Tuesday, April 12, 2005

e-Learning LMS/LCMS tools

I'll preface my comments here by saying that we've only deployed an LMS strictly as a prototype (as of the date of this post.) We're not actively using it to host and deliver content. This isn't an exhaustive list by any means. Simply entering the term "Learning Management System" into Google will yield a huge result.

There are very blurred lines between the Learning Content Management Systems and Learning/Learner Management Systems. Some tools may indeed allow you to manage a library of learning content and components as well as offering the delivery, hosting and tracking elements. My only suggestion here is to get some solid demonstrations of the product to see how well they will suit your needs. Do NOT, repeat, NOT, rely on just the product fact sheets. While many of the products available can eventually get to some kind of solution, the effort required to get there can be arduous and, frankly, painful and frustrating.

LCMS:

EEDO Interactive offers a tool called Force Ten which really, really impressed me. Positioned as a Web-based Learning Content Management System, it really offers good abilities to both manage content as well as develop it. The feature I particularly liked was a workflow-based development process. It was possible for you to actually author content through the browser window, and then add routing information to escalate the content to a reviewer or to another author. Very, very clever. Expensive to implement in-house, but clever. EEDO does offer hosted solutions which definitely make them more attractive.

TrainingPartner is the LCMS we used in my days at CDI. While we used it as a scheduling and course management tool, it is a full-featured LCMS. There are no hosting or development features on board, but the reporting capabilities are awesome. Important for me is that they're Canadian (Victoria, BC.) They actually recommended EEDO to me, as well as recommending KnowledgePresenter. (They are now the Canadian distributor for KP.)

LMS:

ELM is the LMS offered by Outstart, the makers of TrainerSoft. It was comparable in features to the LearningSpace LMS that was featured during the course. TrainerSoft (if I recall) offered both an implemented solution as well as a hosted solution.

aTutor is an open-source Learning Management System, developed at the University of Toronto.

Moodle is another open-source Learning Management System.

OCCAM is yet another open-source Learning Management System.

While "free" is never a bad thing, you should be prepared to do a lot of customization of the software yourself. If you're not comfortable with handling the nitty-gritty of systems administration, I'd recommend leaving these tools in the hands of those who have said skills. As much as I might appear "technical", I'm not that much of a code geek.

EnQPlus is kind of an all-in-one tool that I saw demonstrated by a former colleague. It didn't suit my needs at the time, but it might be worth further exploration if someone is curious. Contact Jeff Woods at Mindvault. He's reselling the tool.

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