LMS - The Upcoming 'Force Multiplier'

By Manoj Tandon, CEO, The Manoj Tandon & Company
To explain what is a LMS let me take a simple example. Imagine your school days, you had say 200 students in a class, divided into 5 sections of 40 each, 5 teachers who would each take care of one section, prescribed books were used by teachers as the content for teaching, kids had books for home learning, papers were made and administered from time to time and the students scored marks and were rated as pass/fail and were given percentages.

Quite a complex and time consuming system to manage!

In the digital age, with the advancement of computing technology (Hardware, Software and Networks etc.), there is no need for a physical school, no need for 5 teachers, no need for separate sections, no need for exams to be formally administered, no paper books as course material… everything is automated and available on your computing device (laptop, tablet, mobile etc.), whenever required.

One could take a similar example for the corporate world and it would mean the same thing.

Learning, to speak figuratively, is fast becoming available on your fingertips.

Therefore, in its simplest of form, LMS is a system meant to manage the complete education/training process. Starting from need identification and recording, content creating & management, learning scheduling, progress tracking etc. 

There are many softwares which have tried to capture the process efficiently and effectively, some of the market leaders being Moodle, Blackboard etc.

In the initial set of LMS’s there were lot of issues like organization work flow mis-match, UI/UX not being up to the mark, accessibility problems etc. but as the technology has progressed even those problems have disappeared or are fast disappearing.

In the future, the LMS will become even more common and all pervasive. However, the shape of future LMS, will change in more ways than one, some of those changes will be like as below:

1. Self-directed Learning:  With the advent of technology, learning is becoming more self-directed and self-paced. The trainee takes charge of their own learning; they don’t have to wait for a pre-determined schedule given to them. The trainees can decide for themselves where, when and how to complete courses to gain new skills or knowledge.

2.  Job of Trainers/Teachers: As learning becomes more self-directed and trainee controlled, the job of teachers will shift from creating courses and scheduling events, to collecting information and generating content (identified and indexed for easy and effective search).

3.  Anywhere, anytime and any device: In the future, the trainee will have the freedom to choose his own device, use it anytime based on his convenience, and select the software and sources he wants to use for learning.

4.  Specialized learning material:  Trainees will be able to find courses and content almost everywhere. Increasingly this content will be offered by open courseware. One more expected change is the gamification of learning. It has been observed that if the knowledge can be wrapped in the form of games and puzzles the learning tends to be faster and retention is longer. Future learning systems is trying to implement this method more and more.

5.  Training beyond the organization: The future learning management systems will not be just for the employees of an organization, they will transcend the beyond the organization boundaries and will include customers and vendors as well.

6.  LMS and Employee Development: The line between talent management and learning management system is blurring by the day. Many companies have already started integrating TM and LMS. While talent management helps in identifying key skills of an employee and the gaps in knowledge and skills or expertise required, an LMS helps in filling those gaps and improve job-oriented skills of the employee. The LMSs of the future will be able to suggest new courses or other available learning resources specific to the need of the employee.

Having said the above, one key thing to remember is that, one should not start believing that LMS is going to be all and end of all learning. Some aspects of learning require hands-on experience and exposure; those will continue to be done the way they are done today. While simulators may crop up but eventually the feel of real thing can never be replaced.

Learning is key to employee growth; employee growth is the key to organizational success. In that sense, Learning Management Systems are one of the critical enablers in the success of an organization. In that sense, they are the upcoming “Force Multipliers” which cannot and should not be ignored.

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