Last updated: 15.11.17

The future of the LMS: where will it be in five years’ time?

LMSs are constantly changing, developing and evolving. Their progress happens so rapidly that it becomes difficult to establish exactly what the next ‘big’ trend will be, or which aspect of the LMS might be the next to fall out of fashion. Recent technological additions to LMSs have included social and gamification. We have also seen an influx of tech trends being incorporated within LMSs lately such as VR, AR, AI and chatbots – all of which are expected to continue in a big way in 2018. But what else will be next?

The LMS today

Currently we refer to individual LMSs as being the ‘next generation LMS’ – essentially meaning an LMS with lots of additional features compared to previous versions. These features are often smarter reporting functions, UI and UX for advanced learner engagement, or smarter learner management to measure results efficiently.

Today’s LMSs are slowly starting to integrate themselves with their organisation’s existing tech stack. By utilising APIs, LMSs are able to integrate with an organisation’s CRM, HRIS or TAS systems. In the next five years’ time, we predict that LMSs will have transformed from a standalone learning environment to a crucial part of an organisation’s digital architecture. The LMS could potentially diminish in presence but grow in importance in the day-to-day operation of any digitally driven businesses.

Notable changes within the next five years

One of the most notable changes will be the demise of SCORM and the introduction of its replacement, CMi5. Together with the power of xAPI, they will facilitate the recording of learning within new and exciting genres and other learning resources. xAPI and CMi5 combined will allow for a much greater detail of learning interactions to be recorded. A short ‘one size fits all’ quiz or test will no longer be the final assessment point – learner’s progress will be dynamically recorded along their journey, so that the system’s algorithms can provide specific suggestions and directions as to which courses would be relevant and appropriate, so should be attempted next. By using adaptive learning, LMSs could also start to make suggestions to close learning gaps based on tests, attendance and submission of work. In some instances this has already started, for example it is already progressing rapidly in HE. The ‘iLMS’ could build on this at a granular level in the next few years, using xAPI and CMi5 as its recording protocol.

LMSs in five years’ time: the accumulation of the ‘Intelligent LMS’

In the next five years we expect to see the ‘next generation LMS’ building on its success, advancing to the point that it eventually becomes known as the ‘Intelligent LMS’ (or simply the ‘iLMS’). Effectively the Intelligent LMS is designed to keep an organisation’s skill base up-to-date at all times by analysing large amounts of organisational data, codifying the organisation’s experiences and knowledge, recording and analysing each learner’s performance patterns, then automatically curating and delivering the appropriate learning and skills to them (by generating the appropriate reminders, prompts, feedback and assessments for each individual learner).

The iLMS will not only align learning to performance, but will also transform organisational learning by proactively seeking to discover new learning exercises. By using automated curation, the iLMS will interrogate content repositories within the organisation and across the internet – to find relevant learning materials which directly meet the learner’s needs, whilst also being aligned with the businesses’ organisational performance requirements. The necessary courses and learning materials will be measured against an individual’s job role, profile and preferences – taking previous learning patterns under consideration, as well as individual learner performance and their search activities. The rest of the data that the iLMS captures and analyses will be taken from the company’s CRM, Transaction, Talent management, HRIS and Enterprise Resource Planning systems. The Intelligent LMS will also surpass the LMS as we know it today by using AI with automated curation, resulting in a much higher level of integration and more detailed analytics.

Five years might not seem like a long time for such changes to materialise, especially as the changes themselves will be quite considerable and significant. As such, it is important that L&D works together with their LMS vendor now – to see how these factors and changes might start to come to fruition. It is crucial for businesses to get the iLMS on the agenda, integrated and working as soon as possible.

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