The good news first: the market is upbeat about LMS technology; in the recent past I have seen an increasing number of enquiries on LMS – which is good.
The ‘not so bad’ news, something which made me think a little – in many RFPs I still find eLearning is a very small part of the requirements. In fact a couple of RFPs from very large organizations were similar in defining what they need from an LMS. I noticed that more than half of the requirements catered to managing classroom training. There was a low-key section on eLearning mentioning SCORM compliance in the RFP and that was about it!
So, for organizations ‘migrating’ to eLearning (via an LMS) – is the LMS still about managing classroom training? If it were a one-off case it would have been fine but the trend we see is more than an aberration – it reflects market sentiment (at the very least, that’s what it looks like).
Either way, its good business for LMSs that support the management of classroom training just like our LMS does. The bigger question– is there a gap in what we want to sell and what a customer needs?
There is nothing wrong about an LMS being used to manage classroom training but if an LMS is being used only to do that then there is a slight disconnect. The disconnect could be due to a lack of awareness about the LMS’s capabilities; it could be due to a customer’s readiness to adopt eLearning immediately and possibly thinking that they will get an LMS to manage classroom training in the short term and then upgrade to start eLearning at a later stage when they are ready; or the disconnect could be due to the fact for some customers eLearning is nothing but managing classroom training through some system/tool.
These reasons notwithstanding, the truth of the matter is that for a significant number of companies migrating to eLearning the first step is typically to get a system like an LMS to manage classroom training better. They may or may not be thinking of eLearning (primarily referring to online training modules, assessments, and even social/informal learning) at this stage. This approach has some risks associated with it if the long term on eLearning is not thought through in the initial stages, as later on using or supporting eLearning on the same LMS may become a challenge. It’s because during the evaluation, the focus wouldn’t have been on some of the key features needed in an LMS for eLearning management.
However for some time it does look like that the LMS, to a large part of the customer base, is still about classroom training management and some primary eLearning. As I said earlier – it’s good for business as long as your LMS supports that well. However as an LMS provider I would want the customers to be able to use the LMS for more than just managing classroom training, specially the power of informal/social learning through the LMS!