I recently spoke with Mike Gregory about OutStart’s Learning Content Management System (LCMS). As a disclosure I am helping OutStart with their blog and Twitter efforts. First, I asked Mike to explain the difference between an LMS and LCMS, as I have been familiar with LMS (Learning Management System) for some time. Mike said the similarity of terms can be confusing but there is a real distinction. He used the metaphor of a store for LMS. You can find learning content there and the LMS keeps track of usage. The LMS is the back office tool. A LCMS then is like a factory where content is assembled from component parts. This is different from the traditional artisan approach of hand building learning content one instance at a time. This agility in developing content greatly extends both the efficiency and effectiveness of content creation.
An LCMS provides for automating the development, management, maintenance, delivery and publishing of modular and personalized learning – including online, instructor guides, mobile, assessments and the ability to deliver training in different languages. This allows you to build content once and then easily repurpose it for multiple channels and branding. You create learning objects that can be put together in multiple ways. OutStart’s mobile platform, Hot Lava, is one of the many delivery channels that can be used (see OutStart’s Hot Lava Provides Flexible Mobile Communication Platform).
Utilizing an LCMS works much like object oriented programming to achieve great efficiencies in learning content creation and updating. This granularity also allows for better search capabilities, as well as better reuse. You create once and publish in many ways. You update an object and then the content can be automatically updated in the many instances in which it appears. You can build content for documentation then take the same content and add classroom activities and instructor notes for ILT. You can also take the same content and add simulation activities and quizzes for eLearning.
For all the efficiency gains, the real value is the increased learner focus that this agility permits. One of the main benefits of the modular approach is the ease in which personalized learning can be provided. You can customize learning content by role (e.g., sales vs. technical support) or give a test and them offer personalized content for each individual based on their results. Content can be provided in a variety of modalities and channels to meet individual needs.
To accomplish this learner focus, OutStart’s LCMS supports the entire content life cycle: development, management, maintenance, and delivery. First, you simply develop content once separately from the delivery vehicle so it becomes easy to use the content for different purposes, people, and devices. You can quickly assemble courses for modular material regardless of whether it was developed within the system or imported. The workflow and review processes are streamlined for rapid progress.
All content is tagged and stored in a central repository. This makes updating easy and eliminates the possibility of losing track of content. The ease of access facilitates changes when updates are required. The system also knows all places where a single bit of content is used and allows you to updates all these instances at once. Delivery is then device independent and flexible to support personalization.
The LCMS also works with OutStart’s social software platform, Participate (see OutStart’s Participate Supports the Social Side of Enterprise Work Processes). For example, while in Participate, you can do a search in Evolution to find modularized content for performance support purposes.
OutStart’s LCMS integrates with Microsoft office, enabling the ingestion of SME created or legacy content for reuse and repurposing. It also enables the assembly of a variety of native and external content, including Flash and other media, through a central repository. The LCMS can integrate with a variety of LMS’s, including the LMS that OutStart offers. Other core capabilities include configurable metadata management, review management, workflow, media management, search and re-use, enterprise class security, partitioning, data movement, and integrations. The OutStart LCMS is available as SaaS or On-Premise.
OutStart’s LCMS is well received in the industry and has won eLearning! Magazine’s Readership Award for ‘Best Learning Content Management System (LCMS)’ in each of the last two years, and Brandon Hall’s Gold Award for Technology Excellence,