We’re in the Midst of an LMS Revolution

Last week, while browsing Facebook’s barrage of selfies, videos of cats that stole dogs beds, photos of what people cooked for dinner, and hyper-emotional political rants, I came across a celebratory post that the end is near for learning management systems (LMS).

Since this was shared by a respected learning professional who I admire greatly, is as smart as a whip, and who makes me laugh out loud daily, I took a moment to read the post and the dozens of comments by her hundreds of followers. The overall theme was that people hated their LMS. One of them even posted a screen capture of the DOS-based system that was in use until late 2016 (for those of you born after 1980, you can read up on what DOS is here).

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What content makes a Course in your LMS?

I can’t remember the last time I heard someone say when asked their opinion of something, “I just don’t know.” To be uncertain of something used to be a sign of having an open mind and mature decision-making skills based on weighing facts and considering the opinions of others. Now, regrettably, “I don’t know” suggests indecisiveness and weakness.

Perhaps this epidemic of certainty stems from our addiction to news sources and social media networks that mostly confirm that our beliefs are 100% correct and shield us from different ways of looking at the world. We know what we know, and no one can convince us that other ideas and opinions have merit.

This mental rigidity permeates all aspects of life. Politics, of course, comes immediately to mind. But, we even see it in learning and development.

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What You Can Expect When Asking a Vendor for Client References

t’s pretty common for prospective clients to ask software vendors for references prior to signing a contract. A 15-minute phone call with two or three organizations who have used the system extensively and sampled the vendor’s services can help mitigate the risk – and reduce the anxiety – related to acquiring a new system.

If you’re evaluating new applications such as a learning management system (LMS), you may be considering asking the shortlisted vendors for references. Here’s what you should know:

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Why the Real Cost of Your Learning Management System is Higher Than You Think

Fifteen years ago, I bought my first–and likely last–home. With two young children and associated desire to have a back yard, a swing, and a tree house, I left the core of a major city and headed to the suburbs.

As advised by real estate experts, I bought the lowest-priced house on a great street in an affluent neighborhood, a short block from a lakefront dotted with old trees and multi-million dollar homes. At the time of purchase, my house was vetted by a certified inspector who pointed out that the roof needed new shingles in a couple of years, but apart from that, the house was structurally sound. I looked forward spending leisurely summer weekends playing with my kids, sitting on the back deck reading a book, and enjoying the sounds of birds, a welcome substitution to the din of downtown traffic.

Upon moving in, the birds were immediately scared away by the sound of power drills, circular saws, and hammers. The house needed a few minor repairs. Nothing serious, and these were tasks I could take on myself so the costs would be minimal.

The job jar would soon be empty.

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The Prehistoric Learning Metric Still Roaming the Earth Today

Location: The African Savanna

Date: Fifty-Thousand Years Ago

A group of prehistoric hunter-gatherers are seated around a fire, their bellies full with the bounty of a successful hunt. Gorg, the alpha-male, recounts proudly how he threw the sharpened flint-tipped spear at the running antelope, resulting in the animal’s immediate death. Spared the typical hours of tracking an injured beast under the hot sun, the hunters enjoyed a rare easy day, expending few calories yet consuming many.

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4 LMS Features That Were Hot and Now Are Not

Apart from a two-year stint selling tropical fish at a local pet shop when I was 16, my entire career has been in learning technology.

  • Fresh out of university, I worked as a content developer and designed and authored hundreds of hours of online courses.
  • As an analyst a decade later, I wrote industry reports about learning management systems, authoring tools, and other technologies.
  • As CEO of Brandon Hall Research, I oversaw our research calendar, organized conferences, and delivered countless presentations. I also had the chance to sit in on three or four demonstrations by LMS vendors per week.
  • In my current role with Absorb, I help organizations reduce the effort associated with managing learning by demystifying LMS technology.

Consequently, in these last couple of decades, I’ve seen countless learning trends embraced with an enthusiasm that eclipses the Dutch tulip frenzy of 1637. Just as that market hysteria faded when sanity returned to the flower-loving public, trends in learning technology have come and gone. In the LMS world, what was hot a few years ago rarely appears in a list of requirements today.

Here are four learning management system features that were hot, and now are not:

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What Buying a Bicycle Would Look Like if We Applied a Typical LMS Selection Strategy

When making any significant purchase it’s normal to go through a thoughtful consideration of your options. For example, there’s more to choosing the bicycle that’s right for you than having two wheels that spin. To begin with, the cost of purchasing a bicycle can range from a few dollars for a second-hand “beater” to tens of thousands of dollars for a beauty such as this one:

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Why Reporting is the Most Hated Learning Management Feature

Stripped of its hundreds of bells and whistles, a learning management system (LMS) is essentially a software application designed to do two things:

  1. Provide learners with learning content
  2. Report on the progress of these learners.

Given that all LMSs have these two features in one form or another, it’s probably not surprising that given the 50/50 odds, reporting consistently comes out on top as the feature that most disappoints LMS administrators.

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Why a Single Codebase Should Be at the Top of Your Learning Management System Requirements List

How a single refined recipe can better meet your kneads… errr, needs.

Early last Saturday morning, Isabelle awoke with a breakfast craving for a couple of slices of raisin bread on which to slather some jam. She walked to her corner bakery and bought a loaf, still warm from the oven.

The bread was delicious. As she finished the last bite, she thought “this bread is truly wonderful but it could be even better.” She returned to the bakery and mentioned that she enjoyed the raisin bread and would return next weekend for a second loaf. In this one, however, she would like to have hazelnuts, pecans, and dates added, and half the raisins removed.

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Why Integrating Your Learning Management System with Other Applications Makes More Sense than Buying a Suite of Products

From Groceries to Business Apps, Quality Suffers at One-Stop-Shops

Three years ago, I moved from the suburbs back into the city. I now live in a neighbourhood where I can walk a short distance and purchase pretty much anything I need. This area contains many culinary options: a fully-stocked grocery store, a fruit and vegetable market, three cafes, two chocolatiers, a fancy spot where you can acquire rare olive oils and jams spiked with champagne, four bakery/pastry shops (we love our baguettes up here), and a wine store (we love drinking wine while we eat our baguettes), all within the span of five short blocks.

Prior to moving here, my Saturday mornings used to be spent at a grocery store the size of a two soccer fields getting what I needed to prepare the meals for the week. My shopping habits have now changed. I rarely plan meals now, preferring to decide during the day what I’d like to eat. Also, I’ve become fiercely loyal to certain vendors.

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