Going online is rampant, which is also why online learning (or eLearning) in corporate training is not going away anytime soon. But the question remains, once you’ve found or built your online course, how do you effectively deliver it to your employees?
This article identifies ways to effectively deliver eLearning via your learning management system (LMS). It will discuss the continued value of eLearning, define the two components needed for effective eLearning: engaging courseware and an integrated LMS, identify some real-world speedbumps, and provide tips for integrating eLearning content within your LMS.
The Best Ways to Successfully Deliver eLearning via Your LMS
The Value of eLearning
First and foremost, eLearning allows organizations to provide learning experiences to employees anywhere, anytime. Not only is online learning convenient and flexible, it’s often the most cost-effective choice. eLearning is also:
eLearning is also:
- Scalable – eLearning enables organizations to quickly create and communicate information, whether this is information on a new company policy, training, basic knowledge or company reminders.
- Seamless – eLearning organizes and centralizes learning and development (or training) in one easily accessible online resource.
- Measurable – the true strength of eLearning lies in its ability to produce meaningful analytics. In comparison to face-to-face delivery, online training programs allow you to track how your eLearning impacts key business objectives.
A few benefits have been identified above, however the list is endless. For more information on both advantages and disadvantages of eLearning, check out the recent article written by Isabelle Clover.
Components Needed for Effective eLearning
1. Deliver effective courseware
What is the best way to acquire courseware?
The first component of eLearning delivery is, obviously, the courseware. You can purchase existing courses, create your own courses, or commission a vendor to build them for you.
- Purchase existing courses
“Off-the-Shelf” courseware is a good option when you have a limited budget because these courses are typically less expensive than custom-build courses. Additionally, ready-made content is exactly that, ready to use, meaning your employees can access the course as soon as it’s been purchased.
The disadvantage is that these courses are not customized to your organization. For some types of courses this may be okay, but for other content areas you may need a different solution.
- Build your own eLearning course
The second option is to build your own eLearning content. The biggest advantage is that you get exactly what you want because the courses are customized to your learning needs.
Before you consider this option, you’ll want to think about your budget, the resources available to you, and the skillset required to build the course.
If you are interested in building your own eLearning courses, check out the article How to Build an Engaging eLearning Course, or read 5 Instructional Design Tips for Engaging eLearning.
- Outsource your eLearning course development
The final option is to commission a vendor to build the course for you.
eLearning vendors generally have the expertise and experience to help you identify your learning needs, create strategies, identify solutions, create storyboards, develop course content with the help of subject-matter experts and develop the eLearning course.
When considering this option, evaluate whether you need this level of specialization or customization. Compared to buying off-the-shelf courses, commissioned projects are usually more expensive.
2. Deliver eLearning anywhere, anytime using an LMS
The second component needed for the delivery of online courses is a learning management system. An LMS (learning management system or eLearning platform) is a software application that supports learning in an organization.
Learning management systems enable organizations to deliver all types of learning content, enroll learners, track performance, engage learners, generate strong analytics and reporting on performance and provide recognition.
For a more complete list of LMS capabilities, check out Christopher Pappas’s post on 99 LMS features.
AICC, SCORM and TinCan Technical Standards
Once you have a course and a platform to deliver eLearning, what’s next?
You need to ensure that your online course is compatible with your LMS. This is where having a basic understanding of the technical standards is helpful. There are three recognized standards: AICC, SCORM and TinCan.
- The Aviation Industry CBT Committee (AICC) supports a Computer Based Training (CBT) standard that complies with its AICC Guidelines and Recommendations. eLearning content does not need to be aviation industry-specific, however any content that is AICC-compliant would have to follow at lease one of nine guidelines and recommendations.
- SCORM stands for “Shareable Content Object Reference Model”. SCORM modules are interoperable, accessible and reusable between compliant LMSs – in other words, SCORM allows vendors to build units of online learning resources that can be shared across systems. SCORM-compliant platforms can track course completion, keep tabs on time spent on a course, monitor and report on pass/fail results, and offer single source reports.
- TinCan API (or xAPI) is “a specification for learning technology that makes it possible to collect data about the wide range of experiences a person has (online and offline). It captures data in a consistent format about a person or group’s activities from many technologies”.
What does all this mean? eLogic Learning explains it best:
“Just as humans rely on some form of common language, be it signs, icons, emoticons, symbols or interpreters, to communicate across boundaries, borders and cultures, so too LMSs need certain standards to communicate with each other and with the content they manage and disseminate. Without these standards (AICC, SCORM, API), LMS users would have a tough time understanding if specific content could be hosted or “launched” through their corporate learning environments.”
Three Tips for Integrating eLearning Content via Your LMS
Now that you know the two components required for successfully delivering your online courses and are more aware of the technical standards, here are two common speedbumps that organizations run into when trying to set up online courses in their LMS:
- They have existing content but don’t know what standard they are published in.
- They have existing published content but don’t have access to the source files to republish or publish in a different format (either because the source files have been lost, or the content was bought from an external vendor who only provided published versions).
To facilitate the integration process, consider the following three tips:
- Tip 1: If you are paying a vendor to build courses for you, always get the source files so that you can edit the content and have the option to republish to a different format. You can also hire a vendor to do this for you.
- Tip 2: If you have a bunch of content, ensure that you know what standards you need the LMS to support, and make that a selection criterion when you are comparing and purchasing platforms.
- Tip 3: Don’t ask for SCORM compliance if you don’t need it. It’s important that you know what standards your existing or future content supports. If your content isn’t SCORM, why look for a SCORM LMS.
To successfully deliver your eLearning content, remember you need an online course, a platform that can host, deliver and support your courses; and your course source files need to be compatible with your LMS.
Delivering your eLearning content does not have to be a complex process, however, you should be aware of the technical standards that are required for seamless integration. This article not only identified and defined these standards (AICC, SCORM and TinCan), it also provided common challenges and tips for integration.
So what’s next? Check out our eBook and get tips to create a successful LMS implementation project plan and deliver your eLearning courses.