A technological revolution in electronic learning has seen sizable changes over the years.
Many years back, companies used to distribute eLearning content to customers by CD ROM, so that it could be handed over to learners to use on their PCs or, if the infrastructure was there, on an internal server for learners to access via a network.
Then came the LMS, a platform (installed onsite) that brought eLearning courses together in one place where administrators could assign content and monitor its use to their hearts content. The future of learning had arrived.
Times have indeed changed and it’s not just the technology that is making a difference to learning. People are learning through sharing, storytelling and collaboration, and it is the learners themselves, their behaviours, habits and how they want to consume content, that is driving the new features learning platforms have today.
As we know, learning is moving away from a prescriptive/controlled approach towards facilitation, social learning and curation, with predictions that communities of learners will eventually take complete ownership of L&D – Rachel Matthews discusses this in more detail in her recent blog.
Learning portals, have done away with the traditional approach of a typical LMS. The platform takes the traditional features of a Learning Management System (LMS), such as lessons, assessments, reporting and schedules, and takes them to the next level by incorporating virtual classrooms, social learning, and video content.
This has allowed L&D to curate learning assets from the abundance of online resources, which supports the suggestion that curation is key to modern learning. With Google at most people’s fingertips, content being shared amongst colleagues and social media offering new knowledge at a rate of over 32 million messages per minute worldwide, the scope of learning has changed entirely. This is one of the reasons that L&D has organically moved towards a blended learning approach, targeting each individual learner with personalised learning, giving them what they need, when they need it.
Modern learning systems need to support this change and should allow quick and easy creation of modular, blended learning interventions or programmes. But the question still remains, what do we include? Personalised learning could combine any of the following learning activities:
- Reference materials including PDF, PowerPoint, Word, Excel, embedded HTML (e.g. YouTube, Screencast, TED), MP4 video, MP3 audio
- Videos or class recordings
- Virtual classes, webinars and online mentoring
- Scheduling of traditional facilitated workshops and courses
- SCORM eLearning content
- Flash presentations
- Assessments (with automated marking for instant feedback to learners)
- Discussion forums
- File sharing and uploading allowing learners to submit files to instructors or administrators
- User Generated Content
Modern, agile learning platforms should also encourage social learning by allowing learners to access private social networks and discussion boards. This supports project-based learning, whilst at the same time facilitating communication and collaboration amongst teams and colleagues.
From an organisational point of view, we need to consider a number of things when updating or implementing an LMS, including:
Learning Paths – Provide direction and support to learners and give context on how the pieces fit together.
Supports Formal & Informal Learning - Informal learning from colleagues, and learning on the job, accounts for 70% of what we know. An LMS platform should be able to integrate on-the-job and other informal modes of learning with formal learning opportunities to form a complete training experience.
Easy Administration - Set-up, scheduling, registration, joining instructions, reminders and attendee management should be incorporated for quick, efficient administration.
Long gone are the days of awkward workflows, with endless clicks to drill down to get what you need. Learners want a system that is intuitive and easy to access, and whilst learners are absorbing knowledge in a virtual or self-paced environment, they expect a system that guides them directly to what they need, in an instant and allows them to share their learning to the benefit of everyone.
So, it’s time to ask yourself – is your LMS “old skool”? Can it deliver what your people need, when they need it, driving results and increased performance? If not, it could be costing you more than you think. Extra administration time and time spent looking for programmes by learners can cause huge additional costs that are often overlooked.
Want to talk about perfecting your blended learning approach? Get in touch with us today to move your learning culture into the modern day.
Stuart Ford, Learning Solutions Sales Consultant, Bray Leino Learning
In my series of blogs I will talk through my thoughts on some of the key challenges facing Learning and Development professionals, along with useful tips and advice.
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