The History of LMS and the Future of Learning | Cornerstone
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The History of LMS and the Future of Learning

Over the past 20 years, learning management systems, or LMS, have evolved by leaps and bounds. Rapid advances in technology, changes in workplace habits and new trends are changing the future of learning.

Why eLearning has caught on

Today, LMS have become an effective way for organizations to encourage the training and development of employees, as well as save money and boost productivity. According to one IBM study, companies using learning technology have seen a 16 percent increase in customer satisfaction. They have also reported an estimated 10 percent increase in productivity when teams are well trained.

Use of learning management systems is widespread and will continue to grow as more and more companies adopt them. According to an IBIS Capital study, 41.7 percent of Global Fortune 500 companies currently use eLearning. Additionally, B2B research firm MarketsandMarkets reports that the LMS market is expected to nearly triple within five years, from $5.22 billion in 2016 to $15.72 billion by 2021.

The early years of LMS

Companies began to use learning management systems to train employees about two decades ago, according to Everwise. Early LMS were modeled on higher education eLearning platforms with instructor-led courses and defined class modules.

Originally, learning and development and HR professionals used eLearning to track their employees' training and compliance. Employees learned from CD-ROMs and online classes during this initial period, filling out brief feedback forms on completion of their courses. When they began, eLearning systems were called "talent platforms." Over time, they adapted more and more to the increasingly digital world.

A changing learning management system

In the early 2000s, learning management systems were built on the Sharable Content Object Reference Model, or SCORM, which was used to track the completion of eLearning courses.

In 2013, the X-API specification emerged, and eLearning began to adopt X-API as well. It enabled learning and development professionals to produce detailed pictures of the tools employees were utilizing in their learning and allowed many learning systems to communicate at once. It also kept track of employee learning both online and offline. For example, it could collect data on in-person workshops as well as courses taken on mobile devices.

What the LMS looks like now

Today, the learning management system has continued to adapt to technology and employees' needs by going mobile.

According to one survey by CareerBuilder, more than eight in 10 workers have smartphones, and 82 percent of smartphone users keep their devices in view while at work. Sixty-six percent of employees use their phones at least several times per day while at work.

Since LMS have gone mobile, employees can complete courses at their leisure on their smartphones both at work and out of the office. The whole learning experience is mobile-friendly and keeps employees engaged even while they are away from the office.

The future of learning and LMS

In the latest L&D Global Sentiment Survey for 2017, employee management professionals around the world report that the biggest trend in L&D is personalization and adaptive learning.

More and more, learning management systems are collecting data on users and delivering them personalized content and courses. They are using machine learning to improve suggestions and adapt to employees' individual needs. The goal is to augment employee performance by delivering training in a way that is tailored specifically to them.

The learning management system has become smarter over the years, but its objective has always remained the same: to make sure workers are sufficiently trained for their jobs and encourage them to strive for more knowledge.
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