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A lot of people, including me(!), disparage the LMS (Learning Management System) quite vociferously.
To be honest, the problem we have is often not the fault of the system, it's how it's used in conjunction with other systems.
LMS's are brilliant (well, sometimes...) at handling administrative tasks like booking resources, sending out joining instructions, and dealing with approvals and the money side of things.
They're also really good at automating measurement of achievement, eg. with a multiple-choice assessment or through a simulation.
What they're not so good at is being a place where you store knowledge objects - documents, HTML pages, videos etc - ie. stuff that learners will read, listen to or watch.
But that's how most LMS's are used... to store SCORM packages which are full of knowledge objects.
The trouble with using an LMS for that purpose is that learners generally have to:
- find the course or programme they want
- perhaps enrol on that course
- and then work through the SCORM package to find the specific piece of knowledge they need
That's fine for a formal learning situation, with someone who's a novice. You'll want them to get an overview of the issues and ideas.
But, after that, learners will (hopefully) want to return to the materials, to refresh their knowledge, or to answer a question. It's learning at the point of need.
That's where our typical SCORM packages inside LMS's fall down.
Most people, when they want to find something out, do one of two things:
- Ask someone who they think will know the answer.
- Look for the answer, eg. in a manual, or, more often these days, via a search engine.
That's the problem. The LMS hides knowledge away from search engines (which can't dig into the SCORM packages). Even so, many organisations still don't have a decent search engine inside their firewalls.
Even if a learner knew which SCORM package was the right one to look at, many don't include any sort of search facility. This means that learners have to trawl through all the information until they find the bit they need.
So, what's the answer?
I would argue that there is one thing that would make a huge difference:
Make sure that all your knowledge objects are in an easily accessible and searchable content management system. These days it's not difficult or even expensive. But make sure the search engine doesn't just look at the metadata. It should search inside the documents/pages themselves (unless we're talking video or audio of course).
Then use your LMS for what it's good for, and link to the knowledge objects whenever they're needed in your simulations, exercises or assessments.
Ideally, the modern LMS would also contain a decent, user-searchable content management system. But as far as I'm aware, that's not true in most cases. Unless someone knows otherwise?
For more see:
I have a feeling that when we start moving to HTML5 it will make life a lot easier to open the content up as we won't be locked in to Flash development. I'm also interested in (but haven't heard much about) Scorm Cloud which seems to hold the promise of Scorm without LMSs in the usual sense.
For me, the simplest solution is to keep the learning material out of the LMS, with its limits on who sees what, and drop it in to regular CMSs without restriction. Then use the LMS for the "important" stuff like the assessments. Of course, working for a training provider that doesn't really sit well with profit motive, but it's what I'd be advocating if I was back in L&D.
That's exactly the position I take. Generic content is a commodity that could easily be given away. By doing so, you prove your expertise.
What people will pay for is content that is specific to them, specific advice from experts, and accredited qualifications.
We need to wean people off "authoring tools" and help them think about other ways of presenting content.
I hope this doesn't come across as a shameless plug, but the issues you raise in this post are exactly the issues we discussed with our clients regarding our LMS, the LatitudeLearning LMS.
We decided to integrate Ektron's Content Management System into our LMS, to take advantage of a true CMS and leverage its Web 2.0 capabilities. This gives our clients the ability to use a full blown CMS to manage knowledge objects and a powerful search capability to search our course catalog and non-Scorm, non-course materials (e.g. product info, job aids, etc.).
If you're ever interested in seeing how we integrated all this into a single learning envrionment, I'd be happy to show you.
I have no problem with shameless plugs if they contribute to the conversation.
It sounds like you've done just what I was looking for. I'll take a look and get in touch. It's always useful to have an alternative solution to offer to clients.
An LMS that offered social tools would be incredibly powerful in drawing learners' attention to the most useful content, as well as adding value in the conversations between learners occurring in comments or discussion threads. I've been blogging recently (http://ow.ly/43tfC) about social learning, and I'm interested in seeing how LMSs evolve and adapt to the demand for a social LMS.