LMS vs. LCMS

July 29, 2014 Melanie Moffett

The Learning and Development industry, like any other, has been inundated with new technologies and tools for learning. Buzz words in the industry include e-learning, mobile learning, cloud delivery, bite-sized learning, informal learning, learning record store, and single-source content development.

Instructional Designers (IDs) are now under more pressure than ever to deliver the best content, and a tool that many IDs are familiar with is a Learning Management System (LMS). In the simplest terms, this is a software package that manages course delivery and administration.

What does an LMS do?

For those who are unfamiliar with an LMS, this system, at a minimum, allows for learner registration and the delivery of eLearning courses or instructor-led training, which is usually in a web-enabled format. An LMS does not create content, but rather helps learners access it, and it also tracks course access, completion, and test scores. It is worth noting that while modern LMSs have focused on improving the end-user experience and integrating informal and social learning tools, learners still complain about finding the right content at the right time. Also, LMSs do not provide IDs with the deep analytics required to understand what content is working and what content is not. 

Another important learning tool that some may not be familiar with is a Learning Content Management System (LCMS). While these two learning tools share a similar space, they are actually quite different and often work hand-in-hand. The LCMS is a collaborative authoring environment and is used to create, publish and manage the content that is presented in the LMS and other learning systems. 

Features of an LCMS

Modern LCMSs manage content for every aspect of the learning process, from rapid authoring to delivery. IDs can use an LCMS to develop content using design templates, reusing content nuggets across courses and learning departments, importing and integrating content from other authoring tools, and publishing the content to multiple outputs and devices. However, this is just the formal learning management aspect.

The eLearning Guild says that informal learning forms up to 80% of all workplace learning. Informal learning, mobile learning, and social learning strategies (the blended learning approach) are easily managed with an LCMS, as the LCMS separates content from presentation, creates content in bite-size pieces, and allows IDs to create and deliver all types of learning.

Top-notch LCMS solutions can even provide detailed analytics that identify the most effective content. With these solutions, IDs are better able to understand the learning experience of users, which facilitates the optimization of content that is focused on the learner.

What Is the Right Learning Content Tool?

Many Learning and Development organizations are experiencing content problems. LMSs allow IDs to manage content and track what content is accessed, but beyond this, there is little to no information provided on whether the content is effective. This is an important aspect of the Instructional Designer’s job. With only an LMS to manage learning content, IDs are left using rapid authoring tools for single-use content that are more focused on the presentation than the content itself. Furthermore, there is no way to reuse any of the content, so work must constantly be redone.

By utilizing an LCMS in conjunction with the LMS that is already in place, IDs can provide greater value to their organization. An LCMS provides the foundation on which to provide a truly personalized learning experience, enabling content to be matched to learners dynamically or on learning paths. Having a solid content strategy, which focuses on providing the best content in the right learning environment for each learner, saves time and money, and it provides learners with the experiences they want.

Where can Xyleme enhance the LMS Experience?

Traditionally, LCMSs have been centered around authoring and publishing. The difference between the traditional LCMS and Xyleme is that Xyleme has implemented a delivery and tracking solution that enhances what the LMS can do, simplifying deployment and updates of formal learning content while making bite-sized learning available for performance support from any device. It is both a central Learning Object Repository (LOR) and Tin Can-compliant (xAPI) Learning Record Store (LRS). The table below shows how the combination of the LMS and Xyleme create a winning solution for learners, administrators and business-line managers.

 

Key:

 Standard Feature

* Advanced Feature

 

LMS

Xyleme

Support these types of Learning Interventions

 

 

Formal Learning (Classroom, eLearning, Assessment)

Informal Learning (Performance Support, Video, Knowledge Base)

*

Social Learning (Wikis, Blogs, Reviews, Comments, Mentoring/Coaching)

*

Learner Experience

 

 

Assigned Learning

 

Casual/On-Demand Learning

*

Faceted, Object Search

*

Individualized Learning Plan

 

Learning Paths by Competency, Job Role, Certification, etc.

*

 

End-User Dashboards (Learner, Manager)

*

Content Management

 

 

Granular Learning Objects/Reuse/Rapid Assembly

 

Content Authoring Tool/Templates (Includes Assessment)

*

Content Tagging/Classifications

*

Shared Media and Document Library

 

Content Output Templates

 

Workflow Management/Review Tool

 

Localization and Multilingual Support

 

Competency and Certification Support

 

Content Delivery/Tracking

 

 

Multi-channel Delivery (Web, Mobile, Print)

*

Online Content Repository (Courses)

Online Learning Object Repository

 

SCORM/AICC tracking

Learning Record Store (xAPI) – Informal Tracking

*

Question Level Tracking

*

Learning Administration

 

 

User and Group Administration

Content Assignments

 

Catalog Management / Content Access Control

Learning Paths

 

Classroom Management (Physical and Virtual)

 

Competency and Certification Management

 

Reporting

 

 

Completions/Test Scores

Usage Reports (Courses)

Usage Reports (Courses, Learning Objects)

 

Custom Reports / Data Export to BI tools

*

Dashboards

Integration Tools

 

 

Single Sign-on/SAML

User Management API

*

Content API

 

Analytics and xAPI

*

About the Author

Melanie Moffett

Melanie manages content marketing at Xyleme, Inc. Xyleme provides content management for learning and development. Melanie is responsible for maintaining the content inventory, editorial calendar and coordinating the full lifecycle of marketing content development. She is a skilled writer and a social media guru.

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