An effective learning management system (LMS) is the glue that holds a digital learning and development strategy together. But the classic LMS has a bad name in L&D — why is that?
The reason, we think, is two-fold:
- LMS is an old school term and doesn’t immediately conjure the capabilities of more modern (and intuitive) platforms like an LXP (Learning Experience Platform), more on that later.
- The value provided by an LMS has only come front-and-centre in the age of remote learning. For most of its history, the LMS played second fiddle to in-person training — but this is changing.
Fundamentally, it’s more important than ever to take a fresh look at the LMS and develop a successful LMS strategy that is aligned with the remote and hybrid work environment that’s here to stay. Remote working creates a skill gap from both a software and logistics standpoint, and a quality LMS can close that gap from multiple angles.
By creating a central repository for all of your learning material, an LMS makes it possible to provide remote access, enable intuitive and self-guided learning experiences, and transform learner engagement. An LMS will let you do away with the ‘80s television set you had to wheel out every time you wanted to teach your team something new. But when approached right, an LMS can do so much more.
Of course, as important as an LMS might be, an “LMS strategy” isn’t the be-all and end-all of a learning and development strategy. Rather, it’s an — admittedly crucial — part of a much larger whole, laying a learning foundation on which L&D can rest. To help you bring these benefits within easy reach, we’re going to consider the 4 components of a successful LMS strategy, and how you can easily integrate each within a remote setup and beyond. Grab your popcorn and let’s get to it!
Suggested reading: At Video Arts, we’ve spent the last 50 years helping businesses better engage learners, and have helped pioneer the shift towards digital learning over the last ten years. For a deep dive on the cost and learning benefits of digital, check out our blog — Classroom Training vs Digital Learning: A Cost Comparison.
Component 1: Procurement
LMS isn’t a new concept, and there’s every chance you already have a system in place. If you’re happy with your system, then head directly to component 3 — not passing go but, hopefully, collecting £200 once you’ve read what we have to say. With that said, there is definitely value in considering an upgrade and understanding the different (and more modern) options available.
If, however, you’re wondering what on earth an LMS is, or if you have an unfit LMS right now, then you’ve come to the right place. Success begins with procurement, and this comes down to four main things:
- Cultural fit: You need to consider the cultural match and support of your supplier. For example, is support just a phone call away? Or are you left struggling to solve problems on your own? When assessing both existing and prospective partnerships, these are important questions to answer.
- Easy to use interfaces: A user-friendly interface is vital to positive learning experiences. Realistically, you want an LMS that works a lot like Netflix — offering suggestions and providing an easy to navigate menu that allows learners to review available material. You’ll find this kind of capabilities most often in software called an LXP (learning experience platform). But the capability is more important than the name.
- Learning pathways: You need ways to assign relevant content to people when they need it. There is no point throwing 300 videos at everyone — no one will watch them, and everyone suffers. But if you can group content together and provide specific guidance to specific learners, engagement will rise.
- Analytics: If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. Fundamentally, you need a platform that’s able to track usage, calculate ROI and provide admin flexibility that allows you to demonstrate the value of your system to internal stakeholders and improve learner experiences.
Think of LMS as a foundation. It might not be the key to L&D, but it is the keyhole that enables you to unlock success, facilitating everything from the distribution to oversight of wider learning strategies.
Really, though, even an LXP (or LMS) is one cog in a learning machine that’s, ultimately, fuelled by content. After all, high-quality, engaging content is the beating heart that pumps blood into L&D. Too graphic? Perhaps. But it really is that important.
Component 2: Implementation
Implementation is widely considered the most tedious task when setting up a learning platform. Luckily, this doesn’t need to be the toothache to your root canal. In fact, even this admittedly mammoth procedure should be pain-free if you approach in the right way or, more pressingly, with the right help. Well-thought procurement can help here, making sure that your intended LMS at least has the propensity to slot smoothly into your existing processes. But it’s also vital to take implementation one step at a time, keeping the following best practices in mind —
- The right supplier: If you have the right partner, everything else will fall into place. You want technical, learning and training support to make sure your team and learners understand the platform and material. If you want to see what good looks like, check out some of our case studies of happy Video Arts customers.
- Planning: A road trip without a plan is absolutely useless, so your first step is to roadmap your transition alongside your LMS vendor. Consider everything from your overall objectives to milestone timelines, and even the contributions you expect from everyone involved.
- LMS configuration: Configuration of internal systems is the hinge to your L&D door, and the right vendor is key. A vendor like Video Arts will especially work to make your life as easy as possible, providing the high-quality content your team needs, while ensuring seamless transitions that you needn’t lift a finger for.
