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Future looking - an open letter to the LMS

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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.

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Future looking - an open letter to the LMS

  1. 1. 12 | JUNE 2017 | TRAINING & DEVELOPMENT WWW.AITD.COM.AU Dear LMS, 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! That’swhenyoustartedprovidingreportsthatalertedustowhenorwherea learnerhaddroppedout-sowecouldpunishthemfornotlovingyoumore! 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! FUTURE LOOKING: ANOPENLETTER TOTHELMSFROM THEMODERN WORKPLACE LEARNER BYDRANNEBARTLETT-BRAGG a a
  2. 2. 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 workplace. I’m a little sad, but I won’t be held back – my personal learning journey is beginning with exciting opportunities waiting. Farewell The Modern Learner 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.
  3. 3. 14 | JUNE 2017 | TRAINING & DEVELOPMENT WWW.AITD.COM.AU T 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. Theroleoflearninganddevelopment isshiftingwiththetechnologicalchanges. MyDoctoralresearchidentifiedtheroleof workplaceeducatorsmovingawayfrom formaltrainerstowardsrolesthatcreated opportunitiesthroughconnectingpeople, curatingcontent,conveninglearning eventsandprovidingcontinuouslearning. 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? References 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. eLearning MasterClass REGISTER NOW. STARTS 25 JULY 2017 This is a practical, project focussed course in which you will create a resource and learn the process to develop eLearning content that delivers results. This self-paced course is held over eight weeks. For details and to register visit aitd.com.au