Are You in a Love/Hate Relationship With Your LMS, Too?

When planning to build or buy new content, think outside of the “Next” and “Previous” buttons. Think flipped and blended learning approaches. Think mobile apps and more.

Full disclosure: I wrote my proposal for this year’s Online Learning Conference on a day when I was particularly upset with my learning management system (LMS). It occurred to me that if karma truly exists, maybe I could turn my LMS challenges into a positive learning experience by changing my attitude. Thus, my proposed session title, “Learn to Love Your LMS—Or at Least Like it a Bit More,” was born.

What We Love

Reports: Every LMS is a giant data bank, with nearly endless combinations of reporting possible.

A one-to-many solution: One set of content is provided, ensuring all learners receive the same information in exactly the same way.

Real-time updates: Generally, we have the ability to correct a typo or append content updates on the fly.

What We Hate

Reports: It can be difficult to get those custom reports to come out just the way we want them. And there are nagging doubts about the reliability of the data.

A one-to-many solution: Some of your learners find learning this way difficult, leading to reduced course completions, levels of learning transfer, and retention.

Real-time updates: Updating content “on the fly” might adversely affect learners. For example, it might require learners to complete the course again because of the new information.

Sprinkle in things such as speed issues, no single sign-on, updates to existing records, and the fact that cool features and functionality seen while surfing the Internet are nowhere to be found, [insert your favorite here].

The Learners

I don’t know this for certain, but I have to believe that the person who designed the first LMS had no intention of it being a replacement for other learning methods. I doubt he or she intended that people would learn solely by staring at a screen, clicking “Next,” then printing a “Certificate of Completion” as proof they had learned something.

Learning is, and always will be, an experience done best shared with others. Therefore, in my humble opinion, all learning should be approached this way. How? There’s not enough space here to list all the ways, but here’s one: When a course is to be assigned to your team, simultaneously schedule follow-up discussion(s) of the learning and specifics on how learners will implement what they’ve learned. Do this upon completion of the learning. Then again in 30 days. Do this with individual employees and with the group at large. This lets your team know that you’re here to provide clarification and answers to their questions.

The Learning

This is where the rubber meets the proverbial road. A few suggestions:

  • Embark upon a quest to determine exactly what your present LMS can and cannot do.
  • Brainstorm with your team new and different ways of executing the digital and e-learning strategy. Think big. Ask “What if…?” For example, “What if money were no object? What if we built e-learning content that our learners loved? What if we did it differently? What would that look like? What do we have to do to make it happen?”
  • Do whatever it takes to bring key members of IT into this “new reality” and help breathe life into your brainstormed ideas.
  • When planning to build or buy new content, think outside of the “Next” and “Previous” buttons. Think flipped and blended learning approaches. Think suites of brief courses coupled with additional components that reinforce the learning. Think learning games that reinforce. Think mobile apps. Think performance support tools as part of the content—not separate from it. Think feedback loop. Think continuous process improvement. Think recognition.

Get the picture? There is more that can be done to improve the learning and the learners’ experience. We’ll continue this conversation at the Online Learning Conference in Denver this fall. Join us!

Dawn J. Mahoney, CPLP, is owner and principal at Learning In The White Space, LLC.