A Whole New LMS World

A Whole New LMS World

Many current learning management systems don't play well with others. Next-generation learning platforms are designed with consolidation and integration in mind to allow you to keep what you want, and let go of what you don't.

I participate in the Training Conference & Expo every year. It is a great way to connect with friends and meet leaders in the training and development world. As a former executive at Training Top 10 Hall of Famer SCC Soft Computer, a highlight for me has been seeing the best-of-the-best recognized for implementing transformative training programs in their organizations at the Training Top 125 Gala/Awards Ceremony. This inspiring event underscores the important role training plays in the success of any organization and the important role the training community plays in making this happen.

While I was at Training 2015 this year, I received a copy of my article, “Desperately Seeking a Mind Shift,” in the January/February 2015 issue. The article was literally “hot off the press,” give or take a day or two. The timing of the article was great, and I was surprised how many people I spoke to had read it and wanted to talk and learn more about the “next generation” of learning platforms I have been advocating and writing about.


It seems a lot of people besides me are beginning to notice that many of the learning systems they are using fall short of what they need them to do. So what gives? How can all these learning management systems (LMSs) and learning content management systems (LCMSs) be used so widely, but so widely underused?

The answer came to me at the Training Top 125 Gala. As names were being called and the awards were being handed out, I realized that it all comes down to people. Any system can have a world of features and functions, but if it is not designed properly (for people), and it is not implemented properly (by people), then it will fall short.


I believe the LMS industry itself is largely to blame for the current state of affairs. The incessant focus on “bells and whistles” comes at the expense of the learner, and at the same time creates a wickedly confusing market to navigate when looking for a learning solution.

In my first article in this series, “Shifting from the Traditional LMS” (November/December 2014), I posited that LMSs should be in the business of managing learning, yet the domain remains largely centered on all the features and functions for authoring, managing, and delivering courses and content. Take a look at your current LMS. I’m sure it does a great job of creating and delivering course content, but how good is it at managing learning workflow? How about connecting learning outcomes, skills, and competencies to industry-defined requirements? Probably not so good.


So what should we look for in the next generation of skills development and learning platforms? From what I can see now, the new breed of learning and skills development platforms are designed around people (learners) and their learning outcomes.

Learning is no longer about courses. Learning is about skills, abilities, and knowledge that can be demonstrated, measured, and tracked. These platforms scale to various learning requirements, manage learning workflows, and can deliver concrete learning outcomes.

As training requirements become more sophisticated, so will our need to be flexible in meeting these requirements. Integration here is an important factor, particularly with existing systems. Many systems don’t play well with others. This is why we tend to have multiple systems all doing different things. Next-generation learning platforms are designed with consolidation and integration in mind to allow you to keep what you want, and let go of what you don’t.


It may be an obvious fact that technology works only as well as the people implementing it, but next-generation learning platforms are designed and implemented by people who understand learning. Here are what I see as the key characteristics of the new generation of learning platforms:

  • They deliver valuable learning experiences through personalized dashboards with intuitive and friendly user interfaces in a mobile-first framework.
  • They use open, multi-tenant architecture that plays well with others, simplifies workflow, and delivers real-time analytics
  • They make learning management easy. Planning and creating courses, developing and delivering learning programs, managing learning records, and reporting and sharing knowledge are all straightforward.

I’m glad to be part of the training community and see the best-of-the-best recognized for implementing transformative training programs in their organizations. Trainers are the people who make transformation happen, and having the right tools certainly helps.

Is that too much to ask for?

Don Keller is the former vice president of Global Education and Marketing at SCC Soft Computer, a member of the Training Top 10 Hall of Fame.


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