- Build/train your team: A team on the ground is fundamental for a joint, hassle-free implementation. Your dream team should include everything from human resources personnel to project managers and learning specialists. Given that an LMS too often gets pushed back by senior management, you especially want to appoint people who are passionate, engaging, and able to prove the value of LMS without fail.
Component 3: Adoption (initial)
Whether you’re new to LMS implementation or already have a strategy that you’re happy with, success fundamentally rests on adoption. After all, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink — even the best L&D approach will stagnate if no one’s lapping it up.
To avoid this, centralised learning materials that facilitate a positive learning culture are essential. The addition of an LXP as discussed can significantly help towards this, but only if you go about introducing it to your organisation in the right way. If you want to get off on the right foot, important things to consider include:
- Don’t be afraid to start small: Rather than going hog wild and launching your system to the whole company, pilot your programme with a dedicated group of learners with whom you can follow up and demonstrate engagement — as well as estimate the business impact of learning.
- Keep content in reserve: You should hold back some of your content, and slowly release it as you expand your programme — keeping things fresh in order to keep people coming back for more. The last thing you want is for a giant spike that simply drops away. Remember, adoption is about the long-term — don’t play all of your cards on day one.
- Align learning with your L&D calendar: Throughout the year, you’ll have existing learning events — mental health awareness week, learning at work week, etc. Each of these creates an opportunity to promote your LMS with relevant content and encourage continuous engagement.
- Make sure to get buy-in from the top: If L&D is in a silo that senior management doesn’t care about or see value in, then even the best LMS will be sidelined — throwing business-wide engagement to the dogs. Go out of your way to demonstrate the value of your platform and programme to management. Starting small and developing a pilot project is a great way to make sure that they take notice.
Fundamentally, a well-implemented LMS can be the proof in the learning pudding — figgy or bread and butter, the choice is yours! When you pair this with reward techniques like gamification, you incentivise an already interested workforce and drastically increase engagement. Engagement is, in many ways, the secret to getting your learning horses to drink, and it happens to be our next, and final component.
Additional reading: For more advice on LMS best practices, check out our blog — 3 Ways to Get More Out of Your Learning Platform.
Component 4: User engagement (sustained)
Ultimately, L&D rests on one thing — user engagement. This is where true value lies both from an oversight and results standpoint, and it really comes down to the single most crucial player in the learning journey – content.
After all, swapping to a new learning system is useless if the content you’re building within that remains unengaging. Given that engagement is as much a metric as it is an outcome — and is the simplest — it often is the only way to measure the value of LMS investments. The ability to track things like repeat watches on videos certainly demonstrates adopted learning in a way that unprovable implementation of those lessons never could. As well as differentiating the aspects of learning worth championing, this guidance is the undeniable foundation of ongoing improvements, and guaranteed learning relevance.
Really, engaging content is a three-fold matter, revolving around —
With studies proving that 65% of the population learn visually, graphics are an especially useful engagement tool, but this is just the tip of the online training iceberg — but, there’s room on the engaging learning door for everyone, not just Rose. Pushed workforces also repeatedly favour customisable microlearning, such as videos, which offer short, sharp lessons that can be individually organised and selected.
So, video, displayed in an interface that champions learner autonomy is key. But, what about the content of those videos? As such, you’re going to want to ensure that your videos aren’t like that crusty history teacher that you hated in school — providing textbook lessons without a jot of fun. Instead, engaging videos need to be like the exciting student substitute who brought exuberance, and ultimately engagement, to every lesson with one key tool — humour.
Remember, even non-funny people thrive from funny learning — fact. At Video Arts, we provide precisely this within a simple and intuitive LXP that puts content back on the map, all within a Netflix-style interface — including thumbnails, descriptions and filters — that makes learning feel like a fun Friday night at home, instead of another thing that your team doesn’t want to be doing.
User engagement is a metric, a state of mind and the desired outcome
Workplace trends will continue to come and go, but the value of engagement, and content, should never shift from your L&D focus. A successful LMS strategy will always facilitate this need, and that’s precisely what we offer here at Video Arts.
With a focus on interactive and engaging learning pathways, we’ll work to ensure a smooth transition from the moment you contact us, ultimately opening you to a range of LXP benefits that include Netflix-style user-led interfaces and instant usage tracking. You could even go as far as to say that Video Arts is the fifth component of success, so don’t you owe it to your learning culture to get in touch today?
Additional reading: If you want to learn more about picking the right LMS/LXP and creating engaging learning experiences, check out our free eBook — So You Need a More Effective Learning Platform?