The LMS vs Courseware Content

Posted by Ed Gipple on Jul 9, 2013 10:31:00 AM

As both LMS providers and Content Developers, we are often asked by users from both sides of the aisle to help troubleshoot their courseware delivery issues. Sometimes we have built the 'bespoke' lessons for the customer for delivery through their own LMS. Sometimes we provide the LMS for them to deliver their own content.
And sometimes we provide both a full package of eLearning solutions.

Providing the full package is the easiest for us to assist with as we then know the details of both components; the LMS and the courseware. It’s when we know just one side of the story and have to figure out the other side where such assistance becomes more complex.

As a quick primer to introduce our customers to the two different roles the two different aspects play in the learning environment, we often use a DVD/Player analogy. Briefly;

  • The LMS is the DVD Player. It has a few of its own functions but, overall, its primary purpose is to read the DVD and send that data to the screen for you to watch.
  • The Content is the DVD itself. It is most often separate from the DVD Player and while it should just playback without any problems, there are occasional issues (i.e. country codes, scratches, etc).

So when your lesson doesn’t record the quiz status correctly, or is not tracking interactions, or objectives, or whatever issue may arise…it could be a problem with the LMS or, in most cases, it’s an issue with the way the lesson is sending its data to the LMS…if it’s sending that data at all.

Extending the metaphor, the DVD you've inserted asks what language you'd like, and you select Spanish - the DVD should then tell the DVD player to use the Spanish audio tracks...but if the player doesn't get that message, or is told the wrong location of the Spanish audio files, you may wind up watching the movie in French.

As a further extension; in Europe, their televisions use a specification called PAL. In the US, the spec is NTSC. If you try to load a PAL DVD into an NTSC player, it won’t work.
If you set your lesson to AICC and tell it to track the lesson score, then load that lesson into a SCORM-compliant LMS…it won’t work.

There are FAR more potential issues between the LMS and SCORM content than between a DVD and its player, and that goes along with the technical capabilities of both. Overall, just be aware it’s not necessarily the content or the LMS causing the issue you may be having – it can take a careful look and testing to determine the cause…and with so many LMS and authoring tool providers, it’s not always a fast solution.

Of course, we here at ICS Learning Group, having expertise in both fields, can certainly assist you in troubleshooting your difficulties, whether it’s our LMS, our development services, or neither. If you want a seamless experience, we can certainly handle both components for you. If you'd simply like some consultation on what approach and options may be best for your initiative, we can provide that unbiased advice as well.