Of all commercial LMSs, I probably have the most hands-on experience with GeoLearning‘s various products and services having managed an enterprise implementation several years ago. It was a multi-phase implementation (LMS, LCMS, Talent Management) that went off pretty smooth and the team at GeoLearning was great to work with. I found them very responsive even when I was a giant pain in the ass. I’ve been to their beautiful home office in West Des Moines, Iowa but didn’t get a chance to meet Will Hipwell who is GeoLearning’s Senior Vice President, Marketing & Product Management at that time although I’ve communicated with him by email many, many times. (I will always think of Will as “Super Will” because of my ‘super’ phase after watching ‘Superbad’ the movie and the super way that he picked up on that in our correspondence).
Anyway, GeoLearning’s LMS is pretty super too (AWESOME transition, huh?). Actually, it kick’s some ass and I talked to Will about that. Continuing my series of email interviews about LMSs that are doing innovative things with social media, here’s the scoop on what GeoLearning is up to.
Q: What social media tools is GeoLearning incorporating into their LMS?
A: Will Hipwell- GeoLearning’s GeoEngage module facilitates Communities of Practice (CoPs), enables social networking, and provides access to Web 2.0 technologies like Chat, instant messaging, email, file sharing and uploading, resource library, blogging, wikis, discussion groups and RSS feeds. These are all integrated with our LMS platform so that informal learning can still be tracked, managed and measured as easily as more formal training programs. Clients like Cabela’s and Computer Associates are using these tools to great success because they enable learning to occur with the flexibility and at the speed their marketplaces require.
Q: What drove your decision to incorporate social media tools into your LMS?
A: Will Hipwell- On-demand learning is critical to an organization’s overall learning strategy success. The extremely brisk pace at which job roles, individual responsibilities, the marketplace and even whole companies change and evolve make is absolutely necessary that learners can access just-in-time resources. Organizations and employees can no longer wait for the planning, creation and rollout of formal training programs. The world just moves too fast. To be successful, companies must be able to incorporate on-demand learning opportunities, just-in-time training, on-the-job-training, as well as the technologies that enable informal learning like blogs, wikis and instant messaging. In this “free market of learning”—just like the free market economy—learners (consumers) will find the best solutions to their learning and development challenges.
Q: If you could predict what LMSs will look like in three years, what do you see?
A: Will Hipwell: Over time the LMS will increase the number of touch-points it has within an organization but at the same time become increasingly invisible to those who use it. The LMS will become more of a behind-the-scenes application that won’t require you to login or explicitly go to access or attend a learning event. It will become more seamlessly integrated with the workplace and will be increasingly accessible via mobile device, and even recommend different learning activities based upon just-in-time experiences and the context of a challenge or need faced while on the job.
For example, a call center employee might access just-in-time tips for dealing with a customer call on the same screen where the interaction is taking place. The interaction can be tracked as both a successfully closed customer interaction (a business metric), as well as a learning opportunity that becomes part of the individual’s overall training record (and associated LMS data point). In this type of situation, informal learning, Web 2.0 and social networking tools become more and more valuable.
Q: What difficulties are you seeing in the incorporation of social media among your current customers/potential customers?
A: Will Hipwell – In some cases, clients and prospective clients are either unaware of what 2.0 technologies and/or are not entirely sure how they can be practically implemented in the workplace and provide value. Another barrier is the perception that collaboration tools with “silly names” like blogs and wikis can be time-wasters, or they are associated with people wasting time on Facebook or MySpace.
Me: Thanks Super Will. That time-waster barrier is a huge one. It’s kind of frustrating – not seeing the collaboration but seeing the “silly named” tool. (I wonder if that’s because it’s sometimes pitched to management that way?) BTW readers…I’ve attached a nice checklist on collaboration and blended learning requirements that Will sent along. Enjoy!