Paris (F), October 2016 – (by Sally-Ann Moore, iLearning Forum) We have been talking to users who bought an LMS: few were very happy with their purchase once deployed; many shared useful experience with us. This article summarizes our findings.
Not all users are happy with their LMS…
The learning-management-system (LMS) market is having a new burst of growth and is now forecast to be worth USD$15.72 billion by 2021. Overall, LMSs currently represent 7% of all eLearning spend. There is a vast array of LMS offerings out there, split mainly into two categories: academic and corporate. We have been talking to corporate users in Western Europe and noted some disappointments during implementation:
- The platform was found to be too complex and too heavy, needing more resources than available or planned for managing the tool and the eLearning content.
- The user interface was often reported to be too technical, insufficiently intuitive, and a turn-off for the corporate learners.
- The system was less compatible with IT infrastructure than first thought.
- The functions often did not include mobile learning, or the mobile-learning function was limited compared to pure mobile-learning offerings.
- The user experience showed up requirements not foreseen in the tender or specification.
So is the technology to blame? No, not really. The problem is that too often we make a technological purchase with technologists, when we should be making a pedagogical purchase. Here are some tips for making the best of your LMS purchase and meeting your L&D goals.
Four things to do when you’ve bought an LMS
You have the choice of tailor-made content, off-the-shelf content, or repurposing existing courses. Over recent years, this choice has evolved greatly thanks to new authoring tools for DIY content creation. Custom content development used to be expensive and slow, difficult to maintain, and required a large e-learner population to meet the minimum economic size. Off the shelf on the other hand was inexpensive and quick, but often was too generic, boring, and a poor fit - and low completion rates resulted. Now, new DIY authoring tools have brought the minimum economic size down drastically: Today, development times are weeks not months, and eLearning is finally possible for SMEs.
This brings us to a new question: who is in charge of eLearning content? What "Digital Pedagogy" skills do we need?
- There overload out there. Use good needs analysis (with your LMS) to stay focused on quality, not quantity. Quality means engaging with high user satisfaction - There is lots of proof that blended learning is the way to go, even better if you can deploy the flipped classroom Use your LMS to combine classroom and online into blendedlearning courses.
- Use custom content development only for strategic, company-wide subjects.
- Ask experts to review DIY eLearning courses made by your team. Check the nstructional design values.
Once the content is ready our main concern becomes the task of engaging learners with it.
- Communication and vision: Do you have a "marcom" plan for your eLearning? Who are the sponsors? What KPIs do they care about? What’s in it for the learners? Are the goals of the project aligned with the corporate goals? Can you demonstrate this?
- Gamification : leaderboards, badges, rewards all add to learner engagement. Many LMS offerings now include gamification functionality.
- Socialization of Learning: Everyone can learn from everyone. You can use your LMS to create groups for collaborative learning and sharing, assign tutors and centers of excellence.
We have seen cases where a large mass of indigestible content has overwhelmed learners. On the other hand, micro-learning is proving efficient in its initial trials. It costs less and is quick to deploy. It’s worth finding out about micro-learning and applying it for specific short topics in your company.
Experience and research show that successful eLearning projects depend on management commitment, not just involvement. At least 30% of learner engagement is predicated on management attention to learning progress.
- Make sure the business management are involved in setting and measuring goals. Again your LMS can help with progress measures and for your sponsors.
- Share data on deployment, completion rates, potential issues for fixing with the sponsors
So you’ve got an LMS, and it’s probably a good technological choice. Now you need to focus on pedagogical choices, including
- anchoring of learnings and changes to activity in the workplace
- investing in complementary solutions to enhance your platform. These might include quizzes, mobile-phone-based coaching, role playing, predictive analytics, and dashboards.
- Get help from service providers for specific processes (such as needs analysis, sponsor focus groups, learner-centric design) to help ensure your ROI.
You can find out a lot more about learning-management-systems during the iLearning Forum conference on 24 and 25 January at the Espace Champerret in central Paris. On 25 January, all the morning conferences will be dedicated to LMSs, with a round table and product demos.
Sally-Ann is the Managing Director and founder of the iLearning Forum series of conferences. She has a long career in consulting and today specializes in eLearning, competence management, and performance management.
In 2013, 2014 and in 2015 Sally-Ann was nominated among the TOP 10 Movers and Shakers of eLearning in Europe.