Rather than ask the question, why do you need a Learning Management System (LMS), you should be asking what you are missing out on by not having one – that’s a lot more pertinent. And psssst by the way, you really are missing out! While your organisation might seem to be running well, using an LMS might (will) kick it up a notch and make it run even more efficiently. But just what is a learning management system and what can it do for you?
We’ll make it easy - In the simplest terms, an LMS is a software-based solution to the problem of how best to deliver learning content in a package that is easy to use and flexible enough to run your entire education system. You can consider an LMS to be a piece of software technology that can improve learning, make the learning process faster, more productive hour on hour, and trackable. The fact that it is also highly cost effective is just the icing on the multi-layered cake that is a learning management system. If you’re already starting to yawn at the thought of workplace learning, you’ve clearly never witnessed how great it can be. Oh yeah, we’re talking fun, engaging, daring and sometimes even funny!
That’s right, if you were thinking boring, prepare to have your bubble burst by sharp storylines, witty characters and totally reimagined eLearning content.
The importance of workplace learning
As business evolves, it is becoming increasingly learning-centric. Let’s face it, we can’t deny the importance of making our employees more flexible and able to take on tasks that they may not have originally signed up for.
It’s getting pretty important for companies to want a workforce that is able to deal with the changing face of business and that means educating them to deal with a changing world. Unfortunately, education in industry has been little different from the standard school model; you give people information and hope that at least some of it is absorbed. It might have a sexy PowerPoint to deliver it (we know that PowerPoint can never really be sexy – maybe slick at the most) but it’s still the same old thing. Rote learning is a bit like scattering seed and having to accept that some of it won’t grow, and just concentrating on the bits that do. That might be acceptable with planting crops but isn’t going to do your business any good. So, rote learning, we’ll take you, and we’ll raise you!
While rote has been the standard model for centuries, educational psychology established that it definitely wasn’t the model that suited every case, and learners needed an array of methods. Over the last forty years, alternatives to rote learning include meaningful learning, associative learning, and active learning and these have become far more important tools in the classroom.
But beyond rote learning, the classroom itself is also a problem, and whatever method tutors use to establish the learning, confining it to a classroom is an old and increasingly discredited model. Enter learning management systems and the ability to deliver learning on demand, and at the convenience of the student rather than the establishment. But far more importantly, an LMS allows for a variety of educational content rather than simple written and read information, and that is a huge benefit to the learner.
Catering for every learner
We know that there are seven fundamental types of learner (and you thought that it was just three, didn’t you), and catering for them all within a standard learning system such as a classroom is nigh on impossible. There always has to be some level of compromise and that generally means that some learners won’t get it, and if they won’t get it, there’s little point in giving it to them in the first place! (Let's just put aside the arguments about whether learning types even exist and go with the flow here).
Rather than taking the view that since it would be a pointless and time-consuming exercise, you should just leave your employees uneducated, you could look for an alternative to the traditional rote form of education. You could just let nature take its course and only educate the employees that you think are going to ‘get it’, but you are probably doing yourself a disservice and may be leaving yourself open to some weird discrimination court case or something. Or you could take a different route and look beyond the everyday and step outside of mainstream education techniques. Leave old fashioned eLearning to the unimaginative and easily-pleased; the future is the LMS. Or maybe it's even the LXP (but that's a blog and conversation for another day).
In short, stepping it up to the LMS has the potential to be the next big ‘oomph’ in educational delivery, and it has the power to reach far more of your employees than simple instruct-and-walk-away methods.
But that’s not to say that all LMS's are the same, and that you shouldn't just pick up and run with the first one that you come across. As an example, Moodle works well in schools and colleges, but it wouldn’t work well in a business environment (unless you modify and create your own UI). No, if you are going to be committed to the concept of an LMS as an educational tool in your business environment, you need to do a bit of research and understand what is likely to work for you.
Or at least you would have to, if we hadn’t already done it for you.
Video based LMS
Which brings us round to the benefits of a video-based LMS, and how a structured video-lesson can engage more people than the simple – and very dull – delivery of material in the same old way (cough cough PowerPoint). Tried and tested doesn’t necessarily mean the best.
A video-based LMS and video learning in general has some very distinct advantages over traditional methods of teaching. For a start, it enhances interactivity between the user and the content. People sitting in a class are apt to fall asleep, particularly if it is just after lunch. If they are not being engaged, then they tend to switch off, especially if the training is something that they are being coerced to attend rather than wanting to do it. Video is a lot more interactive and draws people in, and the more interactive the actual content, the more they want to engage with it. If you want to ensure that people are really getting involved with your teaching, deliver it as video.
Video makes people think. If you are delivering a series of startling facts or specific points, standing in front of a class and just regurgitating them won’t have much impact on a class. Sure, a few of them will remember some of the information that they have been given but in terms of overall impact, its going to be a bit flat. Now do the same thing with graphics and see how your class engages with it. The fact is that, regardless of what type of learner they actually are, almost everyone responds well to graphics presented to them, and tend to store the information rather than disregard it. That in itself makes video learning a far more attractive option.
It is cost effective. Computer-based training, or CBT to aficionados, is easy to set up and use, and doesn’t require the need for a tutor – you know, the person who costs all the money. Once it has been authored computer-based training can be used again and again at no real cost, and can be updated quickly and efficiently if new information is required. Compared to a traditional teacher, CBT is king!
So, an online learning management system has all the elements that make your in-company training both easy to use and effective. It negates the need to have an in-person tutor and can be repeated again and again if necessary, and the content can always be fresh and up to date.
Suppose that you needed to train your staff in the issues of aggression and violence in the workplace. You could hire in a tutor to deliver this to your staff, but run the risk of some learners not appreciating the gravity of this important issue. You could try to deliver it yourself through a series of comedic yet poignant role-playing workshops, but even fake violence can be intimidating!
Or you could instigate sessions of CBT via a learning management system. Delivering the content online ensures a much higher level of understanding and acceptance, and that means your workforce is more prepared to deal with the issues.
And that is why you need an LMS, in case you were still wondering.
If you haven't got a LMS*, or aren't satisfied with the system you're currently using, give us a call or send us a message - we'd love to hear from you! Or sign up for a free trial and see what all the fuss is about, you won't regret it!
NB: whatever strategy you implement, all learning strategies have their part to play. Face to face can be incredibly powerful. Likewise, not everything suits micro-learning. It's all got to be part of a blended solution.
*iAM Learning provides a free LMS as part of our subscription service. We also partner with many of the world's best learning management systems, but occupy an independent space and so are happy to offer advise on which tools might suit your business the best!