A decade ago, articles on the topic “Is the LMS dead/dying?” used to be click-bait articles that found interest among readers. Surprisingly, the topic continues to draw interest and every other week some top-ranked edtech blog or website publishes their own version of an article on the subject. So what does this prove? Well two things: Readers tend to read more about dying technologies. The LMS continues to live long and prospers as well!
Let us take up the evolution of the cellular phone or mobile phone as a parallel product category for comparison. Do you recollect those massive brick-like devices that were practically weapons of self-defence? The monochrome screens, green-backlit devices with text in black, then the flip-phones, the PDAs from Palm, Blackberry devices that were a status symbol and how Apple with the iPhone and Google’s Android OS in two completely different tangents disrupted the market! The earliest devices had the basic functions of calling and texting your contacts and a calendar and calculator used to be bundled, then came games, the FM radio, the internet browser, the camera, the app-ecosystem and the rest is for all of us to see! The smartphone is the single most important tool for a majority of the population in the civilized world. In many ways we are addicted to the smartphone and are constantly waiting for the email notification, or Facebook like or Instagram comment from users known and unknown! A product designed to be used as a simple communication tool has evolved into a device that serves multiple purposes and has become a must-have item!
Now let us look at the LMS scene? A simple tool designed to run learning modules and tests in an academic institution has evolved into an all-purpose application/software that is now used with equal ease in both universities and companies across the world. From running tests, to performance evaluation at work, to social learning features built into the LMS to integrated ERP and CMS facilities to power full-feature websites; the LMS is no longer a simple learning system!
We have always believed in the greater good of everyone and more the number of options for the end-user, the more empowered they are to pick something that works best for them! But honestly, the number of options in the market today is mind-boggling. Plus, the variation between corporate and academic LMS no longer remains distinct. Companies across the world are trying to find new clients across industries and education systems to buy their LMS. Organizations demand more features that can help them keep an eye on the users and also monitor their progress with ease. Reporting and analytics in-built into the LMS is one of the most important features that prospective buyers of a LMS look for!
The LMS is not dead and will not die, it has evolved significantly over the past decade and will continue to do so. As learning switches to mobile and tablet-devices and micro-learning modules and video-based learning become popular the LMS will be customised to run directly on these devices. Organizations like D2L offer Brightspace via an app with distinct levels of access in terms of learner-teacher and employer-employee. Organizations will continue to invest in training, eLearning courses will continue to be commissioned, the LMS will continue to remain strong and newer players with better and more robust products or existing leaders with a re-designed product portfolio will continue to dominate the LMS world. So dear reader, no need to panic; and you can put an end to this question of “Will the LMS die?”