Traditional learning management systems (LMS) are falling behind. They aren’t meeting the needs of new working and learning styles, and the technology is often outdated and at odds with the learning experience employees are used to outside of the workplace.

According to George Elfond,co-founder and CEO of Rallyware intelligent workforce engagement solution, some of the factors that have contributed to this trend are:

  • An increasingly distributed workforce.
  • Widespread adoption of mobile technologies.
  • A changing workforce demographic which includes millennial workers who are both accustomed to and want increased learning opportunities via digital means.

Step forward learning experience platforms: new solutions which can be run in tandem with your LMS to provide a Netflix-style corporate learning offering.

We spoke to some eLearning and learning management experts to find out more about the problems with LMS, as well as how learning experience platforms can help make people actually want to learn at work again.

Question: Are traditional LMS no longer suitable for the corporate learning environment and – if so – why?

Elfond: “Traditional LMS force participation through a specific delivery mechanism in highly-structured environments and learning pathways. They tend to follow the same educational track; a lengthy tutorial, followed by a quiz to test understanding.”

John Findlay, co-founder, of training company Launchfire and the Lemonade learning platform: “One of the most common complaints we hear from practitioners and business unit owners is that their LMS isn’t compelling enough to get employees to take non-mandatory training. Typically HR can’t change their LMS because they’ve committed a ton of money to a long term deal; so business owners and practitioners are stuck trying to achieve business goals with a tool that isn’t working.”

Mika Kuikka, president, of digital learning technology company Arcusys:A traditional LMS often places thousands of pieces of content in front of employees, and thus relevant content becomes difficult to find. When content is difficult to find, the employee experience is diminished, and employees show minimal engagement with content unless the content is presented as “mandatory” or for compliance purposes.”

Tara O’Sullivan, chief creative officer (CCO) at eLearning solution provider Skillsoft: “LMS bring together and track critical workforce tasks that HR needs to optimize the capabilities of their people and teams. They are comprised of a wide range of capabilities from talent acquisition to payroll. For LMS to be successful, solutions need to connect the dots between the skills and competencies people need to be better at their jobs – delivered in the context of what they are trying to accomplish – and, prepare organizations for tomorrow, to measurably improve performance.”

Q: What kind of new learning experience models are emerging (or will emerge) to replace traditional learning and LMS?

Elfond: “New learning models must be built with a strong understanding of the way in which modern employees learn and engage with their organizations. True learning includes active participation, not just passive compliance. Modern learners must be allowed to work at their own selected pace and with their own self-directed choice of learning modules and fun exercises. Rather than lengthy training modules that end with quizzes, training modules should be designed based on the micro-learning principles: in small, digestible informational bites that encourage engagement.”

Zvi Guterman, CEO at CloudShare, says: “In the future, businesses will provide all employees with a personal learning experience consisting of a mix of different training modes and formats, delivered just in time and on-demand based on their job, seniority level, background and experience. To facilitate this, expect the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) to help monitor and learn what each employee needs and where they should focus next.”

O’Sullivan: “In today’s busy world, learners want to find content quickly, complete a topic in less than five minutes, and come back to their course, wherever, whenever they like. We call this microlearning – training in 3-5 minute increments. However in certain subjects, you need even less time – like digital skills. Let’s say you want to find out how to make a pivot table in Excel – you don’t need 5 minutes, you need the right 20 seconds. This is called nano-learning and it provides highly targeted videos that deliver training in tiny pieces of information to the recipient. The videos should be available on every device that is configured to display online training videos. This helps employees resolve skills gaps, improve performance, create career agility and cultivate leadership skills just-in-time.”

Greg Rose, head of growth at learning solution provider Intellum: “The goal is to deliver a learning experience that is engaging, and the key to engagement is personalization. When an individual learner logs into a solution that appears tailored just for her, that learner feels more connected and engaged with the content, the learning environment and the brand behind it.”

Q: What makes a learner experience engaging?

Rose: “There is currently a convergence of formal and informal content, traditional and non-traditional experiences AND the professional and personal learning journeys. Learning professionals must be able to mix, match, track and report on traditional content like SCORM courses and more modern experiences like TED Talks and blog posts (sometimes referred to as micro-learning initiatives).

