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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Tools for On-Demand Information - An LMS?

I was pointed to the article in CLO Magazine: Tools for On-Demand Information by Donald Clark.

This happens to be a topic that I really believe in and we are finding more and more that we are building less "courseware" and much more reference material, job aids, etc. Often our solutions are tightly integrated where you can seamless move between reference material and the associated courseware (that may have details and practice opportunity).

But, I was dismayed to read:

Many learning organizations have already implemented an LMS, so there is an opportunity to enhance this infrastructure, making it part of a deliberate strategy to take advantage of the more ubiquitous workplace technologies.

Does anyone really believe that an LMS is a good way to support "on-demand information?"

The practical reality is that we most often make an early choice about what will be "under the LMS" and what will be "outside the LMS." Under the LMS implies that you want it to be tracked and are willing to make the user go through a bit of additional hurdle to get there. Outside the LMS implies that you want the end user to go directly to the resource via links on the intranet or through search and don't want the LMS to get in the way of this quick access at the loss of being able to track who is doing what with the content.

Some LMS products have tried to provide deep linking and automatic registration, but it is rare that this still turns out to be as easy as just building content using Wikis, CMS, Portal or whatever the relevant toolset is that you have for building information resources.

So, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you are thinking about On-Demand Information (and you should be), you probably are not going to want to start with the concept of "leveraging your LMS."

In fairness to the author (and to IBM where the author comes from), they actually do a great job of providing seamless access to all kinds of information resources including learning resources. But IBM is the best of the best in terms of how they use technology for these kinds of problems and 99% of other organizations are going to need to take a very different approach to get there.

Keywords: eLearning Trends

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