Pure play LCMS


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Pure play LCMS

  1. 1. Pure Play LCMS: an Increasingly Attractive Solution by Donato MangialardoIntroductionIn today’s corporate world, organizations are strengthening their focus on learning content management, rapid andmassive content production, the ‘searchability’ of content, version control, content reuse and interoperability withother business systems.Learning content management needs vary widely from company to company. Some companies are well served by acombination of social and collaboration platforms, portals and lightweight content management functionalities. Othersare well served by the full-featured learning management systems (LMSs) on the market. However, enterprise-wideinitiatives that touch several departments and need to talk to various business systems within a distributed organiza-tion need a best-of-breed, industrial-strength learning content management system (LCMS) that has been built fromthe ground up with the technology and the standards to solve specific business problems - just as ERP, CRM and HRISdo in other areas of the enterprise.Brandon Hall Research mentions: ‘We’ve seen organizations large and small use LCMS technologies to successfullyengage and leverage subject matter experts and novice developers as primary contributors to large-scale projects de-signed to collect and disseminate knowledge throughout the organization. “We’ve watched companies that have com-pletely transformed their costly in-house development practice into a well-organized, eLearning publishing machine.”Bersin and Associates also say: “Proponents [of LCMS] sing the benefits of collaborative authoring, content reuse andthe ability to author once and publish to multiple formats (eLearning, print, and classroom materials). And we havespoken with many large companies that have seen amazing benefits from these systems.” ~1~ © eXact learning solutions 2010
  2. 2. Pure Play LCMS: an Increasingly Attractive SolutionLMS versus LCMSTo understand overlaps and differences between an LMS and LCMS, we need to review a few key points.An LMS is learner–centric. It focuses on eLearning process management and content delivery. In essence, an LMS is softwarefor planning, delivering and managing learning events within an organization, including online, virtual classroom, and instructor-led courses. For example, an LMS can simplify global certification efforts, enable entities to align learning initiatives with strate-gic goals and provide a means of enterprise-level skills management.The focus of an LMS is to manage students, keeping track of their progress and performance across all types of training activi-ties. It performs administrative tasks, such as reporting to instructors, HR and other ERP systems but it isn’t used to createcourse content.An LCMS is content–centric. Here, the focus is on the authoring and management of eLearning reusable content. By contrast,LCMS solutions are ideally suited to create content-centric learning strategies, supporting multiple methods for gathering andorganizing content, leveraging content for multiple purposes, and operation for mission critical purposes. LCMS technology caneither be used in tandem with an LMS, or as a standalone application for learning initiatives that require rapid development anddistribution of learning content.Rather than developing entire courses and adapting them to multiple audiences, an LCMS is designed for managing learningcontent across an organization’s various training development areas. It provides developers, authors, instructional designers, andsubject matter experts the means to create and re-use eLearning content and reduce duplicated development efforts.An LCMS provides the ability for single course instances to be modified and republished for various audiences maintainingversions and history. The objects stored in the centralized repository can be made available to course developers and contentexperts throughout an organization for potential reuse and repurpose. This allows for the rapid assembly of customized content.In addition, Brandan Hall believes that: “when LCMS technology is appropriately applied and matched to an orchestrated eLearn-ing strategy, with a complete instructional design plan for designing and using learning objects, great efficiencies can and will beachieved, such as: • The ability to make instantaneous, company-wide changes to critical learning content • Rapid and productive content development efforts • Seamless collaboration among subject matter experts and course designers • The ability to create multiple, derivative versions of content applicable to different audiences from senior manage- ment to line-level workers • Access to find and reuse learning content, ‘just-in-time’ and ‘just enough’ • Ultimate reusability of content by making it available through a wide array of output types such as structured e-l • eLearning courses, CD-ROM courses, learning material available from a Palm device or PocketPC, print-based ~2~ © eXact learning solutions 2010