“Learners must be directed to required content but should be encouraged to discover new content that they actually find interesting and useful (89 percent of employees believe they are responsible for managing their own learning and development. There is a lot of talk right now about delivering this wide variety of content through a “Netflix-like” learning experience, where learning assets and experiences are grouped in horizontal scrolling rows that make it easier for learners to identify and engage with what they feel is important. On this point, we couldn’t agree more.”

Q: What is a learning experience platform and how will it help facilitate new learning models?

Kuikka: “Learning experience platforms use experience API, AI, and machine-learning to aggregate data and curate personalized content relative to the learner, wherever they may be.”

Findlay:Learning experience platforms allow you to have richer, more interactive content because they aren’t shackled by the strict protocols most LMS use. Good platforms have deep analytics that can provide more information about individual employee learning and the overall success of program. Great platforms can even help you find individual and organizational knowledge gaps.”

Guterman:Learning experience platforms make it easy for users to discover, consume and collaborate on training content, and let you curate a wide variety of content types from internal and external sources. It’s important to keep in mind that a true learning experience platform will not be a single system that does everything – instead, you’ll need to provide a collection of tools, content types, and delivery methods to your users which will most likely be delivered by cloud services that work together on behalf of the student.”

Q: Where will the content come from?

Rose: “As is true in so many areas of work and life, there is no silver bullet to the content question. People now expect a more personalized, discoverable learning environment that mimics the experiences they have on their own time and with other brands. This means learning professionals are now responsible for managing the combination of modern and traditional, informal and formal, discoverable and directed learning content in a way that engages and supports their audiences. While there are fantastic content resources out there (Degreed, Lynda.com, OpenSesame, etc.), most learning professionals have realized that their diverse learning audience (multiple learning styles, generational preferences, etc.) requires a diversity of content, including informal and micro-learning initiatives.”

Q: How does a learning experience platform differ from a LMS (or how are they similar)?

Guterman:Legacy LMS typically focused on HR needs and were built to manage compliance and formal trainings. A key differentiator of learning experience platforms is that they focus on providing effective administration and management tools, in addition to being able to report on the ROI of learning and training initiatives. A company can leverage LMS and learning experience platforms to provide employees, customers and partners with the modern forms of micro and macro, and hands-on learning that they need and be able to track and manage it.”

Q: What are the benefits of a learning experience platform?

Findlay: “Learning experience platforms allow you to have richer, more interactive content because they aren’t shackled by the strict protocols most LMS use. Some platforms can even run alongside an LMS so businesses don’t need to replace their current system, they can just circumvent it for specific projects.”

Q: What should a business look for in a learning experience platform?

Kuikka:A learning experience platform should not be a “learning library” or “course catalog”, but an intelligent means to push targeted content to the learners in a context-sensitive way. It should also harness social learning with the ability to share your learning experiences with others who want to learn same skills, as well as adaptive learning paths, which allow you to choose your own route to learn a skill.”

O’Sullivan: “When choosing a learning experience platform, organizations should ensure their solution ties learning back to the business objectives. Employers want to be confident that their learners have access to the best, curated, widest and deepest content assets that will deliver the desired learning outcomes to build and maintain world-class organizations. Also, they want to be able to attract, develop, reward and promote their talent. Leaders want to ensure that learning drives impactful behavior for key business strategy with strong ROI. Finally, employees want to know their organization will give them career opportunities while also providing them with the training to get there.”

Rose: “Learning experience management seems to cover everything from content providers like Degreed to niche solution providers like Edcast. The popularity of the term appears to stem from the assumption that learning management solutions cannot deliver modern learning experiences and learning professionals need to supplement their learning strategies with additional tools that sit on top of their LMS. We disagree. What learning professionals need is an LMS that that provides a modern, engaging learning experience and solves the pervasive content question, effectively addressing the two problems outlined above. Learning professionals don’t need a “new” type of learning delivery tool; they need a learning solution that actually works.”

Next steps

If you are interesting in finding out more about learning experience platforms, then take a look at: