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Is Learning Management System a misnomer?

Learning Management Systems aren’t dead, but they certainly need to evolve, contend Docebo and Fosway Group Limited in a recently released report.

Most systems don’t truly engage users in learning, but instead, try to manage the way they learn. So the word “management” seems to be the problem, the report says. Instead, the word should be “engagement.”

“To truly understand learning engagement, we should start thinking about the LMS through the lens of the learning cycle,” Docebo and Fosway write. “By thinking about things in this way, we can begin to appreciate the opportunities that exist to engage learners. Then, we can start to evaluate how good solutions support each stage of the learning experience, wherever we start in the cycle.”

One such solution: The PLASMA model, a concept developed by Fosway. The acronym stands for plan, learn, apply, sustain, measure, analyze.

According to the learn concept, people may ask:

  • Plan – What do I need to know?
  • Learn – How can I learn that knowledge?
  • Apply – How am I using my learning?
  • Sustain – What am I doing to achieve high levels of performance?
  • Measure – How well am I doing?
  • Analyze – What should I be doing next to improve?

Fosway argues most LMS’s concentrate only on plan, learn and measure. But the PLASMA model is flexible and caters to all learning stages.

At the same time, elements of the learning cycle need to be used in tandem with machine intelligence and behavioral science to foster a more engaging learning experience.


Fosway has developed a checklist for organizations to evaluate their Learning Management Systems based on the PLASMA Learning Concept. Some examples:

  • Does the LMS offer 360 feedback?
  • Is learning gamified and does it use multiple channels?
  • Do job assignments help users learn every day?
  • Does the system offer peer-to-peer support and mentoring?
  • Does the LMS offer periodic assessments using short scenarios?
  • Is there capability for a manager to offer review?

“What L&D should be doing is thinking like a consumer brand,” the report says. “What next generation learning systems need to do is enable L&D to support learning across the whole learning process.

“Learning solutions will only truly succeed in the future where they support the learning cycle, rather than glib titles and marketing hype – be that social learning, mobile learning, rapid e-learning, learning experience, informal learning, resources not courses because each of these can become barriers to the creation of great learning experiences.”

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