Justifying that LMS

I noted on Twitter that I was having writer’s block, so @Quinnovator and @Busynessgirl chimed in with some suggestions. Now, several minutes later, I present a David Letterman style top ten list.

Top 10 things an administrator would say to justify the purchase of a learning management system (LMS):

10. It comes with a blog!
9. Vendor has cool conferences
8. We had money left in the budget
7. Everybody else has one
6. Learned about LMS at our last professional development day
5. Had to make up for the staff we laid off
4. Have to keep track of the remaining teaching staff
3. You can’t manage what you don’t measure (psst: what ARE we measuring?)
2. Kickback from the vendor (via @Quinnovator)
1. How else would students learn online?

This is excellent preparation for the CSTD Conference panel on which I will be participating next week. The opening topic: “Is a Learning Management System necessary within your organization?”

Feel free to make this list more than ten items.

12 Responses to “Justifying that LMS”

  1. Gary Woodill

    Hey Harold,

    You missed:

    11. My boss needs to have a monthly report.

    12. It’s configurable!

    13. IT says that they will only approve this one for security reasons.

    14. It tracks compliance.

    15. It’s award winning!

  2. Brian Stowe

    I have been trying to figure out how to get away from an LMS but I can’t. I don’t want an LMS and would love to not need one but I feel like their is no way around it if an organization needs to track who is trained and in what.

    My audience is service technicians at truck dealerships and we are moving to a model where only trained technicians can work on our products. At our dealerships, there is a desire to establish and track training paths. I could go on but would be curious to know if you have any idea how to get around the LMS in that situation?

    Thanks for the blog Harold!

    • Harold Jarche

      Brian, if it’s just tracking that’s important then a database could be set up fairly easily. As for learning paths, I would find out what workers need, in the way of tools & support, and there may be some effective and low cost solutions. Feel free to contact me if you want to discuss this in detail. I’ll throw this question to my colleagues at the Internet Time Alliance as well.

  3. Clark Quinn

    Brian, related to Harold’s response, it’s not about the learning they do, it’s the assessment that *they can do it* that matters. They could learn OTJ, previous experience, online, classroom, it doesn’t matter; it’s the outcome that matters.   

    How do you assess that they’re ready? A simulation? A proctored performance? That’s what you want to track, and any finer granularity of where any performance gaps are if they can’t. Then, what’s the best remedial path *for them*. Might not be a course.

    Really want a Competency Management or Assessment Management System: diagnose what’s still needed, where difficulties are, and create learning plan, not what courses have they done.

  4. Brian Stowe

    I have thought about just going with the database approach. That is kinda where we are now and what happened is we have 2 systems. Neither of which was designed to do what it ended up doing and have become unwieldy and cost-prohibitive in the process.

    A full project to scope a database for tracking purposes, custom-built for a company with an eye for long-term scalability is going to be a lengthy and expensive project so why not go off-the-shelf? Off-the-shelf and customizable to me would be something like Moodle with an open-source CMS on the front.

    @Clark – Great! That is what I was looking for. You are right. Currently we have some WBT and a test. Very lame and just enough to justify my job. I have inadequate testing systems and no budget for things like simulations and true proctored performance but I am hoping to head that direction by creating and supporting a robust mentoring program. Again though – the competency management system would be great.

    I need to pursue that idea more.

  5. Mark Smithers

    Hi Harold,

    I notice you use the word ‘Adminsitrator’ and I’m glad you didn’t specify it down to an IT Admin. I’m an academic turned IT Admin and am finding that the push for the LMS comes from the academic admin group not IT. I think there are other alternatives to the traditional LMS that could/should be used but we’re bogged down by recording everything and insisting that students can’t cope with multiple UIs.


  6. MK Mercurio

    Great comments and sadly, very true!

    Strange to think that colleges believe that students can’t learn without an LMS. Wouldn’t it be grand if the students were set free to find courses, data and information that would fulfill the course goals and then share them in a final project?

    The projects would no doubt be all over the globe and each would weigh in using the learning style that fits the student. Image the possibilities!

  7. Scott from Real Projects

    I attended an elearning network in London where one of the sessions was about creating the perfect LMS.

    The gropu consisted of vendors, developers, buyers, HR professionals and users. In a really interesting session we were split into groups and asked to discuss LMS requirements from a range of perspectives from the learner to IT departments.

    The end result was a fantastic set of requirements and thoughts about what an LMS could actually be.

    Barry Sampson from the ELN is tasked with documenting the input and I’m sure this will be on the ELN website soon.

    The session was interesting as it featured a cross section of opinions and featured ‘needs’ and ‘wants’. I was personally interested in the key features that people looked for and it was very different from the usual top 10 features in an LMS. Flexibility and personalisation came out on top in several of the areas.


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