Selecting an appropriate LMS
The biggest task in the use of LMS is selecting the best application from the wide range of vendors in the market today. An effective LMS should go beyond content delivery. It should have assessment and tracking capabilities; course registration and administration systems; and excellent database management system.
There are well over 600 known LMS available today, each with unique features that are tailored for different organisational needs. The American Society for Training & Development (Learning Circuits, 2005), recommends that a functional corporate LMS should:
* Integrate with HR systems
* Incorporate administrative tools for registration, scheduling, course content, certification and assigning budgets.
* Have accessible content and enable communication between instructor and trainee
* Store, author and maintain content effectively
* Assess competency levels and identify gaps in skill
* Adhere to AICC (Aviation Industry CBT [Computer-Based Training] Committee) and SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) standards for ensuring compliance with course content standards
* Offer date security and integrity management systems for users by use of passwords
* A web-based LMS provides a wider information base and can easily be used over extensive geographic locations. It can also create a platform for receiving customer feedback. Always look for LMS that is user-friendly and easy to customise according to the company’s changing needs.
Trends in LMS technology
The use of LMS dates back to the 1920s where it was traditionally used to deliver course content for eLearning in schools. It was later adopted by organisations for employee capacity development. With improvements in LMS technology, it has become a powerful and interactive tool for imparting skills in organisations. LMS technology evolved in a bid to curb rising demand for developing effective human resource in the face of cut-throat competition.
Early LMS systems were only functional as a recording tool where it was used to maintain a list of people who had taken particular courses within certain periods. They later developed to include a capability to query these records using Third Party analysis tools. With a rising demand in data interpretation needs, LMS started moving away from manager focused approaches to learner focused approaches. They included graphical presentations of data that were more dynamic and could be obtained on an ad-hoc basis. LMS now has encompassed all learning dynamics for both learners and trainers.
By 2014, LMS had included certain video and gaming aspects to enhance interaction and engagement. Some of these improvements include reward schemes, narratives and time management systems. This has been well received among employees and found to greatly improve learning speed as it becomes more entertaining.
Also the creation of user portals has made it easier for stakeholders and clients to track progress in particular areas of interest.
These portals have also been utilised in customer support and assessing areas that need improvement.
The development of SAAS (software as a service)/open source delivery systems have made information distribution cheaper and faster. Most of these systems are easy to access via the web and can be tailored for specific organisational requirements. There has also been a growing realisation of the importance to improve training skills for company trainers. The development of business process management (BPM) is set to enhance management infrastructure by improving workflows and processes. User-defined data can then be obtained with objective accuracy.
Over the years, social media has also provided a platform for LMS users to track progress among members of their groups. Other LMS platforms are UGC- enabled (user generated content) to allow for sharing of content from various sources. With such platforms, videos, slides, documents or pictures can be shared across regions. Social networking is increasingly being recognised as a form of transferring knowledge. Competence is not based on individual experience but also work relations.
The training content becoming dynamic with a mix of practical and digital components. This is very effective in the engineering industry to augment eLearning. It enables hands-on training for better understanding of concepts without the cost that comes with traditional learning approaches.
Typically, most LMS vendors offer monthly subscriptions. The LMS market share is growing due to its increasing acceptance in organisations. At least 10 vendors have the majority share in the eLearning industry. Overall, Open-source LMS are quickly gaining popularity in enterprise.
In-house LMS products are slowly losing their grip in organisations with the stiff competition they face from web based platforms. The cost implications are much higher. There are a lot of Third-Party products that are effective, comprehensive, easy-to-use and are cheaper.
To remain competitive, organisation leaders must remain savvy on the technology that can handle both current and future organisational needs. They must also remain informed on the changing standards and specifications for eLearning and other performance support solutions. Leaders should also aim to increase investment towards more holistic LMS approaches.
Choosing the right LMS is the toughest part of implementing an effective training system. First, assess your training needs and goals and find out what LMS would be more appropriate. For example, if you need an enterprise LMS, LearnFlex is one of the most popular choices (more about it on B Online Learning website). Create a requirement criterion for vetting of LMS products. You can also ask around from other users to obtain an intricate analysis of the products. Also request the vendors to demonstrate the utility of their products before you make your pick. Some vendors also offer limited trials for their products.