Admittedly, that is a pretty strong title. So, let’s start by paying a little bit of homage to the LMS. Likely, there will always be a role for the large, corporate, “big-bottomed” LMS, whose center of gravity—grounded in administrative overhead—enables large enterprises to plan and manage employee learning. If you inquire, most LMS “manufacturers” will gladly speak of such virtues and provide numerous features that dazzle the mind and your pocket book. It is easy to make an argument that CoursePark is the uncontested champ for today’s under-30s (and dare I say under-40s), who crave a more peer-to-peer approach to learning and who gravitate towards solutions that are more iTunes than MS DOS. However, what may surprise some is that the approach used by CoursePark to deliver personal and corporate learning has great appeal to older employees as well. It’s true that the vast majority of grandmothers surveyed in our informal poll choose CoursePark over the staid Corporate LMS.
LMSs have become more and more powerful (ahem … bloated), but their makers have no choice—more shock-and-awe functionality is required to play in the arena of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) that these vendors have ascribed to. Of course, it’s an accepted theorem that with more stuff comes less clarity, more effort, more administration, and increased complexity. Over our 19 years in business, we have seen that the average enterprise can take as much as two years to select, procure, customize and finally implement an LMS. By contrast, the average enterprise that chooses CoursePark is up and running and adding value within days.
Today’s typical LMS is reminiscent of a small ERP that clobbers the client with an array of customizable feature sets. For any organization under 2000 employees, the whole process, including the extravagant pricing and needless complexity, has been a real barrier to the very learning cultures that LMSs purport to enable. About five years ago, after finding two of our insurance clients’ critical compliance training requirements held hostage by the torturous dance of LMS courtship (for over 18 months!), Bluedrop decided enough was enough. Having built and deployed e-learning courseware for dozens of Fortune 500 clients and governments, we knew a dirty little secret unknown to most LMS shoppers. Most companies used precious little functionality from their LMS’s. Worst still, we found few end-users (i.e. employees) that actually believed the “corporate LMS” offered any tangible benefits to them personally. Most employees viewed these user-unfriendly monoliths as something they had to be forced into (at the behest of their employer). But isn’t “supporting and promoting” a culture of learning one of the promises of the LMS industry? Can we really create a learning culture without end user buy-in? It was this single realization, above all else, that gave birth to CoursePark.
In a marketplace that’s gone MAD, CoursePark has taken the position that for learning to occur, products need to get out of the way, and ‘coach from the side’ versus ‘pushing a rope’. The eras of ‘master-slave’ and ‘client-server’ applications have long been slain in the Internet age; so why should software—especially learning-enabling software for goodness sake—continue to propagate those tired approaches? For an LMS to help a company promote a culture of learning, less is actually more. There is no genius in that.
Emad Rizkalla is CoursePark’s President. In 1992 he co-founded Bluedrop Performance Learning as a young engineering student and has since become recognized as one of North America’s pioneers and thought leaders in e-Learning, entrepreneurship and corporate leadership. His vision, inspirational leadership style and keen business acumen have never gone unnoticed – Emad has been honoured as one of the youngest people ever to earn Canada’s “Top 40 under 40″ and is a published author and been featured in numerous national media . He has authored several chapters in Aspatore Publishing’s acclaimed “Behind the Minds” Book Series for Executives, and has contributed regular columns on technology for the Journal of Healthcare Management. In 2000, he was featured in a TIME Magazine cover story that highlighted a handful of “young dynamic entrepreneurs who will create the 21st Century.
Emad is an active member of many national committees, has chaired several Not-for-Profit Boards and sits on a Federal task force with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. He is a highly sought speaker in conferences throughout North America and Europe. Emad holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree from Memorial University.