On Thursday Match 2nd The Bay Area Learning Design & Technology Meetup group met for the first time in 2017. Rather than just having speakers appear at our meetups, we run a range of events across the year to create an interactive and collaborative environment in which all of our members have a voice. Leaning on one of our most popular themes from the previous year, we kicked things off with a Themes From a Hat event.
Themes From a Hat is an interesting format. We have all attendees vote on which topics that they would like to learn more about prior to the meetup taking place, and then on the night - the top 4 most popular topics will form breakout groups in which discussions are moderated by industry leaders. The night is composed of 4 15 minute sessions, allowing all members to experience each group and contribute to the discussion.
For this meetup the topics were LMS, Measuring Learning, Social Learning and Learning design.
Given my experience in Learning Management System, I was given the task of moderating that particular group and wanted to share some of the findings from the discussion.
To kick things off and get the conversation flowing I posed a few questions to the group to learn more about their experience with learning management systems:
Before we even get started, leading a discussion around LMS can be tough as for a lot of members in the group – they are frustrated with their current platform. The positive side of this is that this group can share ways in which to improve the way that they use their system.
While there were a number of members that we’re not having a good experience with their current LMS, we did find out a few features that people we’re excited about. The first of these was being able to sync up their LMS with their HR management system to ensure that user data is automatically transferred between to the two platforms.
The second item was around gamifying the experience and offering rewards. The ability to distribute badges to user upon reaching a goal (completing a course or a series of courses) was one of the most popular aspects for some people in the group.
From here the conversation shifted from what people like about their LMS, to what new or existing features should be developed to improve the learning experience.
One of the key elements that arose from this part of the discussion was the lack of customization in reporting. While reporting is available in all systems, the options available do not provide the range of data in which L&D managers need to adequately track and asses the success of both the content and program they run.
After the introduction of online courses, classroom learning initially took a downturn, however blended learning is now starting to make it’s way into most companies, but tracking a learners progress across both the classroom and online components of their training is still tough in a number of systems. Being able to do this all in the one platform would be a great addition for managers.
Content was also a big talking point.
A lot of our members are generating their own content as it has been too difficult to purchase and import outside content into their platform, but with the increased amount of content now available through subject matter experts – being able to import these courses into their platform would be a huge advantage and something that administrator are looking forward to being a standard feature in the future.
In the 4 groups that had discussions throughout the evening there was at least one person in each group who was a complete newcomer to learning management systems. To help these people understand more about the uses of LMS’s we opened up the floor for discussion around what are the key factors that should be considered when selecting a new LMS provider.
These were the top factors:
If you can ensure that these features are included in your selection process you are going to have a much smooth learning process from implementation all the way through to managing and tracking learners.
As you can see, we have some great insights form the conversations that took place at the meetup and we can see some clear patterns around what people want to see happening in the LMS space. Hopefully as organizations continue to develop we will see more learning management systems taking these items on board and providing a great learning experience for everyone involved.
See you at the next meetup!