The Great Debate Once Again…

May 4, 2009 Mark Hellinger

A recently published report concluded that Learning Content Management Systems (LCMS) implementations using reusable learning object (RLO) models typically result in a small return on investment. I am not surprised. For starters, I happen to know that none of our customers participated in the study :-)

The study observed only “asset-based” LCMS. Asset-based solutions have been the traditional approach to building a Learning Content Management System. In this model, you wrap assets with metadata and enable reuse at the SCO or page level. While this offers some level of development efficiency, it doesn’t deal with the overall problem of how to make content development efficient across multiple delivery formats and contexts.

In contrast, Xyleme LCMS is a “component-based, XML publishing solution”. Following a proven single source XML model, you can reuse content at very low levels. For example, this means that you can take a paragraph out of a topic originally written for instructor-led training and reuse it inside of a page in a web course. Or show the steps in a procedure in the remediation loop of an assessment. This is particularly important when creating multiple derivatives of courses which vary only slightly in content.

XML-based publishing systems have extraordinary return on investment results. They have been proven this over time across many industries. By applying these same techniques to learning content, we can achieve extraordinary ROI results for training and development departments as well.

Suppose you wanted to have the same course materials offered in the U.S. and the United Kingdom. You have an on-line course, a Word-based study guide and PowerPoint-based instructor slides to update. In the XML-based world, we can have the same course dynamically substitute “Labour” for “Labor”, “Familiarise” for “Familiarize” and more complex phrases like “Chartered Accountant” for “Certified Public Accountant”. I am not talking about a find and replace and copying to a new file. Or cutting and pasting into a new file. Then spending a lot of time re-checking the formatting. In Xyleme LCMS, a simple operation does this for you automatically. We are able to manipulate and transform component content while maintaining a single source of content. It’s all in the underlying XML technology for building, storing and publishing reusable learning content.

As I said above, I am not surprised by the study about LCMS and RLO’s. The traditional approach for creating asset-based objects has some utility, but if you want to dramatically improve the return on investment, you should be thinking about moving to component-based learning content development.

About the Author

Mark Hellinger

As President and CEO of Xyleme, Inc., Mark is one of the training industry’s leading technologists. He has an extensive track record of building successful technology companies, from early-stage private investment through IPO or acquisition. Prior to Xyleme, Mark was CEO of PRAJA, a leader in business activity monitoring that was successfully sold to TIBCO Software.

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