What is the new metaphor for the LMS?

Amidst the rapid changes taking place in software we are seeing some of the old metaphors of software systems being radically changed. As a knowledge worker you may be using a range of software applications to complete your work; for example a word processor. Years ago when productivity software was in its infancy, word processing based on the metaphor of the typewriter. Digital file storage was based on filing cabinets. This is what we worked with and therefore this was translated into software applications. The same goes for the email inbox. Email delivers messages [work] just like the old physical inboxes did when they were a prominent feature on a physical desktop; latest on top with no prioritisation.

lms cartoon

Our digital environments have completely changed the way we work, what we produce and how we share it with others. And these changes have impacted far more than productivity suites. Of keen interest to us is the software used to enable organisational cultures and the individuals that comprise achieve maximum performance and growth. One of the key tools in this mix is the learning management system, [LMS]. e-Learning began when television was available to the masses. People began to learn new information about their community, country and the world. They also began to learn new behavioural norms and cultural mores.

It is interesting how a software application is called a ‘system.’ The LMS has always been software that sat apart from other applications in an enterprise architecture. The LMS required users to login and undertake activities that were tracked and of course reported on. Nothing has really changed all that much except modernisation of interfaces, additional human capital applications and other trends accommodated such as social interaction and new content standards. It all looks like it is headed in the right direction but its genetics are still linked to command and control.

So where can the LMS go? When looked at with very fresh eyes the LMS can really go anywhere including being completely subsumed by a new class of technology. There are some trends that should be considered when looking at ‘where next’ for the LMS. These are in no order of importance or impact – they are just ideas.

* Organisations are becoming more transparent and porous. Does learning only take place in our LMS or do my other activities conducted on the internet contribute to my knowledge and skills?
* Do I need to source my expertise from people in our organisation or can I explore other thought leaders?
* I want to become a thought leader in my field of profession and/or interest – how do I do that in a locked down controlled environment?
* I want to share my expertise with my colleague and how do I achieve that using our LMS?
* There is so much to learn in managing our LMS – I just want something that captures what we need without having so much specialised knowledge in one software application.
* As a learning and development professional I need to meet the needs of multiple generations of employees and make sure we capture and share our knowledge with new and younger employees.
* I want our people to be engaged in spontaneous learning that is applied on the job and be able to share this with colleagues easily and possibly without having to consciously do so.

The list above is just some ideas and there are plenty of others that can be thrown in the mix. I remember the first time I engaged with a Google+ community of people using Google Apps as their LMS. [Google has since released an LMS for the education sector]. When I tested various use cases of the Google apps as an LMS, I discovered a very lightweight low/no cost learning solution that can deployed anywhere and with any user population. Many of us who have spent years in complicated enterprise software applications are seeing something far more powerful on the horizon.

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