A resource from the leaders in simulation training.

Welcome back, Troubleshooters! Thanks for joining us again on TST. If you haven’t been able to tune in recently, we’ve just finished a three-part series on leadership and employee development in manufacturing. If you’re a manufacturing executive responsible for cultivating leadership or hard skills in your staff, you’ll want to check it out. 

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be examining the latest developments in manufacturing training. We’ll be looking at leading-edge trends such as microlearning, collaborative learning, gamification, and simulation-based learning. Today, in Part 1, we’re leading off with learning management systems.

What is a learning management system?

Learning management systems (LMSs), as we know them today, first began to surface in the 1990s in response to the development of online distance learning. Also known as training administration technology, a learning management system is a computer software application or platform that allows an organization to administer, document, track, and report on web-based training courses. Many LMSs also allow for course and student monitoring, content creation and management, course delivery, assessment, and more. LMSs are continually evolving and incorporating new features every year, e.g., artificial intelligence to personalize the student experience, simulations, gamification, microlearning, and mobile learning.

Although LMSs were originally developed for the higher educational e-learning environment, they have become fundamental tools for corporate training as well. Because they are computer-based, LMSs can capture data from all aspects of the training and learning process.

Not training is not an option

Remember—an LMS is a way of delivering and administering training content. However you intend to deliver your training, there’s no doubt that training is a necessity. A recent Axonify survey found:

  • 81% of employees report that training helps them feel more engaged at work; and
  • 76% say that an employer who offers training that will prepare them for the future makes that employer more attractive.

In the current economy, the labor shortage and skills gap have given rise to stiff competition for workers, and the need to equip them with the appropriate skill set. Companies that offer professional development opportunities have a 34% higher retention rate and their employees are 15% more engaged. Manufacturing businesses that want to survive are going to have to attract workers, retain them, and mold them into the workforce they need.

Why use an LMS?

Although there is definitely a cost to adopting an LMS, it has to be balanced against the benefits. Here are just a few reasons some organizations opt for an LMS:

  1. Reduced training costs. Using an LMS for corporate e-learning has been estimated to reduce training costs by 25% to 40% over traditional training methods because of the ability to deliver e-learning content. Training your staff via e-learning means you don’t have to have maintain dedicated instruction sites, or pick up the tab for airfares, hotels, meals, etc., to send your staff to an offsite training facility. Some or all of it can be done remotely from any computer.  Traditional forms of manufacturing training can also be disruptive to production, because production line staff have to take time off of work to attend classes. Online course delivery doesn’t require a fixed schedule and can be completed whenever it works for the trainee. And you don’t have to hire temps to fill in.  Using an LMS also significantly relieves the administrative burden. You can train more people with fewer administrators because the LMS can manage courses, catalogs, waiting lists, and even reassign courses when it’s time to upgrade or refresh learning or when certificates are expiring, so it helps keep everyone in compliance with the latest regulations.
  1. Data. Web-based learning software, like any other software, generates data. Companies that are data-driven realize that the information from tracking employee training progress can provide valuable metrics such as rate of completion, progress and performance, and knowledge and competency, and ultimately can be used to determine the LMS’s ROI.
  1. Bite-sized learning on demand. We’ll be talking about microlearning more in weeks to come, but one thing that an LMS lets you do is deliver content in small, easily digested chunks right when they are needed. For example, the LMS can be set up to deliver brief, specific, and interactive teaching at points in the workflow where most people get stuck. Small chunks of information delivered right at the moment the student needs (and therefore is open to) them are more easily learned and retained than if they are tucked away inside a long lecture or document.
  1. Centralized learning environment. For large corporations with a substantial training program and multiple instructors, an LMS ensures that everyone receives the same content and standard of training and passes the same level of competency testing, regardless of the differing abilities or styles of the instructors.
  1. Interoperability. Learning management systems with Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) can communicate with external systems such as third-party educational applications, allowing for seamless plug-and-play integration.

Before you buy…

Manufacturers who are considering implementing training programs on LMS (or any other delivery method) must remember that in a business, learning can’t just be for learning’s sake—it must contribute to the bottom line. If you go the LMS route, in addition to all of the other features it offers, your chosen system must be able to generate metrics that measure the effect the training is having on your business.

That’s all for today, Troubleshooters! Tune in again next week as we continue our series on manufacturing training trends.

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