It’s 2018 and many companies still don’t have a good foundation for learning technology. Large organizations sometimes have many different, disconnected learning management systems (LMS). It’s a mess! Smaller companies may never have had a decent LMS, perhaps getting by with spreadsheets, some homegrown database or an inadequate tool that came bundled with their HRIS. These folks are swamped with disorganization and inefficiency.
If you have an effective and well-integrated system, count yourself lucky.
There is a strong case to be made for sorting out your core learning technology by moving to a modern platform. With SaaS-based systems, it’s easier and cheaper than ever for organizations of all sizes to have good, integrated systems. And yes, this is all true, but it’s not the end of the argument.
The strange misgiving about solid foundations
While the argument for building a strong foundation is convincing, learning professionals may have a strange misgiving. This quirk comes down to this line of thinking: building a foundation will be a lot of work and it’s not that exciting. Many learning professionals would rather experiment with innovative technologies than sort out their core LMS.
The argument for experimenting with new technologies isn’t just about the fun of diving into new, stimulating tools. New tech such as social, informal, micro, video and mobile learning can be the most effective way to achieve the desired learning outcomes. If you are focused on fixing the system that tracks and manages old learning, you may miss the boat on new learning.
So if our LMS is a mess and exciting new tools beckon, what are we to do?
What it takes to find a balance
If your core systems are in poor shape, then there is a big payoff in having a plan that will bring everything together on a modern system —over time. The key to balance is not making the core system such a big priority that it squeezes out all other work.
It would be a shame to put the brakes on trying new tools now because so many exciting things are happening in the world of learning and learning technology. This is why you need to keep a budget for experimenting with the new even while you are shoring up the foundations.
The other argument for funding innovation
I mentioned that many learning professionals would personally like to spend more time working with innovative technology. Is this a valid reason for organizations to spend money on innovative methods of learning? Yes, because doing so retains and energizes the best learning professionals. Furthermore, it’s essential to experiment if learning professionals are to continually raise their game. Consider that part of the technology investment an investment in human capital.
If you are the person suffering from a poor LMS, it can be tough to see beyond getting it fixed. If you are an innovative professional, it’s tough to see beyond the promise of new tools. A balanced perspective isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. Leaders need to be able to see the value of both and recognize that it’s not all one or the other.