Long live the LMS

No, really!

As with most things that have utility, people find issue with using them preferring other ways of going about life. Don’t want to carry cash? No problem seeing most people can use contactless to pretty much do everything they need. Doesn’t mean we’re going to get rid of cash anytime soon, though. It has utility and will continue to.

What we get hung up on in L&D is beating up on old systems as being archaic and not fit for purpose. You know why we get hung up on those things? Because we have the privilege of modern technology which enables a range of interactions, solutions and content to be created.

The LMS used to be a housing store for e-learning. It still is largely. It then grew to record, manage and administer learning sessions. Fine enough. You could finally produce metrics on learning solutions. Until we realised they are meaningless. X number of hours for learning solutions tells us nothing of value.

As it’s grown, though, the LMS can do more as a platform, but may not need to be as all dominating as some vendors would want it to be. An LMS that can manage, administer and record delivery of learning solutions is helpful, especially for regulated workforces. They need to have a good and useful way for people to know when they’re expected to complete/refresh their organisational compliance commitments. Let’s be clear, though. Fulfilling these commitments is not delivering learning solutions. Indeed as AI and automated functions become more and more the norm, arguably vendors should be looking to create systems that can automate every aspect of recording, managing and administering learning sessions. Why? So L&Ders can focus on cultivating learning cultures where they create and deliver a range of solutions that support intended outcomes.

Also, modern technologies like Yammer, Skype for Business, Slack, YouTube, all need to be better supported for integration purposes. The LMS doesn’t need to have all those as its own functionality, it needs to be able to talk to those technologies so that people aren’t confined to one place of accessing learning.

And as time and technology rapidly move forward and progress faster and further than we can keep pace with, we need to be better at not being restricted by lengthy terms of contract. Yesterday’s e-learning platform may become obsolete tomorrow and we need to have agility and responsiveness to pivot and move flexibly.

This kind of approach also means we can’t expect people at work to be fully agile to change from one system to the next. Which is also a key insight that people at work don’t care how they access learning solutions. They just need to know Portal Everything allows for them to get to where they need. That doesn’t mean training people on systems time and again. It means developing and providing systems that have easy UX and are accessible. From there the content and resources they access needs to be relevant and current. That’s what people at work need.

So let’s not beat up the LMS. For many vendors they’ve done well enough to make money from selling big enterprise systems for 5 year deals. But we’re now at a stage where we can trust other systems and platforms to deliver learning solutions that are too cumbersome in the LMS. The LMS has utility. Let’s just let it do what it does really well and not try to perennially fix square pegs into round holes when we no longer need to do that.

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Sukh Pabial

I'm an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development, creating holistic learning solutions and using positive psychology in the workforce.

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