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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Moving from One to Many - LMS Products are Two Generations Behind

I ran across an article by Bob Mosher in CLO entitled: Moving from One to Many that discusses the disconnect of what LMS products are focusing on "competency mapping and effective resource management" vs. what Bob sees as the overall industry trend - "industry shifting its overall training focus away from skills acquisition to an overall strategy of project-based and outcome-driven learning."

Bob is pretty wired into both the LMS world and hears what people are talking about at conferences and I've heard the same things, so I don't disagree that he's hearing this stuff, and I quite agree with his statement:

Many of the latest LMS and e-learning efforts have driven learners into learning silos, isolating them from their peers. We need to build the collaborative aspect of learning back into these experiences if we’re going to achieve the collective outcomes we want.

But I found myself disagreeing with where he took the conversation...
Learning teams and projects need to be assigned based on job roles. Teams need
to learn to support and understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
Collaborative learning environments and strategies such as virtual classrooms,
discussion forums, mentoring and coaching need to be enabled and mandated as
part of the learning experience.

While I welcome LMS products providing these kinds of capabilities, I am worried that we are about to see another whole cascade of LMS features that will make it even hard to get a reasonable implementation done. Further, the fact that he's suggesting that they need to get on-board with collaboration suggests that LMS products are two cycles behind. Focusing on job roles, teams, collaboration sounds like a heavy, groupware type approach that is going to take too much work and be too inflexible if you ever get it done. This is the same problem that Andrew McAfee discusses ERP vs. Enterprise 2.0.

Instead, emergence suggests that we should provide lighter-weight solutions that enable the individual to improve their personal learning and provides value to the individual first, but enables them to reach out and collaborate via the same toolset where it helps them. The value of / Yahoo MyWeb is that it first helps the individual and by helping the individual it helps the collective.

Making LMS products bigger, more complex is likely the exactly wrong way to go. In fact, there may be some big opportunity for more nimble players on the low end based on simple publishing (think Wiki) and simple tracking and bundles of other simple kinds of solutions to make significant in-roads. The stuff being discussed in LAMS and Drupal/Moodle make me wonder what the landscape will look like in five years. Especially if large LMS vendors take Bob's advice and become even bigger and more bloated and are really, really hard to implement (which is his very first complaint).

1 comment:

Mike Gambale said...

I am interested to hear what you think about this discussion in regards to companies trying to pick standard platforms to reduce maintenance and cost.

I moved from a multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical company to a smaller insurance company. The difference is that the first IT department was knee deep in developing open source software to save money because they had the people (with the right skills) But my new company is picking technologies that are easy to learn and maintain they don't have the number of skilled people.

Wiki, Apache, Tomcat, etc are all great open source technologies that can be used. But to many people who only have programmed in .Net or Visual Basic these technologies are like a foreign language.

Since the marketplace determines the demand and type of products there will be complete all in one products likely supported by .Net or other Microsoft technology for some time. The dynamic is do companies have the skilled people to drive these open source solutions that can demonstrate the flexivlity you mentioned.