Training & Learning

Why Collaborative Learning is the Next Phase of LMS eLearning

In 2015, industry analyst Josh Bersin studied the Net Promoter Score of L&D as a whole, and it was below zero.

Companies were investing billions of dollars in learning platforms even though the programs had more detractors than champions. Most employees weren't even using them.

Learning management systems were too clunky, courses were too dull, and none of it met real employees' needs.

This breakdown is a massive problem for L&D departments. It's not enough to invest in an LMS and hope that employees use it.

To justify their existence, they need to create training programs with actual, measurable ROI. And to do that, they need a learning platform that helps employees learn useful career skills.

To understand how we got into this predicament, you need to know why most traditional LMSs and LXPs can't get the job done.

From there, it's easy to see where LMS eLearning needs to go next. A Collaborative Learning platform is the logical next step in the LMS evolution because, unlike its many predecessors, it lets employees learn together within the context of their specific company and career path.

Traditional LMS is innovative but inherently flawed

Over the past 30 years, learning management systems have made huge technological strides. However, many legacy systems still struggle to engage learners because of these fatal flaws at their core: a top-down learning structure, expensive course creation, and poor UX.

The modern LMS as we know it first came about in the late 1990s. These early systems were meant for academia, but they were built to solve a universal question: how can technology aid distributed learning? Learning management systems allowed for asynchronous online learning, which was great, but they were pretty slow and difficult to use.

With the rise of the World Wide Web, the corporate world began to adopt LMS technology for employee training. In the early 2000s, fully online corporate learning platforms like ePath learning arrived on the scene. Later, most systems moved to the cloud, which allowed for fully distributed learning and real-time updates. Over time, LMSs became faster and better looking, with more user-friendly design features.

Although we’ve come a long way from the early slow-moving dinosaurs of LMS history, many LMSs still fall short of their promise of helping employees learn.

Although we’ve come a long way from the early slow-moving dinosaurs of LMS history, many LMSs still fall short of their promise of helping employees learn.

The core problem is that almost all LMSs focus primarily on administrators, not learners.

The primary purpose of an LMS is to help L&D departments manage learning content. Admins can upload courses, catalog them, and manage completion rates and employee compliance. All of this is super important, but it does very little for employees with a burning question or a desire to learn a new skill.

Course creation is an expensive and arduous process involving professional instructional designers or IT assistance. Many rely heavily on expensive, imported, SCORM-compliant courses purchased from off-the-shelf content providers. Content is static, difficult to update, and time-consuming to produce.

An admin-centered platform and onerous content creation process led to an ingrained, top-down approach to LMS eLearning, where L&D dictates what employees need to learn, with time-consuming training needs analysis and skills gap analysis, and employees have little choice but to comply. Little thought was given to the learner’s experience or preferences.

That is until LXPs arrived on the scene.

The core problem is that almost all LMSs focus primarily on administrators, not learners. The primary purpose of an LMS is to help L&D departments manage learning content.

LXPs gave rise to a better user experience

A greater emphasis on user experience and self-guided learning has led to the increased popularity of integrated or dedicated learning experience (LXP) software in the past few years. LXPs are a huge market right now, poised to replace traditional LMS software. The trend towards better user experience and participation is a step in the right direction but still falls short of delivering the specific, guided learning and collaboration that employees need.

LXPs have arisen in direct response to our criticism of LMSs above: that they aren’t people- driven. With an internet full of free content, employees are more likely to look up how to do something on YouTube than to fiddle around on an LMS. L&D needed a learning solution that would actually entice learners.

While LMSs facilitate content management, LXPs are explicitly designed to be content delivery systems. They let L&D leaders surface courses and content for relevant employees, create learning paths, and collect analytics on user behavior.

It’s true that LXPs have a much better interface than many LMSs; some are very beautiful. Many of them fashion themselves after Netflix or YouTube by allowing employees to browse content and take courses at their leisure. They look very cool, but unfortunately, they still aren’t effective.

The biggest flaw of LXPs is that they aren’t collaborative. L&D is still in charge of creating or providing learning content. Employees later consume it alone at their computers. As teams move toward more communication and collaborative work, why are we still learning by ourselves?

