The Evolution of Learning Management Systems

In recent years, more and more employees have been working not only online but also at home. This is especially true in 2020 and beyond when millions of people have made the switch to remote work.

Many companies have reported benefits from having workers switch to performing their duties remotely. Nearly half of company executives plan to let employees work from home full time. The majority agree that remote work using web-based tools will continue.

Employees are jumping onto the remote work bandwagon as well. Around a quarter of all workers state, they will take a slight pay cut for the ability to do remote work.

The combination of remote work and advancing technology means employees are learning more new processes and increasing the use of digital tools. With any new digital platform comes a learning curve. In the past, this often meant asking fellow co-workers and supervisors for advice or attending in-person training sessions with the rest of the office.

However, remote systems rarely allow for instant and simple ways to contact coworkers for help should a question arise. This aspect of remote work can mean lost productivity and a drop in employee satisfaction. No one wants to struggle to find answers on how to apply new tools to their specific situation.

The good news is that learning management systems and employee training are evolving to become more comprehensive adoption and enablement solutions tackle these issues.

What are Learning Management Systems?

Learning management systems (or LMS’s for short) are applications that allow a company to manage and deliver learning content to employees. Learning management software also allows companies to track employee progress with training. Companies can set learning goals for their teams, provide instructions for new processes, and make sure all employees complete their training in a timely manner.

These systems also include tools to onboard new employees and identify areas where skills need work. Companies can also communicate any changes in processes to employees and edit that information as needed.

Remote work, however, is presenting new challenges to this type of onboarding and continued training, which can have a negative impact on productivity and employee satisfaction. It is vital that learning management platforms evolve to meet the growing needs of remote work, which has its own considerations.

A brief history of Learning Management

To understand the evolution of learning management tools and how they relate to today, it’s important to understand how they worked in the past.

Decades ago, training a new employee usually involved him or her shadowing a more experienced worker to “learn the ropes.” New hires may have read handbooks, studied training manuals, and done quizzes at the end of the training.

A more expensive approach may have been to send employees to classrooms for in-person training and development sessions, especially for continued education. Classrooms and other educational institutions were often used to train workers in new policies and processes. These sessions, which often happened outside of work hours or required a company to pause services for a day or two, would also train workers on how to use digital tools.

As technology progressed and the corporate world switched to more web-based tools, learning environments changed. Webinars and online courses became popular ways to train employees to use these tools. Online training could onboard new hires and guide employees through new process changes.

For employees, single training sessions meant being presented with large chunks of information at once. Unfortunately, this meant forgetting around 75% of the course content after just a few days. As a result, employees faced a steep learning experience. This meant looking up answers on how to apply this new knowledge to a specific situation or asking management for help. Leaving one application to find answers elsewhere is called context switching, which cuts into productivity and lowers employee morale. Often, search bars and help databases were inefficient at best.

Reinforcement of learned material often meant support tickets, emails, and context switching. Employees could still access help entries and how-to videos, though these approaches required time and searching. Smarter search bars could help somewhat, but rarely satisfied the need for contextual learning and reinforcement.

What do companies and employees want next?

Now that the corporate world is rapidly changing and shifting to remote work, learning management must once again adapt. The need for leaner, more contextual training is rapidly growing and will continue to do so as the world of remote work takes off.

Though most employees now prefer online training over traveling for the in-person type, the technology must continue to change to work with the growth of remote work. Many employees are no longer working in offices where supervisors and co-workers are available to answer questions.

This leaves workers to find answers on their own via context switching. Lost time comes from searching through large databases, Powerpoint presentations, or long videos. Connecting that information to a specific process can take even more time and lead to a poor user experience.

In addition, employees everywhere report frustration due to frequently switching between apps and dealing with too much information at once. When working at home, this frustration can grow without the support system an office can provide. Emails asking for help might sit for some time, and tech support can find themselves overwhelmed with requests for help.

Clearly, learning management must adapt to survive in this new environment.

Training time must reduce, costs need to come down, and productivity should increase. But learning management often becomes stretched and difficult to apply to the changing landscape. Processes also change frequently, and the need for training is always present. A learning management system⸺or better yet at comprehensive adoption and enablement solution⸺is a must to address these issues.

