LMS and Development Guidance

A thread on the Adobe forums requested some help with Adobe Presenter and LMS options. They have Adobe Presenter and were wondering if that required Adobe Connect.

Our reply had some good pointers in it, or so we like to think! So as a quickie post, here’s the essence:

We’ve just occasionally worked with Adobe Presenter but have heard that it’s not great for publishing content to systems other than Connect. I’m not sure of the issues, but general concensus seems to be Adobe Presenter is best used with Connect. If you’ve got a different LMS, other tools are probably better suited. Common tools are Articulate Presenter (simple), Adobe Captivate (mid-level), and Trivantis Lectora (high-level)…among many, many other tools.

Here’s Adobe’s eLearning Solutions page.

Many tools output to Flash. If Apple’s mobile devices have a significant presence in your audience, consider alternatives that do not, as those devices do not (yet?) support Flash. Many folks like to develop their content in variations of HTML and Javascript….which can limit fancy features but does improve accessibility (blind, deaf, etc) and allow playback on Apple’s mobile products.

The key tying the eLearning content and the LMS together is ‘SCORM’. As long as you have an authoring tool that outputs SCORM-compliant content, it should work in a SCORM-compliant LMS…though there are occasionally issues with the SCORM implementation on one side or the other…and be aware of the SCORM versions (1.2 and 1.3/2004). You don’t want to get stuck with a 1.2 compliant LMS and try to load content authored for 1.3…

Avoid LMS products where the authoring tool is ‘built-in’. That can be a perceived advantage, but then if you ever want to change the LMS, there goes your authoring tool too…AND you’re likely stuck without the source files for the courses you did create as well. I believe such a combination is more about ‘lock-in’ than advantages; it’s better to have flexibility on either side (LMS and authoring tool).

If your LMS is just for internal needs, then you just need a webserver on your internal network – though which webserver depends on the LMS spec (generally IIS/Windows or Apache/Linux).
If folks need to access the LMS outside the organization network, then either you’ll need to either setup VPN access to your network from outside, or host the LMS outside the company for general internet access.

Development in-house can have advantages in access to expertise and costs…as long as the developers are sufficiently busy. Outsourcing is frequent though for companies who don’t need dedicated resources. You’ll almost certainly need a subject-matter expert (SME) in either case.

There are also a few companies that license pre-packaged content that cover more general subjects, like “respect in the workplace”, “how to use Word”, and things like that. They tend to be rather generic, but that may be fine depending on your needs

We here at ICS offer all those capabilities and services. We can provide the LMS consultation, or even an overall eLearning initiative Needs Analysis! And while we encourage an outsourcing of your content development to folks like us who specialize in such services, we can certainly also assist you with whatever internal overflow, augmentation, or general guidance you may require.