Technology has affected learning professionals for many decades.
In the early days, we had slide projectors so we built plastic foils to draw and explain ideas. Then came PCs, and we built slide presentations with graphics and charts for learning. With the CD-ROM, we built interactive graphics, full-motion video and gamified learning. After the Internet came along, we had Adobe Flash, a tool to build animations, simulations and even more interesting interactivities.
The learning management industry, which is more than $3 billion in size — and growing 20 percent per year — tries to keep up with all the tools we use to build and deliver content. Every time a new technologycomes along, we find new ways to use it, manage it and track it for learning.
Today, we carry around devices that can capture high-quality streaming content, and the changes taking place in learning are the most disruptive, transformational and potentially exciting ever. Video, for instance, is nearly ubiquitous. We can see it in nearly every device, publication and communication medium available.
YouTube statistics show more than a billion people regularly watch video, and the number of hours spent watching video rose 60 percent in the last year alone. More than 2 billion people have video-enabled smartphones, and video now makes up 64 percent of Internet traffic on mobile phones. Our children share video on Snapchat and Facebook the way we used to share email, and nearly every magazine and media company has built video channels to make it easier to watch news.
In the learning industry, companies like BigThink, General Academy, Khan Academy, Pluralsight, Skillsoft, Udacity and Udemy produce thousands of hours of high-quality instructional video — much of it authored by experts, not instructors — which is easy to find, use and absorb on the Internet.
But, as we’ve seen in past technology evolutions, this rapid adoption of new technology has left learning management system platform providers scrambling. While there are more than 300 LMS vendors in the market, according to Bersin by Deloitte 2015 LMS research, the majority are focused on traditional training management; only a few have come to grips with user and corporate needs for video-based learning.
Consider some of the issues we now face:
- How do we rapidly develop and publish video for fast and easy use?
- How do we tag content easily and make it discoverable?
- How do we recommend video to users based on their profile and activity?
- How do we track usage of video, bookmark video and create interactivities and branching?
- What types of video are best for learning? Comedy? Experts? Teachers online?
- How do we protect copyright and other possible rights violations as we snap videos at work all day?
- How do we arrange and manage video for serious professional development and career growth?
- How do we create a user experience that is as easy and compelling as a consumer website or TV set?
Most of these problems are being solved — or have been solved — by massive consumer Internet companies already, yet they barely exist in corporate learning platforms because LMS vendors are scrambling to catch up. Workday’s new market entry focuses on this area; Skillsoft is announcing a variety of new video options in its platforms; Oracle announced a new video-based LMS; SAP is evolving its video platforms and opening up application programming interfaces to massive open online courses.
Will today’s LMS be left behind? Or will it adapt and evolve like the chameleon it has been for years? I suggest that disruption is here, and new vendors like Degreed, Pathgather, Wisetail and even Workday may change the LMS market in a major way.
Will video kill the LMS as we know it? Probably not, but vendors who don’t focus in this area will likely fall behind. Those of us who build learning solutions have to push for the products and technologies we need. I look forward to watching this market evolve as video becomes a central part of our learning lives.
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