One of the most challenging aspects of running an effective corporate learning program has always been the fast obsolescence of e-learning materials and methods. The surge of information technology (IT) advancements in recent years has led to an environment where the best tools available for any given operation can change overnight. This environment drives competition and rewards the companies that use technologies that can teach employees new skills that keep them up to date as the field changes around them.
No matter what industry you are in, the effect has been clear, even if you provide simple forms of training, like education about employee benefits and enrollment. Traditional meetings and dedicated enrollment counseling sessions eventually turned into incorporate online tutorials and digital courses for employees to explore and manage their options with electronic tools. Today’s learning management systems (LMSs) go further, giving learning and development (L&D) managers the ability to provide services such as one-on-one troubleshooting within learning modules.
Today’s LMS can effectively future-proof your training, providing you with a more secure investment in your L&D tools and a path to regular updates that keep your content on the cutting edge. The advent of popular open source platforms enable greater customization, flexibility and interoperability with your organization’s most important systems.
What Are the Benefits of an Open Source LMS?
Some LMS options are proprietary, or closed source. With closed source LMSs, you are restricted to the features and functionalities made available and must customize branded materials using a limited menu of options. This approach limits which e-learning tools, custom content, analytics and other elements you’re able to incorporate into your training program. Open source LMSs, on the other hand, provide several benefits:
Open source technology uses code that’s freely available to developers. Their basic configuration is technically free, and your investment is in customization and delivery. Opting for an open solution is, therefore, more affordable, because you can focus your resources on the development of an effective learning environment rather than supporting an out-of-the-box solution that can’t fully meet your specific training needs.
Whether your organization has offices in one location, across countries or solely online, a flexible platform is crucial to meeting learning and development goals. Within a single organization, there are often many departments or programs using a single LMS, each in a different manner but within the same overall structure. Due to their limitations and proprietary software, closed source systems typically struggle to meet the varying needs of the different subsets of an organization’s population.
Open source LMS solutions offer flexibility when it comes to configuring your learning platform. Workplace learning can be more effective, engaging and impactful when you’re able to build a solution tailored to meet your organizational goals and customized to location, department and even employee. You can also update open source programs with new features and services as you go, which is where future-proofing comes in. Since you can customize the source code, you can easily add new features through free plugins or third-party providers. The same goes for updating your content to keep the material in your learning modules fresh.
If you want to make sure your LMS is ready for the future, you need more than the ability to add features. You need it to play well with other systems, enabling you to integrate with your other essential solutions in order to streamline and organize training data. Open source solutions work well with outside programs, and they’re designed with open product ecosystems in mind.
As your organization grows and evolves, your learning programs need to evolve with it. Whether you’re expanding to new territories or incorporating new roles, tools or policies, your platform should be malleable to the most current learning needs of your organization and powerful enough to accommodate changes for years to come.
Looking Ahead: How Future-proof Is “Future-proof”?
When we think about investments in training materials, it’s common to talk about months instead of years. But the fact is, any system will eventually need a fundamental overhaul. The reason open source options are considered future-proof is that they can be updated without losing what came before.
If the time comes to build a new environment from the ground up, if you have an open source LMS, your developers can easily integrate the useful content from the prior build into a customized version of the new platform. It will be easy to keep evolving your materials and the methods you use to deliver them, without having to reinvent the wheel.
There are several choices for open source learning management systems today. When paired with an e-learning partner that can work with any of your systems to build in the content you want, these platforms can provide scalable, interoperable and future-proof e-learning and training programs for your organization.