By 2018, the LMS market is expected to be worth 7.8 million USD. That’s a lot of faith in a technology that has remained virtually unchanged since it came on the scene in the 1990s alongside the Internet and Windows 3.0.

Is that faith, and the massive investment that goes along with it, justified? We don’t think so. While we’ve seen a few, minor front-end adjustments to the LMS over the years, overall it has failed to leverage new technologies and failed to meet the changing needs of its clientele. That said, here are 6 reasons why it’s time to stop trusting corporate training to something that’s so outdated, rigid, and isolating:

  1. The LMS doesn’t personalize or adapt training to meet individual employee needs

In our lives and careers, few of us take the same, linear path. We might go from Point A to Point E and then back to Point B—whatever makes the most sense for us at any given time. This is how we become more efficient, learn more, and succeed as individuals and teams. Unfortunately, the LMS is designed to be linear. Your people read content, maybe watch a video, or access a rudimentary multimedia component and are then assessed via a quiz or assignment. It’s the same for every user and every course. And in using the LMS, a stagnant vehicle for delivering training, we risk killing the very creativity and innovation we need to foster in our employees.

We also risk losing the individuality that defines the best kind of teams. The LMS was designed as a one-size-fits-all platform. It hasn’t changed. Sure, you can edit content or add a checklist but it’s still the same static, homogenized experience. There isn’t the intuitive response that we have come to expect from technology. It doesn’t adapt to an employee’s interests or skill level and that’s frustrating for everyone. Your fast learners are bogged down in meaningless, repetitive training and the ones who need a little more opportunity to “get it”, aren’t given the chance.

  1. The LMS doesn’t deliver learning in a way that drives business impact

It isn’t what your employees learn, it’s what they do with that knowledge that matters. This is what grows your business and your profits, and this is what provides you with a competitive advantage.

Employees who don’t “get it” can cost you a ton. And there’s nothing within the LMS that can help them or you. The LMS was designed for the academic world and not for your results-driven world. It can’t tell if your employees are transferring what they’ve learned to the workplace. It can’t even tell you if they remember what they’ve learned a week or a month later. That’s because the LMS provides a one-off style of learning where concepts are quickly and easily forgotten. It doesn’t help your employees remember information and keep it top of mind. Sure, you can make your people retake a quiz until they get it right, but that just means they’ve mastered the quiz not necessarily the skills. And even if they do get a passing grade, will they use the information in their job? Who knows? The real bottom line: there is no way to accurately assess ROI with the LMS and that’s just not good enough to meet today’s modern business needs.

  1. The LMS is a deskbound app for a deskless workplace

It’s estimated that a large percentage of the workforce is deskless, so why use a deskbound app for employees who spend little time at a desk? Even those who do have a desk, have less time to work at it—period. More often than not, employees answer texts and emails on the fly as they go from meeting to meeting or travel for their jobs.

Work habits have changed and most employees want mobile learning. The problem is that the LMS has failed to leverage the vast and unique capabilities of mobile devices for learning delivery and engagement. And this means a lost opportunity for you to motivate and engage your people. Sure, there are mobile LMS apps but they hardly offer the mobile-first experience we’ve come to expect. Scrolling through endless text or watching videos on a tiny screen is even worse than viewing the material on a large monitor.

On top of this, as a surrogate for a desktop, LMS mobile devices lose the best of mobile learning: social interactivity and individuality. Smartphones are in our employees’ hands almost 24/7. They text, message, email, and even DM throughout the day. This is a perfect opportunity for engaging your people in delivering ongoing, long-term learning and skills development. But it’s wasted on the LMS. The LMS lacks an integrated format that leverages our employees’ willingness to engage. Mobile devices are the perfect engagement tool, but used with the LMS, they serve only to disengage.

  1. The LMS fails to provide employees with an engaging learning experience

Fact: if your employees are not engaged they will learn little and retain even less. And if your people are not engaged in your training, you will lose both time and money. You may even lose your people. As much as they may groan when they hear the word training, professional development is very important to employees, especially millennials. So much so, that lack of professional development is cited as the reason for many early exits.

Let’s face it. The LMS is boring. There is little opportunity for social interaction. Few engaging games. No leaderboards or rewards. And our employees want this challenge! They say it makes them more interested in learning. And here’s something else you should know: they learn and retain more in a game-based course than in a traditional LMS-style course.

Do you really want your employees so bogged down in learning that they either avoid or worse, rush through, just to get it over with? This is what the LMS does with its focus on modules and tests. Your people will not be engaged and that means the results are often as quickly forgotten as the learning itself.

  1. The LMS doesn’t track metrics that can tie training to business results

Every LMS offers metrics but not the kind that measure the results you want. A test score, a completed assignment or a set amount of time spent on a module won’t tell you if your employees are going to use the knowledge or skills you’ve taught them beyond the training session. For this, the metrics offered by the LMS are virtually useless.

A pass on a quiz or a written response simply tell you that an employee has managed to regurgitate the information you provided. A checkbox or progress bar simply tell you the employee was there. But were they really present? Or were they just going through the motions? There is no way for the LMS to test learning transfer. Are your employees getting it? Will they use the training on the job? Who knows? Again, not the LMS.

  1. The LMS doesn’t offer employees an easy way to search for information they need to do their job

Our people are our best sources of training. The knowledge your leaders, teams and individuals have accumulated over time is priceless. Yet, every time you lose someone, you lose that knowledge. What you really need is a place where new and old employees can go to tap into this wealth of accumulated experience and get the information they need in 2 clicks and 10 seconds. That’s not the LMS. While the LMS claims to offer curation, it is neither easy to contribute to nor easy to access.

You and your people are used to finding information at the speed of Google. The LMS can’t offer that. Instead it offers information storage that is the online equivalent of the old file storage rooms. Few people will take the time to perform all the steps necessary to upload and file the knowledge they have. No one has the time or interest to open dozens of folders just to find the one bit of information they wanted. The result: knowledge is lost or goes unused. Either way, you, your people and your company lose out.

Time to take a hard look at whether the LMS is delivering what you and your company need.

Carol Leaman

Author: Carol Leaman

Carol’s not your typical CEO. Sure, she’s built several startups into multi-million-dollar successes, and as Axonify’s President and CEO is currently driving a revolutionary approach to employee knowledge. But she’s more the doors-open, come-see-me-anytime sort of executive. Her ambitions are sky-high, but her approach is warm and down-to-earth; Carol doesn’t just dream big, she makes big things happen.

You can read more of her writing at ATD, CLO and Training Industry Magazine. She’s also a regular contributor for Fortune.

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