BLOG: Just Do It! Stuart Jones Goes Inside NextGen LMS

A couple of years ago the LMS was read the last rites, now we’ve just had the first NextGenLMS conference  in Austin, Texas. Now that’s coming back from the dead.

‘No longer the ‘boring software’ it used to be,’ declared the event website, ‘LMS has undergone a revolution alongside the explosion of SaaS, social collaboration and big data tools!’ 

Unicorn’s Stuart Jones was there to give us the lowdown on why the death knell for the LMS was maybe a tad premature….

PART 1

austinThe NextGenLMS conference in Austin in June attracted an eclectic mix of LMS customers and vendors all trying to feel out where things are heading.

Hosted by the Corporate Learning Network, the conference itself was attended by a fairly small but influential crowd including very senior learning professionals in large enterprises and some of the movers and shakers of the eLearning world.

Conspicuous by their absence though was any representation from the traditional big name LMS vendors such as Cornerstone, SumTotal, Saba – perhaps they have their own ideas or maybe it is an admission they are not very next gen right now……!

The size of the conference meant there were some excellent opportunities for open and frank discussions about what people need, what their challenges are today and what they want from a future learning management system.

One thing is clear though, despite many protestations in the past, learning management systems are not dead.

The demand for learning management continues to grow as eLearning explodes into the mainstream and establishes itself as a core part of learning and development, as well as meeting expanding regulatory requirements for all types of employee and industry.

In fact, one key take home I had is the amount of compliance training across all industries people need to do will ensure the LMS is going to be around for a while. It is still the primary use case for many organisations despite the potential for wider learning and development.

Is LMS Dead? Conference hosts, Corporate Learning Network, take a look….

Nike University

chrisrossonikeThe opening talk of the conference was by Chris Rosso (@revrosso – yes he is actually a Reverend!), Global Manager for Learning Platforms at NikeU – the online Nike University.

Nike have over 60,000 employees globally ranging from the sales assistants on the front line to everyone who helps operate the entire organisation. All of these have different learning needs and there is a huge amount of content to curate.

Nike have designed their approach around being user driven for pulling appropriate learning – making it as easy as possible to get to their learning and making it all optional.

The view at Nike is that LMS interaction is very transactional – people come in, find what they need and then leave. People don’t hang out on their LMS but getting access to what they need quickly, in small chunks and then getting back on with their day job is important. Making the content attractive to access is also important here.

Most of the Nike Academy Moodle implementation is hidden away from the user with a nicely designed Drupal interface being preferred with Tin Can capturing the interactions for non-formal content.

Interestingly however, despite Nike being an early adopter, usage rather than experience is still the main Tin Can data being used.

The other key thing Nike has been doing is making all of the content work on mobile devices. This is because so many of us now use mobile as our primary means of interacting with the web.

Nike is looking for that Netflix experience; being able to continue on your phone where you left off when you leave the PC.

ROI on learning, certainly for an organisation the size of Nike is very difficult to measure accurately. There can be too much correlation being incorrectly attributed to learning.

Nike obviously believes training is very important but also that it is naïve to be able to put a dollar amount on the return from people doing it.

See Chris Rosso discuss his views on the NextGenLMS

Next: Part 2 – What does it mean to be a NextGen LMS? eLearning master, Craig Weiss, offers his take.

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