Josh Bersin’s June 10 article on the current state of learning technology took us back to our early days in talent management startups in the early 2000s.
Our companies didn’t have LMS technology, and we had a steep learning curve. The way we learned then was much like what Bersin describes now, with different tools. With help from engineering, we created much of our own learning materials and job aids. We had wikis, instant messaging, email, phone calls, and Jira for learning delivery.
Video has taken over. The experience Bersin describes today is something like learning TV, where we have dozens or hundreds of channels, and we can switch to any of them anytime.
After musing about the demise of the LMS couple of years ago, Bersin has joined John Leh in celebrating a new wave of innovation in learning delivery. What is remarkable is that major vendors once thought to be dinosaurs are driving the change, surrounded by hundreds of specialized innovators.
Big Changes at The Top of The Market
Skillsoft recently acquired Percipio, the world’s first immersive learning platform, with over 450 channels and more coming. EdCast is calling itself the “Netflix of Knowledge,” and LMS providers Saba and Cornerstone are also leading the charge.
Although still essential for most organizations, the LMS is no longer the only center of the corporate learning universe. Learning technology is evolving from a “hub and spoke” model to a flexible nodal network. Learning Management Systems are now working alongside Learning Experience Systems and Learning Record Stores. The use of xAPI and the LRS are growing as xAPI becomes better developed toward plug-and-play implementation.
We don’t see the LMS becoming obsolete soon. L&D still has a lot of learning to manage. Regulatory compliance concerns will never go away, and the legal beagles and regulators will always want to see a check in the box—something the LMS handles superbly. At the same time, LMS offerings like Cornerstone are evolving to open platforms.
L&D’s Changing Role
We are not hearing complaints from L&D about the loss of control. That happened long ago. We have been writing for two years about the transition and L&D from developing, delivering, and managing to sourcing, curating, and consulting.
CLO’s no longer control every aspect of learning, especially in the extended enterprise, where individual functions and operating units form their own learning partnerships with other organizations. Nor should they want to.
A Future of Mixed-Mode Learning
Although much learning is self-directed and unstructured, learning paths and career tracks are necessary. If a reporting analyst seeks to become a data scientist, there will be a certain number of things she must learn in a certain sequence. We can expect learners to weave in and out of structured and unstructured on-demand learning as their needs and aspirations change.
We don’t know if all the changes are positive. Comparing learning to the vapid wasteland of television is not flattering. We can picture people watching videos and committing nothing to long-term memory. Some of us lifelong learners prefer our hands-on approach, and many of us would rather read something in a few minutes than watch a video, maybe we are just anachronisms. We expect a healthy mix of modes will prevail.
The LMS is dead. Long live the LMS. Ten years ago, it was the marginally successful center of learning. What it will look like in ten years and what will we call it is anybody’s guess.
Pixentia is a full-service technology company dedicated to helping clients solve business problems, improve the capability of their people, and achieve better results.