Last week, Digitec moderated a lively session at the Learning Solutions 10 Conference in Orlando, sponsored by the eLearning Guild.

The session was an open forum to discuss the features that a “Learning Management System of the Future” might have. As the scribe for this session, I organized the session feedback and brainstorming into these main areas.

1. Talent Management – the group recognized the fact that there is a large group of “Baby Boomers” about to hit retirement age. How will the next generation workforce be developed, when mentors and coaches are dwindling? Talent Management was seen as a way for workers to be assigned to profiles, which document their learning needs, then track their progress and development, tailoring new learning as they progress in the organization and in their role assignments. These features should enable administrators to use the LMS for succession planning and resource management, as well.

2. Social Networking – since an estimated 70% of what we learn occurs “on the job” from our peers, eLearning is the perfect candidate for social networking. The features could include SMS texting to pose questions and get answers, instantly, as well as integration with Twitter to broadcast and receive real-time answers, globally. While there are corporate network security issues to be resolved, social networking was a “must have” on the list for the future.

3. Content Management – with information constantly changing, rapid eLearning “content” creation was high on the list, but this content still needs to be managed. This function really transforms the LMS into a Learning Content Management System (LCMS). The LCMS will need to centralize and track this content, so that as changes occur and eLearning is updated, those changes can be filtered across versioned content delivered through mobile devices, within performance support systems, wikis, etc. In addition, the “LMS” of the Future will need to address change management, so that as content changes, these downstream instances can be found and updated as well. This approach was thought to help address the problem of “silos of content” that become difficult to manage within an enterprise.

4. Workflow Management – there was much discussion on the process of creating eLearning and how a future LMS might be able to facilitate that process. The discussion led to features that would enable reviewers and subject matter experts (SMEs) to be assigned courses, while in development. This role would have the ability to review course content, then insert comments on a screen as well as potentially make the content changes, themselves, following a “wiki” style of editorial control. The LMS could also support more real-time collaboration, where comments are viewed by all reviewers, tracked and approved more quickly and easily.

5. eLearning and Performance Support – the LMS of the future might also reflect a new model for learning that incorporates both eLearning instruction and performance support, so that eLearning modules might allow you to perform a job or create a product during the instruction. This would be the ultimate constructivist learning approach.

6. Mobile Learning – even today, more and more LMSs are supporting smart phones, providing alternative versions of online eLearning that can be taken on a mobile device. Again, this implies a Learning “Content” Management System (LCMS) approach, where eLearning content is available in a variety of portable formats and platforms.

While there were many more features discussed, there appeared to be general consensus within these six categories — now comes the fun part for us developers – making this future vision a reality.

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