  3. 3. Pure Play LCMS: an Increasingly Attractive SolutionEssential Features for an LCMSTo achieve the benefits outlined above, companies need to screen and shortlist their vendors carefully, according to a well-defined strategy - as opposed to specific feature sets. It is not just about software. It is about choosing a business partner thatcan offer products based on a future-proof technology - with a strong focus on what they do. Moreover, that partner need tooffer professional services that are able to deliver the required changes and even re-engineer the learning content managementlife-cycle and production methodology.That said, here is a list of capabilities that we know an LCMS must have in order to deliver on its promise:• Legacy content ingestion, indexing and storage It must be able to accept, ingest and index pre-existing content from a wide variety of sources, such as Word, PowerPoint, Flash, raw media files and other forms of legacy content. It must be able to move content from a stack of unrelated knowledge parts to a coherent and sustainable course/training/ professional enhancement objective. Any digital resource or even existing content packages should be able to be imported from the file system, external databases and third-party applications, to enable the reuse of previous eLearning invest- ments - including content already packaged in LMS-delivered courses. Without this, there is no easy way to approach or even devise a content-centric strategy.• Rapid authoring and assembly capabilities and model-based automation of content production Fast-paced organizations that need to meet high-volume, professional and consistent learning output demand need both rapid authoring and assembly capabilities as well as model-based automation of content production in different languages that can be delivered on different channels and platforms. Professional content creation to meet any quality need requires the ability to produce sophisticated, highly interactive and high-quality instructional content that is also consistent in terms of its pedagogical approach and visual representation. The LCMS also needs to have dynamic pre-testing capabilities and the ability to create adaptive learning based on pre-test performance.• Maximum reusability of learning content Content must be able to be reused in several ways. This includes being able to reuse entire topics in other courses; use parts of topics (modules, units) in other courses; reuse an entire course; make changes and republish; localize without du- plicating content, and above all, the ability to reuse source material for a wide variety of output channels including eLearn- ing, print-based learning and mobile devices.• Interoperability with LMS and Business Systems The LCMS must have an open architecture (SOA) and complete web services for functional extension, investment protec- tion as well as future-proof integration with any business system and LMSs (the latter also requires compliance with the standards set out below). ~3~ © eXact learning solutions 2010
  4. 4. Pure Play LCMS: an Increasingly Attractive Solution It must follow industry standards including IMS Content Packaging, IMS QTI Lite (for assessments) and SCORM 1.2 / SCORM 2004 specifications. Content needs to be described (indexed) according to IEEE IMS 1.2 or LOM metadata format, and according to IMS VDEX for content classification. This is essential for interoperability with other systems such as HR and talent management systems.• Project Management The LCMS must also manage the workflow process of eLearning development, such as role-based systems, task assign- ments, project management tools, collaboration tools for content developers, built-in bug tracking, event-based notification engine, and so on.• Content Management Common – but still important - characteristics of any LCMS include: • Having a learning object model approach – for easy, rapid and efficient content creation • Business process-driven content categorization (metadata, tagging, taxonomies), which enables authors to search and find the right material quickly • Advanced archiving, file management and revision control • A standards-based localization engine – for the creation and delivery of multi-language content • Single source, multiple outputPure-play LCMS for Successful Content-centric, Mission Critical InitiativesEnterprise-wide initiatives that touch several departments and need to communicate with various business systems within adistributed organization need a best-of-breed, industrial-strength LCMS that has been built from the ground up with the technol-ogy and the standards to solve specific business problems. This is because:• Best-of- breed approach. Your way to deliver training and learning content may change to adapt to new business needs. As an example, you may want to enable just in time mobile delivery, manage content chunks for content personalization or multiple channel publication or distribution. Like any system, an LMS may become insufficient. Inevitably, eventually, it will become insufficient for your needs. As Elliott Masie mentions in his blog: “Many of our Learning Consortium members are in the midst of re-evaluating their LMS and LCMS. Some are shocked that this point of re-evaluation has arrived only 36 or 42 months after the original pur- chase point.” Having delivery (LMS) decoupled from the core learning content management (LCMS) enables these changes to happen quickly and in a controlled manner for a future-proof learning and knowledge organization.• Content-centric versus User-centric. We have seen waves of LMSs claiming new features to escape from commoditization. However, a system that is built from the ground up to manage content as opposed to users (learners) has a unique, differ- ent underlying structure and technology. This underlying structure will include an XML-based engine, workflows and meta- ~4~ © eXact learning solutions 2010
