More than 2 years back, I had carried out a SWOT analysis of the LMS to get some understanding on the LMS scenario. Today, after the rapid evolution of the LMS – hastened by several factors, right from the inclusion of social learning tools, to an ever increasing need for usability – many things have changed, and still continue to change, in the LMS. The question then is, how will the LMS of the future look like? While there is no knowing for sure what will happen over the next 3 – 5 years, there are some key trends that may find a prominent place in the evolution of the LMS in the coming time.
1.Cloud Based LMS Gone are the days when having your own staff running your own servers behind your own firewall provided a sense of security and control. Cloud computing is emerging as an inexpensive, quick and efficient way of delivering training through LMS. Cloud-based LMSs have the capacity to bring down your Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), something that has being largely overlooked during LMS vendor comparisons. The future LMS will increasingly be run on cloud for its agile, flexible and economic characteristics. This trend will benefit not only large companies but even the smallest of the learning organizations.
2.Personal Learning Environment (PLE) Over the years, Personal Learning Environment (PLE) in LMS has seen several additions of features – some which worked well with the end users and some irrelevant ones that have pulled out eventually.
Alison Bickford, e-coach for the Connect Thinking eLearning Academy, has shared a video predicting some future trends in the LMS. She lists four key additions to PLE that can enhance user experience, which, in brief, include:
- An interface that can be manipulated to meet end-user’s needs and preferences – like freedom to bring blog, YouTube, Twitter feeds, LinkedIn forms at one place for viewing – which they can utilize to develop and hone expertise anytime, anyplace.
- A semantic search function that understands and tracks user’s search intention and context.
- The PLE that would know learners’ interests and gaps in knowledge and skills and proactively suggest new information, courses, social communities and network for consideration. (I have covered this in detail under ‘Talent Management’)
- Facility for user-based content generation, to contribute knowledge and expertise through conversation and new content.
3.Gamification According to Ambient Insight’s report – The 2011-2016 Worldwide Game-based Learning Market: All Roads Lead to Mobile, the worldwide game-based learning market reached $1.2 billion in 2011. As per estimations, the revenues will more than double to $2.5 billion by 2015. These figures underline growing dependency on games to attend the learning goal.
Research has proved that games have more engaging power and enables learner to understand about strategies, management, decision-making, time management, risk-taking, storyline etc., in much lighter and competent way.
Games are not new to learning management; they have been a crucial part of the learning process, but have not been harnessed to their full potential. While most of the current breeds of LMSs use a proprietary environment to create, run and track any game-like learning activity, the launch of Project Tin Can, as one example, (you can read my earlier post on TinCan here) has brought in a common approach to designing, running and tracking games and simulations. This capability should hence become stronger in the future versions of the current LMSs. Focus would also be on enhancing the interface and elements in the LMS to enable further gamification.
4.Talent Management The line between talent management and learning management system is blurring by the day. Many companies have already started integrating TM and LMS. While talent management helps in identifying key skills of an employee and the gaps in knowledge and skills or expertise required, an LMS helps in filling those gaps and improve job-oriented skills of the learner. The LMSs of the future will be enabled to suggest new courses or other available learning resources specific to the need of the learner.
There is no saying what changes the LMS will actually endure over the course of a year/s, but the truth remains that today’s LMS is not what it was 10 years before, and the LMS of tomorrow will be very different than what we can fathom now. I would love to hear the trends you foresee for the LMS.