LMS…the good, the bad and the solution

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inner-banner LMS…the good, the bad and the solution

Management & Development

April 26, 2024

This article will explore the business case for LMS, discussing its benefits and financial advantages in the context of corporate L&D. Then, an analysis of the disadvantages will take place to explain why 44% of people are dissatisfied with their LMS. Finally, learning-as-a-service, specifically MiM LaaS, will be proposed as an alternative that navigates the pitfalls of LMS whilst fulfilling the employee development goals of HR.

 

1. The Business Case for LMS

 

1.1 Cost Reduction

First and foremost, LMS is often cited for reducing costs. LMS facilitates eLearning, which provides the same knowledge, insight, and skills as traditional classroom training without unnecessary additional costs. For example, in some large organisations, it’s estimated that up to 60% of total training costs are solely attributed to travelling. As LMS eliminates the need for travel, costs are reduced. Moreover, there is no requirement for a physical location or catering. IBM managers could learn five times more content at one-third of the cost, saving the organisation $200 million, accounting for 30% of its previous training budget.

 

1.2 Shorter Learning Cycles

IBM’s case story highlights another benefit; the reduction of learning time. Not only can LMS save money, but it can also improve the quality or quantity of learning. Employees can spend the additional time reinforcing learning, learning new topics, or even implementing gained knowledge. eLearning reduces the learning cycles by cutting out the time-wasting attributes of traditional classroom learning, travel time, and setting up/downtime. For these reasons, eLearning typically takes 40-60% less time.

 

1.3 More Effective

Building upon this, employees will have various learning styles and paces in any organisation. In traditional classroom teaching, one of two things can happen. Either slower learners who need more support hold up faster learners meaning the entire learning cycle is decided by the slowest learner. Or the slower learners feel self-conscious about requiring more support and therefore do not speak up when confused. Neither option is optimal for efficiency or effectiveness. LMS offers a risk-free environment where employees can learn at their own pace and fail in a safe, private environment circumventing this pitfall. This is probably why eLearning platforms boost better retention rates too. Research has shown that eLearning can significantly increase knowledge retention, with offline training reports having about 8-10% retention, whereas online can reach up to 60%. However, many of these benefits come from eLearning and are merely facilitated by LMS.

 

1.4 Analytics & Records

Regarding LMS-specific benefits, the systems often produce analytic reports. This gives organisations a broad overview of their workforce’s engagement in learning and can guide future L&D decisions. Moreover, in a compliance context, the fact LMS can provide a record of training taking place makes it easier for organisations to ensure and prove compliance with health and safety requirements, for example. These systems can also act as reminders when training needs to be repeated especially beneficial in the previous compliance example.

 

2. Pitfalls of LMS

Despite the benefits listed above, LMS can become problematic, as illustrated by Brandon Hall Group research which found that 44% of organisations are dissatisfied with LMS, and 48% are researching new or different learning technologies.

 

2.1 The Support System

Most LMS services do not come with advanced support services. One of the most prominent disadvantages is that many only include online FAQs and possibly user communities/forums. Businesses, therefore, may have to solve IT issues alone, without an LMS vendor to refer to. Business leaders may have to administer time and resources to resolve the issue, which adds costs. If an LMS system issue is not resolved, it can cause severe business delays. Not only is this an inconvenience, but it can also significantly disrupt employee development and lower overall engagement.

Online forums have become the equivalent of putting a plaster on a bullet wound in the tech world. Where online systems fail to provide 24/7 support, online forums have been the ‘go-to.’ Such forums often have mixed responses and can need clarification; they are better suited to knowledge sharing than technical support. This lack of support is not unique to technical issues. LMS inherently does not provide learning support either. Whilst the benefits conferred by eLearning are vast, research still supports the notion that eLearning works best when supplemented with traditional classroom learning in some circumstances. Unfortunately, LMS acts as a piece of technology rather than an all-encompassing L&D solution; therefore, no such support is given.

 

2.2 User Experience

LMS can often feel like a chore, and although employees can complete the learning material whenever the material and delivery can be dull due to a poor user interface (UI). Generally, an LMS comprises an admin interface (AI) and a user interface (UI). The AI is where the admin (typically a learning manager/trainer) executes all tasks to organise the company’s learning materials. The UI is what employees will experience throughout their learning journey. Employees must have a good user experience as learning will take a back seat if employees are bored, confused, or aggravated by the technology. 35% of L&D professionals have stated that poor user experience triggers low employee engagement. For a positive user experience, the UI must be fast, simple, and trendy – it should not resemble a course catalogue. The eLearning platform, therefore, should include interactive and animated courses. Each course should have a distinct feature so that all courses do not blend into one. For example, including quizzes, videos, and different formats of tests can lead to better memory retention and boost employee emotional and educational development. Certification and recognition for completing a course can increase employees’ learning points, motivating them to learn more. Unfortunately, many LMS' do not offer such user interfaces, and engagement ultimately suffers.

