Training Industry

Learning Technologies

  • What My First Car Taught Me about Choosing an LMS

When new clients come to us for training solutions, I am amazed by how many of them are using an old, outdated LMS. Surely, an active training program would have invested in new technology at some point in the past 10 years … right?

It took some time to realize that many decisions about technology are made not just from the head but from the gut. We stick with what we are comfortable with – but at the cost of missing out on what’s important.

What drove this idea home for me was thinking back to when I traded in my first car. It was a hard decision. I loved that car, and I have many fond memories connected with it. It took me on my first date, my first job interview and countless road trips across the Midwest.

The thing is, I forgave a lot of its faults. Like the aftermarket CD player that wouldn’t eject the Pearl Jam CD stuck in it. Or that I had to use two hands to roll up the window (Power windows? Ha!). The T-tops leaked, and the air conditioner was temperamental. Even as each part gave out, I stuck with my car and adapted, because it was comfortable.

Why did I eventually trade it in? Times changed. So did emissions tests. It became clear to me that I just couldn’t continue pouring money into her, so I started shopping around. I’m glad I did. While older cars were designed just to get you from point A to point B, newer cars are designed to be “driver first.” Power steering and traction control make for easier driving. Back-up cameras and lane departure warnings help us avoid collisions. Phone chargers, cup holders and even Wi-Fi provide creature comforts.

If you’ve ever bought a new car, you understand: It means giving up something comfortable, in exchange for something great.

Your training tech is like my car.

Like my trusty old Camaro, legacy LMSs were simply for getting from point A to point B: tracking employees and scheduling training sessions. The thought that actual learning should be encouraged and tracked was pretty remote. Yet, time and again, clients cling to these old systems. They are comfortable – just like my car and me.

Today’s LMSs are very different. Just as newer cars are faster, safer and more efficient and have loads of cool features, modern LMSs are more accessible, more engaging and better tied to learning, and they have cool features of their own. Most of these changes have to do with the design philosophy. Newer LMSs are designed to be learner first, video first and mobile first.

Learner First

Legacy systems were built to make the administrator’s job easier, not to make learning easier. Modern systems, on the other hand, take a learner-first approach, making materials accessible wherever and whenever the learner needs it, through an easy, on-demand system. Many LMSs also include training reinforcement and learning “refreshes” to help retention, as well as social media elements that enable learners to connect and share.

Video First

Legacy systems traffic in the file formats of the day, meaning Word documents, PowerPoint decks and the occasional Flash movie. Yawn. No one wants a PowerPoint with voice-over anymore. Modern LMS content is largely video, and the more flexible HTML5 has replaced Flash as the king of media. Production values are improving by leaps and bounds. Entire video libraries are now hosted in the cloud, eliminating the need for costly hardware and software – meaning that training dollars can go further.

Mobile First

More and more people are using mobile devices, and it makes sense to implement training on devices with which learners are already familiar. Unlike legacy systems, modern LMSs are designed to be mobile-ready and accessible from any type of device. Now, they are “mobile native” and have fewer problems than legacy systems, which are jury-rigged to stream to a phone or tablet.

Trading in Your First Love

If engagement, accessibility and efficiency are your thing, you’ll love what some of these modern LMSs have to offer. It just takes a willingness to step out of your comfort zone. It’s easy once you start. Implementation often takes a few days or a few hours, compared to the months needed for a legacy LMS.

Here’s the real question: Are you going to keep pouring money into something that you know, deep down, has to go? Or are you ready to see what’s shiny and new?

Ryan Eudy is the CEO of ej4.

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