How do you react to the words ‘Learning Management System’?

Today we had a great webinar for the Learning and Skills Group. I host 30-40 of these each year, and we always invite a lot of audience participation, usually by asking questions.

Today’s event was delivered by Paul Morton of CrossKnowledge who began with a provocative question to the 100 or so learning professionals present:

How do you react to the words ‘Learning Management System’?

Not everyone responded – that never happens – but over a third those present did, a very high proportion. And what they had to say wasn’t flattering to the Learning Management System (LMS). Here’s the text chat from the session, with individuals’ names removed:

Administrative Overhead
slow, creaky, hard to get into
I would like one for a starter!
Total headache!
Thats my job
Learners, learning modules, and assessments
it makes me fell cold
It pays my mortgage
90s usability
control by trainer, admin,
web 1.0 concepts.
delivery of e-learning and tracking completions
Just something you need
Old fashioned and too slow – not immediate enough for learners
structured, formal approach to learning
Sounds like a supplier’s (teacher’s) word, not a clients (learner’s) term
good for tracking and reporting
Huge amount of untapped potential
reflect what companies/schools want – control. Not learner driven
great potential but delivery disappointing
My customers like them because they track, record and report for compliance purposes.
Also a critical part of our multi $m learning business
untapped potential
its not necessarily the LMS but the 90’s approach to it
Too Bl***dy Expensive (if you want all the bells and whistles)
Needs to go.
better than no system at all – but need to move forward
not fit for purpose
Good for the overall enterprise re reporting but not a great experience for the learner

Remember, this wasn’t a zealously anti-LMS crowd. By and large they were familiar with these systems, and used them daily. That’s what makes this list of pejorative adjectives so worrying.

I’ve long said that LMSs are constrained mostly not by their native functionality. For me, the two comments that stand out are:

untapped potential
its not necessarily the LMS but the 90’s approach to it

It seems we could definitely get more out of our corporate investments in LMSs. Do you agree? What’s your reaction to the words ‘Learning Management System’?


Who says compliance training has to be boring?

The Learning and Development Change Grid revisited. Again.

Fuse is a smart company based in East London which takes a very visual approach to learning. They illustrate ideas and provide a social platform for sharing the results.

Recently they asked me to talk about the L&D Change Grid, which provides the context for my idea of the Training Ghetto (click for  video and text explanations of the Training Ghetto).

When I say they asked me to talk, that’s exactly what I did. I talked about it to Fuse CEO and Chief Storyteller Steve Dineen and he recorded what I said. A while later, they mailed me a link to this, illustrated version of what I’d said:

I think this does a good job of illustrating the idea behind the grid – thanks, Steve! You can catch the rest of Fuse’s videos on their YouTube channel, including a nice one on the 70:20:10 model.

(Disclosure: I wasn’t paid for writing this blog. I just think the Fuse team does a good job.)

My three favourite learning tools

Yesterday Training Zone‘s Jon Kennard interviewed me about what will be hot in L&D technologies in 2014, about the upcoming Learning Technologies conference and about my three favourite learning tools.

Jon has posted the interview on Mixcloud – just click to listen. If you don’t have 8 minutes to listen to the interview, here are those three favourite tools:

  1. Printed books
  2. Notebook and pencil
  3. Internet search

I added a fourth activity which I find invaluable for learning, but which is not really a tool: conversation. It is in conversation, after all, that we put what we have learnt to the test, often re-considering and re-shaping it in the light of others’ understanding. Done well, conversation acts as a sort of accelerated reflection.

(No mention of learning tools would be complete, of course, without a link to Jane Hart’s redoubtable annual survey of the top 100 tools for learning. If you haven’t checked it out, I can thoroughly recommended you do.)

Who are your elearning movers and shakers?

You wait years for a list of elearning movers and shakers and then two come along at once.

On January 2nd, Bob Little of Bob Little PR in the UK published his fifth annual Top Ten E-learning Movers and Shakers – actually five lists for different geographies, made up of a total of 42 people.

But then in December Malaysia’s Zaid Ali Alsagoff, of the International Medical University, launched his own list, to be published at the end of January. From his commentary Zaid’s list is an attempt to run a list completely transparently, in contrast to Bob Little’s approach of using a panel of anonymous judges.

Somewhat confusingly, Zaid’s list is called the Top (e-)Learning Movers & Shakers in 2013.

Each approach has its merits. Zaid’s key one is that anyone can add a candidate to the list, anyone can vote for anyone, everyone can see who’s voted for whom and  you can vote for as many people as you want. Personally, I’ve voted for more than 30 of the candidates. It’s a strong field.

This is transparency in action.

The great thing about Zaid’s list is that is really is wide open. There are over 200 people on the list now. Many of them new to me, which is great – it gives a way of reaching interesting new colleagues around the globe. (Zaid recognizes that people could ‘game’ the system and has a complex algorithm for tackling that.)

It’s such a good idea that I recommend you support it. Just click to scan the list and vote using a Twitter, Facebook, or Linked profile. Voting closes on Monday January 27th.

Of course as chairman of the Learning Technologies Conference, I’m delighted that so many of this year’s speakers and former speakers are on the list. If you’d like to vote for them, just click to be taken directly to their position on the list:

Cammy Bean
Cathy Moore
Charles Jennings
Clark Quinn
Clive Shepherd
Craig Taylor
Curtis Bonk
Donald Clark
Donald H Taylor
George Siemens
Harold Jarche
Jane Bozarth
Jane Hart
Jay Cross
Julie Wedgwood
Laura Overton
Roger Schank
Stephen Downes
Steve Wheeler

As I say, I believe the world-wide learning community should support this. It’s fun, it puts us in touch with new people, and I think we all benefit from it.

Click here to vote before Monday January 27th.

Update [8 Feb 2014]. The results of the#TEMS13  poll were announced on January 26th – you can read them here.  The winner of Zaid’s Alsagoff’s poll (the Top Elearning Mover and Shaker of 2013) is Zaid Alsagoff.