New Models for Learning Management

by | Oct 29, 2009 | Articles

I’d never been to an e-learning network event before; my perception was that it was too expensive because of the traveling I’d have to do from Manchester. However I’d been asked to speak at the 25th September 2009 event so it would have been rude not to go! In fact it was a great honour to be asked particularly as the day was all about my favourite subject, Learning Management Systems:

This was the events advertised billing:

“Over the past ten years, we’ve grown to accept the need for a learning management system as a cornerstone of our learning and development strategy, but have we kept pace with the dazzling range of options and alternatives now at our disposal? At this event, we’ll be looking at the variety of platforms and approaches available to support different aspects of learning and development. We’ll find out how leading organisations are using a range of tools, commercial, open source and hosted. There will also be the opportunity to explore what the next generation of learning management tools should look like”.

What was covered?

1. Sakai as Learning Infrastructure: Introduction and Development Directions –  John Norman:

Sakai is an open source platform developed by a number of the world’s leading universities to provide online support for collaboration and learning scenarios. John Norman from the University of Cambridge is obviously very knowledgeable of Sakai as they are heavily involved in the development of the next version. John’s presentations confirmed my belief that there are many different organisations that have different requirements of a Learning Management System (or Managed Learning Environment) and although the academic & corporate sectors both need a system that manages learning the methods they’ve adopted to achieving it are poles apart!

For more information on Sakai go to: http://sakaiproject.org/portal

2. Online performance management – Oliver Daly

This was a great case study on how First Rate Exchange Services went about developing an online appraisal system. They had help from external partners PSP Group.

3. Managing learning in an informal world – Martin Belton

Martin from e2train provided some research & statistics on Learning Management Systems and refuted the idea that the LMS as a product was on its last legs! He talked about technology infrastructure and how much more popular Software as a Service (SaaS) is these days He also put forward the top 5 ‘must have’ features of an LMS.

21st Century learning management – Matt Brewer and Barry Sampson

This next session was an interesting exercise. There were four groups and I’d been asked to facilitate one of them. The first ‘round’ was to ask the question what would ‘this role/person’ expect from a learning management system. Each group and facilitator had a difference role/perspective
• The Learners
• The business / Management
• HR/L&D professionals
• IT professionals

My responsibility was to look after the ‘management’ group and keep the ideas flowing from the participants. After a time I moved round to the next group with the large piece of paper containing an almost illegible (due to my writing) mindmap that had been constructed by the first group. The next group of participants built on the first group’s ideas. I then moved on to the final group who had a difficult task of working out how this would be achieved.

Our discussions were from a managers perspective, the system would need to be ‘all singing all dancing’ but most of all simple and intuitive – which does not happen often with IT systems –  more features usually means more complexity. Managers also wanted the system to seamlessly integrate with all other business systems.

We concluded that for the majority of the features it is down to the LMS suppliers to provide a system that is as flexible as possible however there is also a major responsibility for an organisations senior management to ensure that all departments work together rather than against each other or even going off independently doing their own thing. Particularly L&D, IT and Comms departments should be using the same software rather buying their own separate systems.

5. Do you get what you pay for? – Fiona Leteney

Then it was my turn:
Whether it is a 3-piece-suite or a pair of shoes I’ve grown up believing ‘you get what you pay for’. So when recently I was presented with a choice of price tags: ‘free’ or a cool ‘million’ for Learning Management System (LMS) licences, which one did I advise my client to choose? During this session I presented four case studies to illustrate when a free, mid-range or expensive LMS is right for an organisation.
I described how I helped a number of clients purchase their second because they were not happy with the first. It really does depend on the individual situations whether their organisation should go for which category of price tag. Surprisingly (or not) one size doesn’t fit all!

The whole day was very enjoyable and it will not be my last e-learning network event. The next event is on the 20th November 2009 for further information go to:
www.elearningnetwork.org

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