With the growth of learning organizations, the rising demand for experience-focused, employee-centric processes and the mounting need for intelligent employer branding, it is only natural that the Learning Management System (LMS) as we know it is changing. In a world that is hyper-connected and trend-sensitive, what are the trends that will affect the LMS space in 2019? How can organizations stay abreast of these change tides?
5 Key Learning Management System (LMS) Trends in 2019
Learning is a key driver of change and of growth at any organization today that seeks to stay updated, get upgraded and continue upskilling their workforce. Let’s take a look at the five key trends that the Learning Management System (LMS) space is witnessing and will continue to develop this year, what these trends mean for organizations and their employees and how these would shape the future of work.
1. The Rise of Multi-channel Learning
With millennials quickly becoming the predominant generational demographic at the workplace, organizations need to prepare for a workforce that is not only tech-savvy but also tech-dependent. There is also a clearly observable shift in terms of the applicability of learning and training. Multi-channel learning allows not only access to anytime-anywhere learning but also faster application of skills learned or upgraded.
Changes in the format and processes of LMS mean that organizations need to pay closer heed to the needs of employees in the context of business needs. When it comes to upgrading learning and development frameworks, Skip Marshall, HCM Technology Executive at DXC Technology believes that it is essential to clearly communicate the immense value of upgrading L&D frameworks and in that, organizations face challenges in three core aspects:
Strategic planning – Organizations need to start with business objectives in mind
Breaking down silos – All business stakeholders must be vested and believe in the solution
Undergoing change management – Change is an inevitable part of the business. It is important to view the speed of change as an opportunity to transition to more user-friendly, flexible and inclusive learning systems. Obtain and achieve key business stakeholder support across business groups, to help drive the solution.
With the evolving format of learning, it is wise to bear in mind that the content that needs to be curated for multi-channel learning needs to be adapted to the changing expectations of learners on these channels. Snackable, page-turner content is what works best in today’s fast-paced work ecosystem with a seemingly diminishing attention span.
2. From LMS to LXP
Skip is of the opinion that the “driver for both employees and management in shifting from traditional Learning Management Systems (LMS) to Learning Experience Platforms (LXPs) is the shift toward learning curation and engaging content, which has driven the industry to develop solutions and platforms that can provide engaging learning experiences.”
Learning has evolved to focus on how such experiences can not only make learning more engaging but also drive actionable knowledge that directly ties to the learner/worker and business performance. With this, there has naturally been a significant shift from prescriptive learning to subscription learning, from a top-down approach to learning to an essentially learner-driven model.
Shelley Osborne, Head of Learning and Development at Udemy, points out that, “We’re seeing pervasive changes throughout the workforce with new technologies and increased automation impacting more and more jobs. Skills are the new currency of the global economy and we all need to be in a state of continuous learning to keep up. As we’re witnessing demand for online learning from organizations around the world, it’s clear that the training and learning solutions of the past aren’t going to be what propels us into the future.”
One of the biggest benefits of LXPs is their platform fluidity and this ties in with the trend of multi-channel content. Moreover, with improved technology and connectivity, experts who were once unreachable are now available on-demand and can create value for employees/learners.
That is where the learner experience features in the puzzle. Organizations need to learn to help their employees learn better.
3. A Personalized Learning Experience
An important benefit that LXPs provide is the operational value to the organization with micro-level reporting and the opportunity for deep analytics, creating meaningful impact for both the learner and the organization. Additionally, LXPs provide learners with a collaborative, self-driven journey that is engaging and well-circulated among peers and fellow learners. Skip also rightly mentions that, “Today’s learners want learning that is available on the go, modality agnostic and quick to consume.”
Organizations are thus in the race to provide a more inclusive approach that is personalized, aligns with specific learning styles and incorporates micro-level reporting, deep analytics, quality content curation, peer sharing, and community building. This is where speed and relevancy provide the best value for all stakeholders. Learners, whether millennials or otherwise, are used to a world where all communication is personalized. Learning content needs to speak to them individually as well.
