Working with many associations over the years, we have listened to many organizations describe the reasons why their members do not use their existing Learning Management System (LMS) and why they are looking for a new learning solution to re-engage their learners. Here we share four of the most common reasons associations seek to change their LMS platform.
Remember the famous line from the movie Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come.” Has this worked for your learning management system? Maybe, maybe not. The landscape is littered with discarded LMS systems and the dreams of many Education Directors of projects that just didn’t work out. The reasons for their demise are usually quite similar and seem to revolve around four main areas that come up in almost every conversation.
Do Learners Experience Unnecessary Barriers to Access?
The first reason that LMS systems fail is that the learner has to go through too many steps to access the LMS. The most common problem is having to go from one system to another which involves logging out of the association website or the system they are using, and then logging in to the LMS. This happens when there is no integration between existing applications and the learning management system. Learners have to remember additional usernames and passwords which frustrates learners and gives them a perfect reason to not access the LMS.
One association that found the lack of integration between systems to be an issue for its members was the Australasian Society for Ultrasound in Medicine (ASUM). They resolved this by replacing their legacy open source LMS with TopClass LMS and a two-way integration with the iMIS engagement management system. This ensured their members only had to remember one username and password, and they found it much easier to access the LMS.
Does your LMS have an Unattractive Look and Feel?
The second reason for not using the LMS is the User Interface (UI). The user interface needs to be easy to use and navigate, designed to help new users of the system to easily find the content and activities they need, in an intuitive fashion. If the user has to try to figure out the system in order to take training, forget it, they won’t be back. A learner should not have to take training about the LMS in order to use it to take training. It also has to be pleasing to look at in order to engage the user.
Your LMS should have a customizable user interface which enables you to choose colors and layout to match the look and feel of your website or other integrated systems used by members. It needs to strike a balance between being attractive, functional, and professional, to both engage learners and facilitate delivery of learning without distractions, while also appropriately reflecting the association brand. The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) replaced their legacy LMS with a new one that "had a professional look and feel" and soon they found that the number of user issues had significantly reduced. Read more about their success story.
Is your Content Relevant and Useful to Learners?
The third reason is about content. Is the content worthwhile? Does it serve the purpose to give the learner something they need for their job, certification needs, and personal development? This may be obvious to most people but you would be surprised at how often it gets overlooked. But how do you analyze the relevance and usefulness of content for your members?
Your LMS reporting can help you to notice content trends by analyzing the data from your reports. For instance, TopClass LMS tracks purchases, time of purchases, learner progress through courses and certification programs, credit hours, test results, training history, and so much more. This can help you to notice trends in how your members engage with your learning content, and allows you to really understand if your members and learners are getting value from your course catalog. You can use this to continue to improve the value of your education offering for members, by curating LMS content to remove out of date information, refresh courses that need a bit of updating, or preserving and promoting successful courses that continue to provide value to your members.
Can your LMS Simplify Management of Training Requirements and Certification?
The final reason is marketing and communication with members. This is not just about letting learners know you have an LMS with courses, which can be done through newsletters or email campaigns. This is about reminding members to update their training requirements and certifications needs on a regular basis. The LMS should be able to perform this function automatically, negating the need for you to manually monitor individual learners progress, or to expend time sending notices from other systems. Once they are reminded about their training needs is the LMS catalog easy to use and purchase courses from? Does it offer incentives?
Your LMS should be able to simplify the process of managing certification, re-certification and training requirements, empowering your members to take control of their own learning. With a course catalog that is easy to search and filter, and strong eCommerce capabilities, your LMS should provide a smarter way to manage training and certification.
So, now that we have explored some of the most common reasons that new Learning Management Systems fail, here’s the question to you: ‘If you deploy a new LMS, will the learners come?’
Choosing the right LMS is a difficult process, and there are many small factors like the four above that can be overlooked at the purchasing stage, but have a big impact on how your members use, or not use, your LMS. To help give your new LMS the best chance at success, check out our resources for planning to invest in new association learning technology, and read our essential steps before planning an LMS implementation.
If you still have questions, and want to talk to an experienced, helpful team, don't hesitate to contact us at WBT Systems, and we will be happy to answer your questions!