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The Advantages and Drawbacks of Learning Management Systems

April 10 2012 - When businesses implement learning management systems (LMS) the biggest factors influencing their decision are:

  • Improving training
  • Streamlining processes
  • Cost savings
What Exactly is a Learning Management System?

A LMS is a tool used for documenting, tracking and reporting on training programs in a bid to increase employee efficiency and productivity.

To give you an idea of LMS functions, a LMS can be used to enable human resource departments to track the costs of training employees. It integrates this data with other data associated with recruiting, talent management and succession planning. Having such data collected and reported automatically can result in significant administrative cost savings.

Advantages of a LMS
Streamline, Save Time

The data collection features of a LMS can free up the time and concentration of trainers, allowing them to spend more time helping trainees individually.

A LMS should have a feature that can instantly report to a trainer which trainees are having trouble grasping a concept, and why they are having trouble understanding it.

This allows the trainer to quickly address each individual trainee’s difficulty, making the training more effective overall. If class participation is an important part of training, a LMS can track how often an individual trainee participates in chat rooms.

This frees the instructor to concentrate on the content and quality of the participation, rather than having to keep tallies of how much each student participates in class.

Bang For Your Buck

The costs of purchasing and using a LMS can soon be recovered. Savings can be incurred on physical space in which to hold trainings, printed materials, the time of the trainer and trainees, and collecting data.

The administrative costs associated with scheduling classes or training sessions can also be eliminated or greatly reduced by using a LMS. Both trainers and trainees can participate in training as long as they have Internet access.

They can usually participate in training on their own time. Productivity does not need to be lost because workers need to be scheduled for training. A LMS can offer one point of access for trainees, meaning that they can contact their trainer, download reading material or videos, and take tests simply by logging in to the LMS. 

Drawbacks of a LMS
Online vs. In The Flesh

The biggest drawback of using a LMS is that many aspects of training and many things that need to be learned do not lend themselves to online learning. Many jobs require the acquisition of a physical skill, which cannot be easily learned or tested online.

A person can view diagrams of how to apply a tourniquet online, but they need to demonstrate their ability to an instructor in real-time before they can be allowed to apply tourniquets on real patients.

Many aspects of salesmanship have to do with facial expressions, body language and other forms of interpersonal communication. Some of these can be learned through online materials, but sales trainers probably like to do most of their training by demonstrating their abilities in front of prospects or having trainees listen to sales calls on the telephone. A sales trainer will not know if a trainee has learned how to sell until he or she closes a sale.

The Tunnel Effect

Another drawback to using a LMS is that it may give trainees tunnel vision. They may not consider learning opportunities outside of the LMS. If they are taking their training online at home, they may not realize that they can learn a great deal in the break room or in the corridor simply by talking to coworkers or asking questions of senior managers.

A LMS cannot easily incorporate informal learning through networking or mentoring. An LMS may not always be able to accommodate different learning styles. Some trainers are considered good trainers because they know how to present material in a classroom. Their dynamism or charisma may not always come across in an online video.

LMS Best Practices

LMSs can bring great value to businesses and their employees but there’s a fine line between a useful implementation and a botched one. The key is to have ongoing interactions with those using the system both on and offline. Social media tools or even a company intranet can be a valuable means of getting feedback about the system. A LMS can be utilized with any size of business and is extremely successful when it comes to getting the most out of employees.

About the author

John C. Stevens works with a market research firm that specializes in issues related to education and the business of education. He splits his time between conducting specialized telephone interviews with educators and supervising a phone room. His experience in the education system has given him deep insight into the effectiveness of Learning Management Systems provided by Talent Management companies. If you would like to read more about Mr. Stevens you can visit his blog at



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