Learning Management System: What’s Your LMS Tracking?

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May 132012

Learning Management System: What’s Your LMS Tracking?

Learning Management System: Elliott Masie –  4/25/12, Via CLO Magazine

Expanding learning resources are not linked to enterprise learning systems. Learning systems must expand their reach into emerging content areas, writes CLO columnist Elliott Masie.

The world of learning content expands every month. Our workers are viewing more video, including short YouTube knowledge chunks, and accessing more content using their tablets, smartphones and other second screens. Collaborative content from structured and community-based social connections is also being added to the mix. Performance support/workplace GPS-type technology is supplying “ride along” content to learners at their moments of need or confusion, and a learner will access Google or Bing to get needed content on the external Web.

The good news is that our workers have access to an increasing amount of content, enabling them to get the support they need, but this creates interesting challenges from an administrative point of view. In a nutshell, how much of this content do we track or run through our learning systems?

The challenge is that most organizations are using LMS systems to track and manage their formal learning resources, ranging from structured e-learning modules to face-to-face or webinar-delivered classes. Yet, a large percentage of expanding learning resources are not linked to enterprise learning systems.

Let’s consider a hypothetical employee named Sara, a rising salesperson at a global company. If we look at her file in the LMS, it duly notes that she went through the classroom and new e-learning-based sales training programs to earn her certificates. Plus, she took a wide range of webinar programs during her first two years on the job.

But here are elements that are not tracked in the LMS:

• She participates in SalesGalore, a website for sales folks from hundreds of companies. She has learned a great deal about closing sales, framing offers and building customer connections from reading and communicating on this site.

• Every week, Sara accesses a wide range of social content from colleagues within her organization, including video segments and entries in several intranet-based collaboration locations.

• Sara has joined Toastmasters, a nonprofit organization which develops public speaking and leadership skills through practice and feedback in local clubs, and this is improving her speaking confidence.

• She has created an aggregator of multiple sales and industry-specific websites and Twitter feeds.

• Sara has three informal “go-to” coaches: all more senior sales associates who give her support and feedback on a regular basis.

If the organization wants a complete picture of how Sara and other employees are learning, the absence of data about these sources is problematic. The learning systems, whether formally or informally, must continue to expand their reach into emerging content areas. Here are some approaches used by our Learning Consortium members to do so:

Map the learning content: Build a map of the range of learning content that is being used formally and informally for each major category of learners. Color code the content that is in or out of the LMS.

Rank new tracking content: For each type of content, decide if the goal is to track total consumption by the workforce — which is easy to do from server data — or to attempt to track per-employee use — this requires cookies or IT engagement. Know that there are some elements that just cannot be tracked.

Receive data from employees: Most LMS profiles do not ask employees on a regular basis to list the additional resources they use in their learning and performance processes. Consider asking learners to build profiles or checklists about their own learning habits.

Query during the performance reviews: Add learning content conversations to the review process, including what external resources, programs and communities of engagement learners are using.

Not all of the data has to end up in the LMS, but it is critical that the organization recognize how much learning content is linked or not linked to learning systems.

As our learners become more connected, as our organizations offer more learning resources and as we fold more performance support and coaching into our workplaces, let’s expand our learning systems’ fields of view.

Elliott Masie is the chairman and CLO of The Masie Center’s Learning Consortium. He can be reached at editor@CLOmedia.com.



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