Learning Management Systems: A 50,000-Foot View

This article discusses legacy products.

If you find yourself struggling to calculate the success of your company’s training initiatives, you may want to consider a Learning Management System (LMS).

A Learning Management System (LMS) is a software application (most are web-based) that will help you with the administration, tracking, and reporting of your training programs. This includes classroom and online events, elearning programs, and the training content.

As the workforce began to stabilize last year, we found that many of our ProEdit customers were in need of additional training for their staff. With a tight budget, most were also looking for ways to reduce training costs, consolidate all their training information into one system, or improve compliance with regulatory requirements. They found that an LMS could help them meet all three goals and reduce headaches, too.

Here are some general LMS questions we answered for ProEdit customers last year.

Is an LMS the tool we need?

The answer to this question quickly becomes a vocabulary lesson. Review these terms, and you’ll see how this process works.

Learning Objects

Also called “content objects” or “reusable learning objects,” learning objects are your training program deliverables broken down into much smaller chunks. A learning object includes, but is not limited to, the course description, descriptive text, keywords, sounds, videos, glossary terms, quizzes, and assessments.

Authoring Tool

Also called an “authoring system,” an authoring tool is the software used to create and package your training content into learning objects.

Some authoring tool examples include:

Learning Content Management System

A Learning Content Management System (LCMS) is the software responsible for how course content is delivered to participants. This includes the tools participants use to collaborate, like Chat, and the management of all learning objects in libraries and catalogs. Most LCMS software have a built in LMS component, and almost all advertise that they are compatible with any third-party LMS.

Some LCMS software examples include:

Learning Management System

A Learning Management System is the software responsible for the administration of your learning program. This includes participant enrollment, progress, and performance. The LMS supports multiple authoring tools and integrates LCMS learning objects.

Some LMS examples include:

Should I consider an open-source or proprietary LMS?

When looking at any software these days, the question of open source vs. proprietary almost always comes up. From a technology perspective, I believe both have their place. Below are the benefits of Open Source and Proprietary LMS software.

Open Source Benefits

  • Cost of ownership may be reduced significantly over time
  • Flexibility to choose suitable solutions that meet the needs of your organization
  • Freedom from software vendors

Proprietary Benefits

  • Stability and reliability
  • Professional support and training are readily available from the vendor
  • Regularly updated and available out of the box as a complete package
  • Generally easier to install and learn to use

Should I consider the cloud or on-site storage?

Choosing between these two options depends on where your organization feels most comfortable. It can be a huge risk putting information into the cloud, but the benefits can be great, too. Some of the benefits of the cloud and on-site storage solutions are as follows.

Benefits of the Cloud

  • Cloud solutions are usually less expensive in the long run because you don’t have to purchase software.
  • Vendors are responsible for managing the servers. Hosting services like Rackspace are better equipped to set up servers and deal with security. They will also manage load-balancing and firewall issues. You handle the software part, and let your hosting service handle the servers.
  • Updates are usually included for free. If you own your own server, upgrades can be expensive. If you are using a hosted solution, you’ll receive the most up­-to-date version of the software automatically over the web.

Benefits of On-Site Storage

  • You own the software and likely won’t have to pay recurring fees for anything but maintenance and/or upgrades.
  • You control the access and level of security. If security is a big issue for you, licensing the software might be better than a hosted solution, because you can control access.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking an LMS software is the ultimate solution. Your content is the key. Do you need to enhance or update existing training? Do you need new content? What should the content look like? ProEdit can help you create, publish, and maintain compelling content for all your business needs.

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