The Cost of Learning—a Very Brief History
Training (or learning) has always been viewed as a cost center (representing a cost of doing business similar to other employee costs such as salary, commissions, and benefits). That’s why many organizations in the past have struggled with the challenge of justifying the cost of training in their budgets.
Today, organizations are making significant investments in technology—which includes solutions for training staff and further developing their career opportunities. Through e-learning, businesses can now reach many more people within their organization with a lot more content—for the same cost. It’s important to note, however, that while investments in e-learning do not reduce overall costs, they do allow these costs to be leveraged more efficiently across the organization.
HR to LMS, LCMS, and Beyond
Years ago, when an organization was put to the task of selecting software for training its employees, it would turn to the “run of the mill” human resource (HR)-type solution that included basic payroll and benefits. Some also offered a very basic training module that could handle administrative tasks, as well as track the learner’s courses, grades, etc. Today, however, training (or learning) has become so much more than what the HR systems of the past could offer.
Many of today’s organizations are moving away from the traditional HR solutions (with basic training modules) and implementing learning management solutions (LMSs) or suites instead, which often include learning content management (LCM)—either out-of-the-box or through a third-party provider. With a wide variety of solutions on the market to choose from, organizations can now put learning on their list of top priorities—right in line with their talent management initiatives.
What’s the Difference between an LMS and an LCMS?
An LCMS can be defined as “a multi-user environment where learning developers can create, store, re-use, manage, and deliver digital learning content from a central object repository.”
While LMSs deal with the management, tracking, and reporting of learning activities and learners, LCMSs are all about the development, management, and deployment of content (or learning objects). Understanding the difference between the two is often very confusing if you’re looking to purchase a solution, because most LCMS systems also have some limited built-in LMS functionality.
The primary role of an LCMS is to manage digital assets used for authoring, managing, and publishing course content. An LCMS
The primary differentiator for LCMSs is that they offer reusability of learning content and are constructed using a learning object model. Typically, course content is stored as learning objects in a learning object repository database. The objects are described and tagged so these objects can be recalled and re-used by the course designer or others later on down the road.
Here are some key components of an LCMS:
And here’s a partial list of key benefits of LCMS technology (from www.brandon-hall.com):
E-learning—Effective Content Delivery
Content authoring tools equip users with a way to integrate a variety of media in order to create professional, engaging, and interactive training content. Content is created one time and can be published to a number of blended learning output formats. How does the LCMS do this? It does this by separating the content logic from the presentation logic—often using meta-tagging—and by following widely-used content standards like SCORM, AICC, etc. (see http://www.brandon-hall.com/publications/lcmskb/lcmskb.shtml). The LCMS enables authors to
Content is created using an object model. Assets (i.e., images, text objects, animations, and video) are aggregated into pages, pages into lessons, lessons into modules, and modules into courses.
The automation for course delivery in LMS has improved as SCORM and AICC standards have been established and widely adopted. Today, these standards dictate how content and learning systems should be designed so that content is sharable among disparate systems.
Most organizations need to develop their own proprietary courses. While most LCMSs provide the means for creating new courses, there are many stand-alone systems that do this as well. They are usually called course-authoring tools. They provide
LCMS—Solutions at a Glance
Some vendors provide one or more of the capabilities below in a single suite of products. Most will also recommend partners that they work with that can provide functions that they don’t offer directly.
Some of the biggest names in learning content management include
• Cornerstone OnDemand – Talent Management Suite,
• Outstart - Outstart LCMS,
• Learn.com - Learn Center,
• GeoLearning - GeoLCMS,
• Saba - Saba Learning Suite,
• SumTotal - SumTotal Talent Development Suite,
• CertPoint - VLS Content Creator,
• WBT Systems - WBT Systems.
To start your own LMS/LCMS software evaluation, check out TEC’s LMS Evaluation Center.
During the course of writing this blog, I asked one of TEC’s consultants and President of Trimeritus, Don McIntosh, for his thoughts on LCMS. His response: “One thought regarding LCMS is be careful what you wish for. To many organizations, the idea of a learning object repository which can be accessed by everyone who is developing training so that it can be re-used and re-purposed is a great idea but too often, they can’t make it work. The organizational culture and the trainers in particular must support the idea of sharing material. Trainers are often very protective of their own material and, in a competitive organizational culture, knowledge is power and many don’t want to give it up. This just reinforces the idea that a proper needs assessment is required to determine if an LCMS is the right way to go. Because many of the major LMS vendors (like SumTotal and Saba) offer LCMS in addition to LMS, it is often too easy just to tack that extra cost on without much thought to it.”
This is very helpful
very intresting artecl
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It’s amazing how many of my learning customers get the phrases mixed up….even after they have owned a system
this is good article….more importantly re-emphasizes the need to have diligent requirements process prior to the potential buyer stating the requirement for a LMS or LMS + LCMS layer. I would agree many do not pay too much thought for the impact of LC public distribution and it’s downstream effects. Good Article!!
these r a some good and very uswe ful artical 4 me thanks 4 sending usc thesz exelent artical
This is a great article with lots of take-aways. If you’re interested in LMS software, take a look at iQpakk. iQpakk is an LMS with a patented learning solution available on the web and on the iPad. Check out http://www.iqpakk.com for more information.
LCMS Exposed! Understanding the Differences between Learning Management and Learning Content Management » The TEC Blog…