An aside on LMS

In the same way that “value proposition” is often more proposition than value, “learning management systems” are often more management than learning.

Jane Bozarth briefly notes two other definitions for LMS:

  • Learning Means Sitting (Will Thalheimer)
  • Lecture Management System (Mark Oehlert)

Nothing in an LMS requires that the organization continue running the Little Corporate Schoolhouse, only with more and faster reports — but then, nothing in the concept of representative government requires that your state legislature be filled with lawyers, land developers, and once-and-future lobbyists.

Bug, or feature?

The lecture comment leaps out at me. I think many people have unexamined assumptions about words — we think that everyone understands the word the way we do.

If you disagree, read a couple blog posts and, each time you see “podcast,” substitute “portable lecture.” (TED Lectures?)

If we understand “lecture” as “someone talking while we have to listen,” then, usually, it’s not a good way to learn. Especially because in this conception the focus is on the delivery.

Portable lecturesWith “podcast,” we somehow shift from delivery to what happens once the package arrives. It is a portable lecture, and that’s part of its value: I can chose where and when to listen; I can back up or skip or drop out. I’m fitting the content into my personal network of connections.

I can’t do that easily with traditional lecture, a one-time, one-place event. That’s maybe a strong argument for not calling lecture-style content (in an LMS, or elsewhere) “lecture.”

Shakespeare the highway engineer might have asked, “What’s in a lane? That which we call a road by any other name would be a street.” Sometimes, though, the way we talk about something matters… especially if our coworkers and clients, when they hear a word like “training” or “LMS,” think of something that looks a lot like high school, but with less flirting and more coffee.

Podcast image by Oliver Hartmann.