#thelmsdebate with Saba (event)

A really impressive venue (my first trip within ‘The Shard’) for this breakfast briefing hosted by Saba.

View from 31st floor of The Shard
A morning of reflection and blue sky thinking

The event was basically made up of three parts: a presentation on the old chestnut of “Is the LMS Dead?” from Donald Taylor, a presentation from Saba on the evolution of the Learning Management System market and some networking.

Is the LMS Dead?

@donaldhtaylor ran through some of the core arguments in the whole debate, a week before the launch of his new book (attendees getting their mits on a copy ahead of the inevitable bank holiday bad weather).

Learning Technologies book from Donald H Taylor
Learning technologies in the workplace 101

Particular points that jumped out for me are below, as tends to be the case with Don it was difficult to disagree with the key messages, some comments/thoughts in square brackets:

  1. The purpose of L&D has to come first – not the tech.
  2. LMSs are evolving with new ways to support learning and supporting the workplace move to digital.
  3. Expectations are changing [e.g. consumerisation of workplace tech – I’d say this has been one of the major challenges for those of who have worked closely with learning tech: evolution keeping pace with expectations.  The point was made that perceptions of LMS lag behind actual system development – this is true in-part but also points to the issue of how tricky corporate systems have been to update].
  4. Whilst growing expectations to learn elsewhere (not in LMS – which you can) there remains a need sometimes for the LMS, especially for compliance in heavily regulated industries [yes, certainly my current workplace would effectively be forced to close without the reporting the LMS provides.  However, your learning culture should make it clear that sharing learning makes sense].
  5. Referenced an article from Saba “the-lms-is-dead-long-live-the-lms” [worth a read].
  6. Always really just been part of the landscape [again, yes, but the challenge here for me is that there are many ‘competing’ systems – for example LMS, Intranet, ESN, email, Office365, etc and how you balance these.  Whilst they might not always be obviously competing they are competing for people’s time, often the most precious resource in an organization].
  7. A reminder of the 5 moments of learning need…push is still needed for unconscious incompetent [‘people dont know what they dont know’].
  8. Users dislike their LMS often due to compliance topics.  However, often needed and L&D can make that better – not always the LMS’s fault [obviously good instructional design should minimize this].
  9. Another criticism is the ‘clunky’ nature but many systems moving away with better UI [some anyway] and change from the classroom information distribution model to better more engaging [and personalized] systems.
  10. LMS often really a “workforce working tool” and Saba’s own first use of their tool was as a social platform [this is one of my main issues with modern LMS – you could use it as intranet, ESN, learning, VC and many more things but it depends on the nature of work and where your people spend their time].
  11. Before any of the tech though – what is the role of L&D?  Too tactical view leads to tactical LMS.  Should be about what you make possible – individuals and organizations fulfilling their potential [this is the “empowerment” piece I bang on about].  Nod to the St Pauls and NASA stories for everyone contributing to vision and organizational goals.


@dipak1p followed up with some of what Saba are doing…20 years after basically kicking off the LMS market:

  1. The system continues to lead and evolve [some nice ‘then and now’ screenshots to show how things have changed].
  2. LMS needs to be at center of engagement model.  Can not be in isolation – needs to be core of talent strategy.  Use it to have people feel they are moving forward in a way aligned to the company strategy.
  3. Can be part of a single vendor suite but also, with cloud and other changes, easier to integrate with other things.
  4. Compliance is big part of the picture for many clients.  Needs to be friction-less, for example automatically dealing with requirements when people’s role changes [to an extent we’ve got this in place with a non-Saba system and I’d agree it is 100% essential].  Just show user what have to do [I agree and we do this but it should also be explaining how it fits and what the expected behaviors are] as “consumption isn’t competence” [which is a great phrase I’m stealing from now on].  Real-time analytics and dashboard [looked good – again an example where lots of systems will do it but fine detail and UI all important].
  5. Mobile interface – think about your content again, for example target mobile learners with video, esign tracking of policies on the go, etc.
  6. Peer to peer – capture and use that data: comments, ratings, likes, etc.  Grow out into Communities of Practice [again I’d say this is a challenge depending on how and where people work and what other systems are in play].
  7. Crowd source and social – follow people in system [e.g. people, not topic, first focus].  Socially driven machine learning takes this and other data for more personalized recommendations [some of this similar to what Library Management Systems [[the other LMS]] introduced c.10 years ago – e.g. ‘people like you have liked this’].
  8. Systems becoming more intelligent via interaction data, not based on organizational structures or expansive competency frameworks as they change regularly [this is always a tricky one and I really feel is based on the nature of the organization].
  9. LRS – emerging as the answer to some issues but not going to capture everything.  Create a record of when you recognize you learn something and another source of data for the the LMS [but why bother if you’re an individual?  I’m still really not sure on LRS – it is an L&D solution for a problem learners do not recognize].
  10. “Battle for profile” – what holds your data and what they do [again my worry would be multiple systems compete for the data and our colleagues time – how much you can integrate everything is realistically questionable].

Author: iangardnergb

My name is Ian Gardner and I am interested in various topics that can be seen as related to learning, technology and information. To see what I am reading elsewhere, follow me on The Old Reader (I.gardner.gb) and/or Twitter (@iangardnergb).

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