LMS Tips: June 2007: Focus on E-Learning


Learning Management vs. Course Development

Jay Ayres





June 2007

The implementation of a Learning Management System (LMS) is a key element of an online education project, but an integral part of that implementation is the course development, whether it is created, purchased or a combination of both.  An LMS will deliver, track, and in some cases, serve as the primary course development tool.  Examining the who, what, when, where and how of course development, and the relationship to the capabilities of the LMS, will increase training efficiency and effectiveness. 

Some key points to consider: 

What content already exists, how can I use it and who are Subject Matter Experts within the organization?  The first step is taking inventory of existing materials and resources.  Research possible sources for learning content (MS PowerPoint, Word files, video material, flash movies, web sites, HTML and text, etc.).  In many cases, you may already have web-deliverable components and need only an authoring tool to create the logical arrangement of learning screens.  In other cases, you may need to convert text from word processing format to HTML format.  Classroom and CD-ROM-based learning tools often generate large files that are too slow to load over the internet.  Conversion to streaming video format or Flash movies can prepare these multimedia materials for use in a network-based learning environment. You also need to identify colleagues with expertise and materials pertaining to the course, even if delivered in other formats.  Are there potential developers you can recruit for the project? 

How and when do I use multimedia?  Video and other multimedia such as Flash movies or PowerPoint can be valuable and entertaining when demonstrating a procedure or concept. To hold learner interest, and save bandwidth, multimedia should be brief and targeted. You also need to consider whether the multimedia object can stand alone as an entire section of the course or should be embedded into a learning screen with other learning screens around it to enhance, add variation and complete the learning concept.

How do I efficiently utilize the authoring options available?  What authoring options are available in the LMS, and can you utilize other authoring options outside of the LMS?  Can you use multiple authoring options within the same course by creating sections from different sources?  What testing features are available and how many exams or quizzes are needed?  What information needs to be tracked and reported from the examination process? Images and text are easy to create, usually require less development time and put little strain on bandwidth.

What technology best communicates the purpose of the content?  When you select a particular technology or design format, make sure you are doing so because it is the best way to accomplish your goal.  Subject matter will normally dictate the choice of design and media.  If you are trying to teach software procedures, a screen capture or recording of your mouse movements might be the most effective way to communicate the concept.  In other cases, you may want to use static images but incorporate “hot points” that open multimedia objects in a pop up window.   Also, don’t underestimate the effectiveness of simple images and text utilizing variation in backgrounds, color choices, images and text arrangement.  

What materials are online content, and what materials would make better support materials?  Instructional material is needed to teach the concepts and knowledge you want to disseminate online.   Material that covers special cases, alternative methods or additional examples can be organized as support documentation.  You could use hyperlinks, document libraries or simple reference information. What content is training material and what is reference material depends upon frequency, immediacy and criticalness.  

When do I need an introductory course to lead to more advanced courses?  Most experts will agree that the cardinal rule of authoring is to make sure courses are not overwhelming in size.  Even within the course you want to make manageable sections and possibly even divide the course into multiple courses.  Do you need a grouping of courses to effectively cover a specific competency or certification?  Job requirements, experience levels and the diversity of your learning audience will also help you determine how to structure course offerings.  

The LMS should facilitate, not dictate, how your content is structured to produce the online course.  Needs and environments will change, and the avenues offered by the LMS to create and adjust training content will remain vital.  

When you examine your available resources and determine the components of your course development, we can help you plan and develop your online education projects.

More Information:  www.FlexTraining.com


Jay Ayres is a senior e-Learning Consultant at FlexTraining (www.flextraining.com).  Jay works with clients in Retail, Manufacturing, Distribution, Professional Services, Government and other industries.

Jay specializes in developing business solutions for a wide variety of e-Learning needs, based on the FlexTraining Learning Management System and related products.

FlexTraining software has been adopted by industry leaders and over 250,000 online learners around the world.  It provides and delivers instructor-led courses, self-paced training, delivery, testing, tracking and reporting.  FlexTraining also offers template-based multimedia, rapid course development tools and professional course development services.



Jay Ayres







Newsletter Index Home