When a technology evolves to a point of becoming so powerful and so easy to use, it risks being misused. The dangers can be disheartening, as the LMS experience is not living to its full potential. Or as Nicholas Barry at SproutLabs argues, outright “evil.”
“Evil” can sure strike as too strong a word. Short of a terrorist organization deploying an LMS to onboard new converts, its usage cannot harm humanity. It might just make a learning experience dreadingly dull. Barry focuses on the regrettably common occurrence of selling and LMS almost exclusively for compliance training, or for cost cutting, in the context of compliance training. Barry sees this as a sin of siloed approaches to sales, which are common and understandable in an environment lacking inspiration. As seen in other fields beyond workplace compliance, the LMS can be an advantage in innovative learning, or at least streamlining learning processes. It is true that across use segments (K-12, Higher Ed, Corporate, Government and NGO) there are challenges to address, from engagement to evidence-based credentialing, and everything in between. But it is clear that the “compliance” angle is LMS use lowest common denominator.
Barry believes learning procurers at workplaces, and sales teams alike, would do well by becoming more acquainted about successful LMS use. All over the world there are examples of groundbreaking usage, where approaches are tailored to quantifiable results. Many of these organizations take advantage of premium gamification solutions or content repositories. But paying more money is neither a necessary nor an infallible answer. Barry claims creative use of default activities can make a great deal of difference in the learning experience.
Going forward, there is another way in which learning organizations can break away from the “compliance bubble”: By minimizing the role of the LMS, even away from the core of the strategy. It sounds risky, and it might end up being a mistake in some scenarios. But at least it can make for a thought experiment that’s sure to spark creative thinking about what LMS can do for their users.
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