This is What an Effective LMS Actually Does
“Learning—the human need to share and grow knowledge—should not be throttled by a rigid structure, impeded by a clunky interface, or dampened by a relentless focus on administration. Today’s employees deserve better because they have better technology experiences in their consumer lives.”
That quote comes from an article published by the Society for Human Resource Management earlier this month. We couldn’t agree more with the contention that “clunky” interfaces and administrative tedium dampen the learning experience.
However, we also found the author’s description of a learning management systems (LMSs) as “transactional, backend, compliance-driven platforms” that “throw cold water on workers’ natural curiosity” a bit troubling. The article goes on to suggest that typical learning management systems “don’t empower, they suffocate.” Yikes.
That language might accurately describe many professionals’ experience with an LMS. But it’s not how an effective LMS actually works, at least not in our view.
An LMS should enable new learning opportunities, not impede them.
Here are a few things the author of that article cites as capabilities lacking in many learning management systems:
- Delivery of video content
- Content targeted to needs and interests
- Content that promotes a “collaborative learning culture”
In the world of continuing education (CE) for professionals – the world we deal with every day, incidentally – learning software that doesn’t include those capabilities is bound to underperform. Not only do learners want to consume video content and take advantage of interactive learning opportunities, but they also need access to content that’s relevant to their area of practice.
As far as “collaborative learning” is concerned, evaluations and post-activity surveys enable learners to contribute to continuing education in a very direct way.
To be effective, an LMS must include…
Video content. Let’s start there. Apparently, a lot of learning management systems still don’t allow administrators to incorporate video into the learning experience. It’s an ongoing problem, and we actually wrote about it last year.
An LMS should function as a self-contained application that allows administrators to add content as they see fit. The Rievent Platform, for example, allows CE providers to add PDF, SCORM, and MP4 (that’s video!) content to any online activity. It’s a simple matter of enabling an administrator to upload or embed the content into the learner experience.
Since more learners are looking for newer, more exciting, more interactive ways to learn, support for video content is a must nowadays.
Then there’s the problem of targeted content – how can providers ensure that content meets learners’ needs and is relevant to their profession? In a CE context, that can be more difficult than you might think, especially if you cater to a wide array of specialties and practice areas.
But it’s not so hard if you use an activity catalog and events calendar that learners can browse to select the most appropriate activities. Ideally, these features will integrate with all other aspects of your LMS. For example, learners will be able to begin activities directly from the catalog or register for events straight from the calendar.
As for learner contributions to education, automated evaluations make it easy for learners to provide their input on the strengths and weaknesses of a particular activity. Your LMS should also automate post-activity evaluations or surveys, so learners can let you know whether activities have had an impact on their work in the weeks and months following participation.
And there you have it. The right LMS can effectively address the problem of “clunky” learning experiences and excessive administration.
If your experience with continuing education software is that it inhibits learning or leads to frustration among learners and administrators, be selective when searching for alternative platforms:
- Insist on a learner experience that makes it easier to earn credit will receiving a valuable education.
- Require support for online content in all common learning formats, including video.
- Look for platforms with tools that help learners identify content that is relevant to their work.
- Streamline the feedback loop and gain insights from learners via automated evaluations and surveys.
You’ll end up with an LMS that empowers learners, not one that hinders their progress. And you’ll eliminate a lot of administrative drudgery in the process.