Many legal practices are currently asking themselves the same questions, is a centralised learning platform the key to high-quality digital learning? What benefits can it bring? Can I excel without one?
It may be that your firm already has a learning management system (LMS) through which your L&D team delivers and administers learning and development. If it doesn’t, and you want to deliver digital learning at scale, an LMS is an invaluable investment.
What is an LMS?
An LMS is a platform, either Cloud-based or hosted in your firm’s own data centres, that allows the L&D team to deliver and track online training initiatives, accessible by learners remotely, on any device. The LMS acts as a repository for learning content and as a workflow tool for the L&D team. It will either have built-in authoring tools that allow for the creation of digital training materials or will be architected to allow other third-party learning software packages to integrate with the system.
Benefits of an LMS
- It acts as a repository for all your learning materials and for data on all learners across the firm. This makes maintenance and updating of materials much easier to achieve.
- Learning management systems provide insights into learners’ progress and performance, through built in analytics and reporting.
- It makes it easier to personalise the learning journey for individual lawyers.
- The LMS improves accessibility, allowing lawyers to access learning materials wherever they may be working, taking control of their own learning journey.
What features should a LMS have?
If you are choosing an LMS, make sure it is the right platform for the way your firm works and aspires to work in the future. Consider the following features:
Reporting and analytics
It’s important to be able to track how lawyers are engaging with content and whether learning objectives are being achieved. This is useful both for the L&D team and for the individual learner, who can be provided with a personalised dashboard to track progress along a learning pathway. Analytics will also help the team evaluate how effective and engaging individual modules might be, and to re-evaluate those that are not delivering the learning outcomes.
Lawyers will be accessing content from different kinds of devices such as smartphones, tablets, desktops. It’s essential that the LMS should automatically display the most suitable version of the online training course based on the user’s device. The LMS should also allow lawyers to download materials to view offline.
Intuitive user interface
If the LMS is tricky to navigate, it is less likely to be adopted. Lawyers have a notoriously low threshold for anything that is not user-friendly. Test out the UI with lawyers at different levels in the firm before committing to a particular system.
Gamification (in the form of badges, points, and leaderboards) can help with engagement, particularly for younger lawyers or those with a well-developed sense of competition. When done well, gamification can be very effective. If this approach is likely to work for your firm, choose an LMS with built-in gamification features.
Social learning support
Learning is a social activity, and many Learning Management Systems will feature integrated social media tools that can track online discussion participation or incorporate a news feed into your course design.
If the LMS does not have built in authoring tools, be sure that it will integrate with other third-party software packages (digital courseware that can integrate and enable different instructional content options). Look for a platform with an open application program interface (API) which supports interconnections with third-party tools.
What if you don’t have an LMS?
Whilst there are many benefits to having an LMS, not every firm will have one. It may be that your firm is not large enough to need a learning management system, or perhaps your firm does not currently have the appetite to make this investment. It is entirely possible to design and deliver successful digital learning experiences without a dedicated LMS, using tools to which you already have access. For example, consider the functionality within Microsoft Office 365, which is used by the majority of law firms:
- Microsoft Streamenables uploading, sharing, managing, and the viewing of corporate videos that can be used for education, training, and cross-firm information sharing.
- Microsoft Sharepoint can act as an effective knowledge sharing platform.
- Microsoft Teams channels can also be used for social learning.
Many firms also have webinar capabilities that enable digital delivery of classroom-based content.
It's time to invest
As digital learning continues to evolve, establishing a robust learning management system that can adapt to change can make all the difference. With the right LMS, you can equip learners with the tools and support they need to achieve the best learning experiences possible, meaning both your practice and your people can excel.
The College of Legal Practice is a digital provider of legal education. We create collaborative, interactive and practical learning experiences to help students progress in law. This blog is part of our Online by Design content series, exploring ways to help L&D teams reimagine their learning experiences for a post-pandemic digital age.
up next: Seven Steps to a Successful Digital Learning Strategy