Is Your Learning Management System Dead...Or Not?

The Learning Management System Is Dead...Or Not?
Summary: Discover the most common complaints and frustrations various companies are suffering from regarding their LMSs, and see if you think the old learning method is well and truly dead!

Problems You May Face With Your Learning Management System

When talking to companies about their learning needs, we’re often told "Yes, we have a Learning Management System (LMS)" before they go on to explain all the problems they suffer from. If an LMS is an answer, then why are there still so many questions? The truth is that we are not sure that an LMS is an answer anymore, are you? Below, we have detailed the frustrations and problems various companies are suffering from, so read and see what you think:

1. It’s Really Old Tech

The reference standard for an LMS remains the Shareable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM), specifically, SCORM 1.2... which was agreed in October 2001?

2001? That was six years before the first smartphone was released! In technology terms, this is ancient and a design for a working environment very different to the one we find today.

2. It Is Not Agile Enough

Companies move faster these days, so I am wondering if you can wait to commission a new course in order to meet a company product launch or a change in operating procedures. One company we spoke to required a tender process with at least three suppliers for every course to be written. That, along with the writing process itself, means at least six months before you can actually make any training available, let alone deployed and completed.

If you need training for a product launch every two weeks or as to support agile project developments, how can you do this if the training material preparation process is so long? What if you need to do small incremental training updates on a weekly basis? Is this feasible?

3. It Is Too Expensive

You have to buy and maintain the LMS service, then commission every course, then pay someone internally to explain to the external party what the course has to cover. Then review, amend, return, and re-test before it’s ready. Now repeat for every need.

That doesn’t come cheap.

4. It Creates Duplication Of Content

So you need to produce materials for your LMS course, wrapped into a SCORM package. Finished? No, you still need to create operating manuals or promotional material to support the actual operational teams. Unfortunately, the training materials are so expensively created that they can’t be used as they’re likely in the wrong format and unsuitable for quick reference.

So a duplicate set of materials needs to be created, to support the actual work. You’ll probably need to prepare both a training course and operational manuals working in parallel, with plenty of errors and omissions and an overhead of coordination to keep the independent writers in sync.

5. It Is Too Big Of A Bite

How long does it take to complete a course? One hour? Four hours? A week? Or a month?

If you only have to do a course once or repeat it once a year, how much will you remember a day, week or month after completion? According to the Forgetting Curve, by learning this way, you’ll likely have forgotten the information long before you need it.

People these days are used to consuming small bits of information when they need them, not long in advance. When you can search in an instant, why remember facts you may not need in a year? This change makes it far less likely that an LMS course will be of use these days.

6. It Is Too Easy To Cheat

Speaking to another company about their mandatory training the staff needed to complete every year; the course never changed and neither did the questions. Staff was used to printing off their answers and simply entering them each year without reading the materials. According to the training dept, they had 100% completion. In fact, they had almost zero adherence. We’ve also seen occasions when a team will sit together and have someone shout out the answers to get a quick finish. Do you have any way of policing this with an LMS?

7. It Is Unloved

It’s rare to find a group of employees who say "Yes, we love our LMS; it is just what we wanted". In our experience, it’s far more likely to hear "Oh dear, I have to do a course, I really don’t have time, please can I put it off until later?".

There’s no getting away from the fact that LMSs are generally unloved and, where possible, unvisited. Is it the very structure itself? Is it that the content is unappealing? Perhaps, it’s simply that with mature open source offerings and old standards, there’s no money or thoughts given to investing and improving the experience. Organizations teams frequently say "We use LMS 'x'; it came for free with our 'y' service". So how is that really a recipe for improvement?

8. It Doesn’t Suit The New Company's Workforce

The nature of work is changing, has your learning environment kept up?

  • Have you got a flexible workforce?
  • Do you have agency workers?
  • Do you have shift workers?
  • Part-time workers?
  • Zero hours contract staff?
  • 'Gig economy' workers?
  • 3rd party workers?
  • Partners?
  • Sub-contractors?
  • Outsourced workers?
  • Geographically distributed workers?
  • Mobile workers?

How does an LMS support such a team? If you’ve come in for a 48-hour shift in a hospital, can you really do four hours of onboarding before you start? You do weekend shifts in a store having to start on the shop floor at 8 am; when do you catch up with new product releases? The truth is that you can’t do it with an LMS, and customer service suffers because of it.

9. It Sits In A Silo

We tend to see the LMS sitting under the Learning and Development department, out on its own. With this setup, it’s not easy to integrate the results of courses into a broader staff development plan or operational team set up. If you’re responsible for a call-center team or retail store, and you can’t see your team’s training results, how do you know who needs what support? Do you even know who was scheduled for training? How do you know they did it? How do you combine practical tasks on the shop floor with learning elements?

Not only is it hard to use the results, but how you advertise that course is even unavailable. If you send internal emails, how do you know these emails are being read and paid attention to? How do you keep nudging people or scheduling time for training when the scheduling systems are on another platform? When all of your systems are fragmented, you lose a lot of unnecessary time just doing simple admin.

10. It Can't Used As A Reference

Once you’ve completed a training course, can you easily use these materials again to reinforce your learning or to act as an ongoing reference source? Not usually? A course opens, you complete it, the material is locked again.

Convinced? Maybe or maybe not. OK, then you ask, what do you suggest? Here’s my wish list for a learning solution:

1. Use The Same Content As Both Training Materials And Operational Guidance.
Make it once, make it a standard way, and make it searchable, so that staff can use it in their daily routine whenever they need assistance. This will save you money, time, and effort while increasing the value of the content created.

2. Don’t Put Training In A Silo, But Integrate Into Your Digital Operational Platform.
This way, you can integrate training into your daily routine to make it more adaptable and relevant. It allows learning to complement every other element in your business such as operations, sales, compliance, and HR so they can ALL drive change in behavior for a bigger transformation in overall business performance.

3. Break Training Into Small Chunks So That Staff Can Fit It Flexibly Into Their Busy Schedules.
Learn a little, learn fast, learn often. Create playlists so that staff can jump back into learning where they are left off at any time, without having to restart the whole course if they didn’t have time to finish it. Keep it out there for re-use whenever needed, and introduce new chunks rapidly as circumstances and needs change.

4. Make These Small Training Modules Flexibly Available To Combine Into Tailored Learning Modules, To Suit Different Roles And Locations.
Agile working needs agile training.

5. Keep Reinforcing Your Learning.
Introduce daily, weekly, monthly quizzes to reinforce learning and identify gaps in team knowledge, then plug these quickly. Make it fun, not a chore. Incentivize reward, congratulate.