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New From ATD Research: Is the LMS Dead?


Wed Feb 20 2019

New From ATD Research: Is the LMS Dead?

With so many trending topics in learning these days, such as the rise of personalized and adaptive learning, talk of learning management systems (LMSs) has fallen to the wayside. After all, at this point LMSs may be seen as more of a staple than an innovation. But that doesn’t mean the LMS is on its way out. ATD’s new research report Is the LMS Dead?: Learning Management Technology in Today’s Organizations shows just how popular LMSs have become.

Current Use

The report, which surveyed 388 talent development professionals, found that 83 percent of organizations currently use an LMS. In addition, a majority of respondents (73 percent) said their LMS use has risen in the past two years, indicating that LMS use is rising rather than remaining stagnant.


This is for good reason, as the report found that respondents rely on many core capabilities their LMS offers. The top capability, identified by about three-quarters of respondents (76 percent) was to deliver e-learning. A majority of respondents also reported using their LMS to manage enrollments (71 percent) or track learner activities (66 percent).

Many LMSs feature enhanced capabilities beyond core functions. The most common enhanced capability organizations use through their LMS, identified by seven in 10 respondents, is on-demand access to learning content. Another popular enhanced capability was the ability to group courses or activities around topics and competencies. Microlearning delivery and learning paths were also commonly used enhanced capabilities.

Barriers and Recommendations

Widespread LMS use does not mean the system is without its challenges, however. When asked about barriers to their ability to use their LMS effectively, four in 10 respondents said employees lack sufficient time for learning. Additionally, about a third of respondents said their LMS’s limited capabilities did not meet the organization’s needs, while a similar amount said their LMS’s data capabilities were limited. Other barriers respondents identified were difficulty of use for employees (such as user interface issues) and a lack of ability to share data with other enterprise systems.

This may be why one in four respondents who use LMSs plan to change to a different LMS. Talent development professionals looking for a change will find there are many options available to them. “There are literally more than 500 LMS products in the world to choose from,” says Laura Winzen, continuing medical education educational technology department manager for the American Academy of Family Physicians. “But when you start looking at those through the lens of what you are trying to accomplish for your particular audience, it narrows down quickly.”

Is the LMS Dead? offers the following advice for individuals looking to get the most out of an LMS:


Assess your learning technologies_._ If you are unhappy with your current LMS, identify what it is you are unhappy with. This can help you determine whether changing to a new LMS or exploring an add-on to your current LMS would be better for your uses. What features do you like and dislike in your current LMS? What capabilities does your ideal LMS have? What are your current needs? What are your upcoming needs?

If changes are needed, define your process and recruit a team. Because LMSs can be very embedded within organizational systems, making a switch may be a complex process. The report recommends recruiting individuals from teams across your organization and making the change a collaborative effort.

Learn More

In addition to the LMS, the report covers learning management technologies such as learning record stores and training management systems. For more insights and recommendations on these topics, the full report is available for purchase for $199 for ATD members ($499 for nonmembers) here. The whitepaper of the report (available at that same link) is free for ATD members to download, and $19.99 for nonmembers.

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