LMS Tips: June 2010: Focus on E-Learning and Learning Management Systems


Learning Management vs. Course Development

Jay Ayres





June 2010

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 course development, and its relationship to the LMS, will increase training efficiency and effectiveness. Consider:

What content already exists and how can I use it? Take inventory of existing materials and resources. You may already have web-deliverable components and need only an authoring tool to create your learning screens. Or, you may need to convert text from Word to HTML. Conversion to streaming video or Flash can prepare multimedia (MM) materials for use in a network-based learning environment. Identify colleagues with expertise and materials pertaining to the course, even if delivered in other formats.

How and when do I use MM? Video and other MM such as Flash or PowerPoint can be valuable and entertaining when demonstrating a procedure or concept. To hold learner interest, and save bandwidth, MM should be brief and targeted.  Consider whether the MM object can stand alone as an entire course section or should be embedded into a learning screen to enhance, add variation and complete the learning concept.

How do I utilize the authoring options? Identify the authoring options in the LMS, and whether you can utilize external authoring options. Can you use multiple authoring options within the same course by creating sections from different sources? Evaluate the testing features and decide how many exams or quizzes are needed, as well as what information needs to be tracked and reported.

What technology best communicates the content?  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. Or, you can use static images but incorporate “hot points” that open MM objects in a pop up window. Simple images and text utilizing variation in backgrounds, color choices and arrangement can be very effective.  

What materials are online content or support docs? Instructional material is needed to teach the concepts and knowledge you want to disseminate.   Material that covers special cases, alternative methods or additional examples can be organized as support documentation. You can hyperlinks, document libraries or simple reference information.  

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

     Build Online Training


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




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