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Reports of the Death of the LMS Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

By Bob Little / April 2011

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Reports of the Death of the LMS Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

April 29, 2011

Bring any three experts together and you should get at least four opinions. Yet this wasn't the case during the Learning Experts' panel session at Plateau Insights held last month in Rome—the European user group conference for Plateau Systems' talent management software.

Clive Shepherd, Donald H. Taylor and Nigel Paine—all respected experts in the learning technologies sphere in the UK—agreed that the advent of social learning is far from causing the death of the learning management system (LMS).

"This debate is taking on the characteristics of a religious war—where everyone takes extreme positions," commented Shepherd. Taylor agreed and added: "In learning and development you have lots of false dichotomies. The reality is that you have lots of tools with which you do different things."

"In a big company, running training is about having the right data and, for that, you need an LMS," Nigel Paine observed. "Where there have been problems was where people have said, 'You can only use our LMS' or 'You can't put that data on the LMS'. The key is integration not separation."

As the three experts went on to say, in today's business world, you need LMS software that's simple enough to be useful and complex enough to be relevant. This seems to be the case in two recently publicised LMS success stories in the UK.

For the last three years, the e-learning consultancy Core Learning Services (CLS) has been working with Global Radio—the UK's premier commercial radio company and home of well known radio brands such as Heart, Capital, and Classic FM—to host the media company's LMS solution for developing and deploying health and safety e-learning materials to its staff.

Jonathan Barker, the Head of Health and Safety at Global Radio explained: "We're a national company and have 21 regional radio stations. These radio stations employ a large number of people, many of whom are on 'casual contracts,' and we tend to experience quite a high 'turnover' among these casual workers. Nonetheless—or, perhaps, particularly because of this—we must provide them with immediate and effective job related training, especially in health and safety subjects. Moreover, because of the 'casual' nature of their employment coupled to the fact that they are nationally dispersed, working anywhere in the broadcast region, it's not always possible to get a group of them together to go on a classroom-delivered training course as soon as they join Global Radio."

Meanwhile, Aberdeen Drilling Consultants Ltd, (ADC Virtual Academy) a training company with facilities in Aberdeen, is now coordinating its supply of training via Blatant's Absorb LMS, supplied by Omniplex. Omniplex is also providing ADC Virtual Academy with special training not only in how to operate the LMS but also in how ADC staff can train their clients to administer and interrogate the LMS.

ADC Virtual Academy designs and delivers operationally relevant training courses and produces related technical manuals and documentation for the global petroleum industry. Each year, the company trains some 1,000 people all over the world in the theoretical and practical aspects of understanding drilling equipment and well pressure control for drilling to ensuring—through in-house and externally-validated assessment processes—that they are ready for field operations using specific equipment and systems.

"In addition to technical proficiency, trainees need to understand health and safety as well as environment issues associated with their activities," said Douglas Hay, the managing director of ADC Virtual Academy. "This makes it extremely important that we have an able and efficient LMS to not only make these courses available to learners but also to monitor the learners' usage of the materials and assess their progress."

Omniplex's Stephen Miller explained: "We're finding that Absorb LMS is continuing to gain new clients who're migrating from legacy systems because of the way in which Absorb LMS evolves to match the client's unique workflow—rather than forcing the client to adapt to the LMS."

And, as if to add the weight of facts to Shepherd, Taylor and Paine's converging opinions, Craig Weiss, a former Brandon Hall analyst turned e-learning thought leader, guru and blogger has revealed that there are now officially 368 LMSs, learning content management systems (LCMSs), and talent management systems on the market (see: and Weiss has listed all of them—from 4System and AACS to Zumo Software—along with illuminating and, at times, personal comments.

What is more interesting—aside from Weiss' comments—is that, in November 2010, there were only 321 of these systems on the market. Maybe spring isn't just the time when nature proliferates.

About the Author

For more than 20 years, Bob Little has specialized in writing about, and commentating on, corporate learning—especially e-learning—and technology-related subjects. His work has been published in the U.K., Europe, the U.S., and Australia. Contact Bob at [email protected].


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