Rethinking the LMS

Rethinking the LMS

Before we begin, let’s rewind to circa 2007; to a time when the word “digital” meant something pretty different from what it means today. Almost synonymous with “I.T.”, it didn't have much of an existence in the corporate space. Companies did not have a digital strategy, leave alone a mobile presence for engaging with their customers or helping their employees collaborate. Social platforms in eLearning hadn't even made their debut!

Cut to 2017. A company’s digital strategy is practically driving the roadmap and goals of many departments, from Marketing to Sales to HR. Today, we are in the middle of what is being famously referred to as the ‘digital transformation’, and companies are making a beeline to fall into the zone lest they may fade out or become archaic. What exactly is this 'digital transformation'? Brian Solis, Principal Analyst at Altimeter, a Prophet company, defines the term as “the realignment of, or new investment in, technology, business models, and processes to drive new value for customers and employees and more effectively compete in an ever-changing digital economy.” In simple terms, 'digital transformation' is about rehashing the existing technology, and introducing new and more efficacious digital methods to transform businesses. While technology is having such an ever-lasting impact on the overall entity of an organisation, how is it affecting the one field that plays a defining role in the future of the company? The field of 'learning'. The corporate learning landscape has undergone a sea change making its way to discussions, reports, and surveys across the length, breadth and depth of the industry.

The 2017 Deloitte Human Capital Trends research talks about how corporate Learning and Development is an issue that 83% of companies rate as 'important', and 54% rate it 'urgent'.Digital transformation, like all other sections, has also affected the L&D segment of companies who have realised that delivering an engaging digital learning experience is critical to its business success. As Josh Bersin points out in his post, The Disruption of Digital Learning: Ten Things We Have Learned, digital learning is not limited to learning on a phone, it rather means ‘bringing learning to where employees are.’ This means L&D is required to evolve its techniques to extend the advancement in digital capacities and bring out a more holistic and sharper learning experience. The advantages of digital learning compared to conventional training are quiet clear and have been accepted by all; online courses are flexible, agile, cost-effective and have a wider reach. So, it’s for the L&D professionals to harness this technology in order to increase the effectiveness of their learning interventions.

Through all this, the pivotal step for L&D is to rethink their LMS first as it forms the focal area of L&D. Despite the high stakes for L&D, many learning professionals are still conservative in their digital approach. The conservatives feel more comfortable sticking to the tried and tested methods LMS methods that have been used for a long time.

However, the time has come to rethink the LMS in the context of modern learning influences courtesy of digital transformation. This means the tested approach for the Learning Management System may have to be changed/ tweaked in line with the evolving trends so as to future-proof the organisational L&D.Below listed are 10 steps that can set LMS rethinking in motion. Most L&Ds could consider these steps to rethink their current LMS:

1. Understand Business Goals and Objectives

It is important to ensure that the L&D strategy is aligned with the mission of the organisation’s business. Training and performance solutions, LMS being a major part of which, should enable organisational goals, rather than detract from them by not adding value. Clarifying the business objectives must be the starting point for identifying the best way to determine the best LMS.

2. Recognize the Audience

The fundamental step towards identifying and choosing the 'right' LMS (and learning solutions in general too) is to identify the target users. It is essential to analyze the audience and understand things like what motivates them, what capabilities they possesses, what they lack etc. This will help device the best eLearning format for the audience. The more the L&D understand the audience, the better it can have the LMS and the learning materials work for its audience.

3. Consider the Work Approach

The aim of the LMS is also to influence (enhance, ideally) the work done by employees on a daily basis in some way or the other. So understanding the context in which the work is/will be done will definitely benefit the setting for learning. In addition, learning that allows an employee to continue being engaged in routine work instead of stopping it, can prove to be more beneficial. Information flow and productivity tools are key concerns in establishing the context for continuous learning.

4. Identify Gaps in Current Learning

Before addressing a skills or a learning gap, it is necessary to identify it. In today’s competitive environment, a gap in any workforce talent hinders the company’s ability to grow. L&D must interact with employees to find the gaps in their current strategies and shape their future tactical decisions. The shortfalls of the LMS experience are a likely consideration during this stage.

5. Plug Gaps by Partnering with Other Teams

It may be the L&D team’s responsibility to plug the gaps once they are found, but that does not mean it has to single-handedly do so. Since L&D plays a critical part in enabling learning, it can join hands with other departments across the company including IT, HR, and Operations.

6. Zero In On Data that Facilitates Learning

When employees use the LMS, learning is still the main event. However, it has been found that people generally forget a considerable amount of what they learn within 30 days, unless it’s continually reinforced. Large volumes of information delivered in a single session lead to cognitive overload. Hence L&D needs solid data on what works for people and what does not work. Although lot of this data can be culled out through features and tools like MIS & Reporting in an LMS, additional sources of performance and outcome data are also necessary to understand the performance picture.

7. Analyze Current Technology

An ideal learning solution needs to be adaptable, nimble and efficient. An LMS has to include different forms of learning and teaching tools to facilitate continuous learning and development of the workforce. This is exactly what the L&D needs to ensure. It is important to take a stock of whether the existing LMS enables learning that is continuous, seamless and fits in the learner's learning ecosystem. This is a sign of a good LMS. A not-so-good-one can make the learning scheduled, lengthy, with testing at the conclusion which contributes to putting the brakes on employees’ interest.

8. Choose a New Technology

Technological advancements have created a unique set of expectations for modern workers. The most progressive learning professionals understand they need to drive employee knowledge with targeted, effective and measurable technology platforms. L&D must now understand that leveraging advancements in learning technology makes them strategic enablers to delivering a better learning experience.

9. Incorporate New Technology into Existing Learning Experience

Delivering the most effective, impactful and meaningful learning experience should be the goal for every L&D leader. It isn’t just about checking the box anymore. It’s time L&D embrace new platforms and technologies that are mobile-first, cloud-based and drive learner engagement through its UI, UX and learner-centric features and functionalities. But, it must be able to find ways to ease out the transformation when adding new tools to the learning experience keeping in mind the fact that employees may have become used to the old methods.

10. Evolve!

With the changing corporate landscape, L&D too needs to keep pace and continue evolving and adapting to changing situations. It can no longer rely on the 'push' approach because learners are more selective and able to research. The only way the 'pull' approach will work is to create a compelling offer. L&D should focus on offering small solutions that are iterative instead of making too many big changes.

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