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What's next for LMS?

Podcasts and Audio | 25.07.2017

The team discuss the prematurely reported 'death of the LMS', where they see platforms going next, and how some of their clients are already blazing a trail towards a 'next-gen' experience for their learners.

Paul Westlake  0:00  

Hi, welcome to Kineo stream of thought. I'm Paul Westlake solutions consultant at Kineo. And today we're discussing next generation platforms. Joining me on today's discussion are

David Shaw  0:17

David Shaw, lead solution architect,

Adam Parsons  0:19  

Adam Parsons, senior Client Services Manager,

Steve Foy  0:22  

and Steve Foy solutions consultant.

Paul Westlake  0:24  

So I guess when we're talking about next generation, we're just talking about where LMS's are going. Steve, do you think that's the case?

Steve Foy  0:30  

Well, I think what I'd like to do is, is get away from the notion of a kind of single entity, which is a learning management system, I think, I think people have got an expectation about learning management systems that they are a system, which is a bit like a website, but it does one thing only.

Paul Westlake  0:45  

Okay, so historically, an LMS would be designed to maybe serve up elearning record, who's done that, produce reports for the l&d team, etc. I think in some ways, maybe that's part of the problem in that they've always been very much designed at the needs of the l&d team, rather than the end users is a fair assumption, Adam,

Adam Parsons  1:05  

I think the learners ultimately don't really care what the system is, they just want somewhere to go to do their learning. If someone if their manager tells them to do something, they want to know where to go to get it, they're not going to be bothered about what the system is that's delivering it to them.

Paul Westlake  1:17  

So in and out, quickly, show me what I need to do now. Thanks very much, away you go available on any device, but current LMS's is can do that.

Adam Parsons  1:24  

They can Yeah. And it's just a culture of what an LMS is, a lot of people think of an LMS as being quite an old fashioned system, something that needs to catch up with the times. And maybe it's to something around what it's called, versus what it actually does.

Paul Westlake  1:37  

So when we're talking about next generation platforms, then are we talking about blurring that line between maybe where the LMS starts and stops? And where the content comes in? or? 

Adam Parsons  1:46  

Yeah, absolutely.

David Shaw  1:47  

I think it's not only about compliance, we've been looking at things that people actually have to do. And that's what LMS's are good at. But next generation platforms are really about allowing people to access content that isn't necessarily things they have to do. It's about career progression, about how they can do their job better.

Paul Westlake  2:09  

So a lot of that contents already out there those that say I need to learn something at home, I'm learning a skill sets take us out of workplace, what I'm probably going to do is Google something or the chances are I'm probably going to pull up a video on YouTube. So is that part of next generation learning, then?

David Shaw  2:22  

Yeah, I think it is that the way that people learn is changing, it's a lot more social, it's people interacting with each other, it's people learning from their peers, finding content online, I want to do something these days, you look it up on YouTube, I want to know how to fix a bit of my car, I'll look it up, I won't take it to the garriage. And if it looks too complicated, then I'll take it to the garriage. So there's a there's a hierarchy of what we end up doing and who we talk to, to do things,

Steve Foy  2:49  

I think generally, people's expectations about about consuming information and getting content that's going to help them learn a particular skill or gain, gain some knowledge, those expectations have gone up really and you know, going into an LMS once a year to do your anti bribery training is not really it's it's a kind of must do thing, but nobody really likes it, they assume the position and then they do it and then they get it ticked off. And the compliance team are happy, because they can show that certain people have done certain things and that they're not going to be sued. But actually, I think most of us want that experience to be much more reflective of how we do things in our normal lives, we want to be able to navigate, we want to browse, we want to do, you know, we want to look at a range of different topics, we want to use a range of different devices. So I think when we started off talking about LMS's, really what we're talking about is the evolution of a single platform for a single purpose into something which allows us to kind of branch out and sort of, you know, fly more freely.

