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Learning Management System (LMS) With a Difference

The emergence of the Learning Management System (LMS) in the past few years can be considered as boon to the Learning and Development processes in Organizations.  Very simply put, LMS can be described as a software application which enables planning, budgeting, administering, managing and tracking the learning and development activity in an organization.  With practically most organizations, irrespective of size, now being computerized, the usage and acceptance of LMS has been on an increase, both within large organizations as well as Small and Medium (SME) organizations. 

Learning Management System as mentioned is essentially a work flow management tool. In order to understand what this means, it would be necessary to consider what essentially are the processes typically involved in L&D activities in an organization.  The typical sequence of work flows or activities involved in an organization, vis-à-vis L&D include:-

·         Identifying the Training Needs or what is called TNA:  There are multiple ways in which organizations arrive at this.  But most organizations would take one of the following as the inputs (a) Performance Management System (PMS), (b) Superior’s and/or Individual Inputs, (c) Multi Rater system, such as 360, (d) Competency Modeling & Assessment (e) Other specific methods, such as Climate & Culture Survey or Employee Engagement Survey etc.

·       Budgeting of the L&D activities:  This would entail drawing up  the detailed, itemized spends on each of the elements required for training, including trainer costs, content & material, logistics and support

·       Calendaring: The detailing out of the schedule of roll out of various programs based on the TNA.  Depending on the organization and requirement these are granularized to the employee level, at times. 

·       Program Administration: This includes activities such as sending out email notifications, reminders and alerts. This could be for all the players involved internally in the learning process- such as learner, learner’s reporting manager, travel desk, etc. 

·         Post Program Monitoring: Some of the organizations which monitor the learning effectiveness and learning investment returns may have methods and templates which some of the LMSs offer. 

·         Facilitator / Trainer: Utilities within LMS which helps the trainer to plan, design, and monitor his set of activities including the courses to be done, participant details, their learning journey, etc.

·         Learner Support: This part of the LMS caters to the learner including maintenance of historical log of the learning and learning trajectory for the future. 

There are number of paid high end Learning Management Systems (LMS) and also open source which can be customized.  Whichever option is chosen, an LMS should be:-

Robust: It should be developed in such way as to carter to the needs of the content builders, administrators, instructors and learners.

Interactive:  LMS should be designed in such a way that the features added should engage the learner and enhance the learning process. The courses which are taken up by the learner should be more interactive in nature.

Manageable:  An effective LMS manages information relating to the content, learner and instructor. It should manage the registrations and access of the learners. Allocation of different features to different types of learners needs to be managed. Other factors like tracking, recording and monitoring the progress of learners by the instructor also needs to be managed effectively for proper implementation of LMS

Efficient Tools: Different types of tools are used in collaborating group work, community networking, discussion forums, file exchanges, online chats, online notes, course management, assignment, test management, grades and progress.

Security: This is one of the important factors in the Learning Management System. Protecting the data and safeguarding from hacking contribute to a good LMS

Cost Effectiveness: Organizations use LMS to reduce their administrative costs.LMS thus should be designed in a budget which is feasible to the organizations.

Adherence to Standards:  LMS as a platform should ensure the content from different sources comply with the industry standards such SCORM.

While the above are necessary requirements, the questions that beg to be answered are these  sufficient for a comprehensive LMS.  The answer is NO.  Before we see in the next part of this article, why this is so, we would like to park the following questions...

(1) Is training effectively done merely by coordinating internal work flow processes?

(2) What are the typical cost drivers in the training processes which would therefore impact the whole L&D exercise?

(3) Have these work flows completely integrated the learning processes from the learner perspective?

(4) What are typically the external connects that are required for doing a training program?

Author: SimplifyMyTraining

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