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Concerns with Learning-Management Systems and Virtual Learning Environments

By Bob Little / July 2010

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Concerns with Learning-Management Systems and Virtual Learning Environments

July 6, 2010

IMC (UK) Learning, an eLearning content solutions provider, published research on how organizations use learning-management systems (LMS) and virtual learning environments (VLE). The study examined how much functionality is being used and how beneficial LMSs are at meeting business needs.

Some valuable take-aways from the report, "Learning Management Systems: Are organizations making the most of them?" [PDF] are:

  • 66 percent of respondents' organizations already use an LMS/VLE and a further 13 percent plan to use one. However, 21 percent do not use an LMS/VLE and have no plans to.
  • Of those using an LMS/VLE, 45 percent have used it for more than five years. Only 3 percent started using one within the last year.
  • 30 percent of respondents said they are completely satisfied with their LMS/VLE.
  • 30 percent were concerned that their LMS/VLE might not meet future requirements.
  • 8 percent said their LMS/VLE would definitely not meet future requirements.
  • Ensuring training matches employee development needs and reducing costs by decreasing the time taken to train people were seen as the largest benefits of LMS/VLE (40 and 36 percent, respectively).
  • Conversely, reducing employee turnover by enabling greater development opportunities (10 percent) and increasing revenue from better trained people (17 percent) were highlighted as the smallest.

This is not a very satisfactory — or encouraging — result for e-learning system suppliers. Not only does the market appear to be growing very slowly, indeed but 70 percent of users appear to be less than fully satisfied with their systems!

Not all LMSs are the same. A database that just keeps records of who has taken which course is not going to offer the same talent management succession planning options as a sophisticated, enterprise-wide LMS. So this study, while anecdotally useful, could be irrelevant because it might be comparing the incomparable except in so far as they call themselves an LMS or a VLE.

The key message to LMS/VLE buyers is caveat emptor. If you don't know what you're buying or what you want it to do, find someone who knows and who can advise you (as, indeed, earlier this year I advised a major national government in its search for an LMS).

It's a fair bet that price differentiates the better systems from those that are not so useful but you might be well advised, when dipping your toe in the LMS/VLE water, to start with something simple, maybe open-source, and later, when you really know what functionality you want, move to a recognized brand.

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].


  • Fri, 23 Jul 2010
    Post by Ryan Tracey

    That's good advice to start with something simple. I would also suggest using the LMS for what it is really designed for: administration. LMSs are great for registration, assessment, grade keeping, transcripts, performance agreements, development plans etc. IMHO, they shouldn't be twisted into content management systems.