It was once thought that a single learning platform would meet all of an organization’s training needs. This is not the case. Learning ecosystems evolve and grow as more and more tools and technologies are developed. Using multiple products, each serving targeted niches, offers unique benefits, but this evolution can also create administrative nightmares.
Most organizations have multiple learning management systems (LMS) and learning platforms implemented in departments with different requirements. This results in siled systems and disparate technologies that make it difficult to manage content and view training holistically.
Figure 1. Example of a complex corporate learning ecosystem
Having a modern learning infrastructure in place makes it easier for organizations to share training and track data centrally while meeting stakeholder needs. To do this, it is essential to understand learning technologies: the tools of today, what is coming and the technical considerations of centralizing content and managing a learning ecosystem. in full growth.
It gets complicated fast
In the past, organizations often used an authoring tool, an LMS, and custom standard content. As technologies have advanced, additional platforms have emerged providing more flexibility in delivering the training. We have also embraced more learning modalities beyond traditional courses: apps, games, simulations and virtual reality. Whether by design or evolution or acquisitions, your organization’s learning ecosystem is likely different today than when it started.
Content comes in all shapes and sizes, and the more content and tools you have, the more complicated it gets.
Imagine your team creating annual policies around courseware with an authoring tool. Because you need additional materials for general compliance training, you have purchased these courses from a third party. You’ve also incorporated specialist diversity, equity and inclusion training. That’s already three content sources.
There is a good chance that these courses employ different e-learning standards, as well as different ways to manage data and reports.
Then your organization acquires another company, which has its own LMS supporting a different learning standard and full legacy training. Your ecosystem now has two LMSs, a mix of internal and standard courses, and an authoring tool, not all of which are compatible.
The inevitable happens: a course needs to be updated. The course itself has to be edited, republished in multiple standards, and re-uploaded into each system. It might not sound bad now, but as your content library grows, time and effort accumulate.
With growth, learning ecosystems can quickly become unmanageable. The main concerns are compatibility, content accuracy and data visibility.
Stay ahead of the problem
Just as many organizations have a “system of record,” the same model can be applied to your content catalog to overcome these issues and resolve the headaches of dispersed content.
Additionally, you may already have a tool that you can designate as a single application for managing and distributing your content. Choose a platform that can manage and deliver multiple types of content to different systems, as well as export learner data.
Figure 2. Example of centralized content
Choice for recording system:
Learning Content Management System
Creates, manages and distributes content.
Advantages: Replaces several tools.
The inconvenients: May not allow outside content or support multiple content types. Must add more tools if another authoring tool is needed.
Content distribution platform
Imports content from any source and distributes it as proxy files to any system.
Advantages: Supports multiple content types and standards. All content sources are imported into the platform and access is shared with the LMS.
The inconvenients: Most don’t offer native content creation support.
Content organized within a single app solves common issues of compatibility, version accuracy, consistent user experience, and visibility within and across courses.
The LMS-supported standard used to dictate the content. This sometimes meant sacrificing detail or user experience. By designating a content management platform, you can overcome this common problem. If your chosen platform supports the standards and formats you need, you are no longer beholden to the LMS. For example, you can publish to SCORM 2004 or xAPI even if your LMS only supports SCORM 1.2. Plus, you’ll be able to test and configure the course once, reducing the time it takes to copy content to multiple systems.
Updating multiple versions or republishing in multiple standards is an administrative burden. Through centralize the management and distribution of your content, updates are managed in one place at once, even when multiple systems are in use.
You will also have more control over how content is presented. Want your content to be mobile friendly? It can happen. Want to limit or eliminate pop-ups? It is also possible.
If you could see what’s going on inside a course, what improvements would you make? Content centralization platforms provide greater visibility into your courses, even when accessed from multiple systems or LMSs. Digging deeper into the data provides insight into the effectiveness of training programs. In some cases, LMS data may not be accessible outside of this system, making an overview difficult.
Researching and delivering content is crucial, but it’s also useful to know what really happened. Courses should record and capture this data and provide you with meaningful access to this data.
While content requirements are the deciding factor, you’ll want to ask vendors about the tool’s reporting and data export capabilities, especially if you prefer a specific analytics tool.
Centralize your training content
There are more technology options than ever. With specialized platforms and a vast choice of courses, today’s learning landscape requires a new approach to organizing and managing these tools. By starting a centralized approach to content management and distribution, you can help bring order to chaos and have the flexibility to integrate new tools as your business grows and changes.
To better understand the technical considerations of managing multiple systems and the tools available to connect content and data, join my Technical knowledge ATD session, Meeting in the Middle: A Blended Approach to Learning Tech, Thursday, February 10.