Organizational Learning: The Use of an LMS to promote e-Learning
in an Organization
North Carolina State University
EAC 582 – Organization and Operation of Training and Development Programs
December 4, 2009
Organizational Learning: The Use of an LMS to promote e-Learning in an Organization
E-Learning has made it possible for organizations to enable, extend, and enhance learning to millions of workers worldwide. A learning management system (LMS) is a software application or Web-based technology used to plan, implement, and assess a specific learning process. Typically, a learning management system provides a Learning and Development department with a way to create and deliver content, monitor student participation, and assess student performance. Learning activities in an LMS may include instructor-led training classes, webinars, job aids and dozens of e-learning modules addressing the full gamut of professional and personal development – from running a meeting and leading teams, strategy development, to time management and technical skills. A learning management system can provide students with the ability to use interactive features such as threaded discussions, video conferencing, and discussion forums. Research by Bersin & Associates shows that in 2009, more than 70% of large companies have an LMS in place (Bersin, Howard, O’Leonard, & Mallon, 2009).
A successful Learning and Development team should spend a significant amount of time and resources on marketing e-Learning via the learning management system to its audience (the organization). The primary goal is to increase engagement and excitement around learning, while more specific goals include driving traffic to the learning management system (LMS) to get the maximum value from the investment in technology. In this paper, we will discuss the use of a learning management system (LMS) to promote e-learning in organizations in regards to change management in the implementation phase and the resulting impact on the organization.
E-learning of any type represents a change. Even though it might be as simple as the replacement of an instructor-led class with an online course or an Excel spreadsheet with an elaborate LMS, it still is a change in the organization. Learners used to instructors often resent having to learn from a computer, and trainers who feel valued for their instructional skills often feel threatened. Managers who have always controlled the access to training and information often feel undermined when learners can access learning resources anytime and anywhere. The organization assumes that it knows what’s good for the learners. The organizations themselves do not change – people (learners, managers, and colleagues) change (Dublin, 2006). People rather than processes are the central focus of any successful change management and communication approach (Steel, 2005). Change management is the discipline of managing people through the specific transition that the change represents. It is about communication and exchange, dialogue and questions, attitudes and behaviors, leadership and support (Dublin, 2006). Barry Oshry talks about system blindness that some organizations may have whether it be spatial, temporal, relational, process, and uncertainty (2007). He states that our consciousness is shaped by the structure and processes of the systems we are in. Having this system blindness can impair the organization as it tries to undergo the change.
What can organizations do to encourage change and promoting learning? Oshry (2007) suggests engaging senior leaders, “Tops” in communicating the changes. A firm communication plan has to be put into place from the “Tops” to the “Middles” to the “Bottoms”. Author Lance Dublin identifies three cyclic stages of change communications that an organization must go through: inform, involve, and...