9 Top Tips for mining the hidden depths of your Learning Management SystemThis article was originally published in Inside Learning Technologies & Skills. Today’s Learning Management Systems are capable of much more than merely managing day-to-day training activities and keeping a record of ‘who did what and when’.

The advent of social media and social learning is having a considerable impact on the process of organisational training and development.

Unfortunately many organisations continue to use their LMS as a tracking and reporting tool without leveraging the capability to manage organisational learning. While this may be due to a lack of understanding of the capability of their LMS, it is often the misconception that “an LMS is for e-learning”, which negates the very raison d’être of having an LMS in the first place! Here are some tips on how to maximise the value from your system.

  1. Streamlining training administration

  2. Beyond standard e-learning, today’s LMS can manage far more complex and dynamic resources: classroom and face-to- face training inventory, trainers, external vendors, training rooms and venues and, of course, the users! By exploiting an LMS’s capabilities, you can streamline your training administration processes by planning your learning calendar, send out automated notifications, reminders and include and share it with everyone involved – users, trainers, line managers and co-administrators. You can schedule and run your offline and online training, administer assessments, post training programmes and generate instant reports, which can be configured to be sent to your mailbox without even logging into the system. Overall, it centralises and automates a lot of your training admin functions and reduces time and costs. Always a good idea!

  3. ROI and cost savings

  4. L&D’s key challenge is to provide value and demonstrate training efficacy and benefit through both knowledge, skills and, of course, costs! This challenge is more evident with significant investments in learning technology infrastructure, of which the LMS is often the most visible component. The LMS can help you bring in tangible and immediate cost benefits through the efficient management of training. The power of the LMS can be used to combine different types of training, more efficient scheduling that maximises trainer time and minimises users downtime (being away from their day jobs); and of course by reducing redundant and unnecessary training cycles, saving time spent in revising, updating and retraining and, critically, making training effective.

  5. Value for money

  6. With the LMS at the heart of your training function, it enables you to manage a wider range of activities with a single, highly efficient and automated system. A customised LMS, designed to your specs and existing workflow, is a huge advantage in managing training efficiently and effectively. The correlation between cost and efficiencies is evident and transparent – as most LMS’s have a reasonable cost per user that can include support as well (often free and available 24×7 by some LMS companies). The quantum, frequency and costs of training in relation to the cost of the infrastructure demonstrate the economic benefits of using the technology widely and effectively.

  7. Reach

  8. With an LMS’s robust and scalable architecture, training is not limited to the seating capacity of a classroom anymore. You can reach a large number of users, across locations, departments and even geographies! The LMS’s e-learning and virtual classroom functionality allows you to cater to disparate audiences without affecting the consistency and quality of the training. Users, trainers, subject matter experts from different locations can collaborate and participate in parallel training activities, without having to contend with the possible loss of time and information while accessing crucial information and training whenever they need it.

  9. Learning resources

  10. We talked earlier about the limitations of associating the LMS only with e-learning and this is one of the more common fallacies on how you can use your LMS. Learning resources take many forms – classically; workbooks, documents, presentations, and in the more recent past; e-learning courseware. But add to this the richness of today’s media – video, audio, photographs, social media and RSS feeds and you suddenly have a very rich and valuable repository of information, reference, knowledge and learning which your LMS can manage, and make available and accessible. The LMS is easily positioned as the source of all knowledge because it is able to store, manage and deliver the relevant resources to users whenever and wherever they require them.

  11. Social and collaborative learning

  12. The advent of social media and social learning is having a considerable impact on the process of organisational training and development. Most LMS’s today have social learning and knowledge collaboration capabilities that facilitate and encourage social and informal learning. The process of collaborative learning, allowing users to learn from each other and share experiences is becoming more evident every day. The LMS supports the user’s social and collaborative learning initiatives through functionalities like discussion forums, learning groups, communities, blogs and Wikis. Building these around common areas of interest and subjects, and linking them to the more formal training resources, creates a very powerful knowledge repository and makes the L&D function and training interventions much more effective and the LMS the ‘go to’ place for answers!

  13. Enhanced user experience

  14. Today’s technology is all about ease of use and the LMS is certainly no exception. Users want an interface that gives them what they want, when they want it, with hassle-free navigation and a minimum of clicks. Given we are providing learning, albeit in many forms, the experience must be intuitive, enjoyable, and personalised to the individual and the organisation. The structure and layout of the content and learning resources is key; and the user’s ability to access information relevant to their requirement is at the heart of the user experience. From an organisational perspective, it is important to reinforce the values and the culture and to build a strong association with the corporate identity. This increases familiarity and adds a level of comfort, giving the user a sense of belonging in the organisation and confidence in their position within it.

  15. Assessing the organisation

  16. Making courses and training available is one side of the coin. But being able to check your users’ comprehension and application of their learning is critical to the business and personal objectives of an organisation. The LMS’s assessment capabilities can play an important role in determining the organisation’s business readiness. By keeping tabs on and measuring the required competencies, an organisation will better understand and plan its training and other interventions. Quizzes, surveys and polls can help an organisation understand the mood and employee satisfaction levels in an easy and efficient manner thereby allowing remedial action to be planned and implemented. And all this via the humble LMS!

  17. Tracking and reporting

  18. An LMS allows you to keep an eye on things and how people are doing but rather than using this to merely report on who- did-what and did-they-meet-requirements, the LMS’s tracking and reporting feature can be a helpful check on the organisation and the workforce. From the more obvious areas of compliance and evidence of compliance, reports allow organisations to constantly measure the effectiveness of their training initiatives and costs and target specific improvements or initiatives based on the data they generate using the LMS’s reporting mechanism. Similarly, individual users can track their learning progress and performance against set timeframes and competencies to help them identify the areas of knowledge, skills and expertise that they need to achieve to advance in the organisation. Using the LMS is easy, but getting the best out it is slightly more challenging. Why not take another look at your LMS? With a slightly different perspective, you will use it more effectively for the organisation and for every user.

Upcoming Webinar

Implementing Tablets for Learning | 19th December, 10.00 AM GMT.

Upcoming Events

Learning Technologies 2014 | Jan 29-30 | Olympia 2, London | Stand 112 LEARNTEC 2014 | Feb 4-6 | Karlsruhe, Germany | Stand No. B-12

Author

Alan has over 12 years of eLearning experience. A strong believer in the role of technology in improving and supporting business and individual performance, he has a deep understanding of the use of learning technologies in the corporate, education and publishing sectors of the Europe market. As a consultant, he has helped many Fortune 500 companies and other organisations in reorienting their businesses and building strong eLearning portfolios.