Monday, 19 January 2009

Learning Materials

I've been having a very nice email conversation with a reader who contacted me with a question. The question is one that I've seen before, and I thought it would be worth asking for help from the community. Here's the basic question -

What belongs in an LMS?

more specifically, the question is:

For learning materials / content that is not a course such as videos, reference, documents, do you house these inside your LMS?

They have about 300 or so courses (ILT and courseware) on a variety of subjects in the LMS. They have quite a bit of other learning support materials. There is internal debate about putting this in the LMS vs. having it reside on the intranet (SharePoint in this case).

Advantages of having it in the LMS:
  • Usage tracked on a per-user basis (so you can see what dept, etc. are using materials)
  • Organized using the same structure as rest of courses
  • Appears near the courses so learners don't have to hunt around for it. And when a person thinks "learning" - there's a single location
  • Encourages use as part of learning
  • Uses same approval workflows
Advantages of having it ouside the LMS and on the intranet:
  • Easier to access directly when outside the LMS
  • Organization is easier outside the LMS
  • Content inside the LMS seems cleaner without all the non-course material
  • Materials not developed/approved by L&D do not require management in the LMS, instead they use SharePoint to manage
A few additional notes:
  • The CLO is asking for best practices, and in this case believes that there is a somewhat magic number of having "no more than 300 courses in the LMS."
  • Part of this is a philosophical debate about whether materials that are not really "training" materials should be inside an LMS.
  • They know that they can link between stuff inside the LMS and back to the other resources, but that doesn't really solve it. It's more a question of whether the other materials have first class status in the LMS and all the normal charateristics of something housed there.
Additional Aspects

Workflow of Other Types of Materials? - If you believe it makes sense to put this in the LMS, then there's the added question of how you handle the workflow, approvals, etc. for these other materials?

Value in Additional Tracking? - If you currently keep these kinds of materials in your LMS, do you get significant value from the ability to track to a specific user level?

Where do You Draw the Line? - Assuming that you are willing to put some or all of these additional materials in the LMS, you must draw the line somewhere. Where do you draw the line between having something in the LMS vs. putting it outside?

Additional information from my blog and other bloggers on Learning Management Systems (LMS) can be found by clicking the above links as provided by the eLearning Learning community.

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