6 Ways The LMS Is Holding Back Your Business

6 Ways The LMS Is Holding Back Your Business
Summary: The real question isn’t whether your business can keep up with the rapid pace of technological change, the real question is whether your LMS can keep pace with your business. The answer is a resounding “No!”

How The LMS Is Holding Back Your Business

Consider how technology, business, and even employees have evolved. The LMS (Learning Management System) has remained essentially the same since its inception decades ago. Sure, there have been a few technical updates, but the reality is that the LMS is holding back your business by failing to leverage learning opportunities offered by new technologies and failing to meet the changing needs of your business and your employees.

The argument is often made that people are unable to keep pace with the exponential nature of technological change, but when it comes to the LMS, the reverse is true. The Learning Management System is simply unable to keep pace with the needs of the people it serves. If innovation, entrepreneurship, and collaboration are critical to your company’s success, why trust your training to a Learning Management System that is rigidly linear in design and isolating in delivery?

1. The LMS Simply Can’t Keep Pace With The Speed Of Business

Two things define the best online experiences: Speed and customization. Consider, for example, the simplicity of a search engine page. It isn’t pretty, but it’s intuitive and fast and people love it. Your employees are used to finding information quickly and they’re used to receiving content that is uniquely customized to fit their needs. But, despite the best efforts of learning leaders, there really isn’t much that can be done to customize the Learning Management System. The LMS is designed as a one-size-fits-all platform. You can edit content or add a checklist, but it’s still the same tired LMS with the same static, homogenized learning.

In the standard, linear format of the Learning Management System, participants read content, maybe watch a video, or access a rudimentary multimedia component, and then test themselves via a quiz or assignment. It’s the same for every user and the same for every course. Neither the content nor the assessments within the LMS are equipped to respond to the learner’s changing interests or skill level. Those who need more time to pick up necessary skills are given no opportunity for reinforcement and those who pick up skills more quickly are bogged down in work that is either meaningless or repetitive. Simply put, the LMS lacks the intuitiveness [1] that people and organizations expect from modern technology.

2. The LMS Can’t Improve The Bottom Line

Learning for learning’s sake is a luxury of the academic world. But, in the corporate world, CLOs are far more interested in what their employees do with the training they receive. Most importantly, they want to see how it improves the company’s profits.

Unfortunately, the Learning Management System was originally created for the academic rather than the corporate marketplace. It was designed for finite learning and assessment rather than for developing talent and skills over the long term. We all remember cramming for those finals only to forget most of what we learned a few days later. The Learning Management System is intended for this type of learning. There is little opportunity for experiential learning and almost no opportunity to reinforce what participants learn.

Proof of learning transfer is critical to ROI for companies. No CLO is reassured that their employees know what they’re doing based on the completion of a checklist or a quiz. Worse, there is no opportunity within the LMS to change the results they do receive. No chance to revisit concepts that an employee might not be getting. Sure, you can make your people retake a quiz until they pass, but it’s still the same quiz, the same application, and the same method of delivery. Training via the Learning Management System is designed as a one-size-fits-all, one-off experience. In other words, employees either get it or they don’t. This style of learning is often easily forgotten if it isn’t reinforced in some way. How much do you recall from high school calculus? Chances are very little unless you’ve been given the opportunity to use the learning regularly.

3. The LMS Can’t Adjust To The Realities Of A Deskless Workforce Environment

The LMS was created for use with a desktop or laptop and little has changed in that respect. But, employees’ needs have changed. Drawn away by business travel or meetings, many employees spend little time at their desks and many others operate without a dedicated workspace at all. Spending hours working on a course within a Learning Management System ties down workers unnecessarily and takes employees away from valuable tasks for far too long.

While LMS mobile apps exist, given the linear organization of an LMS, that can mean scrolling through endless text or watching videos on a tiny screen. Hardly the mobile experience we’re used to. The LMS has failed to take advantage of the vast and unique capabilities of mobile devices for learning delivery and learner engagement, even though more than 70% of employees believe mobile learning[1] would increase their motivation and interest.

4. The LMS Can’t Engage Employees Or Motivate Them To Learn

Learning leaders know that employees who are not engaged aren’t interested in performing at their best. The LMS fails to engage on many levels: The text-based content delivery that is typical of the Learning Management System is boring. There is little opportunity for social interaction. Most gamification is rudimentary and consists primarily of chunky flash style drag and drop style interactions. And there are no leaderboards or rewards that engage teams and individuals.

Besides this, Learning Management System training is often focused on completing a set number of modules in a defined amount of time. Learners will either avoid it or sit down and simply “get it over with”. This isn’t learner engagement and the results are usually as momentary as the learning itself.

This is problematic considering engaging and useful learning is not only critical to your bottom line, it is also a critical tool for retention and recruitment. A recent Gallup study indicated that 89% of Millennials said that professional development is very important to them. Similarly, a report from the Harvard Business Review revealed that dissatisfaction with professional development fueled many early exits.

5. The LMS Can’t Measure Training Against Business Objectives

The basic metrics employed by the Learning Management System won’t help you with your bottom line. A test score or completed assignment simply tell you that your employee memorized enough content to pass a test or produce a written response. It won’t tell you if your employee is retaining the knowledge they gained past the training period and won’t tell you if they are using it on the job. The metrics provided by the LMS are virtually meaningless.

An LMS offers no opportunity to test out learning transfer. Are you employees really getting what they’ve been taught? Are they using the training on the job? Sure, you can check to see if they’ve actually visited each page or completed each assignment but if this or a checkbox or a pass on a quiz are your only evidence, you have no real way to measure the effectiveness of the training on the impact of the business.

6. The LMS Can’t Offer A Searchable, Accessible Method Of Curating The Vast Amount Of Knowledge Within The Organization

Employees don’t need to remember everything, but they do need an easy way to look up information when they need it to do their jobs. The curated knowledge your leaders, teams, and individuals have accumulated over time is priceless. And employees need a single place where they can go to tap into this wealth of accumulated knowledge. An LMS lacks the capability to easily compile the information, make it easily searchable, or facilitate contributions from staff and management.

Even if companies manage to make use of the Learning Management System to upload documents, they’re not easily accessible to people used to performing searches at the speed of Google. Information inevitably ends up being transferred in the old way, through word of mouth. This method is neither reliable, consistent, nor particularly useful to people who may be dealing with specific situations that require an immediate answer.

If you really want to meet the needs of your business, it’s time to rethink the LMS and start investigating alternative learning technologies that were specifically designed to meet modern business needs.



  1. M-learning: M-learning Applications, Students Input for M-learning In Science Instruction