For the majority of today’s organizations, the technology driving the enterprise learning system is called a learning management system, or more commonly, LMS. These systems emerged from the birth of online training, commonly called e-learning today.

Weighing the pros

An LMS satisfies the critical need that presented itself with the emergence of online training. It provided an infrastructure that could easily host, distribute and track activity around online training content. It formed the hub through which training content was delivered and accessed by the workforce.

A learning management systems provides instant benefits to an organization, including:

  • Providing a central hub that employees can go to in order to receive training and learning opportunities

  • Because e-learning courses enable training to take place outside of a physical classroom, and an individual can allocate to sitting down to take a course at any time, an LMS removes the constraints of geography and time from a traditional training strategy.

  • Most LMS systems automatically track the activity that takes place in it. This enables much more efficient reporting related to training programs, a critical need in compliance-driven industries.

An LMS enables an organization to scale its training strategy in ways that have been previously unavailable. Content that is created can be posted online and accessed by a limitless number of employees anywhere on the globe. The scalability and associated efficiency an LMS provides is one of the primary benefits that organizations look for when adding an LMS to drive their internal learning systems.

Systems of tomorrow

While the learning management systems of yesterday and today excel at extending the outreach of training and development, and in making organizational training efforts more efficient and scalable, there’s a growing demand to better utilize technology to enhance the learning and performance support opportunities employers provide to employees.

There are a number of trends that are shaping the enterprise learning systems of tomorrow. Let’s take a look at some of the bigger ones.

  • Self-directed learning: The Internet has fundamentally changed our approaches to learning something new. For many people, the immediate reaction to “I don’t know” is “Let me Google that.” We live in a world where people increasingly want to find what they need to know, when they need to know it, as simply as typing a few words into a search bar. Traditional training is, at a simplified level, much like a child being spoon-fed by parent that decides what the child will eat and when. Today’s adult learners are increasingly feeding themselves. The current paradigm of an employee logging into system to access a full course in order to learn something is becoming increasingly less effective against the expectations of self-directed, on-demand learning opportunities.

  • Social learning: Organizations are also embracing the learning that is taking place via the social interactions between employees, and the power that exists by allowing and encouraging employees to connect, share and learn from one another. Social media has transformed how we interact on a personal level, and organizations are exploring ways to harness the potential of social media tools as part of training and learning strategy.

  • The mobile workforce: The 21st century workforce is increasingly mobile. We use smartphones to support us in completing tasks, but the traditional e-learning paradigm of logging into a learning management system to take a course does not translate well to a smartphone. Organizations are increasingly examining the potential of smart phones and how they can transform our approaches to training and development.

  • Learning in the workflow: Traditional training methodologies are disruptive to work. In many cases, participating in training requires a literal stoppage of work. Technologies are increasingly enabling us to provide training and learning support to employees during work, when and where it is needed. This has tremendous potential to transform how organizations approach learning and development.

  • Data and analytics: The types of information most training departments report on are activity-based: things like course completions, test scores and other metrics that talk about training participation as opposed to actual competencies that have been developed. In the age of Big Data, new technologies are emerging that can track all sorts of metrics and activities that enable us to better understand the actual competencies an employee has attained or, more importantly, needs to develop. This type of data and reporting will enable training departments to better target their efforts.

Organizational learning system

The opportunities of today’s cutting-edge technologies are truly transforming how organizations are looking at their enterprise learning systems. The learning management systems of today are evolving to address the expanding training needs of 21st century organization, and new systems like learning record stores and digital credentials are emerging that can support learning and performance in exciting new ways.

There’s no single blueprint for how to build your organization's learning system. Some organizations are using different platforms to build their internal system, such as an LMS for formal course needs, a social networking platform to encourage connections and sharing and supplemental resources to support self-directed learning.

Ultimately, it’s about building a framework to allow people to learn from and with each other. Understanding the options that are available will help you choose the platform, or platforms, that best support the goals and culture of the organization you have today and the organization you want to build towards for tomorrow.