Is the (LMS) Learning Management System Dying?

LMS learning management systemI attended a seminar today about trends in the elearning industry. One of the topics was on Learning Management Systems (LMS).

Many companies struggle with the question of whether they need one and then if they do, which one to choose. There are many factors that play into how to decide and then when you do, how to make it happen. Historically, LMS systems were limited to large companies with deep pockets and lots of resources. Not anymore.

Recently, there has been a push to provide hosted learning management systems for smaller businesses (LMS in the cloud). They are becoming more accessible to organizations that want a place to track learning/performance for their employees without the expense of having it installed on-site. To see a list of some of these new players, one place to look is Brandon Hall Research. They have conducted extensive surveys with each vendor.

But before you buy an LMS, it is important to be aware of the industry buzz. One thing that we are hearing a lot is the question of whether the LMS will be going away. I think not. I think that the traditional LMS model may be going away but there is more and more need for a more collaborative LMS. One that provides learners with ways to interact with each other and the content to create that social aspect of learning that we are seeing all over. The new LMS includes user ratings (as a designer, I actually love this idea because then we would know what is hitting the mark for learners in their real environment and where we need to spend more time tweaking), tagging/bookmarking, expert searching, and user generated content to supplement the other learning programs. Maybe a new name for an LMS in the future will be Facebook LMS.

Other things to look for in an LMS:

Key Question: What is your budget? (Do you need a cadillac or will an economy car work?)

Then:

1. Do you need a hosted or installed solution?

2. Do you need to connect to other tools (authoring, management, productivity)?

3. Do you need to connect to an HRIS system?

4. Are you planning on creating custom content or is most of it off the shelf content?

5. Where are your learners? Internal vs. external, states vs. international, etc.

6. Do you need to track compliance or certifications?

7. Do you need classroom management tools?

8. Are you interested in talent management tools as well?

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