales techniques, goal setting skills, and some persuasion competencies.
Machine learning has come a long way and modern LMSs are quite high performing but not to the point where they can run an in-depth analysis of corporate strategy and prescribe the learning modules that will support it. However, it will do wonders for the deployment and evaluation of those programs once they are established by the learning coordinators.
Content creation is still the domain of instructional designers
A good LMS can do amazing things with the content, and at times it can even aid in generating bits of it, but primarily that is the province of e-learning creators. Human ones.
The ideas, the flow, the teaching methods — all need to come from competent instructional designers. Sure, there are many great authoring tools incorporated in the platforms, but even those need to be employed by somebody with vision and a creative mind.
Because highly performing LMSs can suggest relevant content and even make updates or provide suitable recommendations based on previously established algorithms some people are under the impression that the LMS creates content by itself.
The fact that modules ‘magically’ appear in the library does not mean the system is writing, filming, or podcasting them. They are the work of other people, and the LMS acts only as a proficient curator.
Read more: Why LMSs will soon have LXP functionality
An LMS has no propension towards self-improvement
Technology is evolving at incredible speeds, and user expectation is ever-changing as well. Apart from the quality of the content and the relevance of the skills or information acquired, the modern employee places great emphasis on the learning experience.
It’s no secret that all interfaces and processes need to be user friendly and easy to navigate. Upgrades and improvements have to be a constant thing.
One of the best attributes of an LMS is that it can gather and analyze feedback and data with incredible speed and precision. What measures are taken based on that data, however, once again falls to the learning specialists. Whether adjustments need to be made in the content or the presentation is decided over some e-mails or in a meeting room. An LMS is not (yet) going to move its buttons around or rename its folders so that users have an easier time with it.
There is no doubt in my mind that implementing a company LMS is the way to go in today’s digitally transformed business environment. Insisting on deploying e-learning in the absence of one is like using a scythe to cut the grass on your lawn when everybody else uses lawnmowers.
However, it’s important that the LMS is not regarded as a complete replacement for the entire learning and development department and a small portion of the human resources one. It’s bound to make things a lot easier and more efficient, but only if the right people are operating it.
Raluca Cristescu is a Faculty of Letters graduate with over ten years of experience in corporate training, focused mainly on soft skills for customer service and direct sales.