The current state of digital learning in the corporate sector reminds of driving an old luxury sedan. It keeps monstrous horsepower under the hood and looks like a beast, but frankly even Prius would make a better option for an everyday commute.
Currently, the companies using existing LMS systems are mostly dissatisfied with their training software and are contemplating change. These are not only our field observations, which may be quite arbitrary. According to the Brandon Hall Group surveys, the highest score for elearning solutions is 3.48 on a scale from 1 to 5, which is for system reliability. So the general satisfaction climate among corporate elearning users is quite mediocre.
These unimpressive results imply that at least third of all digital learning users will try to switch their learning management systems, regardless of heavy expenditures that the change entails. So, what’s wrong? What are the things that most likely will drive corporate users away, and what are they going to be looking for in LMS?
1. Keep it clear, designers
You’re probably familiar with this shocking story from the healthcare industry. It’s about a young lady who died of dehydration because her caring nurses were confused by the complex and counterintuitive interface of their charting software. Although UX at corporate training isn’t that critical and don’t usually draw a line between life and death, the story highlights how much of a difference UX solutions can make.
Read also: Best elearning designs
Unfortunately, clarity and ease of use are among the most discriminated aspects of today’s elearning. The problem has 2 major origins:
- LMS systems have been around for a long while, and many established suppliers have to make heavy investments to revamp their existing interfaces (well, they usually don’t)
- New feature sets iteratively built on top of the previous interfaces overburden initial layouts
These lead to a second concern.
2. People prefer bicycles to tanks
This metaphor is stolen from the conversation with one of the DDI Development partners, who’s engaged in delivering corporate training for other companies. They use Saba, one of the LMS market old-timers. Not only poor UX but also a large feature set is something that troubles corporate elearning users.
Surprisingly enough, numerous tools to build educational framework are generally unneeded. Mostly, companies want to focus on specific ways of completing courses and tend to use only a handful of curated tools. Making targeted and well-implemented feature sets may be more valuable than building an uber machine. This works pretty well in the K-12 sector - you may check our Notesmaster project within this industry - but corporate solutions still lag behind.
3. Leverage experiential learning
The elearning was invented to introduce new ways of acquiring knowledge; fast, engaging, and more flexible ones. The concept had to catalyze innovation. And it did to some extent. But if we look at the most popular elearning resources employed, it becomes evident that the most used ones merely replicate traditional learning in a digital medium.
Quite obviously, involving technology cuts training budgets and makes materials more approachable, but it doesn’t carry out the digital potential yet. The model by Michael M. Lombardo and Robert W. Eichinger is widely accepted now and it implies allocating 70% of effort to experiential learning, 20% to developmental relationships, and roughly 10% to actual coursework. Digital means are the great fit to build corporate learning around the 70:20:10 model but it fails to do so yet.
Experiential learning can be achieved with games, simulations, social networking, and gaining skills in field-activities, doing actual work. By introducing informal learning approaches, you foster self-directed and thus more individualized experiences.
Unfortunately, these types of courses are more appreciated by a younger generation and don’t quite resonate with the expectations of other age groups. Being generally underestimated and undemanded, games and simulations lack the room for further development.
4. xAPI over SCORM
If you’re into the elearning industry, most likely you’re familiar with SCORM and xAPI technologies. SCORM is the major standard for educational technology, which has been around for more than 17 years. It addresses the ways content can be stored, shared, and reused in a learning management system. What’s wrong with it?
In a world where technology becomes outdated over a span of a year, SCORM is a dinosaur, which has never heard of Facebook, YouTube, smartphones, and tablets. Today our learning experiences are way beyond LMS systems only. Every time we an open educational video on a phone when commuting, this is also a learning material which can and should be tracked.
xAPI (or Experience API, Tin Can) is a relatively new technology that embraces the change and can track learning experiences across various platforms and media. It collects data to a Learning Record Store, which is basically a data repository system. xAPI has a wide spectrum of the application allowing us to track and analyze any piece of content that a learner consumes to make predictions and better refine educational workflows.
Most of the legacy learning software sticks to SCORM as changing it implies heavy effort and money investments. So SCORM isn’t going away anytime soon. But if there’s a way to avoid it from the start, the xAPI is a better option.
This list isn't exhaustive but we believe that the mentioned issues are the most ailing ones so far. What do you think? Are we going to see substantial changes in the digital learning industry soon?