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Angela James

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Is your elearning platform out of tune?


Angela James of Worksmart gets technical in the world of elearning platforms.
There are a large number of different elearning platforms on the market that all have advantages and disadvantages depending on its application and use. Because of this, learning and development managers often find their system doesn't always function as well as they would have hoped for their specific requirements.
All systems deliver content, however the most common problems are that it might be limited, inflexible, not particularly user-friendly, generic and there are issues with MI. To help companies understand the different elearning platforms available, I have broken them down into four simple groups to act as a useful reference.

Bottom tier – CBT systems (many, many players)

Second generation computer-based training systems, mostly given away as a sales enabler by content providers. These are essentially free-to-use systems wrapping around web-based paper learning. Some have a bit of MI with them but all are commodity-free items because they generally are not open platforms using SCORM – [the industry common language]. These systems are free as they are now obsolete and often do not meet the objectives of the user.

Lower tier – elearning platforms (many players)

There are many players in this space because it is relatively easy to build a web-based viewer that works with a variety of SCORM content. They were mostly developed for educational purposes and have become more popular with enterprises as they are cheap when used globally. Many were authored in India as boom projects and all was going well until Microsoft made much of the code free and their business models imploded. Many companies have had experience of working with these systems but the essence of the problem is that the vendors can only make it work if they have a totally common product across the globe, are country specific or regulation specific adjustments or personalisation are counter to their business plans. If you have paid or are paying quite a lot for these, prices have come down so it is worth reviewing.

Mid-tier – multimedia learning (dozens of competent players)

These are modern, decently thought through platforms generally aimed at the corporate and high-end educational market that handle multimedia elearning, paper-based, video and interactive content manipulation with some testing examination capability, ability to feedback on performance and track and manage peoples capability. Quite a few financial services companies are looking at, or have these, and the general failing is weak security, MI and a presupposition that most people are to be trained at their desk. This is driven mainly by the fact that the vendors are driven up out of lower tier provision. These systems are popular with good market share but can be frustrating as they don't integrate very well and are another system for users to know. Decent ones are adaptable enough to be used for light touch T&C systems with simple populations. 

Top tier – blended learning platforms (few competent players)

What characterises these systems are country, market and in some cases regulation and business specificity. These are systems that combine complex learning needs with blended learning courses and complete MI drill down to see trending and performance in real time across the business. The aim of these tools is to give the training managers an ability to squeeze efficiencies out of the process whilst still giving a learning experience that is tuned to the individual and capable of enhancing 1-2-1 human review interaction.
Full on security and examination efficacy are expected and detailed business personalisation allows your 'brand values' and strategies to be messaged in a multi-purpose tool that [in the case of financial services say, ] covers learning, testing, workflows for T&C, AML, Bribery & H&S regulation and audit quality evidence and MI.
Financial services companies should expect this to interface with its intranet on the one end and its HR and rewards systems on the other and allow content from any supplier in any format. Essentially this system will dance to your tune. These systems typically cost multiples of the lower tier offerings but bring the potential to deliver behavioural change and performance steps and can be part of a cultural shift across the organisation because they engage and reward the end-user.
Angela James is customer solutions consultant at Worksmart. For more information about WorkSmart's elearning system LearnSmart which has been designed to meet the requirements of the 'top tier' visit 


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