  5. 5. Pure Play LCMS: an Increasingly Attractive Solution data structures; single source multi channel engines and template-based authoring engine. This is often invisible to many people. As an example, the vast majority of LMS/LCMSs are based on proprietary models (that is, they are ‘non-XML’). This limits the power and interoperability required to adapt to the various delivery channels and technologies. By contrast, pure- play LCMSs are based on XML. They are thus platform-independent, allowing organizations to meet the various blended, ILT, WBT, mobile and other emerging formats with flexibility and significant return on investment (ROI).• Production-centric versus distribution centric. LMSs are focused on users and the distribution of content. Even if a few - well known and recognized - LMSs have added LCMS functionalities, this does not mean that they are effective and ef- ficient at doing what an LCMS is supposed to deliver: notably, to adapt to and improve business processes for massive and rapid content development. In LMSs, learning content is created systematically and structured as courses used for specific learning purposes. Content developers and contributors may have to work through lengthy cycles to submit content to the system for distribution. Content creation projects, project collaboration across multiple teams and geographies, versioning and localization may end up as huge bottlenecks. LCMSs are industrial strength systems that are built precisely to solve these problems, from the ground up.• Just-in-time. At some point your content will be ‘trapped’ in a LMS-based system and encumbered by embedded naviga- tional controls. These require manual work to be repurposed to create new courses. In a pure-play LCMS, you can simply reuse the ‘pure’ source learning content and create the derivative versions, which will be updated when the source is changed, in a fully controlled manner.• Strategy with a methodology behind it. A content-centric model of learning allows leveraging learning content as strate- gic assets across departments, as well as leveraging this content to connect learning with the organization’s bottom-line. This model does not come ‘for free’. Besides a strategy you need a methodology that re-engineers your learning content management life-cycle. You also need a production methodology, such as XML-based learning objects and full scale template-based approaches, multi language re-versioning and standards-based packaging for massive and rapid content production, as well as dynam- ic publishing across different LCMS and LMS solutions. Such a methodology must come from an LCMS provider that has centred its business, with several success stories, on this very technology and methodology. It’s not purely about products.• LCMS as a business system. While LMSs - with or without LCMS capabilities - are always the preserve of learning profes- sionals (and nobody else), business systems such as ERP, CRM and HR are known by everybody, because they are key to the business. When your LCMS solution and content-centric learning strategy are in place, people across the company will create, share and consume learning content, even though they don’t know what ‘LCMS’ stands for, and even though they don’t work in the training department. This is what an LCMS should aim to be. It’s not just a component of a learning ecosystem. It relates to the bottom-line in a measurable manner. ~5~ © eXact learning solutions 2010
  6. 6. Pure Play LCMS: an Increasingly Attractive SolutionReferences:• Brandon Hall Knowledgebase• Bersin & Associates website• Elliott Masie’s Learning TRENDS. Learning, Training, Technology & Change• LCMS, not just a Technology: It’s a Strategy! A Chapman Alliance White Paper/April 2009. By Bryan Chapman, Chief Learn- ing Strategist• eXact learning solution expertsAbout the AuthorDonato Mangialardo is the Director of Marketing and Product Strategy at eXact learning solutions. Mangialardo possesses extensive international experience,guiding enterprise software products in multinational organizations, and has held several key, hi-tech marketing roles within enterprise software and SaaScompanies.eXact learning solutionseXact learning solutions, formerly Giunti Labs, is a leading online and mobile learning content management and digital repository eXact learning solutions - Headquarterssolutions provider, offering a wide range of tools and services for content development, management and delivery, covering: Abbazia dell’Annunziata • Multi-language bespoke learning content production Via Portobello - Baia del Silenzio • Content management and digital repository platforms 16039 Sestri Levante (GE) Italy • Mobile learning technologies • Consulting and professional services Tel +39.0185.4761The company has over fifteen years of experience and more than 100 clients worldwide. Our technological innovations allow Fax +39.0185.43.347enterprises to improve their organizational performance, and achieve significant reductions in business costs. www.exact-learning.com ~6~ © eXact learning solutions 2010