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Friday, 15 February 2008


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Jane Bozarth

I get a lot of calls from people wanting to "do" e-learning, and they tend to break into 2 distinct camps. The first: those who are curious about ways to make online learning engaging and meaningful. The second: those who are primarily concerned with "tracking", "managing", or any other means of replicating administrative and control tasks. And of course 3 years down the road that second group will be claiming that they tried e-learning and it didn't "work"...

Dan Roddy

I couldn't agree more. As a designer I find it pretty disheartening to put all this effort in to gathering together knowledge, making it sensible and accessible and only to then lock it away behind several mouse-clicks, a password and flash delay. No-one is going to want to look stuff up 'just-in-time'
with all that in the way.

The clearest evidence I can think of is the 'black market' in knowledge at one client where one job role appears to have written for itself the task of copying, often verbatim, the content of training courses and making it available on the internal KM system so people can just quickly search for what they are after. Can't say I blame them.

LMSs simply perpetuate top-down control methods that people associate with learning from school. While the tracking element can provide an essential tool to units outside of the L&D function, whether it is desirable to lock away all the knowledge for the benefit of a certain subset is a different matter.

Donald H Taylor

Hi Will

An excellent and thought-provoking post. I would say that we don't have to kill the LMS, but that it should be a tool for strategy rather than the other way around.

In terms of competency management systems, there certainly are systems that allow more than one type of learning intervention (declaration of interest: I'm non-exec at www.InfoBasis.com, producers of such a system).

I would go beyond your suggestion that we should be looking for:

"A competency-management system that offers multiple means to develop oneself ".

Certainly, any decent competency-management system should offer a choice of learning interventions. But that should not be its focus. It should be a place for storing, tracking and updating information on people’s competencies. Courses attended (of any sort) would be one form of evidence of competence, but the crucial piece is the experience of that person’s manager.

When it comes to creating personal development plans for employees, yes, the system should be able to include a range of learning interventions from e-learning to self-study to classroom courses. However, it should also include other ad hoc interventions, such as placements, informal mentoring, attending meetings and so on.

Mark Berthelemy

Hi Will,

I posted about my ideal Learner Support System last year: http://www.learningconversations.co.uk/main/index.php/mark/2007/12/14/looking_for_a_learner_support_system

My focus is on the learner rather than the organisation. Competency management systems, in my experience, only work if there's an incentive for people to maintain their details. Eg. they work in regulated professions, where a CPD record is a requirement of ongoing registration. I find it hard to see how they'd work without that sort of incentive.


I agree with what people have said about LMSs both the good and bad. It is a great tool but some people tend to think of it as the solution. I have actually seen it happen. People think that since there is content up there they don’t need to interact with the learners anymore. I believe that is wrong. Let me explain to you how I feel content should be treated in an LMS. An LMS should be used as part of a learning experience, not the whole experience. Also you need to incorporate more than just discussion boards in it for communications. You have those blogs and wikis, so lets use them people! But the learners still need to be engaged in some way other than an LMS (Elluminate, Centra, Second Life) for that is where the real learning will happen. I think that if you can follow this approach for using the LMS correctly, you will get better results in the end.


This is a very interesting article with very interesting points. While LMS is a kind of getting very popular in elearning field, not many people notice the negative side of it. I cannot agree with you more on the user-generated content. "User generated content could be incorrect, could be a huge waste of time, could cause the organization to leave itself vulnerable to legal liability."

Denis Coxe

This has been an issue that has stuck in my craw for a long time. I wrote about the problems with LMS back in November (http://sailingsound.blogspot.com/2007/11/learning-must-be-set-free.html) and received an anonymous comment from someone asking "What sort of crap LMS are you using?" They missed the point that the LMS sets up obstacles to getting to the information that the learner needs to do his or her job.

Mr. Whestly

Thank you for an interesting article. I agree that sometimes the content you find in LMS can be not so good but authors are different and this is not right to suggest to get rid of all LMS since any way for many people it's very useful. As for me I create my lessons in PowerPoint and then publish it to Moodle with iSpring Ultra and this is very valuable for my students who can not attend classes at the moment. Any way, thank you for the article, I agree with you on many issues.


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