The true affordances of learning content management

November 17, 2014 Monica Kraft

With the consumerization of learning fully underway, it is time for you to consider the affordances of Learning Content Management.

What are affordances and why are they useful in evaluating technology?  According to Merriam-Webster:

af·ford·ance: The qualities or properties of an object that define its possible uses or make clear how it can or should be used.”

Xyleme recently attended a popular learning conference and enjoyed an interactive session facilitated by Larry Israelite, an experienced learning executive and author who is now head of Assessment Solutions at Smarterer. He introduced a simple way to evaluate the usefulness of learning technology in your organization by answering these three questions:

What are the affordances for the technology?
How do they impact learning?
What are the challenges?

Learning tech buyers

Before we dive in to the details, let’s take a look at what’s going through the minds of learning technology buyers.

According to the Enterprise Learning Buyer reporti from The Starr Conspiracy and Brandon Hall Group, 37% of buyers believe that managing learning content is one of their biggest challenges. A recent article in Elearning! Magazine, “Learning & Technology Management System Trends,” reported that 41% of survey respondents are planning to purchase a learning content management system, and 84% are planning to purchase a learning management system.

What about learning leaders? According to CLO Magazine, in “CLOs Prioritize Budgets for Learning Technologies” (November 2014), the “drive for efficiency, rapid expansion or technological effectiveness all have been themes in recent CLO investment decisions.”  This study shows that 57% of CLOs see learning technologies as a significant investment area. The potential irony is that content development is a core focus area, particularly around leadership development and blended approaches, yet the priority for technology spend reflects only content delivery and not content production and overall management. Do CLOs believe that current content management practices are “effective enough” to achieve their other goals? 


The message to CLOs is that – without effective content management, collaboration, strategy and some level of content reuse – learning organizations might achieve better alignment to the business, but they will struggle to keep up with the demand to produce blended learning and provide mobile performance support. They will also struggle to achieve deep insights into learning effectiveness. In other words, they will not break the cycle of delivering formal training courses alone, instead of the desired state, which includes the full gamut of learning content needed to support a continuous learning environment. In addition, they will not make a smooth transition to an agile content development process because content for each purpose, audience and “modality” will be built and maintained separately.

Affordances throughout the content lifecycle

Xyleme has assembled all the elements organizations need to create a dynamic learning environment, from rapid, single-source content development to anywhere delivery. It’s really the backbone of enterprise learning: a comprehensive platform to create, publish, deliver and measure learning content. When evaluating Xyleme, you might have to think a bit outside the box. It is a class of technology that both overlaps and supports other technology that you have or are considering. The four parts – Author, Publish, Deliver and Measure – work seamlessly together but also have integration points for other tools and technology in your learning ecosystem. Some might call Xyleme’s platform an LCMS, but the traditional definition for this classification of technology only partially describes its utility and impact.

As we look at Xyleme’s potential impact on learning, it is best to consider each of the functional areas of the platform independently because they map directly to the lifecycle of learning content. As Larry Israelite said, if the affordances and impacts are compelling for your organization, the team of decision-makers will address the challenges early in the buying process. This is what informed buyers do.





Know what content you have, manage it.

Collaborative development
- Smaller content
Agile process
Search and reuse, or author new
Tag content for audience, level and competency
Manage translation

Create and tailor publishing templates for any modality, audience or brand.

Responsive HTML5 templates ready to tailor/no coding.

Easy-to-manage Word and PowerPoint templates. 

Ready-made, interactive digital books app for iOS and Android.

Impact on learning

Content is built for searching, flexible application and dynamic assembly.

Can be shared with other functions for consistency and quality.

Faster global time-to-market.

Higher productivity – eliminate formatting time, reuse.

Future-proof content – content is separated from presentation.

Maximize content investment through multiple outputs from a single source.

Consistency, standardization and quality of finished content.

Multiply the efforts of talented designers through publishing templates.

Mobile, out-of-the-box learning through ePub format, Mobile Books, Responsive eLearning and interactive slides.


Designing your content strategy to support your business strategy.
Writing for reuse.

Determining path for legacy content; import, rebuild, maintain or retire.

Change management for content development staff.




Single “source of truth for learning objects and finished content.

One-time deployment to any and all systems of engagement.

Learner content discovery through

Learning Channels, Paths and Granular Search.

Custom metadata and taxonomies.

Mobile access.

Open API.

xAPI-enabled learning backbone to listen for all learning activities within the learning ecosystem.

Does not require LMS to support xAPI.

Content usage at the learning object level for formal, informal and social learning activity.

Traditional completion and test scores for formal learning.

Question-level insights.

Capture access points to learning from any system or device.

Most popular content and most active learners.

Impact on learning

Guarantee current version of content.

Deliver learning at the speed of change.

Streamline deployment, increase capacity.

Formal, informal and social learning from the same source.  

Performance support on mobile.

Continuously improve content.

Identify gaps in content to support learning.

Identify problems in learning content or populations.


Change management for streamlined deployment methods.

Determine best approach for data integration with business systems to correlate learning content activity to business results.



If you would like to learn more, please contact us. We can help you build the business case to internal stakeholders for effective learning content management today.

iThe Starr Conspiracy. The Enterprise Learning Buyer, 2014.


About the Author

Monica Kraft

Monica Kraft is the Director of Product Marketing for Xyleme, Inc. Xyleme provides content management for learning and development. In this role, Monica is responsible for PR, event planning, customer relationship development, sales enablement, content development for and driving digital marketing/solution education, and input into the branding strategy and overall marketing plan and budget.

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