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Thursday, February 05, 2009

What Goes in the LMS?

Recently I posted on Learning Materials asking the question -

What Goes in the LMS?

The responses via comments were truly fantastic. In fact, they were too fantastic to have them "buried" as comments. And I wanted to add some of my thoughts, so I'm post again on this topic.

Oh, and, as always, the answer is "it depends" - but let's try to come up with a few suggestions...

Should go in the LMS -
  • Only finished content.
  • Anything with per-learner, strict tracking requirements.
  • Certification/Accreditation management: companies still need to know who went through which course and when, and what was his/her score at the end of it.
  • Learning paths: some competencies require that content is presented in a specific order, an order that could be hardly reproduced in informal learning by learners without direct guidance.
  • Content that's associated with the course content.
Should not go in the LMS -
  • Content that doesn't need strict tracking.
  • Content that needs fast access
Other thoughts -
  • Put things in both places
  • Build a rich web of connections to make sure they connect together

10 comments:

Shaun Bala said...

I struggle with what does Not belong. I see the LMS as the central repository of learning; both formal and informal. If a user has a question the answer should be found in the LMS.
On information that doesn't need to be strictly tracked in the LMS - some information could be valuable without SMEs and developers knowing. the LMS could reveal that fact.

Jeff said...

I'm beginning to lean to adding only what needs to be absolutely tracked and measured in the LMS. Because Learning 2.0 relies so heavily on small bits of training/learning coming from a variety of sources, the LMS has already lost value as the "central repository". Add in the fact that the average LMS does not provide fast and easy access to small learning bytes, and the case strengthens to move out of the LMS and into a portal-type approach for most of your content.

The Learning Revolutionary said...

Agree with Jeff on this one. At the end of the day we want our end users to be able to find what they need, when they need it. Many people don't associate 'learning' with information they need to do their job at a particular moment in time even though they are participating in the most valuable sort of learning. Why hide the information away for the sake of a personal, idealised concept of what an LMS should be.

Far better to track actual user behaviour and find out where people are more likely to go as a first port of call to find the information they need.

Information not stored in the LMS can still be tracked provided it's stored somewhere - just not to the same level of detail.

john said...

This has made me think all day: "what do we need to track?" Sure, we need to track compliance training and "issues" training (e.g. interpersonal interaction training), but wo we need to track informal learning? Should we track the reading of articles? What would we do with the information even if we had it?

I think we need to limit LMS/LCMS tracking to those things that must be formally tracked. So, I guess I agree with Tony here, but it does bring up the "what should be tracked" question.

Gary Wise said...

Tony, this thread is shining the light on something that I'm trying to shift here at the hospital. The message is shifting the concept of learning capability away from the technology that enables it. Sounds rather vaporous, right? Consider this.

I inherited a mentality that the LMS was to be the "single source of truth"...meaning all tracked training would be resident in the LMS. That thinking implied there would be no special cases like rogue Blackboard accounts or any training in the electronic medical policy and procedure stash...and forget about identifying frequency associated with a learner accessing performer support objects in the informal realm. Throw in specialized events aligned with issuing Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits based on role, and you've blown any chance of a LMS keeping up. They just don't do much beyond vanilla "registrar things" without a ton of customization, and we avoid the "C" word like the plague.

The challenge was having visibility (track-ability) of our learning assets for compliance reasons as well as just knowing usage patterns, etc.

The solution is not deciding "what goes into the LMS" as much as what goes into the "learning systems network". And we can live with disparate learning systems by consolidating what we need to track, slice and dice by using a data warehouse. Our "single source of truth" is not a system (LMS), it is a reporting aggregate derived through using a data warehouse. Now the Hatfield’s that swear by the LMS as the center of the universe and the McCoy's who need their Blackboard to service the academic part of our world can live in peace. And happy learning leaders give better learning...or something like that.

Adding EPSS and tracking usage is no longer a challenge because the chunk of technology can do what a best-of-breed system should do – provide a discrete learning capability. We can access tracking data through the data warehouse and consolidate reporting through creative query development. In a sense, the importance of the LMS is shrinking. That’s not a bad thing, it’s a return to the core competencies of what a LMS should do – manage learning that is vanilla – eLearning & Classroom. Wanna get bold? Throw in synchronous distance learning events. But leave learning event management to a different system whose core competency handles events like that. Just make sure it can pump out data in XML or even something as old-school as Excel extracts.

I hate to use the word "paradigm" in a sentence, but that is what we're shifting. It ain't the system from which to seek the solution, it's the blend of technology necessary to create the learning…and in this case…the reporting capability. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain…

Gary Wise
Sr. Director Learning Architecture
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
gary.wise@cchmc.org

Tony Karrer said...

Fantastic discussion here. I'm interested to see that it's netting down what needs to be tracked for most folks.

And interesting turn their Gary.

I need to think about the implications a bit.

Gary - I'm assuming you are not tracking at the individual level. So, then, I'm not 100% sure I get how this is a distinction in practice. Or is it a philosophical and messaging difference primarily?

dons_mind said...

i think it's all good - how's that for generic, non-specific comment!? i agree completely with TLR and Jeff. seriously, our objective is to make knowledge available for everyone in our particular environment - be it corporate or whatever. some of that knowledge may be particularly suited to an lms; so may be more suited as web-delivered, or another training device.
the key is 'knowledge management' - which, in my mind, includes recognizing the most effective method by which to provide knowledge to an employee (or user).
i don't think anything should be off limits, but i think each morsel of knowledge should be treated as best suits it's delivery to those who need it.

Gary Wise said...

Tony,
In some instances, we need to have individual visibility with our tracking (i.e Compliance) Our objective is to have visibility at the individual level on the informal performer support assets too. Without that degree of visibility we cannot determine potential points of failure in the formal training effort. Meaning...if there is a particular performer support object utilized in high volume scenarios to meet discrete performance (task) requirements, that may well point to a shortfall in the initial training...giving us a target to re-address/re-design the original content or delivery method.

For compliance reasons we must drive to the individual level, and for performance reasons. The philosophical slice of this effort points to the growing significance to tracking informal learning. We need to have visibility to both individual and frequency of the discrete just-in-time asset(s). So I guess the answer is "both".

Gary

Guy Boulet said...

A LMS usage is only limited by the limitations we impose to it. What about using your LMD as a secure portal for training: users need to login, which creates a layer of security where you can then place corporate material not suitable for external audience. You can even restrict access to selected individuals and, if required, control who accesses what.

In my previous place of employment, we used the LMS to host communities of practices using the forum tool for discussions, the content section to post documents and the class calendar to post upcoming events. The LMS in question even has a blogging tool. As an example, the LMS hosts a Learning Innovation Support Center where system administrators, developers and instructors can share best practices, share tools or code snippets and post questions. So there is place for informal learning on a LMS and even everything can be tracked by the system, you don't have to track everything.

If we keep looking at the LMS as a content tracking tool, this is all we will get out of it. We need to think outside the box here and look at the possibilities offered by the system and figure out how we can use the tools and features it provides.

Emily Witt said...

Hi, Tony -

We're beginning to develop podcasts and webinars. Currently they are for internal use only. One reason we decided to develop these media is to push "in the moment" information out to our employees in an efficient manner. As a result we also want our employees to have quick and easy access to download and listen to these podcasts and webinars.

You mentioned in your post that "Content that needs fast access should not live in the LMS." Would you say this also includes things like podcasts/webinars? If they shouldn't live in the LMS, where should they live?

I'm open to any suggestions and/or comments. Looking forward to feedback.

Thanks in advance!