Paul Westlake  3:44  

If I was going into a learning management system. Now I'd want something that was very much, at least felt like it was very much tailored for me, you know, how are we going to do that with next generation platforms? How are we going to tailor that content even more to people's needs? And how are we going to curate that information. It's available wherever it may be on the web. But at the moment, when I search in LMS, all it really does is brings up a course that my boss has uploaded to it. 

Adam Parsons  4:07  

I think in terms of what you're saying about tailoring content to yourself, obviously, that that technology already exists with with every other area of kind of consumer internet. So you, you go to your Amazon account, and it suggests products based on what you've recently looked at what you recently bought, you log into Netflix, and it recommends TV shows based on what you've watched. So it's about bringing that technology into into the LMS. So it can recommend things based on what on a user by user basis. I think also to David's point from earlier about the shift away from just doing compliance space learning into things which are more beneficial for a career as as there's a continuous cultural trend of people not staying in the job. They're in for as long. You know, you think back to obviously 30 years ago people got a job until they retired 10 years ago, it was sort of halfway between that now it's you know, every couple of years people are moving jobs. So there's an increasing pressure on organisations to make sure that any training that they deliver is, is valuable to the individual. So you've got compliance training, which people have to do. But then you've also got to incentivise your staff to stay by giving them something that's valuable to them both in the job that they're in now, but also that might be useful to them in the future of their career. Otherwise, if there's no training incentive, that's another reason for them to leave and move on.

Paul Westlake  5:16  

And what does that incentive look like?

Adam Parsons  5:18  

I think it is, it is things like personalised content, it's things which are beyond just doing, you know how to lift a box safely in a warehouse, it's about if someone's got aspirations to move into a managerial role in the future, giving them access to that type of content early, that they can go and see what opportunities might be available to them in the future, they can then identify what skills they might need to develop and start looking at that before it forces itself upon them.

Steve Foy  5:41  

I think it's really interesting that we're, that we started off talking about platforms. And we've actually moved much more into a kind of more general discussion about how people learn and what how they access the content they want to access. And I think what we're talking about here is, is about content and content that's relevant and timely to, you know, a myriad of different needs and career moments integrate across a spectrum of people. I think that some of these things are already out there. So you know, our friends at filtered have already got a means of structuring learning paths for people so that they can move into aspirational roles. They know what they need to do to get there. And, and people are building career paths using AI, they, you know, they don't necessarily think of this as AI. But that's, that's the use of AI. And it's the same thing that we see in Netflix, which you which you mentioned, Paul,

Paul Westlake  6:27  

yeah, and I think it's been quite quick progression isn't. So we've gone from this idea of an LMS, which was predominantly used to serve up elearning. You know, and as I said earlier, maybe maybe report on that, then people started using it as Okay, we could do that. But maybe let's build it more around sort of talent management, and you absolutley right Steve and the way this conversations gone, that implies to me that we're almost getting to the point where the LMS has become almost invisible to the end user to just need to have quick and easy access to the content they need when they need it.

Adam Parsons  6:57  

I think that's exactly as it should be. If you if you were to ask an end learner in an organisation, why they do their training, I don't think any of them are gonna say because the LMS is really good. They're gonna say because the content is enjoyable, or because it teaches me something I didn't know before. They don't no one visits an LMS, to see the LMS.

Paul Westlake  7:13  

 But just thinking this is the next step. So there's always a big push around taking the learning to where the learner is. LMS is obviously an online systems, how can we do that and maybe access that content offline. So can I do learning through an LMS on the plane and get off the other end? Or how does that work?

David Shaw  7:32  

You can always download content onto whatever device you're looking at, as long as the applications that you've got allow you to do that, when we go down that path of applications and working offline, and different systems. We're talking about sort of a wide Distributed Learning Environment, really. And using something like an LRS, or a learning record store, to store all of that disparate information, I think is becoming more important these days. an LRS allows you to go and watch a video and for the LRS, to know that you have watched that video or to go and do a piece of elearning and know you've done that. And then you can take all of that data and use it how you like you can use it from a compliance point of view to say, These people have done their compliance training or they have looked at areas around it, you can also use it for expanding people's careers. So you can say, well, these people are obviously interested in management because they've been looking at management videos. So maybe we should be giving them training around management or using an AI in the background to look at what people have been looking at, and then suggest content to them.

