A Learning Management System (LMS) is essentially an internet-based application that helps in the creation, management, and delivery of online training content. LMSs are used extensively in employee education and training, and now the formal education sector is also adopting LMS for its hybrid learning model. Distance education programs and online classes are all delivered with the help of an LMS.
The technology industry has been one of the earliest adopters of LMS, with healthcare and pharmaceutical industries following closely behind. The sales function requires continuous learning and has been at the forefront of adopting modern learning systems to keep their team skills up to date.
As COVID-19 disrupted business operations globally, organizations have had to reconfigure their workplace with hybrid models going from the exception to the norm. The new normal is seeing a completely transformed employee training with online and remote learning replacing physical classroom training for most employees, except corporate leaders. But fortunately, LMSs will continue to evolve, meeting the demands of an emerging workplace and the millennial workforce as needed.
Key features of the Learning Management System (LMS)
An LMS is constantly evolving; however, there are some key characteristics, which can be classified as follows:
- 24/7 Learning – A learner can access the knowledge resources at any time of the day, all through the year. LMS acts as a single repository for all learning materials.
- Learner management – It helps manage training or learning processes end-to-end, starting with user registration, course assignments, learning status monitoring, and performance management.
- Tasks automation – It enables trainers to automate tasks such as grading, performance assessments, learner activities tracking and reporting, and generating reports for overall LMS performance.
Advantages of the Learning Management System (LMS)
- Efficient and cost-effective learning
An LMS helps create an efficient learning system that is beneficial to both the organization as well as its employees. It allows companies to develop and manage training programs efficiently and provides access to learners as per their convenience.
Online learning helps you save costs that otherwise would have to be spent on physical classroom training. An LMS can also help employees achieve their learning objectives by moderating the pace as per their capabilities and requirements.
- Simplified performance assessment
Monitoring individual learners’ progress and offering guidance on performance improvement are crucial to an organization’s growth. A good LMS enables you to create tests and quizzes to evaluate learner performance. The systems keep track of a learner’s performance through scores, charts, and leaderboards, keeping them updated through notifications via emails and messages.
- Easy content development and management
LMS enables you to create customized content and courses with the help of video, text, and audio content. The central repository makes it easy to edit and update the content, and all learners can access the modified course content. The platform even allows you to personalize course content based on learners’ specific needs.
- Ongoing Learning and Development
LMSs help companies and learners alike to use learning paths for skills development on an ongoing basis. This can be tweaked according to the company’s and individual’s needs.
Evolution of the Learning Management System (LMS)
The beginning of the LMS can be traced to 1960 when the PLATO (Programmed Logic for Automatic Teaching Operations) system was developed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. And the origin of the modern LMS can be traced to the launch of Moodle, an open-source learning management system, in the year 2001.
Over the years, LMS technical standards have evolved from SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) to the X-API standard. SCORM enables e-learning content and LMSs to work together by defining technical standards for communication methods and data models. The X-API standard, on the other hand, enables LMSs to share data along with associated context information, i.e., experience data.
With the evolution of mobile internet, LMSs evolved further to facilitate ‘anytime and anywhere learning. With the application of emerging technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality, LMSs will continue to evolve.
- Access anywhere for flexible learning
When it comes to accessing courses from anywhere and on any device, a significant change has been the flexibility aspect. This removes the physical barriers that existed up until a few years ago. The feature helps learners and organizations become more productive, saving companies costs but without compromising on the quality of learning and skill upgrade.
Even as the Virtual Reality technology progresses, going beyond gaming and into corporate applications, the technology can help take learning to the next level. The integration of VR into Learning Management System will enable you to create life-like experiences in virtual learning environments. This will also help organizations monitor learner performance mentally, emotionally, and physically which can be further leveraged to enhance performance and improve learning outcomes.
- Personalized learning experiences
Another emerging trend is personalized learning, as opposed to a one-size-fits-all approach. Since each learner’s learning capability is different and each of their learning styles will vary, personalized training is more effective. These learning styles can be classified into four types: visual, auditory, reading and writing, and kinesthetic.
With the availability of performance data and learning information, personalized learning will continue to evolve even further. A modern Learning Management System will be able to provide curated learning paths and content to match such individual-oriented learning capabilities, existing knowledge, and job roles.
Gamification refers to applying gaming elements and mechanics to non-gaming scenarios in order to improve learning outcomes. The adoption of gamification in learning has led to increased interest in learning; improved learning speed; and enhanced knowledge retention.
Gamification of corporate learning and skill development helps develop healthy competitiveness among employees which is beneficial for individuals and the organization alike. An LMS can be designed to include levels like in a game, and the learning modules can be classified into different levels based on their difficulty. Similarly, an LMS can be configured to award points to learners on completion of learning milestones, and a badge can be awarded on achieving specified points and levels.
- Social features
Social networks have led to the emergence of online communities and knowledge-sharing among members. The network breaks physical and cultural barriers, bringing people with common interests together, promoting collaboration and sharing. LMSs have such social features incorporated into the platform itself to aid individuals’ learning and development.
One such feature is the messaging forum, which enables members to post problems and collaborate with other members of the group in resolving them. This helps create a collaborative learning environment that improves learning speed and outcomes. Other social features such as chat rooms enable learners to share their experiences, and the inclusion of like and share buttons further encourage collaboration. As the social network keeps evolving, adding social elements in LMSs is going to be an ongoing trend.
Unlike traditional LMS, Modern LMSs enable organizations to enhance the level of customization to suit their organization’s specific requirements. The company can tweak the User Interface or UI for a better user experience, enabling bulk registrations based on job roles and assigning courses to multiple learner groups at once. Today’s LMS would enable an organization to create and deliver training in the format of their choice.
These customization features also keep evolving so that organizations can include additional layers of distinction in learning modules, based on their requirements and the individual needs of their employees.
As remote learning becomes the norm owing to the rapidly changing environment, Learning Management Systems (LMSs) are also evolving. Technological innovation and adaptation to the changing work environments is crucial for any organization’s growth. Therefore, the future LMS will keep becoming more personalized and immersive, eliminating the distinction between physical and virtual learning.