The learning management system (LMS) has had a good run. Although the first LMS-like platforms can be traced back to the 1970s, it wasn’t until the early 1990s that the kind of platforms we would recognise began to appear. Since then, there’s been an explosion in the number and variety of LMS options, with some estimates putting the number of platforms on the market today at some 650-700!
Still, not everyone remains a fan of the LMS. As Lars Hyland, our General Manager - EMEA, noted in a recent article, there have been vociferous assertions over the last few years that the ‘LMS is dead’. Indeed, some have called for the L&D sector to move on from the LMS completely in favour of other options. What those are, however, remains unclear.
We think that this approach throws out the baby with the metaphorical bathwater - a view backed up by industry expert John Leh:
“Instead of dismissing the LMS altogether, I think people mean to say that they have had it with big, boring, complex, expensive, talent management LMS systems that look like databases, are socially unaware and ignore informal learning.”
Historically, too many vendors have overemphasised the management of learning, often to the detriment of learners. At Totara, we’re in the business of building and supporting innovative open source learning technologies. These enable our partners to help subscribers manage, develop, and connect their people. We believe that it’s always about the learning which is why we support truly blended learning experiences, with great flexibility in the ways learning can be reported.
You may have noticed that we've been busy rebranding our core offering to ‘Totara Learn’ (from 'Totara LMS'). Here’s three reasons why we’ve decided to take this step:
- The term ‘LMS’ carries negative baggage. It’s time to look to the future, not the past.
- We’re moving beyond a single platform. Our new offerings take us into the realms of social and informal learning.
- Learning platforms are here to stay. We need to come up with new terms to describe new, exciting innovations in the sector. To do so, we have to give them the freedom to flourish.
Alongside Totara Learn, we already provide Totara Social, an open source enterprise social network (ESN) designed to manage and connect your people to the knowledge and resources within your organisation. Over the next few months, we’ll be augmenting these with additional offerings - along with a brand refresh and the revitalisation of our community. It may take a while to remove mentions of ‘LMS’ from the thousands of web pages that mention Totara, but in doing so we hope to demonstrate our commitment to not only growing along with the sector, but helping to lead it.
If you’d like a demo of Totara Learn or Totara Social, please do get in touch with one of our partners! They’d be delighted to show you the power and flexibility open source solutions can offer.