We have all heard the phrase “use it or lose it”, but how many of us have stopped to consider that this maxim applies as much to learning management systems (LMS) as it does to anything else?
You may have some great digital learning content to offer your learners but, if they find your LMS difficult to navigate or in any way displeasing, your chances of engaging them are severely reduced. If users don’t find an LMS as easy to use as the B2C applications they are used to, you could indeed lose them.
Yes, rich feature lists, data security and back-end interoperability are essential, but it is the needs of the learner that must come first. And today’s learners are hard to please. They are impatient, time-poor and, thanks to the business models of global giants such as Apple and Netflix, expect to have what they want exactly when they want it.
It’s a little alarming then to find that research by Towards Maturity (Learning Benchmark Report) shows that 25% of learners do not find what they’re looking for on their LMS. Following on from this disappointing news, it comes as no surprise to learn that HR and learning analysts, Fosway Group (HR Realities in Europe), cite user experience as the top priority for 80% of companies looking to invest in a new system.
It seems that all too many LMS developers and suppliers have a tendency to heap a mountain of features on to their products without first finding out whether their customers and end-users actually need or want them. This and more integration with an increasing number of content creators and third party systems has been to the detriment of usability, the very facet that should be at the top of their list of priorities. If users have a poor experience with your LMS, their level of engagement will be equally poor, as will be your return on investment no matter how many ‘bells and whistles’ the platform has.
To meet the demands of today’s learners, an LMS should be able to facilitate continuous learning and enable users to access content from anywhere at any time via any device. That goes for compliance training, performance support and continuing professional development (CPD).
Whether your company is looking for a new LMS or you’re an eLearning company seeking to pair up with a suitable LMS provider to offer a proven, top-quality user experience, here are the questions you should be asking:
- Does the system support learners through an all-in-one portal and mobile learning App? Can users access eLearning, microlearning courses and other types of digital content such as videos and PDFs when they are offline?
- Is the LMS equipped with a consumer-grade browsing and search capability? How easy is it for users to find what they’re looking for?
- Can users and managers complete tasks quickly and intuitively, no matter where they are?
- Does the LMS provide insightful data about each individual learner’s strengths and weaknesses?
- Can a range of content, aimed at specific individuals or groups of learners, be uploaded quickly?
- Can it facilitate CPD and external learning activities in one place? How easy is it to upload evidence to support these activities?
- Will the user need to learn how to the use the system or is it truly intuitive?
- Can the LMS help learners understand what they need to do next, so they can schedule their learning to make the best use of their time? With compliance, for example, can it specify how they can renew their certification and easily direct them to learning, refresher and update materials?
A blog by Tim Buff
Tim writes about innovations in digital learning. Connect with Tim on LinkedIn.
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