Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Rapid LMS

I've been asked numerous times over the past couple of years by various types of people and companies a very similar question:

I plan to or have been conducting and charging for training workshops for clients. I'd like to creating this as self-paced eLearning possibly with other capabilities as well. And I want to charge for this. How can I do that?

Two years ago, after quite a bit of discussion with most people who had this general question, I would figure out that it was going to be relatively easy for them to figure out how to author the eLearning courses, but it was going to be a harder decision on how to get that posted somewhere and available to their existing or new clients.

I was just asked the question again the other day. It's a company that has been offering 3-day workshops and now they want to put some portion of that content online. Ideally, they would offer it both publicly for fee and as well to particular clients.

While there are a lot of different Learning Management Systems with very different features, the requirements in this situation are a bit different. So here are some of the requirements I see for this customer that are a bit different from what you would find in a normal corporate LMS RFP.

To me this is a new kind of system. I'm temporarily calling this a Rapid Learning Management System. It's hosted. It's easy to use. It's a bit like rapid eLearning authoring tools, but aimed at the learning management side of this equation. If you know the right term for this, please let me know.

White Label

For their existing customers, they should be able to point them to a system that looks just like their own site.

Company Clients / Groups of Learners

Many of their customers (companies) come in with several learners. They need to be able to have these learners grouped together and provide reporting over those learners. The company will have a single administrative contact. The system should look and act like an individual LMS for that administrator. Also, if they make changes to the LMS overall, the company should inherit those changes.

Marketplace for Content

While they are going to need to take the lead on driving traffic to their courses, the system should allow for individuals and companies to find and sign up for their content.

My impression though is that despite the claims that the marketplace will help you get new customers, you should plan to do the work needed to get people there. Thus, you probably should be thinking about all the normal internet marketing approaches to driving people to sign up. And once they get to your landing page, it should be easy to get them across to the marketplace and have it transact with them.

Instructor, Virtual Classroom and Social Learning Support

In some cases, all that is needed is for the self-paced eLearning to be hosted, but in this case, they also still want to be able to interact with the learners. Instructors will still be there for the companies. And there should be some basic capabilities for asking questions, getting answers. Possibly some forums. In this case, it's limited, but I've run into situations where the plan was for 8 hours of self-paced online and then 1 day of online virtual classroom.

Authoring Support or SCORM?

A lot of the systems on the market seem to start with some kind of basic rapid authoring tool. I personally believe that it would be better for these systems to accept SCORM content from a few of the top authoring tools. Of course, that implies additional cost. However, if you are really authoring several hours of content and are going to take this seriously as a business, it would seem like that should be a good investment. Or maybe you just use an open-source or free. But I'd rather not have to learn all the quirks of one of these platforms. And I'd want my content to be transportable in case the platform goes away.

Other Requirements?

What am I missing? What other requirements are important in this situation?


I'm currently pointing people to the following rapid learning management systems. I'm not claiming these address all of the above requirements. Rather that they generally are a hosted LMS solution that roughly corresponds to most of the requirements:

What other systems should be on the list?

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