Warning, this is a bit of a rant written mostly for my own need in sorting through how I really feel about learning management systems (LMSs). If you work with the average LMS you probably understand.
I have worked numerous different LMSs, some good and some not so good. I don't think I have used any considered "user-friendly" on either the admin or the user end. Currently, I am getting to know another LMS and trying to be patient with its quirks and illogical design. To give it some credit it is not much quirkier, or designed much worse, than most other LMSs (most are drek). As in the past, once I get used to the peculiarities of the system I am sure I will begin to tolerate it and even be able to do what is needed. However, learning to get it to do what you want it to does take quite a bit of hair pulling and shouting many nasty phrases at it. I also have received great deal of help from my coworkers who also work with the system, in which I am extremely grateful. If you are reading this, thank you.
Now, why the heck do we even use these things? Here are the crazy reasons we keep hearing in the corporate training world.
- "Auditors are going to ask for reports showing everyone took the compliance courses."
- "We need to give assessments and see that learning occurred."
- "We need a way for staff to enroll in classroom training."
- "So staff can access their transcripts."
- "We have to track EVERYTHING!"
Some of these reasons are valid to a point, but do we really need a cumbersome LMS for all this? First off, we do not need to track everything. We should be more concerned that staff are learning and applying what they learned than if they have the word "completed" next to their name. In the case of assessments it may demonstrate learning, but not the application of what was learned or the results of its application. It is very important that learning occurred, but please do not assume they did anything with it. As far as classroom enrollment and transcripts, I am confident there are cheaper, easier alternatives for those tasks.
Yes, there is some practicality in the fore-mentioned list and I am not naive enough to think we can simply write off the LMS so quickly. And yeah, I know the auditors want to see a report that has the word "completed" next to each person's name. However, in my perfect world we can offer courses that are accessible outside the LMS and our audience take courses because of their thirst to learn not to get the word "completed" placed next to their name.
For the record, I see the value in having an LMS, but I also see its limitations, hindrances, and how it can be when overused. I guess you could say I have a love-hate relationship with it.
What value do you see in an LMS or what do you see as reasons we do not need one?
Thank you for allowing me to vent on this subject. I have to get back to completing a bulk enrollment and then run a couple of reports.