As social learning continues to grow, LMS/LCMS vendors are taking various approaches. While some view themselves as "social learning" savvy, incorporating various components, others seem to see themselves as just sitting on the sidelines.
Equally interesting, is that those who incorporate it, for the most part, are re-treading the same components as others, which when you consider the marketplace, makes no sense, especially in the current economic times.
LMS/LCMS vendors are following one of three approaches when it comes to social learning
In any other market, the goal is to be number one, yet for whatever reason, in this market when it comes to social learning, there are a significant number of vendors, who would rather just sit on the sidelines. While, I can understand vendors who would rather not offer a "talent management or performance management" option, the decision to ignore social learning, is strange.
It is not as though, social learning is going to disappear. Nor is it likely that social media types are going to vanish off the planet. If you are trying to be a global player, and people are accessing from everywhere, why ignore the collaboration, content generating, communication sharing approach?
The idea that only 20 somethings, are interested in this feature is plain nonsense. Let's set the record straight on a couple of details
Now, tell me where are the "young crowd" on this data?
When so many potential customers are seeing the advantages of open source, creating their own learning or VLE portals or seeing the value of various social media types and incorporating them into some type of social learning community, the "do nothing" spin is well, a time warp into the past. The days are gone, when everyone is going to use a LMS. Time for these vendors to wake up, or see your audience share disappear.
Stick your feet into the water, just a bit
There is a mid segment of the vendors in the LMS/LCMS or learning portal markets that offer some features of social learning, as part of their standard system or as their "add on modules".
They do not want to jump into the water, for fear I of the social learning shark. They offer the repetitive features of what they deem to be social learning
Some offer a "YouTube" like feature, where people can upload videos and others can comment on it. Others offer a pseudo app share offering - where people can upload documents, pdfs, PowerPoints and other group members can download them or view them or both - it is basically a COP (community of practice) wrapped as social learning.
I have seen enough vendors that actually offer this fine package to their end users and think they have hit the social learning ball out of the park:
Then they charge extra for amazing features like
Jump right in and just start swimming
Not only do the offer all the above, excluding the forum, pure text chat room with no web conferencing - see the person in real time, and often the discussion board with threads; they add various other cool features - slick social media types and in some cases, really scream - "innovator"
What is missing
Here are the basics
Taking it to the next level
Just a few options, by no means the entire kitchen sink
Social Learning Systems or Social Learning Management Systems
There are two (that I know of), who pitch themselves as a Social Learning Management System. They are heavy into social learning with the standard features of a LMS.
The two are:
Social Learning Systems
It would be great to see a system identify themselves as a Social Learning System, with no LMS features. Pure 100% social learning. Think it is impossible? Think again. With so many social media types out there, open source code (thus any one can build one), and the on-going growth of new social media capabilities coming out every day; it would change the industry. Oh, 100% standalone and not integrated into a LMS.
Mzinga's OmniSocial product sort of fits the build, but it lacks some components, to what I see as a true system, specifically 100% standalone, since it can also be integrated into a LMS or used in their own LMS.
In The Cloud - zinged into your Learning Portal or even a social networking site or group
If you want to add courses, you can - BUT it is done via the cloud. Thus you create your courses via your own authoring tool and upload them into the cloud. Then wherever you are, the are launched within the cloud. No need to have a LMS. You can also build courses within the cloud and launch - FB page, social networking site, Wordpress blog, learning portal, etc.
I will admit that the one of the best products I have seen this year, does what I am listing above - SCORM Cloud. I rarely recommend 100%, a product, but I will on this one. It is that amazing. The courses are tested in their system to verify they meet the SCORM requirements; plus the system works and their own content authoring tool works with SCORM 1.2, 2004 3rd edition. As I said before this is a game changer.
I am reminded of a poem by John Donne, "No Man is an Island". The poem's meaning is that people cannot thrive when isolated. Social learning eliminates this isolation. So, for those LMS systems that decided on standing on the sidelines or just barely putting their feet into the water, it will not be your learners, but yourselves that will be isolated.
Isn't a free marketplace, great?
by Craig Weiss, E-Learning 24/7 (www.elearninfo.com)
** Guest Blogger **
To see the social LMS, TOPYX, in action - request a demonstration of TOPYX. Visit http://www.interactyx.com/eLearning/Request-Information.html.