The modern workplace and the role of the LMS - or not!
This article originally appeared in Training & Development magazine June 2017 Vol 44 No 3, published by the Australian Institute of Training and Development.
12 | JUNE 2017 | TRAINING & DEVELOPMENT WWW.AITD.COM.AU
We need to talk...
We’ve been together now for more than a decade.
It hasn’t always been easy. We have had our highs and lows. But let’s be
honest, it has mostly been lows.
We came together with idealistic ambitions about the future of learning.
We were going to change the world.
eLearning was going to liberate learners from classroom controllers.
Teachers who told us what to do, how to do it and when.
The promise was eLearning - anywhere, anytime - always available. You
were going to provide the platform, you promised to support our cause.
But you didn’t really mean it, did you?
You wanted the control. You set standards - things like SCORM controlled
how content was developed.
You set rules.
You promised to measure learning in ways we’d never been able to before
- but you colluded with traditional management techniques. You coerced
us into measuring clicks, completions and certifications!
That’s NOT measuring learning!
Then as social media uptake grew, we started to look around for new
options - you introduced us to rapid authoring tools.
You led us to believe that we could quickly design learning programs.
Lots and lots of people believed you but the learners still didn’t like you!
You claimed you too could be social. You introduced social features with
blogs and wikis. But they still remained under your control. They weren’t
really ours – not like our personal social media accounts. You imprisoned
the social conversations into locked down areas - just like classrooms do!
And once we’d finished a course, we had to relinquish all our work.
Next was the threat from the use of mobiles. You quickly realised another
potential reason for leaving had arisen. So you become responsive -
mobile responsive. Well, that’s what you wanted us to believe. But the
mobile experience let us down - the type of learning interactions you
wanted us to do, weren’t designed for mobiles. And to expect me to read
files on my phone - you must have been dreaming!
Analytics seduced many people - but what did they really tell us? Yes, I
know there is your new X-API and TinCan but that’s still not providing data
to enhance learning – it feels more like a tracking device, big brother is
watching how I learn!
TRAINING & DEVELOPMENT | JUNE 2017 | 13WWW.AITD.COM.AU
Now there’s social learning - you say that’s your thing too! You can
modernise learning, you can be social!
Discussion forums aren’t social if they are not open to engagement
beyond the confines of the group!
Social learning is open, shared and free flowing - can you really do that?
Communities of practice are not truly communities if they are not
available to everyone - that makes them more like private membership
clubs. These won’t thrive with new and diverse ideas, they will merely
reinforce homogenous thinking.
You still think you are the only one, right?
Well – I have been getting out a bit lately. I have been seeing other sites.
I have been to Yammer, Slack and Workplace by Facebook and I know
there’s more opportunities for me to expand my learning beyond your
exclusive, permission - based environment inside the organisation.
Our new integrated digital workplace hub provides me with learning
experiences I had always hoped for: the opportunity to manage my own
learning, be self-directed, engage with others across my organisation,
learn and share my experiences with experts, and discover new ways of
thinking. Personalised, customised and configured to my needs.
No-one likes an industry in decline. But you only have yourself to blame!
You focused on compliance, reports, and delivery – you didn’t worry
about our learning experiences or engagement. I guess you really are just
a delivery platform; perhaps it was our expectations that couldn’t be met.
And, there are more people, just like me! We’re building communities –
together. They are open, self-organised and we are sharing experiences,
learning from each other. Why couldn’t you let us do that?
And no, I don’t want you to try and pretend you are part of the digital
workplace hub. You can’t just plugin and pretend to be cool, you have to
change your mindset. You need to accept that learning can’t and won’t be
controlled by you in the future.
One last thing - VR! What will you do about that?
For me, it is time to move on. I’m sure you will still have a few people
who believe in you. But those people won’t be part of the future digital
I’m a little sad, but I won’t be held back – my personal learning journey is
beginning with exciting opportunities waiting.
The Modern Learner
No-one likes an
industry in decline.
But you only have
yourself to blame!
You focused on
and delivery – you
didn’t worry about our
or engagement. I
guess you really
are just a delivery
platform; perhaps it
was our expectations
that couldn’t be met.
14 | JUNE 2017 | TRAINING & DEVELOPMENT WWW.AITD.COM.AU
echnological innovations will
continue to disrupt our workplace
practices for the foreseeable
future. While a great deal of attention
is currently focusing on artificial
intelligence (AI) and robots, another
shift is occurring in a slower, less radical
manner. Digital disruption to HR is
expected to be the next frontier of
these shifts – and more specifically our
learning environments and the LMS.
The LMS, itself a disruptive technology
when it was introduced a decade or
so ago, is a multi-billion dollar market
that is reported to be in steep decline.
Not surprisingly, lack of innovation has
resulted in opportunities for new ways
of learning that focus on a suite of digital
learning platforms that provide rich and
engaging learning experiences.
Today’s modern learner is yearning
to be free of the corporate Learning
Management Systems structured
approach. Research from Bersin by
Deloitte describes a modern learner
who wants mobile access, collaboration
and empowerment to manage their own
learning. They access content through
YouTube and MOOCs. They collaborate
with their colleagues on Yammer, Slack,
or Workplace by Facebook.
Concurrently as roles in learning
and development are evolving, there
are emerging examples of large
organisations shifting away from the
LMS and embedding learning into their
Enterprise Social Network or social
intranets. These case studies, from large
US universities, technology companies
to healthcare professionals across
geographically dispersed locations,
describe their frameworks for learning
based on social learning theories for
communities of inquiry where deep
learning and reflection are valued more
than eLearning course completions.
And, they are all reporting outstanding
results including high levels of learner
participation and positive impact against
learning and workplace objectives.
The LMS was designed to manage
learning, not to dominate learning
experiences. As the transformation of
organisations into digital workplaces
continues, our systems of control will
be replaced by systems of engagement.
Our learning will become discretely
embedded into everyday workplace
tasks, personalised and customised to
meet our needs.
The transition (or post-LMS) period
may not be without challenges and
resistance – most likely from within the
learning and development community
and LMS vendors. But how can we
continue to ignore the needs of modern
workplace learners with technologies
that are no longer fit for purpose?
Bersin J, 2017, Watch Out, Corporate learning: Here
Comes Disruption, Forbes Magazine
Dr Anne Bartlett-Bragg (@AnneBB) is
the Managing Director of the Ripple
Effect Group in the Asia-Pacific region.
She completed her PhD in 2013 that
investigated the learners’ experience of
self-publishing with social technologies.
STARTS 25 JULY 2017
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