Shelley states that “In the era of Netflix and Amazon where every interaction is individually personalized, employees have consumer-grade expectations, and learning is no exception to that.” She sites the Udemy 2017 Workplace Stress study, that found that 46% of employees say they want learning that’s personalized to their needs. Long gone are the days of cookie-cutter, static corporate trainings! Because every learning journey is different, it’s critical for organizations to have the ability to provide customized learning experiences for every employee based on the challenges they face in their role, their career aspirations, and their personal preferences.
By viewing technology as an enabler, Skip says organizations can benefit from innovation in the eLearning space including advances in cloud computing, which has made it easier to manage change with speed and dependability while also allowing the organization to add relevant personalization. Incorporating employee recognition programs that reflect the organization’s core values and motivate learners to become more self-driven and serve as valuable coaches to others is a great way to encourage learners on their individualized learning journeys.
4. Mapping the ROI of Learning
What once could have been dismissed as castles in the air and would have been an ordeal to get managerial buy-in for is now tangible, measurable and transparent – the return of investment on LMS and other L&D endeavors.
Hawley Kane, Head of Organizational Talent and Leadership Development, Saba Software feels that, “Hands down we see the connection of learning to performance as being the a-ha moment for L&D. Here’s the crux of it: For high-performing organizations, learning is not the outcome – it is the behavior that drives performance. Learning and performance management do not merely co-exist – they are dependent on one another.”
Hawley adds that to deliver learning experiences that move the needle on performance, talent leaders need to empower employees to drive their own development with learning that is aligned to individual, team and business goals. By thinking in terms of business outcomes and focusing L&D programs on specific behaviors, skills, or competencies, you can solidify the learning-performance connection to achieve the results that matter to your business.
“Particular trends that are generating a lot of client interest right now are the focus on measuring the business/operational impact of learning and the parallel trend of Learning Experience Platforms (LXPs) and learning systems integration,” says Geoffrey Bloom, Principal Consultant at LEO Learning. He adds that the combination of these trends facilitates a much deeper understanding of what training is working (and why!) and can create a much more personalized learning experience too. Identifying what works and what is valued also has the potential benefits of increasing quality and relevance and reducing waste while keeping the ROI in mind.
With technology moving the needle on the evolution of learning systems and e-learning thriving, organizations now have easier access to learners’ progress, data on learning behavior as well as a deeper understanding of the (often real-time) impact of learning on business performance.
5. A Range of Choices
A key trend for the year ahead seems to be the sheer boom of new and upgraded LMS solutions. What should companies keep in mind when choosing the “right” eLearning solution?
“When evaluating a learning solution, it’s really important for companies to assess what the business objectives are that they’re aiming to impact”, says Shelley. She adds that by evaluating what is happening within the business and identifying opportunities for improvement, implementing the right learning initiatives will not only satisfy employees but can also impact the bottom line. There are many high-growth organizations that require content on freshest tools and technology to stay competitive. Finding the right solution in our dynamic marketplace is thus the key to upskill and reskill quickly.
With multiple LMS offerings providing thousands of real-world experts and fresh content, organizations need to be able to choose wisely. Having the wrong LMS could prove to be costlier than not having one at all.
Learning to Learn
According to a recent report by Deloitte, the half-life of skills has decreased to only about five years. Shelley makes the case for reinventing our skills by pointing out that in a career lifespan of about 50 years, with the life span of skills dipping low, we will need to reinvent ourselves about 10 times. For example, if you think about something as broad as the marketing industry, the skills required today look nothing like what was necessary 10 or even five years ago. The rate at which technology has impacted every industry has made it critical for employees to constantly be ready to adapt and learn the newest skillset. How can organizations enable that? Well, the difference between a successful training program and one that fizzles out, is often the stakeholder buy-in. While curating the right learning module and content is important, it is also imperative to create a culture of learning where learning is normalized in the workplace and all stakeholders are empowered to lead change.