There are two elements to successful online learning – the content, and the platform through which that content is delivered. Although we love designing and developing content we have to admit a passion for ‘playing with platforms’ too! Maybe it’s the geek in us but in practice the platform is as important as the content when it comes to online learning.
There is a vast array of these platforms available and to confuse matters further they are often called different things. There are two broad categories of online learning platform:
The Learning Management System (LMS)
This is the conventional solution and is by far the most popular choice in companies and public sector organisations. An LMS provides access to e-learning programmes for learners within a specific organisation. The management interface allows roles to be created and these roles then control who has access to the various learning programmes. Reports provide management with information on course completions and assessment scores. One of the reasons why e-learning is popular with management is because of this control and tracking capability. LMS’ are increasingly providing social learning functions such as discussions, chatrooms and wikis but they don’t quite have the social DNA that systems in the next category have – virtual learning environments.
The Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)
Initially developed for use in education, virtual or online learning environments are becoming more popular in companies and public sector organisations. An online learning environment extends the LMS capability to allow a much greater variety of learning activities and to enable collaboration between learners and e-tutors (something that rarely happens in a typical LMS). The most well known online learning environment is Moodle. Moodle is also open source so has become popular with organisations who wish to move beyond the conventional LMS but want to keep costs low.
We can help you choose the right type of platform for your needs. We have worked with a wide range of LMS’ and VLE’s over the years and have worked with Moodle on many client projects.