Paul Westlake  8:41  

I think sitting around this this room now that we've all got experience of working with a number of different clients on a number of different systems who are trying to get different things out of their LMS's. It might be worth us just quickly having a think about, what are they asking for? We've got very recently launch site that that almost doesn't feel like an LMS you could almost say as a corporate Facebook, you know, it's very socially driven. And I know we're using badging, and we're using up people recommending courses to everyone else. So what sort of other things are we doing?

Steve Foy  9:10  

I think when we're when we're talking about next generation learning experiences, I think it's very easy to be sort of hung up on functionality or features. I might be alone here. But you know, I've always felt that the next generation learning experience should be that the content is is better. And the and the way that you get to that content is easier and less onerous. So when we talk about a an invisible LMS, I think what we're really saying is that we've got an LMS, which is so easy to use that you that you don't have to think about it and you get to the content and the content is good quality, and there are no obstacles put in your path. So that means that you may be got to that content through a link that somebody has posted in your in your social platform or through LinkedIn or through some other online platform and you get straight to that content without really needing to sort of think about what you need to do next is there.

Paul Westlake  10:03  

Yeah, I absolutely take your point. And we do have the advantage to a certain extent of being a company that develops not only learning content and digital content and assets, but also developing LMS's. And for me that, in a lot of cases, ones that work really well is where we do blur that line between where the LMS starts and stops and where the content starts and stops, you know, and we can do that in a number of ways. So I know we've worked with, content that introduces an avatar, but then writes that avatar back to the LMS. So you do a course in six weeks, eight weeks, 10 weeks time. And all of a sudden, you know, this avatar is set up six weeks ago, pops up and says oh its me again, and just checking in to see how you're getting on feels really quite tailored to the user being obviously we have the advantage of being able to write stuff back. But David you and I were at the London tech week, two weeks ago, and one of the things we looked at there was this whole idea of sort of bringing voice activation, so the sort of Siris and Alexas, this world into sort of the corporate world. So maybe want to take us through what your thoughts were on, on maybe how that can be used as part of an LMS system.

David Shaw  11:07  

Yeah, it's it's an interesting kind of interface on top of the the background, artificial intelligence that's working it out. So the the AI side of things is made, it's making the decisions, it's knowing what you've looked for knowing what you've searched for. But it has access to all of the content on there within the corporation, or wherever it is you're working, as well as all of the other information that might be relevant. So you can go in and say to it, well, book me my usual flight, and it knows what flights you do every Friday. And it will confirm to you which ones it wants to book and go off and book those for you. Now, getting you used to asking a system to do things is then a natural step to say, I'm going into a meeting with this company, what information do we have about them, and it can then feed back that sort of information about meetings that you've currently had, or projects you're currently working on. So that it's a really easy way to learn about what you're doing. And that is, it's getting moving away from that vision of compliance training as learning and training that you do, and expanding it to how to make your job and what you do as a job and how you do it better.

Paul Westlake  12:24  

Yeah, I mean, it was really quite impressive wasnt it because it tied in with a number of systems or business systems that we may have. So for example, it's office 365. And you know  you and I talked about this idea of going back to that analogy, you sit down in a meeting with a company, well, let's assume that you know that you know what, it can be a bit frosty at the best of time. So you we can ask that question. Have you got any training on dealing with difficult conversations? And it wasn't all one way? And the reply came back? Was it? sure how long have you got 10 minutes, you know, and it will recommend a piece of training because he knows what's in the LMS system, He knows what's available to me. Or similarly, can you put me on a course. And because he's got access to Office 365 account it knows my calendar appointments. He knows when I'm available next. It knows, maybe who's supposed to be training me on that system. It was organised and all of that stuff where he said, for me, that was real next gen platform. So it's still using all of the things that a traditional inverted commas, learning systems, great at, but he's making it feel very modern, I guess.

