This is a question that I face often, as someone who talks to eLucid’s customers all day long. I face a wide variety of questions like:
- We have a LMS – do you have someone who can create training material for us?
- Do you have a ready-made library of courses in our industry category(Soft Skills, Process Training, Management Training, Leadership Training, etc.)
- Do you know someone who can create training material for us?
- Can you advise us on what kind of training material we need?
- Does your LMS support integrations with Coursera & Udemy? Because we want to purchase their courses.
The above are just a few examples of the kind of questions I get from prospects, customers, leads, who’re all trying to do the next big thing in making training more engaging and fun for their learners. Every big company is looking towards new ways of presenting learning material that will invigorate employees to take training while they are busy in their daily humdrum of work.
So – that raises an important question – as a full-fledged Learning Management System, do you take the giant jump towards learning libraries as a part of your offering? As someone who is in charge of training, should you be looking towards a singular Learning Experience platform with the LMS features, Engagement features, The Course Content, Learning Reports, etc.? Or should you look towards separate platforms for the LMS and Course Content?
I’ll attempt to answer these questions over the course of this blog post.
1. What are my available options for ready-made Online Course Content?
There are umpteen options available online to get ready-made course content. I’m going to list down the top 3:-
Udemy – This course library is probably the most comprehensive, and covers a huge variety of topics. It is for learners, who’re learning casually, or to develop specific skills. You’ll find a wide variety of courses here, which will benefit your employees, plus you can throw in a mix of non-skill based courses where employees can even take courses like playing a guitar, or learning how to do gardening. Udemy also has a business plan, which offers tighter integration with whichever LMS you’re using.
Coursera – This platform is targeted towards employees who want to improvise their skills, and land better career growth opportunities, either at their current company or outside, in the industry. If you want to train an army of freshers, who want to acquire basic skills, to be ready to perform their roles effectively in your company, you should probably look at Coursera.
Udacity – This is similar to Coursera, where professionals who want to improve their skills, come regularly and keep taking refresher trainings or try to upskill themselves with newer courses. This is for the extremely serious learner, who has taken a break from their responsibilities and engaged in full-time learning. This is not really the norm, but judging by the nature of courses, I’m of the opinion that companies should think very carefully and pick up individual courses for investing in the employees’ on Udacity.
So we’ve summarised the top 3 options companies already have when it comes to ready-made training material. Companies look for integration with LMSes, but please remember that you need an Enterprise or a Business account with either of these 3 platforms for their Course Material to be be available on some other platform. There are also restrictions on whether employee progress can be exported and integrated with the employee’s progress on an external LMS – so you’d do well to check that, both with your LMS vendor and with your Relationship Manager at either of these course libraries.
2. Is it possible for all LMS vendors to provide a Course Library with their LMS?
Right off the bat, it’s not always feasible for all LMS vendors to give you a content library from within the LMS. It involves heavy investment in creating content that will be curated, or be ready for consumption in a high-intensity learning environment. It involves a different set of skills, and an LMS vendor is not very likely to provide it along with the LMS. What they will provide is – integration with Course libraries like BizLibrary, referral network of individual corporate trainers OR integration (paid, of course) with existing libraries like Coursera, Udemy & Udacity.
So this probably answers the question, should you, as an LMS vendor offer both the options – the answer seems to be in the negative. What you can instead do (and this is something eLucid does really well) –
- Provide a robust set of tools to enable Rapid Authoring – remember, L&D vendors are looking out for help with creating awesome learning experiences. If you can empower them with the right set of authoring tools without making them hunt for multiple options, create content in desktop-based authoring tool and then import it – then they’ll value your LMS for it.
- Support Interoperability & Course Standards – your LMS should support course content encoded in standards like SCORM, xAPI(or Tin Can API) or if you want to support multiple applications, then ensure that your LMS supports LTI.
- Offer clients the option to integrate with a Coursera, or a Udemy or recommend open learning libraries like Open EdX.
This way, you’re able to provide definite answers to challenges faced by L&D administrators.
3. Should you expect LMSes to come along with Course Libraries?
The answer isn’t a definite yes or no. For you, the obvious advantage is that you’re able to keep all your learners on one single platform, and complete the entire learning cycle on one single platform. This means that you save a lot of time on integrating employee’s course progress, creating courses, and making employees feel that they’re a part of a bigger learning environment.
The flip-side, is that all course libraries aren’t attuned towards the learning flow that every company needs. Every company needs a specific educational workflow to be followed by the employee – and for more serious learning environments, the company invests in creating training material in-house that is specifically customised for their own employees. This is a dream scenario where, the learner activation rates are typically very high.
There is an added credence to the course material, because it comes from in-house experts, seniors who’re anyway respected for their experience. With the advent of rapid authoring tools, LMSes like eLucid and Adobe Captivate Prime are ready to offer authoring tools where you won’t have to hunt elsewhere for creation of course material. Even if you already have course content created in Articulate Storyline or Adobe Captivate, you can always store those courses in the SCORM or xAPI format, and import them into most LMSes.
So, largely, my opinion is that an LMS is purely for learning and evaluating learning outcomes. It may or may not come with existing course libraries, so instead of looking for ready-made libraries inside the LMS, you’d do well to expect integrations with comprehensive course libraries.
I’d like to know your thoughts in the Comments below.