A Learning Content Management System (LCMS) is differentiated from a Learning Management System (LMS) by the capacity to create eLearning content. An LCMS gives authors, eLearning designers and industry experts the capacity to efficiently create content that’s targeted and timely. A business operates in real time, therefore content development and knowledge access must also function in real time.
A LMS serves a very different function. It helps to effectively run an organization’s learning department. It’s the software that automates the administration of a learning event. As a reporting system, it doesn’t include the ability to create new content or deliver small segments of learning. It’s essentially a software platform that stores, delivers and tracks training activity. The LMS enables a learning manager to upload training content and assign it to their employees. It then proactively tracks the employee’s participation, their training activity and results, enabling companies to keep track of each employee’s training history. It can be customized to provide each employee with the job-specific training they require. So the essential difference between a LMS and a LCMS is the audience they’re targeting – an LMS targets learners, while an LCMS targets learner content creators.
But let’s talk briefly about the corporate learning environment and the way employees themselves have impacted the way training is delivered. It’s probably safe to suggest that many corporate learning departments are following a rather dated learning strategy that was primarily geared towards managing compliance and formal training sessions.
The change in methodology in the way learning is approached has been in the works for the past decade or so, and is consistent with the changes introduced to many other areas of our lives: the move toward all things digital.
Consequently, digital learning is gaining ground in corporate learning environments as well, and the emphasis has shifted from formal courses to videos, micro-learning experiences and mobile apps, all requiring intelligent, adaptive learning platforms.
There’s tremendous pressure on organizations to continually review and improve their learning and development strategies. The reasons are, not surprisingly, shifts in demographics, technology changes and the business necessity to maintain and upgrade workforce skills. This ongoing pressure has encouraged many companies to promote a culture of learning in their organizations, and places the onus on employees to develop their own learning experience.
The Benefits of an LCMS to Business Organizations
An LCMS can aggregate content into component parts in a single system: a Lego-style system of knowledge blocks.
The introduction of an LCMS into a company’s learning environment brings with it a wide range of benefits. These digital learning platforms are equipped to provide a comprehensive eLearning experience that begins to address many of the issues that were restricting the development of learning techniques within organizations. The basic components of an LCMS provide the tools for authoring, sequencing and aggregation that enable the structuring of content for the learning process.
A closer look at some of these benefits clarifies how an LCMS begins to open the door to some of the changes that will make the eLearning experience much more employee-centric and meaningful to the employee’s self-development journey.
Intelligent Automation – One of the most obvious benefits of a high quality LCMS is the large number of activities that can be automated. The system facilitates the creation of intelligent content templates that have the ability to auto-populate with relevant resources. The authoring application has templates and storyboarding capabilities, and it can also be used to convert existing content. In addition, it gives authors the means to customize content and deliver it in a timely manner to address the learner’s needs.
Staff Collaboration – Collaboration tools like chat, integrated email and threaded discussion groups are valuable assets that an LCMS provides. These tools provide businesses with an efficient solution for distributed authoring and scalable development. They’re capable of leveraging the skills and expertise of dispersed teams in an intuitive and streamlined digital environment.
Central Repository – One of the most important advantages of LCMS is that it permits all learning content to reside in one repository, with a variety of delivery formats. Up until recently, multiple sources of content and locations on different servers and devices led to errors and inefficiencies. A single repository makes security control of access and of data far more manageable.
Multi-National Adaptation – For large companies, LCMS offers specific advantages in foreign markets across the globe, especially for multiple brand corporations. LCMS can provide not only centralized updates and distribution worldwide, but it also permits with the translation of content.
Reusability – Most learning content has been developed separately for different target audiences. Content designers are now able to develop content that can be adapted or reused throughout the organization. Additionally, content can be customized for target audiences without the duplication of effort, which reduces the time and costs for customized learning.
Branding – A delivery interface offers content that can be modified to reflect the ‘look’ of an organization, such as organizational branding.
The ability to take control of content that often is spread throughout an organization’s department is critical for a successful learning platform. A LCMS facilitates the aggregation of all of an organization’s content into a single system. This content is then further manipulated and structured to create and deliver learning events.
LCMS and LMS Working in Tandem
A LCMS has the important role of creating a learner profile that can be shared between other systems, such as HR and ERP. A LMS can track learning from a number of content sources — classrooms, virtual classrooms, conferences, etc. — a function that LCMS can’t perform. In addition, only LMS can provide user registration, pre-screening and the cancellation of courses and learning programs. LMS can also plan and schedule events. LMS exclusively offers overall skills/knowledge testing, pointing to gaps that learning programs can remedy.
Once these preliminary steps in the learning process are completed, LMS and LCMS enter a collaborative stage. LCMS has the capacity for dynamically pre-selecting learning content based on the user’s profile and optimum learning modalities. Importantly, LCMS offers a user interface and a means to navigate relevant learning sources. In so doing, it can empower the user to build their own self-service training program. Users can direct learning content to their mobile devices, tablets and smartphones. They’re no longer restricted to certain facilities for programmed content, and can choose the time and location of learning. Additionally, by using keywords and text, users can select specific areas of interest to their role and have access to expert subject matter within the learning content developed for them. Users can access an element as small as a graph. This type of flexibility can only maximize the benefits of a learning process.
On top of all of this, LCMS can build in testing during learning, as well as once learning is completed, and then link the results to the LMS. In this manner, a learning feedback loop can quickly be executed.
The Need for a Dynamic Learning System
A dynamic LCMS should be able to detect who the learner is and record information about their experience. When the learner logs on to the system and launches the content, they should be taken straight back to where they left off. And so their learning experience continues, building upon previously achieved goals.
As mentioned above, when learners interact with the content, results are passed back to the system. The system can also change its behavior based on real-time student interaction. This would be based on test scores, learning style preferences, skills, communication abilities, organizational roles or any other relevant data.
More and more, enterprises must engage their employees with timely responses to changes in the market, to new products and to new compliance requirements. The traditional learning programs are no longer viable when on-demand learning is required for the rapidly evolving business environment. The dynamic and adaptive real-time learning solutions offered in collaborative LCMS and LMS solutions are increasingly being recognized as integral to business success.