3 Reasons To Consider Sustaining Legacy eLearning Systems

Resisting ‘’Innovative Improvements’’: Why You Should Consider Sustaining Legacy eLearning Systems

As time goes by, new eLearning technologies continue to come to life. Their ongoing emergence inevitably leads to temptation to keep updating LMSs (Learning Management Systems) with the aim of empowering the learners with these newly created ‘’state-of-art’’ tools, gadgets, and processes. In some instances, even replacement/ major upgrade of the entire LMS is regarded as a way to go.

I am by no means urging online training providers to resist the change and to remain immune to progress and technical developments, but I do feel that in some cases, paradoxically enough, they can be better off by continuing with the ‘’outdated’’ technologies that are no longer regarded as fancy. I have been working with a wide range of eLearning providers and I can see that legacy eLearning systems and platforms are often instrumental in making online delivery a success. Likewise, untimely upgrades could be very unproductive or even damaging. Below are the 3 main reasons that I believe we should be extra careful when considering to dump our ‘’ancient’’ legacy systems into obscurity, as they may still be able to deliver great value!

1. Learners Do Not Like Change

Some categories of the online courses (e.g. university degrees) are to be delivered over a long period of time and learners get used to particular settings. Any dramatic changes to the delivery systems and tools are hardly going to be welcome. Learners enrolled in the non-IT courses are going to find the changes particularly challenging to deal with. The focus of their study is on the subject matter rather than learning technologies, so chances are their course satisfaction level is going to be affected in a negative way. With the lower-level learners, the problems are even more transparent. For example, a client of mine uses his Moodle-based eLearning platform to teach basic Numeracy and Literacy skills to mature-aged learners who did not have an opportunity to master these skills back in their school days. It is quite clear that should he keep changing his delivery settings (even if the changes are arguably for the better), the learners may find getting through the course more difficult.

Likewise, even some tutors/trainers may not be overly happy with the changes, and their attention will be also shifted away from the teaching and learning objectives towards the delivery platform and its newly-acquired functionality. By the time all of the stakeholders finally embrace the new systems, they may also become outdated when compared with the latest developments.

2. Avoiding Service Delivery Disruptions

As opposed to traditional classrooms, eClassrooms need to be available 24x7. Every service disruption will immediately get noticed by the learners, as they are going to be accessing the eClassroom at different times of the day from different locations (aka time zones). The need to sustain consistent service provision throughout the updates is yet another significant challenge. All of the ‘’renovations’’ to the eClassroom have to be done at a fast pace and include user acceptance testing.

Should the updates take place rapidly in a radical manner (Radical System Redesign), the technology failure-related risks are going to get higher; but, on the other hand, incorporating new eLearning technologies over a longer period of time may also result in some discrepancies. For example, new types of assessments often lead to confusion, as some of the learners may initially struggle to understand how to run them.

3. Integration Issues

As integration is a gradual process during the course of integrating new tools and applications into the existing eLearning infrastructure, these new tools will be running along with the old ones and compatibility issues may come up. Updates to the tools may also require updates to the platform, and updates to the platform may result in some of the older tools not working as smoothly as before.

Another integration concern is how smoothly the new tools and apps are going to run on the learners’ computers/phones. Will the learners also be required to carry out updates from their end?

In a nutshell, I am not denying the importance of staying abreast of the latest technological developments in order to keep utilizing them to enhance the user experience. However, we should not rush towards adopting these developments either! All of the 3 potential risks outlined above need to be considered carefully!