Learning management systems have been around for quite some time now, some would even argue that they existed prior to the advent of computers. For simplicity sake, when I refer to learning management systems (or LMS), I am speaking about the ones used with modern day technology (think BlackBoard, Moodle, etc.).
Occasionally I hear some feedback from the learning community questioning why we even need a learning management system. Well, the concept of the LMS really started to take off when elearning came about. There had to be a system that could effectively deliver and record content to a specified group of participants. In recent years, elearning has really seen rocket growth, especially in the United States and in Europe (which account for 70% of the world’s elearning users). It is even estimated that by year 2019, roughly 50% of all college courses will be taught online!
So elearning is here to stay, and the LMS looks to be sticking around as well as a way to manage students, track progress, deliver online course, and (in some cases) author content. The LMS acts as the delivery vehicle for content. However, limitations do exist in the major platforms.
For years, the traditional LMS has failed to keep up with modern learning trends, or at least it always seemed to lag behind a bit. In fact, it’s not uncommon to see limited functionality, capabilities and options in many of the offerings today. Clunky forums, navigation menu mishaps, and aesthetics lead to an overall frustrating user experience. What’s more, some platforms can be difficult to incorporate into a curriculum or with classroom instruction – especially if the user experience is lacking. Probably one of the biggest complaints with LMS software is that there is no all-in-one solution. However, I think this is dependent on who is speaking, and what their project entails.
One thing that I picked-up on quickly when consulting organizations on their learning programs was that learning management needs are different for each person (or organization). Therefore, there really can’t be an all-in-one solution, as no individual is 100% the same in what they need. That said, where learning management systems can gain some ground is if they are easy to customize. This is actually one of the major reasons we believe that WordPress is optimal for learning delivery and management.
If you’re looking into an LMS, a good first step is to write out all the features you are looking for it to have. From there, circle the ones that are “must-haves” in order for your LMS to be considered a success. With the must-haves in place, underline the “nice-to-have” features. I personally feel that it’s always easier to start with characteristics, and move onto features.
The growth of elearning and mobile learning creates a lasting need for learning management systems. Undoubtedly they will evolve to fit the needs and demands. An LMS cannot be everything to everyone – but with the right software in place, it can get close.
AMVONET, elearningindustry.com, Gartner Consulting, IBIS Capital, Moodle.com