The Learning Management industry is quickly evolving to keep up with new technology and consumer demand. Let’s take a look at the trends in the LMS industry and see what the year ahead will bring.
Mobile and HTML 5 support was the hottest trend in 2012, and that is not going to change. The issue now is picking the best method for deploying learning resources on mobile devices. There are several ways to approach effective mobile websites with different benefits and downsides to each. Responsive skin design makes the site instantly accessible across multiple platforms, but requires extra consideration as content must be developed with the different screen sizes in mind. Native apps have a place for specific use cases, such as news, weather or online shopping but this requires building a custom application for each device which is only feasible if you have the requirements and budget. An additional mobile website can be designed for lower bandwidth but it takes more time to deploy and maintain than a single responsive site.
With recent advances in skin and template design there are a number of factors in favor of a responsive design as the best solution. Responsive designs can now dynamically alter the information architecture to provide a custom layout for mobile devices and reduce mobile bandwidth by using images and elements designed for smaller screens, or by entirely hiding specific elements like banner rotators. In 2013 look for more clarity in the direction companies should take picking their mobile strategy. Enterprises that don’t already have a mobile learning presence are behind the curve and need to choose a strategy and make it happen.
“In 2013 look for more clarity in the direction companies should take picking their mobile strategy.”
Agility and Extensibility
In a competitive economy businesses need to keep abreast of technology and limit the replacement of infrastructure. The trend ahead will be a move to solutions that are easily scalable, extensible and customizable. Scalability is the ability to handle a large volume of users and learning content, multi-tenant portals and web farm support. Extensibility depends on the number of different feature extensions (modules) that can be added to a portal. Customizable refers to the ability to configure the portal to suit your business needs and audience. This includes the site appearance, architecture and template support for the UI layout. In all of these respects, LMS that are built on open framework content management systems (CMS) have a distinct advantage over LMS that are built on closed, proprietary portal technology.
Look for social tools to become more localized this year. There will be a greater utilization of more specialized, intimate and secure social networks. Successful training sites must be able to quickly update learning content, create targeted news articles and HTML content in addition to providing easy interaction opportunities for customers, vendors and employees alike. Look for the social component to expand this year as companies begin to recognize the bottom line impact of social engagement. With an active social experience on the website companies can foster team building, peer assisted training and promote their products to vendors and customers. Social conversations create a feedback loop that can provide valuable insight into the concerns and desires of your staff and customers.
“Look for the social component to expand this year as companies begin to appreciate the bottom line impact of social engagement.”
The User Experience
An effective LMS delivers a seamless online experience to your users. Administrators want simple and robust tools so that they can manage their training quickly and effectively. Learners want an intuitive user interface so that they can find what they are looking for and accomplish what they need to do. LMSs have grown more complicated over time. In the past few years, an increasing amount of technical development has been put into refactoring the UI to improve the ease of use. In 2013, look for a simplified user experience without a loss in functionality. Also look for trends such as drag and drop functionality, customizable templates and responsive layouts to become more prevalent.
“In 2013, look for a simplified user experience without a loss in functionality.”
Expect more LMS utilization to be hosted Software as a Service (SaaS). The bottom line drives nearly every business decision. SaaS saves you time and money – no IT overhead, no servers to buy, no software to install, test or back up, no third party license costs and no maintenance costs. You pay a single annual subscription based on the number of users and the LMS vendor takes care of the setup and maintenance. Applications are updated automatically, so customers don’t need to bother with installations or updates. SaaS solutions can be up and running in days instead of months. With a single coding language used throughout the application and companion modules there is no need to purchase, install and glue together disparate applications. Traffic spikes can cause company-hosted websites to suffer when the server processing or network bandwidth gets saturated. SaaS servers have the horse power and nearly unlimited bandwidth to deliver what you want, when you want it.
“The bottom line drives nearly every business decision. SaaS saves you time and money.”
Simple. Smart. Affordable.
Accord LMS is one of the most robust, extensible and cost effective platforms in the LMS industry. A state of the art responsive design allows you to present your content appropriately to PC, iPad and mobile devices. The intuitive Learner interface is template driven – you have total control over the layout and presentation. Quickly build your course catalog with familiar drag and drop tools. Accord is one of the few LMS built upon an enterprise class CMS framework with hundreds of application extensions available such as social tools, eCommerce and news articles. The framework provides complete portal infrastructure including web farm support with load balancing. It can handle over a million users and over 3000 privately branded multi-tenant portals off of a single installation. The Accord Team can focus on LMS feature enhancement. This winning combination results in one of the most robust, extensible and cost effective platforms in the LMS industry.
“The Accord LMS is one of the most robust, extensible and cost effective platforms in the LMS industry”