Five Benefits of eLearning Automation
Posted: March 8, 2017
If you were born after 1970, you might not even remember a day in your working life when the Learning Management System (LMS) did not exist. Early iterations of the LMS first started appearing in the 1970s to support a truly disruptive innovation that we now call “eLearning.” Since then, these two learning tools have grown up together, each evolving as the other pushed the envelope a bit further, creating an iterative path to innovation. As LMS technology made things easier to do, instructional designers found ways to use those wonderful features to enhance the learning experience. When instructional designers demanded more of the LMS, providers found a way to make new things happen, responding to our demand for better video support, new ways of tracking learning experiences and a wider array of features to engage learners. Yet this cozy relationship has been producing diminishing returns for years. According to a 2016 Brandon Hall study, most training professionals only rate their current LMS slightly over 50 on a scale of 100. More recently, a joint study by the eLearning Guild and authoring software firm Adobe® indicated an even higher level of dissatisfaction with current LMS technology. Learning technology is ripe for a disruption; enter eLearning automation.
What is eLearning Automation?
With eLearning automation, the LMS learns the skills that each individual employee needs to meet business goals. Algorithms tell the LMS computer code which skills are required to meet the programmed business goals. The LMS then produces a customized learning plan for each employee based on gaps indicated by skill assessments that have been generated by the system. You simply upload your existing content, and the system writes the questions. As business goals change, the LMS, guided by the underlying algorithms, adjusts immediately and changes learning plans as needed to fill the new skill gaps. This new type of LMS has only become possible with the advent of machine learning. The algorithm provides detailed instructions that allow the LMS to discover the needs of the business and each individual in your organization. No matter how much things change, the system will continue to adjust learning plans automatically. Instead of trying to plan for every possibility, the “machine” — in this case, the LMS — “learns” what is needed by analyzing the data according to the instructions contained in the algorithm.
Benefits of eLearning Automation
We will eventually develop a long list of benefits for eLearning automation as we gain more experience with this new technology. For now, here are the top five advantages I see for early adopters:
Shortened needs assessment process — The LMS will deliver assessments that you have already built for your existing content. If the employee doesn’t pass the assessment, and the skill is flagged for his or her current or future role, the LMS will add that training to the learning plan. You can spend less time on analysis and building complex learning maps, and more time on developing content and robust learning experiences.
No more assessment questions — Let’s face it, writing assessments is a science and an art; few of us are truly qualified to do it well. With the right programming in place, your assessments are written for you by the LMS, so you can concentrate on developing the content, save time and probably get a more valid assessment.
Training that adapts to changing business needs in an instant — If your company decides tomorrow that your customer care team needs to start making sales during customer care calls, just update the program, and the system will deliver these employees the training they need to be successful.
Truly personalized learning at last — We’ve been talking about personalized learning for decades, and the technology has finally caught up. Because no two people are alike, no two employees will have exactly the same learning plan, even if they are serving in the same role.
Greater learner motivation and performance — When employees receive learning suggestions that are truly customized to them, I have to believe they will respond with more excitement about their work and a greater appreciation for the company that invested so sincerely in their future.
Is eLearning automation truly disruptive?
Futurist Eric Haseltine says any one of four conditions can usher in a disruptive innovation:
A radical idea
- The invention of a new instrument
- The collision of radically diverse disciplines
- A realization that we humans are not as important as we think
Let’s see if eLearning automation qualifies:
- A radical idea — No more needs assessment, and never write an assessment question again. Radical!
- A new instrument — The automated LMS itself certainly qualifies.
- Colliding diverse disciplines — Teach human beings with machine learning. You bet!
- Building truly personalized learning, so that each learner is truly at the center of our focus.
Now that’s disruptive!
About the Author
Hi! I’m Margie Meacham. As a learning consultant, I help people apply the neurosciences to enhance learning and performance. My course designs have been implemented at American Express, Bank of America, Motorola, Honeywell, AT&T, State Farm, Cisco, Bell South and many others. My book, Brain Matters: How to help anyone learn anything using neuroscience was a finalist for the 2015 Best Indie Book award and is full of insights for teachers, corporate trainers, leaders and parents.
I have a Master’s degree in Learning Technologies and I teach Essentials of Brain-Based Learning for the Association for Talent Development (ATD) as well as private clients. I’m a keynote speaker for organizations such as Training Magazine, eLearning Guild, ATD, the American Mentoring Association
(AMA) and The Learning and Development Conference (TLDC.) I sharing best practices with other learning professionals! Let’s connect via Twitter, email or in person at an upcoming event.