Some of the ‘frequently asked questions’ we hear from people getting started with digital learning in their organization, are:
“What’s the difference between the learning materials (e-learning) and an LMS?”
“Where does the ‘content’ stop and the ‘LMS’ begin?”
The answer isn’t so easy, since the two often work closely together – or at least, they should! Let’s try and clear things up.
Content VS LMS
When creating or deploying a corporate learning solution, we want to understand the vision and the needs of our clients. We want to present the right content, in the right way, and make the learning experience for the end-users as nice and effective as possible .
The solution that offers the most possibilities – for integrations with existing (HR, communication or other) systems, and offers course management, tracking options, and so on, is that of an e-learning package, deployed on a Learning Management System (LMS). At the same time, this is a complex one to create. To make everything run smoothly, there are a lot of parameters that need to be well aligned. Some of them need to be adjusted in the e-learning package itself (in the ‘content’), others only on the LMS, and other settings should be adjusted in both.
Less abstractly put: the display size of the content, for example, is determined in the output settings of the e-learning package, but can be ‘overruled’ by the display size settings of the LMS. This is a classic example of where both need to be adapted to each other, in order to get the best results.
Creating the right setting
That’s why all learning professionals (and their clients) should know which settings can be found on which level (in the content or in the LMS) and what they want these settings to be. In other words: they should know exactly what can be adapted in the content, and what needs to be done in the LMS.
Often, The Learning Hub is both the content creator ánd the provider of support for the LMS. Then, we can take care of both aspects, and make sure both are well aligned. If clients call on us for just the content creation or LMS support, and take up the other part themselves (or work with another partner for this), then, it becomes even more important to understand which settings can influence the learning materials’ behaviour, and on which level they need to be adjusted.
The following overview can put you on the right path!
Settings in the content
These settings determine quite a lot of the user experience: how the learner can ‘consume’ the content and interact with it. They only apply to that specific content, and do not influence the learner’s progress in any other learning material.
These are some of the most important settings to think about in a content module:
- Should a learner be able to navigate freely through the module or do we provide a strict path that needs to be followed?
- When a learner revisits an exercise, what needs to happen? Will he be asked to do the exercise again or will his previous answer be saved?
- What happens when a learner closes the module and reopens it later? Should he start again from the beginning, should he continue where he left off, or do we give him the choice?
- How many attempts should a learner get to complete an exercise (1, 2, even more, or unlimited tries)?
- What is the passing score of the quiz (e.g. the learners need to score higher than 75% to ‘pass’)?
- When is the module considered ‘completed’?
- Should the learner be able to see his score in the module?
Settings in the LMS
The settings we determine in the LMS mainly influence the learner’s progress throughout a course consisting of different modules, or a program or curriculum. They can be made the same for multiple modules or be unique for just the one. They make sure that each learner is presented with the correct learning materials at the right time and under the right circumstances. These settings make all learning materials part of a coherent learning track.
Since not all LMS’s provide the same options, here are some of the most common settings that can be adjusted:
- How many attempts should a learner get to complete a module?
- What happens when a learner passes/fails the module?
- When can a learner access the module (e.g. from a specific moment on, during a period of time, only if certain prerequisites are fulfilled …)?
- Should the learner be able to see his score in the LMS?
The perfect content-LMS-symbiosis
So, when creating a learning module that will be deployed on an LMS, the content creation team and the LMS consultants should deliberate constantly how the module is best implemented into the system. There are settings that need to be aligned between the module and the system while others need to be each other’s complement. Only if all elements are put together correctly, the learning experience will be what it’s supposed to be!