Adam Parsons  13:23  

I think that the interesting thing there as well is that, going back to what you were saying about how we how we find out where to take an LMS to to a next generation platform, a lot of what you were just talking about from Tech week there is is not looking at technologies that's within the learning world. I think as a, as an eLearning Company, as a learning platform company, it's very easy to just look at what other learning platforms do that we could use to then improve ours when actually a lot of the demands from a learner's perspective is from what they use in their everyday life. So like Siri, Alexa, all that kind of stuff that's just embedded in people's lives. Why can that not be then part of an LMS to make delivering content better and easier, and tailoring what they need to them?

David Shaw  14:01  

Yeah, absolutely. Again, it's expanding that whole environment that we're learning in.

Paul Westlake  14:05  

So if Steve, if you if you're a company that has an existing LMS, what can these people do? Do they did have to start again, to buy a whole new system? Is it about upgrades? Or is there a sort of halfway house where maybe they could look at developing something that sits above it, maybe like an experience platform?

Steve Foy  14:21  

I think, you know, obviously, most of our customers already have a learning platform of some form in place. And I don't think anybody would expect those customers to throw their throw their LMS or learning platform away tomorrow and move straight over to a sort of new new dawn where everything is sort of, you know, kept in their minds or in large spreadsheets or or some other vision of the future. I think I think what you can do is you can depending on what platform you have and how well it's received. I think you should always look at what you can do to improve what's there. First off, obviously, you know, not everybody has unlimited budget and unlimited time and resource to tackle a big change project, but a learning project of it, you know of that nature could be potentially. So always look at what you can do, get some feedback, find out, you know, all the people who use your learning platform, find out, you know, what they're finding difficult what they what they think works, and then build on that feedback. It really always, you know, with any kind of design of a solution or product, you have to come back to your target audience, and you have to know, what's working,

Paul Westlake  15:25  

what's the pinch points, what are they trying to solve, whats makeing it difficult, 

Steve Foy  15:28  

what's broken, what doesn't need fixing, and then and start there. Of course, you know, we're talking very openly about next generation platform. And I think, in the webinar, I did recently with LSG, we talked about the fact that, you know, a next generation platform for one organisation might be, you know, kind of total blue sky thinking for another. So, you know, you have to kind of start with, you know, with what you've got and and see what you can achieve, I think most people's learning platforms, if they've sort of put them had them in place for a few years, they could be getting a bit a bit sort of dusty around the edges, they might need a little bit of a spruce up. So you know, what can you do to the interface? What can you do to the, to the look and feel to make them just a little bit more inviting? You know, you probably have a wish list. If you're early adopters, then you've probably already got a wish list of where you want to go next. So I think just have a have a strategy in place and to kind of get some things penciled in, so that you know, you know, for the first six months of the year, you're going to get feedback. The second six months of the year, you're going to work out what the priority evolutions are going to be for your learning platform or platforms because many of the organisation's we work for we've got more than one of course.

Paul Westlake  16:39  

If you do want to carry on the conversation with us, you can do so in the usual places. Pick up with us on Twitter, where @Kineo. If you're interested in seeing a recording of the webinar that Steve referenced, give your learners a next generation experience now, you can find that on

Your speakers are

Adam oversees commercial relationships with our portfolio of LMS clients, as well as directly managing some of our largest and most complex sites via the Kineo Intensive Support product. He is responsible for ensuring that good relationships are forged with our clients, supporting them through international growth, large scale training rollouts and planning for the future of their system.
David designs technical solutions that are fit for purpose and function effectively in the client’s target environment. Working closely with the client, he gathers and analyses client requirements and documents the LMS solution to ensure the solution has impact.
Paul was previously a Solutions Consultant at Kineo.
Stephen has over 15 years’ experience in the elearning and LMS sector and is currently a Solutions Consultant at Kineo, establishing organisational business requirements and looking after clients' best interests. He is particularly interested in Learning Management Systems, and how they can be leveraged to improve business results.