December 01, 2022

LMS Gets an F. Learning Management Systems Don’t Work. Period.

Dana Safa

The results are in—LMS hasn’t just failed our workers, it’s failing our students, too. 

Now, you might ask, “What has that got to do with me, Captain of Industry on LinkedIn?”

“Maybe it isn’t right for kids,” you might say, “but Kahoot! has been working just fine for my adult workforce!”

And what, of course, does any of what happens in K-12 schools have to do with 1Huddle?

Well. I could say something like, “Kids are our future!” But I won’t. That’s cheesy, even if it’s true. 

I could also say something about how every kid behind a desk today will be a worker tomorrow, etc, etc, but I won’t say that either. I don’t necessarily believe that our school system should serve industry; I find something reductive about that, particularly when one takes into account the fact that it’s only ever kids in public schools to whom that kind of language is directed. 

Start talking about graduates from private schools like the one I attended as “joining the workforce,” and maybe I’ll reconsider.

But– If technology is changing the demands of the labor market, shouldn’t the tech in our schools, at the very least, be able to give students the upper hand? 

1Huddle is one of the few, if not the only, workforce coaching and development  platform that has been tested, and has been proven, to do this for workers.

But few, if any, of the  learning management systems—“software programs that help educators create, manage, organize, and deliver online learning materials for students,”— used in schools have been tested for efficacy. 

…Until now.

The pandemic hugely accelerated the spread of these platforms in schools (with districts in the United States using 1,449 different digital tools per month  on average during the 2020-2021 school year) and, as a result, we finally have some indication of whether or not these technologies are effective– the National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the nation’s report card. 

The assessment has been used to test a broad sampling of fourth and eighth graders since the early 1990s. 

Now, in its first results since the pandemic began, American students were found in most states and across almost all demographic groups have experienced troubling setbacks. 

Math scores for eighth graders fell in all but one state—Utah—and many, including the District of Columbia experienced double-digit drops, even in higher-performing states like Massachusetts and New Jersey. Just 26 percent of eighth graders were found to be proficient in math, down from 34 percent in 2019. 

Fourth graders fared only slightly better. 

From The New York Times:

Just 36 percent of fourth graders were proficient in math, down from 41 percent. Reading scores also declined in more than half the states, continuing a downward trend that had begun even before the pandemic. No state showed sizable improvement in reading. And only about one in three students met proficiency standards, a designation that means students have demonstrated competency and are on track for future success.

That means, for example, that, compared with 2019, fewer eighth graders could measure the length of a diagonal of a rectangle, or interpret written text beyond superficial comprehension.

But, as sobering as the results of this year’s National Report Card are, here, at 1Huddle, we weren’t surprised.  

The pandemic was, in many ways, a grand experiment—a test, not just of the quality of our educators, but of the quality of our tech. 

For upwards of two decades, our CEO and founder Sam Caucci has observed the many ways that LMS products have failed the workers and the brands that rely on them. That many of those same products were used by schools to teach remotely during the pandemic is not, in our view, a coincidence.

We know that, for learning to be effective, it needs to be engaging and continuous—and that it can only be continuous  if people willingly choose to learn even if they don’t have anything assigned to them.” 

The sad truth is that LMS is simply not, and has never been, engaging enough to accomplish that. Moreover, unlike 1Huddle, very few LMS products  have ever been tested, and few if any have proven to have any impact on student (or worker) performance.

Justin Reich, an assistant professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who studies online learning, writes in his most  recent book, “Failure to Disrupt: Why Technology Alone Can’t Transform Education,” that  learning the tech must incorporate an element of “substantial coaching.” 

But while that bodes well for a coaching and workforce development platform like 1Huddle, the implications for our schools and the students who rely on them are bleak. 

Without incorporating coaching, and feedback, most ed tech “will probably serve well only a narrow slice of learners”– and risk accelerating  already substantial gaps in educational opportunity. 

Worse, like their counterparts in the workworld, these platforms, totally ineffective when it comes to teaching, are actually quite proficient when it comes to tracking students across the web.

From the Washington Post: 

Millions of children had their online behaviors and personal information tracked by the apps and websites they used for school during the pandemic, according to an international investigation that raises concerns about the impact remote learning had on children’s privacy online.

These platforms, used by children as young as prekindergarten, collected students’ information and shared it with marketers and data brokers, “who could then build data profiles used to target the children with ads that follow them around the Web.” 

In the words of one researcher, schools “offloaded the true costs of providing education online onto children, who were forced to pay for their learning with their fundamental rights to privacy.”

LMS may not be up to the task, but kids deserve better than this; schools will have to do better, – and whatever platform they use will have to be much, much better than this. 

Now, back to work!

About 1Huddle

1Huddle is a coaching and development platform that uses quick-burst mobile games to more quickly and effectively educate, elevate, and energize your workforce — from frontline to full-time.

With a mobile-first approach to preparing the modern worker, a mobile library of 3,000+ quick-burst employee skill games, an on-demand game marketplace that covers 16 unique workforce skill areas, and the option for personalized content, 1Huddle is changing the way organizations think about their training – from a one-time boring onboarding experience to a continuous motivational tool. 

Key clients include Loews Hotels, Novartis, Madison Square Garden, PIMCO, TAO Group, and the United States Air Force. To learn more about 1Huddle and its platform, please visit 1huddle.co.



Dana Safa, Manager of Digital Marketing at 1Huddle

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