This isolation and the usually self-serve nature of LXP content contribute to dangerous information silos. Employees are busier than ever, and don’t have time to waste browsing around an LXP in the hopes of stumbling on useful content. Worse, employees aren’t sharing information, which leads to the loss of valuable institutional knowledge.

To break out of this stratified learning cycle, we need to change how we view the learning process. We need a revolution.

As teams move toward more communication and collaborative work, why are we still learning by ourselves?

Collaborative Learning democratizes knowledge

LMS and LXP are both valuable tools for employee training, but they don’t go far enough. Despite technological improvements, both still cater to an archaic, top-down approach to learning and management. But here is the antidote: Collaborative Learning.

Collaborative Learning with LMS and LXP

A Collaborative Learning platform is an integrated learning solution that enhances the learning experience throughout the entire company. Instead of L&D creating and distributing content, everyone gets to play a role by suggesting, contributing to, and taking courses.

Here are three major reasons why Collaborative Learning is more effective than anything before it.

Collaborative Learning is fast, nimble, and lean

Businesses are changing, and technology is evolving faster than ever as we deal with massive world events like Covid-19 and major workplace trends like digital transformation.

A Collaborative Learning platform allows you to publish and iterate new courses quickly so that employees can keep up with these changes.

In a collaborative system, the role of L&D shifts from the executor to the facilitator. Employees can surface learning needs as soon as they come up, making training needs analysis a continuous process, instead of something L&D sits down and calculates every quarter. L&D can use that freed-up time to focus on filling those knowledge and skills gaps.

You can use your Collaborative Learning platform to create content in-house. You’ll save money by skipping the generic, mass-market courses in favor of more situation-specific content.

Easier course creation lets you quickly build informal courses that highlight temporary workflow changes or quick protocol shifts. You can update learning materials quickly based on new information or employee feedback. As a result, content is less expensive than traditional LMS course creation and more accurate.

Collaborative Learning is peer-driven

In today’s economy, your employees are your greatest competitive resource. Their talent, expertise, and skills are integral to the success of the company. A Collaborative Learning platform lets you harness and amplify that resource by giving them the chance to teach and learn from one another.

Chances are you only hire talented people. Get the most mileage from all their in-house skills and talents by leveraging your employees to create courses on their areas of expertise. Your content will be more company- and team-specific than generic purchased content. It’s a great way to knock down information silos and spread the knowledge wealth around.

peer-driven learning

In addition to being smart for your bottom line, there are many psychological and scientific benefits to collaborative learning. It increases knowledge retention, leads to better employee engagement, and enhances workplace communication. You're building a stronger, smarter team.

Collaborative Learning is decentralized

Unlike traditional top-down LMSs, Collaborative Learning platforms facilitate a bottom-up process where everyone can contribute to building learning content. This approach makes them an excellent fit for many organizations that are already shifting away from top-down management styles toward more egalitarian team-based work. We’re looking not just at Collaborative Learning but also collaborative leadership.

Collaborative Learning isn’t just a learning technique; it’s an overhaul of the entire learning hierarchy.

Instead of pushing knowledge on employees, as in a totalitarian top-down approach, companies committed to Collaborative Learning make everyone in the company part of the learning process.

Anyone can surface a learning need or contribute their knowledge to a course — resulting in a bottom-up approach that is more democratic.

decentralized bottom-up learning

What’s incredible about this democratized system is that it reduces knowledge silos and opens up information to everyone at the company. Everyone now has the same resources and opportunities for success. This is key to scaling learning and growth.

We’re entering a golden age of LMS eLearning

Despite years of ineffective systems and wasted money, the future is now looking really bright for LMS eLearning.

We’re entering a Collaborative Learning revolution that’s going to totally change how we organize and distribute knowledge within organizations. This will have far-reaching repercussions beyond the L&D department. Collaborative Learning helps businesses adapt to disruptions in their industry faster than ever before.

But to do this, you’ll need the right tools. A traditional LMS and LXP might be part of the plan, but they alone won’t get you there. A Collaborative Learning platform like 360Learning, either in place of or in addition to a traditional LMS, can level the playing field and turn your employees into active learners.

If you don't want to take our word for it, Josh Bersin agrees:

Josh Bersin quote

Interested in learning more? Book a demo today.