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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

LMS Tracking of Podcasts and Video Casts

I received an interesting question from someone who is working on providing content to a remote sales force of about 40 people on topics such as selling process, products and selling skills.  They currently provide some podcasts and video casts, but would like to track the new content that is being developed now. 

It seems like this should be an obvious question.  You can put the audio or video inside a SCORM course and load it into an LMS.  Given the small audience and limited scope, likely a Rapid Learning Management System would make a lot of sense if that was the direction.  I’d have to think a bit more to have a specific suggestion on the course authoring tool for this, but should be easy enough to do this.

However, in this case the sales force is used to accessing this as MP3 and MP4 files available for download into their iPods, iPhones, etc.  They are not used to connecting via an LMS.  Likely the sales force is not going to be happy about:

This is a fairly common use case.  Certainly, I’m missing something.  So, asked my various networks about this and got back few responses. 

Peter Casebow via twitter:

@tonykarrer got to ask how does it help org to count or know who's had access unless for compliance reasons. What will you do with data?

They do want to track this for helping to make sure that the sales force gets through the content.  I.e., follow-up notifications.  However, they might be able to get away with putting the core content out the same way they do today and only put the assessments into the LMS.  The tracking would only be that they did a portion.  This is a change to  What Goes in the LMS?

Of course, that assumes that they don’t need to track going through the content and that there are assessments.  I’m pretty sure that neither is true.

Is there a better way to do this?


Unknown said...

I absolutely agree that learners would be irritated if they need to "book" a podcast - there the LMS deletes the benefits of podcasting - all the nice new features like subscription, coments and discussion... or would you link in the LMS to the whole feed? I also agree that it makes more sense to put only things in the LMS which really need to be tracked (e.g. Assessments) or where you need features like registration, workflows, correspondence... - in my optinion it makes more sense to integrate podcast-channels, e.g. the different RSS Feeds, somewhere on top of the LMS-portal. (Thomas Jenewein,

Brenda Robinson, Senior Account Executive at Outstart said...

maybe consider an alternative approach. Mobile delivery and tracking system. The use of this type of system would not require the salesforce to do anything other than access the content, assessments and surveys. Check out HotLava Mobile for deliverying content to any mobile device.

bschlenker said...

I sense your frustration in this. It seems crazy that iTunes on my laptop knows exactly where I left off in a podcast that I listened too on my iPhone but did not finish. And then I can pick right up where I left off by one click on my laptop to complete listening to the podcast.
It should be relatively easy to get that data, and more, to and from an LMS. But, alas, it is not easy, if it is possible at all.
This problem has bothered me for some time in that it feels like we are shoving the round peg in the square hole.
First of all, I like that your commenters are asking WHY this needs to be tracked in the first place. GREAT question. If it does, we can't use our old tools to measure the new tools. We need new measurements gathered from the tools that already measure and gather data. I don't know all of the details around solving this. But I know there must be smart people out there working on it.
The first new LMS to crack this nut wins.

John said...

It is probably impossible to track whether or not someone actually watched/listened to a downloaded -cast: it is easy to start and then go get coffee. Some sort of assessment might be helpful to try to gauge knowledge transfer.

For actually seeing who downloaded what, a tool like Podpress might work. Lots of folks sell podcasts and videocasts and this is one tool they use to track downloads. There are others, too, but podpress is probably a good starting point.

Greg Friese said...

Maybe include a "code" or "password" somewhere inside the podcast - change up the location - that they enter into the LMS at a later point.

Although that it is a possible solution I agree with others that I am not sure tracking is needed. In the end all sales people will be evaluated on sales not elearning completed.

Tony Karrer said...

Thanks for these comments. I'm really appreciating the input.

Thomas and Brent - well said. It seems like there's general agreement that adding effort to getting the podcasts is not a good answer.

Brenda - I know of Hot Lava as a mobile authoring tool. Does the combination of it + Outstart LMS somehow avoid this issue? Maybe you could provide details? Or drop me an email?

John - thanks for the pointer to Podpress. I'll check it out.

Let me push a bit harder on the need to track. I wonder ...

Peter Casebow said...

Tony, I do think the central question to finding the right solution is why and it's got me thinking about measurement.

Measuring the usage of the content, say by the number of downloads across an organisation is useful as a means of letting you know people are finding the content and able to access it. Worth doing from a user experience and design perspective.

To go further and identify specific consumers of the media has to add value to the organisation and unless there is a regulatory or compliance reason I see limited benefit.

I also worry that we are measuring inputs which always feels to me that I'm looking down the wrong end of the telescope. Completion of an assessment will allow me to measure an output in terms of understanding, but not the outcome which in this case I'm assuming is more and better quality sales.

I think the conversation with the clients sales team should be about "how will they know that they are getting the outcomes they want and this will guide everything else.

Ruchi Bhatia said...

LMS Tracking of Podcasts and Videocasts ?

As a Learning Consultant , I would ask , what is the goal ? Is the objective only to track and report the numbers . (Solution lready answered by Learning Technologists)

Or is the objective to measure the outcome of Learning via podcasts and videocasts ?

If latter is the case, then leveraging informal Learning methods may be useful. Creati ng a community, posting topics for discussion, who is actively participating in blogs/ wikis/forums /assessing via informal means. Also, one can have qualitative data regarding are learners attributing better or improved sales outcomes to videocast/podcast or discussions. There are enterprise software which track all of informal activities online brilliantly. I know of Lotus Connections.

Brenda Robinson said...

Hi Tony, yes HotLava Mobile is integrated with the Ourstart LMS and the Outstart Social Learning Platform. For customers who have our LCMS HotLava authoring and mobile content management has been added to the feature set of our newest LCMS release. It can run stand alone or integrated with any system. It is sold in a SAAS model so you can be up and running in a day.

As you know HotLava Mobile is a mobile single source authoring system but it is also tracking results, assessments, surveys, access etc real time via the database on the delivery server. Results are sent to LMS via API's realtime or scheduled. It's a couple of days of services work to do an integration with any LMS.

Brenda Robinson said...

To clarify, I wanted to also mention that you do not need an LMS to access real-time reports from the HotLava Deliver and Tracking Server. You just log in and can see the reports and results coming in realtime. That said, if you want to push results to any other system from the Hotlava Delivery and Tracking server you can do this via API's

if you would like to see it in action. I would be happy to arrange a virtual demonstration.

John said...

I think another reason to see how many times something is downloaded is to gauge interest. Not all learning "objects" are mandatory. In many companies there are myriad optional courses. If it turns out that a particular topic is popular, maybe more courses in that area are necessary or desired.

dr mutawa said...

Maybe using a client program that work ofline and through which will run the media then sync any usage data to the LMS when connected