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A Pop Culture Approach to Choosing a Learning Management System for First-Time Buyers

Stanziani, Director of Learning and Development, Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP

Stanziani, Director of Learning and Development, Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP

You've decided you need a learning management system (LMS). Great. Here are a few essential tips for selecting the LMS. I've also included some tips if a tedious, mundane approach is more to your liking.

The Pop Culture Approach

You don't need to struggle to rank your priorities; I've done it for you. In order of importance, here is your checklist when choosing an LMS.

1. Gamification

If it's not gamified, then move along. Your learners lack motivation, but they do love Candy Crush. Gamification will turn your learning climate hot, hot, hot!

2. Badging

There is nothing like a little friendly competition to spur the learning culture. Karen in accounting won't know what hit her when she sees your badges.

3. Predictive Analytics

Your learning engagement score would be trendsetting if only our learners knew what to learn! It works for Amazon and Netflix.

The Mundane Approach

Warning, the mundane approach requires work on your part. This method may result in an LMS that the whole organization will want to use, creating work for you. Don't say I didn't warn you.

1. What challenges are we looking to overcome by implementing an LMS?

It's easy to get caught up in the glitz and glamor of LMS feature sets. However, before selecting an LMS, first, understand how your organization benefits. One way to identify the benefits is by detailing how an LMS can solve organizational learning-related challenges.

“Before any demonstrations, ask vendors to review the use cases. If your must-haves are beyond the LMS, move on to the next vendor”

Some everyday organizational learning-related challenges are

• inaccurate learning history records for compliance training,

• inefficient method of enrolling in instructor-led training, or

• non-existent self-paced learning distribution and tracking.

2. What is the ideal LMS experience for your organization's personnel and LMS administrators?

Script out the critical use case scenarios of LMS users. Use the learning-related challenges as inspiration. For example, enrolling in a class, launching eLearning, or searching a catalog of learning opportunities. Repeat the process for LMS administrators. For instance, scheduling classes, uploading SCORM packages, sending out automated notifications, and running reports.

Stay true to your "ideal" LMS experience. Do not restrict your script with the assumption of what's reasonable to expect from an LMS.

3. What are your must-have features and like-to-have features?

Not all use cases experiences are created equal. Review your use cases experiences and make two lists, your must-haves, and your like-to-haves. For this to work, you must commit your list. Don't allow a fancy LMS feature to seduce you away from your must-haves.

4. What are the metrics for LMS evaluation?

The use case scenarios have a secondary purpose. When it comes time to evaluate vendors, provide the vendor with a bulleted list of the use cases. These use cases are your metrics for LMS evaluation.

Before any demonstrations, ask vendors to review the use cases. If your must-haves are beyond the LMS, move on to the next vendor.

Pop Culture vs. Mundane, a Clear Winner

Since you're still reading this, I guess I have to spell it out. The mundane approach is way too much work, and there is no guarantee that the LMS you select will have gamification, badges, or leader boards. At best, the mundane approach will result in an LMS that suits your organization's current learning distribution and tracking needs.

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