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The 21st century LMS

I recently read a report compiled by eLearning Network from their Next Generation Learning Management Event held in September, 2009. It is an interesting report.

Personalization of content is a base expectation with an element of learner’s control or choice over what she wants to learn coupled with added intelligence from the system to provide relevant content.

Access, to the degree of ubiquity, seems to also come up as a key requirement with pressure on LMS vendors to resolve user experience and tracking challenges across devices.

Search, to make content available easily, and the corresponding improvements in taxonomies, is a key requirement. So are classroom management tools.

A key shift is from the learing management system from an administrative and management function to a communications function, lowering barriers to knowledge flow within the organization.

Competency definitions and links to HR systems for a variety of tasks (such as talent development) find their way as other key requirements. Similar to the IMS standards for Reusable Competency Definitions and Learner Information Package, a need is voiced to make transcripts transferable (from organization to organization).

The report ends by stating:

At first glance this may just seem like a long wish list, but a more detailed reading demonstrates two things. Firstly, pretty much everything here is already available elsewhere in some form, and LMS vendors need to catch up with wider developments. Secondly, long development cycles and expensive development resource are not acceptable. It seems that LMS still has a key role to play for many organisations, but the terms of their engagement with vendors needs to change.

This report is interesting because it provides an insight into how the participants were trying to accomodate recent developments in social networking, talent management, Web 2.0 and technology with specific bottlenecks that they have experienced using an LMS. They are also seeing the LMS as part of a wider ecosystem with closer linkages between learning, talent development and performance. They are seeing the roles of the vendors changing to more proactive and technologically updated levels.

My personal opinion, though, is that we are flogging a dead horse. The changes we are seeing around content, personalization, search, collaboration, learning experiences, ubiquity, mobility (just to name a few), pronounce the need for LMS vendors to fundamentally re-architect their systems, not just technologically. Mere addition of social networking or Web 2.0 features does not cut any ice for me. 

A key shift in perspective could be the one from “management” to “facilitation” or from “courses” to rich “experiences” or from “common structure” to a much more delegated, learner led self organized environments.

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As more customers have started looking at Web 2.0 and learning 2.0 as a way to encourage greater learner engagement and learning effectiveness, I believe the way web based training (WBT) courses are created right now should change.

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