Real Learning Doesn’t Need Bells and Whistles

Learning Management Systems are a technology, and as with any technology, it’s subject to the fervor some people get when it comes to tech. HR Professionals want the latest and greatest, all the time, and are willing to pay extra for a new phone, camera, television or other piece of tech if they know it’s capable of more than someone else’s product. This chase for the state-of-the-art can be fun when it comes to consumer electronics, but it can often lead to technology that’s too confusing and distracting for many people to use. Rather than treating technology as a Swiss army knife (tools made to solve a number of problems without specializing), companies should look for fly swatters (tools that target only a specific problem). Why?


It Takes the Focus Off of Learning

Companies want to advertise something they have that others don’t, and this is how the concept of “Feature Creep” comes in. Feature Creep is when a product has so many auxiliary features it detracts from the product’s main purpose, and in some cases can kill the product itself. Often buyers are confused about which ones they truly need (because many consider vendors to be experts) and end up wanting to find a total system that incorporates them all. When this happens, it can create a hole in the middle of the product, usually right where the product is supposed to be at its best.

In the case of the LMS, Feature Creep rears its head in the form of a content focus. In a recent study, LMS vendors and users revealed how LMS are diverging from their main purpose:

  • 66% of LMS vendors reported that their Learning Management System focused less on learning and more on delivering content.
  • 58% of faculty members using LMS at schools reported they use it more for disseminating information than engaged learning.
  • Only 41% of faculty members used their LMS of choice to promote interactions outside the classroom. 

Why is this important? Because a learning management system should manage learning, not simply be a delivery source for information. As a training professional or HR pro, you want to ensure your employees are getting the education they need around specific job points… not just stuff you could send them via email.

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Engineering Distractions

This divergence from learning isn’t necessarily bad, per se; lots of pieces of technology end up being used for something different than their intended purpose (the telephone, for example, was originally conceived Alexander Graham Bell as a way to record music). But it’s when the focus on creating the product becomes about better bells and whistles than on making a better product that this divergence can lead to problems. Our CEO Sean Pomeroy has cautioned against the focus of tech on periphery features over specialization:

“I remember someone telling me one time, ‘nobody buys a drill because they want a drill. Nobody says gosh, I want the best drill ever! They buy a drill because they want a hole.” 

If you load up your LMS with too many features, you’re either going to end up with a different product, or you’re going to end up burdening your current one. If an LMS focuses too much on content, or notifications, or other features that distract from learning, it could end up distracting employees more than helping them learn, as they have to figure out all the new features of a product. And with distractions costing companies an estimated $588 million per year, you don’t want a product adding to those costs.

Better Focus Beats Spreading Thin

But how do you beat the crowd, if having all the world’s features can end up hurting a product? Simple: Focus. An increasing array of products advertise their ability to do two things at once; phones, computers, video game consoles. They pride themselves on their ability to appeal to the increasing pervasiveness of multitasking, but chasing this incentive is a bubble waiting to burst. Only 2% of people can actually multitask, and most who try to perform multiple actions at once do worse at both.

The real focus of an LMS, as always, should be learning and simplicity. That doesn’t mean feature sets and simplicity have to be mutually exclusive, though; there’s a market emerging for systems whose design allows them to do more without losing sight of the important parts. As it stands, 25% of companies use multiple Learning Management Systems to do various tasks — using one for actually learning and another for keeping track of tasks. An LMS that can do both of these things, without having one distract from the other, will better serve its clients in the long run, and won’t need all the fancy accouterments of other systems. 

Visibility Software’s Learning Management System is all you’ll ever need. Our Cyber Recruiter and Cyber Train solutions will help keep new hires and longstanding veterans alike engaged on the tasks at hand. Don’t believe us? Sign up for a demo and see for yourself!