 

2.3 Tunnel Vision vs Peripheral Vision

The analytical reports produced by an LMS are of undeniable value. It gives an overview of the organisation, the engagement levels and the completion rate of courses, and the analytics can also be used to identify problems and opportunities in the organisation. However, an LMS’ view is inherently limited in many ways. These limitations narrow the parameters of knowledge that can be drawn from LMS analytics and should be acknowledged to avoid overstating conclusions. For starters, it fails to account for knowledge sharing between colleagues or personal development employees may be partaking in out with work. It cannot, therefore, give a whole picture of which employees are genuinely excelling, progressing, or stunted in their learning journey. Even within the platform, LMS has blind spots; analytics is always open to interpretation. For example, one employee may excel at eLearning courses but never implement the knowledge in their role. Others may struggle to demonstrate their expertise in these courses, but what they do learn translates into tangible results. Acknowledging the limitations of LMS’ analytics is essential. Not doing so can lead organisations to a false sense of security. An organisation may believe it has a well-rounded view of its culture and employee development when in reality, it has half the picture.

 

2.4 Low Employee Engagement

Disengagement is at the heart of the practical problems with LMS. A poll conducted across 229 professionals in the L&D space revealed that the majority (46%) felt low employee engagement was the biggest issue with LMS. All the knowledge encapsulated within eLearning is useless unless employees actively engage with it. Many of the problems above either trigger or worsen employee engagement; for example, poor user experience and the lack of a support system can disrupt learning massively. There is no one cause of disengagement. A multitude of factors contribute. Firstly, employee engagement can be an organisation-wide issue. If an employee is generally disengaged from their role, department, or the company, introducing LMS will do little to change this. Secondly, the large number of courses that are often on such systems can overwhelm employees and have the opposite of the intended effect. This can be intensified by the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, where organisations buy courses, many of which have no actual link to the employee development goals it tries to achieve. A university would never give a student every piece of information, reading, and project relevant to their degree on the first day. Doing so clouds the learning journey, demotivating individuals. Thirdly, as discussed briefly above, a poor user experience can have a detrimental impact. If the technology is too complex, it can create confusion around how to use it and technical problems, all of which distract from the core learning task. However, if the user experience is dull and disengaging, it will unsurprisingly lower engagement. The key is to have a simple but interactive eLearning platform with gamification.

 

3. The solution?

After years of watching our clients struggle to navigate the issues discussed above, we were inspired to create a new way of doing things. Instead of simply offering an organisation an LMS, we wanted to create a more comprehensive alternative that embodies the best parts of eLearning and traditional classroom training. That’s why we created MiM LaaS, our learning-as-a-service platform. The main points of difference are;

 

3.1 Discovery to architecturally design your solution

Before access to MiM LaaS, one of our facilitators will thoroughly assess your organisation’s strategic objectives and use this information to guide the direction of eLearning. Each organisation or department (depending on what’s required) will have its own bespoke learning glide path. This improves engagement by tackling elements of poor user experience and the ‘one size fits all approach’.

 

3.2 On-tap consultancy

Even our basic package includes consultancy days. Organisations can use these days in whatever way is required. It’s really up to you. MiM offers various services, including but not limited to culture change, mindset growth, leadership development, and sales performance. Our on-tap consultancy is designed to tackle employee engagement, as you can target consultancy days at more challenging areas of the organisation. Moreover, this also addresses the support system problem; as discussed, it does not require technical support. As we already understand your business, we can respond more efficiently and effectively than an external consultancy partner could.

 

3.3 Experience

Unlike many LMS providers, employee development is our area of expertise. Growing businesses through developing people is something Masters in Minds has excelled at for over fifteen years. We are not theorists; we are practitioners. We have over two hundred years of experience and, therefore, a deep understanding of how to develop employees. MiM LaaS is our expertise, digitalised. Our solution, thus, goes beyond tackling the problems associated with LMS, instead targeting the crux of the problem LMS was trying to solve.

 

3.4 Mindset Indicator Monitor & Johari 360

Our digital tools will be accessible to organisations who can use this to guide employee development and target specific courses at individuals/departments or however the organisation sees fit. Our Mindset Indicator gives a broad overview of an organisation’s openness to change, an essential attribute of that all-important growth mindset. Johari 360 focuses on gauging your organisation’s emotional intelligence, which is particularly useful when choosing future leaders. These tools are designed to tackle the tunnel vision issue. By giving organisations access to such tools, leaders can gain a peripheral view of employees and the essential skills required to succeed. Organisations can use this with our analytics to inform future L&D, strategy, or recruitment.

 

3.5 Gamification

MiM LaaS boasts an interactive and engaging user experience. Regardless of the plan selected, our courses include gamification, points, levels, badges, and leaderboards designed to improve user experience. This is designed to target low employee engagement.

 

3.6 Support

MiM LaaS has a live chat option depending on the package selected. We also have knowledge videos – every time one of our clients asks us a technical question, we create a bespoke informative video to guide them. This tackles the support system issues. Our on-tap consultancy targets learning support issues.

 

Whilst LMS was a revolutionary, cost-effective, convenient L&D solution when first introduced, the time has revealed flaws. If LMS isn’t actually developing and increasing skills, then it’s not fulfilling its purpose. Any organisation failing to upskill colleagues in the modern business world effectively will undoubtedly pay the price through employee turnover, recruitment costs, and lower productivity/engagement. For some organisations, LMS may actually be costing more than it saves. If LMS is not actually a cost-effective solution, it loses one of its greatest advantages. This, alongside, the pitfalls discussed in this article is why learning-as-a-service is the future of L&D. 

Check out MiM LaaS by clicking here

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