The term “learning portal” is used liberally in the training industry, but what does it really mean?
By common definition, a portal is described as a gateway, doorway or entrance. Likewise, in computing it generally refers to a website that provides links or gateways to other websites. This idea affords businesses with the opportunity to consolidate relevant learning resources and tools into one location to accomplish a specific business or learning goal.
So, how is a portal different from a Learning Management System (LMS)? It’s a fair question with a fuzzy answer.
LMS’ such as NetDimensions Talent Suite are highly configurable and are capable of providing a portal-like experience using out-of-the-box functionality. However, organizations commonly configure their LMS as a one-size-fits-all solution to provide a superset of content and tools for many people within the organization, and covering many different subject areas.
A custom portal, on the other hand, provides a learning experience that targets a specific business goal, audience or subject area to deliver a focused, holistic learning solution. Today, we see that businesses are developing portals for multiple subject areas, including:
- New hire onboarding
- Sales training
- Service training
- Manufacturing training
- Compliance or technical training
- Extended enterprise and more
So what’s the big deal?
When we, as high-technology vendors, refer to innovation, we usually have product innovations in mind. This means that we often overlook the amazing process innovations that our users perform day-in and day-out using our products and solutions in their lines of business. This month, in our yearly Next Steps user conferences in Chicago, London and Bangkok, we asked our customers to tell us what interesting (= unconventional = innovative) ways they use our Learning Management System (LMS). We were looking for use cases that we wouldn’t normally anticipate for an LMS, use cases that fall outside the realms of the L&D department, use cases that span functions across the enterprise.
Needless to say we were amazed! Here are some of the cases that came up.
- An airline is using our LMS for Dangerous Goods Handling (DGH) compliance training. When an employee fails to complete the required training on time, the LMS revokes security clearance so that the employee is automatically locked out of the airport’s goods handling areas and a manager is notified for further action.
- An insurance provider used our LMS to co-ordinate swine flue vaccinations for all their employees. The company created a class called “Flu Vaccination” that was available on certain dates & places, and they were able to successfully track the vaccinations of over 7,000 employees in just two weekends.
- An electrical equipment distributor is using our LMS to manage temporary employee transfers between their different locations. They do that by using the course enrollment policy workflow to initiate a transfer request, communicate the reason of the transfer to the respective manager, and notify transfer approvals to the HR & Finance departments.
- A financial services provider is using our LMS to co-ordinate their regular Investor Relations events by creating courses for the different sessions, assigning investor-related materials to these courses, and tracking registrations to these courses for all the required stakeholders.
- A religious organization is using our LMS to perform yearly HR audits by comparing user profile data in the LMS (from a required IT security course that takes place once a year) to HR employee records.
- An automotive parts provider is using our LMS o manage their franchise network, certify franchisees, collect franchise fees, and perform equipment audits.
- An airline is using our LMS for disaster volunteer coordination by matching people to different volunteering activities and assigning relevant workflows to take action when disaster strikes.
- A software company is using our LMS to manage their internal ISO 14001 environmental policy certification.
- A housing association is using our LMS to develop a series of Human Trafficking Awareness e-learning modules aimed at different audiences in order to educate and raise awareness of human trafficking among authorities, communities, and the general public.
To all our users … “Thank you!”