Blended learning: why your LMS might be holding you back
Successfully creating a learning culture is about shifting attitudes and behaviours, but it also relies on having the right tools to do it with. Have you ever stopped to think about whether your LMS is holding you back?
Year-on-year, more L&D departments are incorporating blended learning into their solutions. With aims to increase learner engagement, move to a 'pull' learning culture and deliver accessible, exciting learning, blended is the answer for many.
The more people I speak to, however, the more I find that, despite all of the hard work researching, planning and creating the perfect blended learning solution for their people, L&D are often falling down at the final hurdle: delivery.
With the global LMS market now sitting at a huge $3 billion, why is it that we still struggle to deliver the solutions our people are calling out for?
Our conversations with L&D professionals have allowed us to compile the top five roadblocks that LMS are putting in place to hinder blended learning success. Do any of these sound familiar to you?
In recent years learning has transformed to include many different delivery methods, all of which are aimed at delivering truly engaging learning solutions.
Despite this, we’re finding that organisations are encountering accessibility issues with their LMS, which is preventing their people consuming the learning how L&D intended.
If you’re delivering virtual classrooms or webinars, your people will expect to be able to access it in the moment, directly from the LMS. If they have to start logging into different systems, attendance levels and engagement will drop.
For example, if you’ve created performance support materials for people on the road with aims for them to access it as and when they need them, your LMS could be letting you down if it's not mobile-friendly.
This problem seems to be most rife with inherited systems. Whatever type of system you're using, if this is a problem for you, speak to your developers or suppliers to investigate further. It may be that there’s an update you haven’t had yet that could solve the problem.
Restrictions on file uploads
You could have a plethora of amazing learning materials – PDF’s, SlideShares, videos and much more – but can your system actually support them?
There’s nothing worse for engagement than having to link to an external site to access something.
If you are unable to embed videos, or create one-click downloads for your people, there’s no doubt your blended learning will suffer.
Many of the organisations I have spoken to have tried working around this – perhaps by putting the text straight into the LMS or using alternative formats to deliver learning.
While this can be a great temporary fix, in the long-term it’s going to mean dated, unengaging learning. Not to mention it’s unlikely to be an efficient blend.
Virtual classrooms don’t integrate
This touches on the restrictions section we just talked about. If you’re delivering virtual classrooms or webinars, your people will expect to be able to access it in the moment, directly from the LMS.
If they have to start logging into different systems, attendance levels and engagement will drop.
Modern LMS will likely have a preferred system that they use for this, but if not, or if the system isn’t suitable for your needs, consider the implications on your blend.
To understand the extent that this affects your blend, it’s worth doing some user experience testing.
Perhaps get a focus group together to identify the ease of use and how they recommend you make the experience smoother. This will help give you a clear understanding of what you need going forward.
Social learning isn’t supported
We all want to encourage social learning – discussion, knowledge share and networking. If this is one of your key focuses for the next year you need to consider how you are going to achieve it.
If there’s no option to integrate a feed or forum of some kind into your LMS, it’s likely you’ll struggle to get the success you’re hoping for with it.
If social learning is integral to the blended learning that you’re designing, and you need a tool to achieve this, this lack of integration could have a huge impact.
Many L&D teams find themselves creating blended learning based on the LMS capabilities, rather than their learners’ needs.
We really do need to make social learning as easy as possible for our people in order to make a success of it.
While closed LinkedIn groups or an external forum will take you part of the way, an LMS that supports every element of your blend will mean a better all-round solution for your people.
We’d be hard-pushed to find an LMS that doesn’t have some kind of reporting system, however, there will likely be elements of your blend that you will want quick and easy reporting on.
For example, what is the most accessed learning delivery format, are there times of day that people are more likely to learn or do you have any learning advocates within your organisation that consume learning regularly?
Having a clear idea of what you want to report on will also mean you can set up your blend accordingly.
If your LMS doesn’t support this, there’s always the option to analyse the data manually, but a blended learning driven platform will certainly save you countless hours of admin time.
The result of these issues is that many L&D teams find themselves creating blended learning based on the LMS capabilities, rather than their learners’ needs.
My advice is to establish exactly what you need and, if your LMS won’t support it in the way you need it to, shop around.
You might even be pleasantly surprised by the systems available, and the associated costs.
Interested in this topic? Read Busting four blended learning myths.
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Stephanie Morgan FLPI was the former Managing Director of Bray Leino Learning.
Stephanie has extensive experience in Learning and Development and is passionate about helping people thrive in an ever-changing world.
One particular passion is helping people progress their careers to board level. Stephanie believes...