Employees working at home sometimes deal with distractions not related to work. Having to context switch only adds more frustration. They need to have the right information at their fingertips at the right time. Clearly, a new, leaner learning management platform should address these issues and scale smoothly to a growing, remote workforce.

Companies need consistency and good tracking with onboarding and other training, as well as easy integration with various apps. Cutting down on context switching and adding real-time contextual learning are newer concepts. But they hold great promise for companies, employees, and technology alike.

The new evolution of Learning Management Systems

Tomorrow’s learning management tools (inclusive of broader adoption and enablement) are being created today to meet the needs of companies who employ growing numbers of remote workers. Just like in natural evolution, these systems are losing unneeded traits while gaining new ones that will adapt to remote work.

Lightweight training in the flow of work integrates deeply with a wide range of programs used daily by remote workers. These systems are simple to install, with no technical knowledge required. Management can use them to create custom training and reinforce it right where it’s needed, directly in-app.

Legacy LMSs can even integrate with sales adoption and enablement software. Such tools are powerful and flexible, meaning that management can insert learning content in a variety of places.

For employees, large, inconvenient training manuals and searchable content databases are being replaced with these more lightweight learning tools. Training can happen in-app and is contextual rather than in a classroom separate from the work environment. That means that employees can take a hands-on approach as they learn how to use apps for their specific duties.

An employee unsure how to insert a function into a spreadsheet may see a help tab right in the program. This tab will contain the specific information needed to complete this process. Another employee unsure of how to approach follow-up can hover over an industry field label for instructions. Learning also gets reinforced as employees complete their work duties.

Other features include the ability to easily communicate process changes and other announcements to the right team of employees all at once. This cuts the need to call meetings and reduces the need for distracting emails. Rather than calling for a meeting, all employees can receive valuable updates at once, while they are working.

Management can also easily monitor the training progress and skillsets of all employees in one central place. This helps to identify any areas where skill improvements are needed.

The benefits of in-app training and reinforcement

Company leaders can find many benefits when they switch to more lightweight adoption and enablement software, and these benefits can be immediate. Installation is much easier than with learning programs of the past, which often required a professional to install.

The need for employee travel can be reduced by using a lightweight, comprehensive adoption and enablement solution over a dated learning management system. Employees will experience more satisfaction and less stress when working remotely. Employees will also not need to travel to classrooms and companies will save money on training dozens or hundreds of employees. This means a greater return on investment (ROI) on employee training as well.

Companies can save time and boost productivity by switching to more lightweight digital adoption and enablement software as well. By focusing on contextual training, gone are the days where companies managed courses by training employees in single long sessions. Also gone are the days when employees were expected to retain large blocks of information at once. More evolved vs. traditional LMS systems deliver small, easily digestible bits of information and help flatten the learning curve.

Lean learning management can also satisfy employees’ needs for continuing education while providing a smoother user experience. Since lack of competency as business needs change leads to greater employee turnover, continued training is a must. Workers at all career stages value opportunities for growth as a major factor in whether they will accept and stay in a job.

Should you switch from a Learning Management System to a leaner Adoption and Enablement Solution?

Before making the switch to a more lean learning environment, your company should ask some important questions. How much could an in-app training tool help employees with their specific tasks, and what would be the larger business impact at scale?

It is important to observe employees carrying out day-to-day duties. Making a note of how much time employees need to find answers is also valuable. This amount of time affects productivity and employee satisfaction. This can also tell you where problem areas lie. You can then calculate how much productivity can be saved by switching to a more lightweight, evolved adoption and enablement solution over an LMS.

Asking employees where they’d like to see improvement in training is also vital. Identifying even a single hard-to-learn program can go a long way towards leaner, faster, and more satisfying training. New solutions can integrate deeply with many applications.

Getting started today

Evolution often means that less is more and learning technology is no exception. By adapting to remote work, the promise of new platforms over learning management systems is easy and satisfying onboarding, tracking, process changes, and communication. Get started by chatting with Spekit today.