Learning management systems are not new to corporate learning; they have been around for quite some time and each year more and more are released. What an LMS basically does is host, distribute, record and report on all learning that goes on within an organization.
Apart from that, there are many more additional features that companies ask for and expect today. Probably the most difficult one to incorporate is tracking all informal learning and using the information to provide highly personalized learning.
The LMS is the critical component to the entire e-learning program, acting both as the foundation (by incorporating all the modules) and as the engine (by providing the environment in which learners can access them and suggesting various topics based on curriculum and personal interest).
Some of the systems in place today have mechanisms that allow designers to generate quizzes within the LMS rather than use an outside tool. Others have actual content creators that are able to sort through the existing material and reorganize it or even turn new information into modules.
A business LMS is critical to e-learning program success
Choosing the right LMS for your company will definitely be critical to the success of all L&D initiatives. However, there are so many options that it’s very difficult to make the choice with very numerous versions being more that all right.
It’s all about the requirements you have for it and for the role you want it to play in the organization. For example, if you are part of a very large company with tens of thousands of employees located on different continents, selecting and LMS that requires paying on a per-user basis is highly impractical. Also, you have to consider what tools you are using to create training modules and make sure that they can work flawlessly with the LMS.
And last but not least, any responsible L&D department needs to assess the system once in a while and make the decision to opt for a new one when it becomes necessary. Most of the problems that arise in using a LMS come from the fact that it is outdated. Insisting on using it will not prove profitable but it will eventually lead to losing money and annoying everybody along the way.
Read more: When it’s time to let go of an LMS
The LMS of the future
So far I have talked about what an LMS needs to do for an organization at the present time. Yet great businesses always know to look to the future and be prepared for it. So in case you are on searching for a brand new and shiny LMS, here are some features to be on the look-out for:
- a user-friendly and easily searchable environment where people can find information and resources when they need them
- a collaborative space where employees can share their experiences and learn from each other
- a system that allows L&D professionals to upload ready-made modules as well as add updated or custom-made content when deemed necessary
- a platform that is accessible on any kind of device and at any time since flexibility is very important in today’s workplace
- features that help with offering a personalised approach to learning – ability to record all learning, both formal and informal in order to suggest new material that is of interest to the user
- an LMS that has at least some content available offline as people don’t always have a stable internet connection when they want to learn.
These are only some ideas about what to look for. Since today’s organizations are constantly transforming there may be some unique specifications they will need. That’s why it’s important to sit down with the vendor and talk about built-in features and flexibility options. Changing the LMS when it’s necessary is a good thing but if it’s necessary to do so every two years, there is a big issue with purchasing.
Moving towards an ecosystem
The way things are looking, the LMS will no longer be regarded as a tool but rather a living environment, an ecosystem. It would sound as something out of a science fiction novel if we weren’t living in a time when a lovely female humanoid robot got citizenship of a rich Arab country.
For most companies today it’s no longer enough for their LMS to simply be functioning somewhere in the background acting as a pure mechanism for learning delivery. They need it to be a platform where employees will choose to go and search for opportunities to learn and develop.
On one hand this means that the LMS itself will have to be more active in gathering data and informing users of materials that might be of interest to them and on the other that L&D professionals will have to design more flexible learning paths and only intervene where obvious gaps are apparent.
All organizations want their people to be ambitious and self-driven. A good LMS made available to them at all times and on all devices is the stepping stone to that.
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.