Today’s most successful organizations understand the importance of professional development and delivering workplace learning throughout the entirety of the employee life cycle. Training managers within these organizations have learned to pay attention to the evolving technologies, trends and strategies in learning and development (L&D). They stay on top of the best methods for training employees in new procedures, disseminating mission-critical information, and ensuring every employee has access to the resources needed to continue being highly effective in his or her role and to help reach and exceed organizational goals.

Even at its most basic, training is still your best method for onboarding and teaching processes related to new equipment, safety regulations or complex client requirements. Powerful mentoring and professional development programs also help build careers, providing opportunities to invest in candidates at a phase where they can be supported as they grow into a leadership role.

Having an effective L&D program is all about staying on top of the current trends in the field, using the best e-learning tools available, and updating your approach as learner needs change and better methods become available. If you’re looking to bring your e-learning program up to speed, you’ll need to know these four trends that support today’s most effective training programs.

1. The Evolving Role of the Learning Management System

Traditional approaches to workplace learning used to be minimal. They required employees to complete courses that covered basic organization or industry information and regulations or to earn certifications demonstrating knowledge in a certain task or skill. Only a couple decades ago, almost all professional learning consisted of instructor-led training conducted in a classroom or on the job.

Early remote coursework was mostly self-guided, and it wasn’t available for every topic. That meant the most dominant form of learning in the workplace was the classroom, with employees often opting into training seminars or professional development outside of working hours to improve their skill sets on the job. This approach limited access as well as the expectations employers could place on employee participation.

As the online classroom became more viable, the field pivoted, both in corporate training and in higher education. New innovations in technology quickly emerged, introducing video seminars, webinars and other forms of synchronized, participatory learning.

Today, the dominant form is the asynchronous learning environment provided by a modern learning management system (LMS). Learning management systems introduced the ability to design educational materials on industry-specific topics that addressed the needs of the organization. From benefits enrollment to management theory to how to perform specific tasks on the job, the LMS has become organizations’ hub for professional education, giving teams access to courses, resources and training programs to complete on their own time.

Open-source learning management systems have come to be the natural environment for these materials because of their ability to host a variety of media, link to outside resources, track progress, provide extensive learner and course analytics, and much more. They also generally include options for live formats as needed. As such, the LMS provides larger organizations with a single investment that they can use to structure learning programs for any department, in any location.

2. Leveraging Reporting and Analytics Has Never Been More Important

Reporting and analytics help L&D managers evaluate how they are impacting team members’ knowledge, morale and performance. This data helps you tailor your methods to the approaches that work best for different topics, so you can provide the best training programs possible to your employees.

And the data you gather through your LMS related to participation, progress, and course or learner success? Not only does it help you continuously improve your learning programs and training efforts, but it’s also important for quantifying the return on your investment in L&D products. When you can affirm that programs run through the LMS are effective, it’s easier to make the case for expanding the company’s investment in professional development.

3. Platforms Are Becoming More Service-rich

As users and designers come to realize the possibilities of the LMS, providers are incorporating more and more services in order to fully leverage their capabilities. For many organizations, the LMS is just one of a number of solutions they support within their learning ecosystem.

With a service-heavy approach, administrators can relieve themselves of the burden of researching and teaching themselves back-end systems processes that an expert vendor can manage and execute for them, allowing them to focus more time and energy on creating learning content and supporting their end users through all elements of the learning ecosystem. A fully managed support model can cover all aspects of the LMS, including implementation, cloud hosting, management, customization and support, leaving the heavy lifting to expert developers and digital learning professionals.

The right vendor can also help you assess and select the tools that will meet your specific needs. This trusted expert, whom can consider your entire learning ecosystem, can ultimately positively impact your bottom line when you invest in a comprehensive solution.

4. A Best-of-breed Learning Strategy Has Never Been More Possible (and Necessary)

With all the services at your instructional designers’ fingertips and the analytics, research and support available to facilitate positive engagement cycles when employees move through coursework, implementing a best-of-breed learning strategy has never been easier. The right content and learning modules have become more accessible and easier to integrate into your current e-learning strategy, making it easier than ever to effectively train your team and retain your top talent. By using an open-source learning platform rather than a rigid, out-of-the-box, proprietary LMS, you can unlock the flexibility you need to create a best-of-breed learning ecosystem — all tracked, organized and streamlined in one place.

If these four trends seem interconnected, it’s because they are. Considering each when evaluating your training programs can help you create effective, engaging and future-proof learning programs to meet the needs of every team in your organization. With their robust flexibility, open source learning platforms lend themselves well to accommodating these four workplace learning trends. They’re also able to adapt to meet future trends so that your training program can continue moving in the right direction: toward long-term employee and organizational success.