LCMS, LMS, LXP, LRS
The key eLearning terms and abbreviations explained
LCMS, LMS, LXP, LRS – when you’re new to eLearning, the different abbreviations for eLearning tools and software can be especially confusing. This article looks at the software behind the abbreviations, which functions each tool has, and how tools can be combined for optimum results.
LCMS: Learning Content Management System
Making creation, management and internationalization of eTraining courses simple
Learning Content Management Systems (LCMS), also known as authoring tools, are used to create and manage eTraining. You might already be familiar with Content Management Systems (CMS) in other contexts: WordPress and Typo3 are examples that are frequently used for creating websites and blogs, enabling administrators and/or editors to create website content without needing any programming skills.
Professional Learning Content Management Systems work in a similar way: They separate content and design, and have a WYSIWYG* editing function, so you don’t need any knowledge of HTML to create your own sharable content objects or entire online courses. A predefined template determines the appearance of headings, quotes, text, bullets, color schemes, etc. This also enables you to create templates in line with your company’s corporate design. Authors are thus free to concentrate on content and don’t need to worry about complying with basic design guidelines. An unbeatable argument: If your company’s corporate design changes, you need only adjust the template once to update the design of your online courses. You don’t have to adjust each individual course manually, either.
The differences between authoring tools relate mainly to how work interfaces are structured, the scope of features and functions, GDPR compliance, options for collaborative working, internationalization, template provision, and responsiveness. Another important indicator of quality is the use of a database, which allows you to reuse individual content such as sharable content objects, questions or sets of questions in other courses.
The blog post Checklist: Choosing the right LCMS contains a list of criteria that will help you decide which authoring tool is right for your company.
*WYSIWYG = "What you see is what you get"; a user interface displaying not the HTML code, but the finished front-end view, which is what users ultimately see.
LMS: Learning Management System
Manage training centrally and provide it to learners when they need it
Since an LCMS is only used to create and manage online courses, you’ll need additional software to provide them to your employees. This is handled by Learning Management Systems (also known as learning platforms). Depending on their functionality, Learning Management Systems are also used to
- provide additional content,
- evaluate learning outcomes,
- engage proactively with learners, and
- facilitate communication with and between learners.
While the LCMS focuses on the needs of administrators, authors, and educationalists, the LMS focuses on the needs of learners. A professional LMS thus offers learners an easy-to-navigate platform giving them access to all their courses, deadlines, learning progress and certificates. Notifications and optional push notifications provide learners with helpful information about new courses or upcoming deadlines.
LMS software also includes provider-specific functions to make learning a more positive experience and simplify management processes. These include support for social learning, integrated video conference tools, analytical tools for evaluating learning outcomes, and individualized learning processes (keyword “adaptive learningˮ). So the more participants you have, the more important and lucrative it becomes to use an LMS. A learning platform is the only way to organize eLearning centrally and conserve resources.
LXP: Learning Experience Platform
A new era of learning
Learning Experience Platforms, or LXPs, are learning platforms that - - even more than Learning Management Systems - have the learning experience to the fore. While LMS content is fed (almost) exclusively from the LCMS and the LMS is populated with additional content by learning professionals and executives (push principle), the LXP creates an even more personalized learning experience, allowing learners to discover new content from multiple sources. LXPs can also access content from YouTube, LinkedIn Learning and other external platforms, for example. As with Netflix, Spotify, and other streaming services, learners are given new recommendations based on their interests, competence profiles and/or learning history (pull principle).
LXPs also sometimes offer features that enable learners to create their own content. LXPs are an innovative approach that is still in its infancy, and, unlike LMSs, they require individual employees to take the initiative and be highly motivated. This makes LXP particularly suitable for companies/employees with some experience in self-directed e-learning.
Want to get more information about LXPs and how to integrate personalized and individualized learning into your existing eLearning? The experts at chemmedia AG will be happy to advise you.
LRS: Learning Record Store
Saving and evaluating learner data 2.0
Once you have created your digital eTraining courses with the LCMS and distributed them to your employees via an LMS or LXP, the next step is to evaluate the success of your training.
For years, learner data was collected primarily via the SCORM format – a standard that is still the format of choice for online courses today. The SCORM format can be used to store basic learner data, including course completion percentages or whether a learner has passed a course. However, the SCORM standard is now over 20 years old – it dates back to a time before Wikipedia and smartphones, when learning methods such as interactive behavioral trainers, mobile learning, augmented reality, eBooks or digital videos were unknown. It’s hardly surprising, then, that SCORM has reached the limit of its technical ability in this area.
The interface known as Experience API (xAPI) was designed to overcome these limitations and to be able to compare and evaluate all learning experiences, both offline and online. At the heart of the xAPI ecosystem is the Learning Record Store (LRS), a database, that stores all learning data from all sources.
Most LRSs already offer a full range of evaluation functions as standard within a clear and easy-to-follow dashboard. They also provide for manual configuration of more complex evaluations. The LRS not only allows you to evaluate basic learning data, it also
- provides a detailed overview of your employees’ learning outcomes,
- provides a detailed overview of strategic skills development,
- determines to what extent individual training interventions increase your sales, reduce error rates or save on working hours, and
- offers insights into which eTraining courses need to be optimized and where.
This makes the Learning Record Store essential to the long-term success of your eLearning processes.
The bottom line.
Any eLearning project involving more than one target group – as is basically always the case (keyword: adaptive learning) – and whose success is evaluated in depth, now requires at least three tools: an LCMS to create and manage eTraining courses, an LMS to distribute the courses and an LRS to evaluate outcomes. Only when all three are working in sync can eLearning be successfully implemented. If they are not, implementation will only result in disappointment: Learners may not have a user-friendly platform or there may not be the opportunity to differentiate between learning outcomes. The LXP, on the other hand, is an optional tool that supplementary the existing LMS with new functions, creating a freer and even more personalized learning experience in the spirit of New Learning.
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