Elliott Masie came up with a great and very insightful wish list for LMS’s. Click here to access it. He even added a few suggestions in the past few days, probably based on feedback from his loyal audience.
I really like the richness that Elliott’s suggestions might create for a typical LMS. Most LMS implementations are just a list of course offerings.
On the other hand, I worry about overly complicating options for users. Most workers just don’t have extra time to waste. Maybe the suggestion to let users rate the courses comes into play here.
I also worry about user-generated content. It can be great, could be better than what the training folks can create, could engender more engagement, could be bottom line more effective. But we should all recognize that it is a double-edge sword. User generated content could be incorrect, could be a huge waste of time, could cause the organization to leave itself vulnerable to legal liability.
Doesn’t Fix the Biggest Problem with the LMS Mentality
The biggest problem with LMS’s can’t be fixed with Elliott’s suggestions. The biggest problem is that the whole LMS face sends a powerful hidden message that "learning" is about taking courses or accessing other learning events. This "Learning Means Sitting" LMS mentality infiltrates whole organizations.
I’ve seen this recently with one of my clients, a huge retailer, where their LMS has encouraged store managers and other store leaders to focus learning time on taking courses, in lieu of coaching, learning from each other, trying things out and getting feedback, encouraging store employees to take responsibility for particular areas, etc. It’s not that they completely ignore these other learning opportunities; it’s that the LMS focuses everyones’ time and attention on courses, creating a lot of wasted effort.
To get the most from an LMS, you ought to throw away your LMS and start over. People can learn something—develop competencies/skills—from courses or from other means. A competency-management system that offers multiple means to develop oneself is ideal, where courses/events are just one option. I still haven’t seen a commercial system that does this though…Most are course first designs.
Maybe I’m too over-the-top recommending that we get rid of all LMS’s. I make the statement to highlight the humongous problems that the LMS mentality is causing.