August 25th, 2015
Giving ‘em what they want: Exploring what Modern Learners want from an LMS
In the corporate world, the shelf-life of acquired knowledge and skills is getting shorter by the day. There is constant pressure on employees to proactively learn and get trained throughout their careers. The good news is that with technology-aided learning, e-courses are now readily available for the learners’ consumption anytime and anywhere. Learning Management Systems are put in place to make learning available in an easily accessible manner.
Though LMSs have proven immensely successful in managing learners as well as learning in an organization, there are growing concerns – among organizations and learners alike – about aligning their LMS with their changing needs. So what do modern corporate learners really want from an LMS – just easy access to content or more?
- Easy on the eyes, easy to use: Learning is not forced for the modern corporate learner; they already realize the full worth of it. So, because it’s an activity in which they want to willingly participate, they want the learning platform to look good as well as provide efficient interactions – with the minimum clicks. Modern and clean designs are in, with views that are built keeping in mind the systems that learners are familiar with. This diminishes the learning curve and encourages the learners to interact more with the LMS.
Also, the corporate learner is always pressed for time. The LMS structure should thus be simple and easy to navigate. For busy professionals, search capabilities increase the utility of the LMS by leaps and bounds. Corporate learners often know exactly what they want in terms of learning, and the LMS should be ready to make that available – efficiently and quickly.
- Making it mine: e-Learning is a self-driven learning process, and thus it is important that the learner finds opportunities to personalize the learning platform. The LMS can provide some simple options for learners – to create a personalized look and customize the user interface in terms of color, images, and theme. Managers or administrators can assign different groups with a different ‘look’ to create solidarity and team spirit. This simple feature goes a long way in adding a personal flavor to technology-aided learning – something that modern learners now want from their learning experiences.
- Go Mobile: For the first time in almost a decade, PC sales are projected to decline (http://www.slashgear.com/pc-sales-to-decline-in-2012-for-the-first-time-in-11-years-10251339/). On the other hand, the popularity of mobile devices, including tablets and smartphones, is skyrocketing. The shift from desktop to mobile is thus perceivable. At par with the growing penetration of smartphones and tablets, there is a growing trend of creating mobile content using HTML, instead of Flash, to increase accessibility across multiple devices of varying capabilities. So the ideal LMS has to be mobile-compatible and have the capability to run seamlessly on different mobile platforms – making the concept of ‘learning on the go’ a reality for modern corporate learners.
Modern LMSs are employing technologies like Responsive Web Design (RWD) and touch-friendly screens to provide learners an enhanced user-experience on any device of their choice. With RWD, it is now possible to create interfaces that are compatible with different devices and suitably alter themselves as per screen size and orientation. This technology has been utilized extensively for creating websites, and it is now being utilized to build LMSs as well. Touch-friendly LMS screens make it easy for the learner to access mobile content on the go. Considering the popularity of touch-friendly mobile devices, the touch-friendly LMS is an obvious winner!
- Apps are Hot!: While on the subject of the popularity of mobile devices, we need to take into account some possible roadblocks in mobile learning. Some users may not have uninterrupted internet connections, and so they may not be able to access a web-enabled learning solution. Or, they may want to download courses from the LMS onto their devices and then read the courses at their own pace later. They need a solution that ensures that they can access learning even when they do not have an internet connection, a solution that allows them to stock up on LMS resources for future use or reference.
For these users, device-specific native apps are immensely useful. So, many modern LMSs now have dedicated apps which allow users to download courses from the LMS and study them offline even when they don’t have an internet connection. The learner’s progress can be synched automatically when she next ‘logs-on’ and accesses the LMS online.
- The e-commerce buy-in: Modern corporate learners like to take charge of their own learning and are often well aware of the learning path they want to take. Administrators or managers also assign learners courses that they can ‘buy’ through coupons. Taking this into account, many modern learning portals now provide the opportunity for learners to browse through product catalogs, generate invoices, use discount coupons, and even pay online or offline. With the help of an integrated payment gateway, payments can be made within the system, which ensures smooth and safe transactions.
These learning portals are of great use to training organizations that provide varying courses to different learner groups. By giving the learners the freedom to browse, choose and buy, they align completely to the modern learner’s need to be a self-driven learner.
- Utility-driven: A major reason for dissatisfaction with LMSs is inept or insufficient reporting facilities. While most basic LMSs have tracking facilities that generate reports on learning uptake, an evolved LMS does more. It takes into account that the reports generated by the LMS have to be utilized by administrators and managers, as well as the learners themselves. Learners have the option of self-evaluation by creating customized reports – choosing the relevant fields and the frequency for generation of reports. They can save the reports in multiple formats and refer to them later as well. This increases the utility of the LMS – it becomes more than just a vehicle of learning delivery.
Modern corporate learners are clear about what they want – a system which makes learning a part and parcel of their everyday life. So is your LMS giving your learners what they want, or should you look for more?