Monday, February 7, 2011

Content Development for e-Learning systems - A microscopic view

E-learning provides a platform where a person can interact with teachers, students and even take exams online. This sure is fun. The whole interaction in the absence of a physical environment provides e-learning the edge in a generation to whom 24 hours is just not enough. All these factors surely make e-learning the choice but developing content, platform, and a user interface can be tricky. In the recent years many e-learning companies have grown to great heights but some companies have failed too. Effective managing of content and the user interface is what defines success in case of an e-learning firm.
Content development holds the key to this puzzle.

The biggest and the most time consuming process is content development. The course content must be
1. Easy to understand
2. Up-to date
3. Authentic &
4. Interactive

Developing such content may not be possible by employing full time professors in all the subjects. Thus in case of an e-learning system the authors of the content may not be working for the company. They might be teachers or enthusiasts about the subject who want to share it with others. In such a case the authenticity of the content comes into question. Wikipedia-a knowledge source, allows a user to edit or remove content. Its content management system allows a user to provide citations and authenticate data. They have a dedicated team of employees who check the content and also respond to any breach of contracts and patent violations.

Traditionally all e-learning companies have a data warehouse where they collect and store data for future use. They call this learning management system. Where the content is developed and stored in a warehouse by the company and students retrieve the data via the user interface. This method was not efficient because
1. Past content was not used to develop the new content
2. Extensive storage space
3. Extensive man-power to correct the data and verify authenticity
4. Time consuming process

Learning content management systems or LCMS for short is a tool used by many companies to manage their content assets. This is a data mining or warehousing system where all the content is stored for ease of retrieval and use. Re-using or re-purposing of the existing content is the strength of LCMS. To understand how this works let us consider the following flow chart:

The system provides a lot of advantages:
1. Multi-user environment
2. Developers may create, store, reuse, manage, and deliver digital learning content
3. Virtual spaces for student interaction (such as discussion forums, live chat rooms and live web-conferences)
The whole content along with the images the graphics etc are called as “Learning objects”. The re-use of learning objects is the one that gives a company using LCMS a competitive edge. In case of companies using training modules as a part of induction programs the LCMS provides a perfect way to train every group of employees by modifying content to their preference without having to create a new content for every audience.

From a business perspective LCMS provides the following advantages
  • Centralized management of an organization's learning content for efficient searching and retrieval,
  • Productivity gains around rapid and condensed development timelines,
  • Productivity gains around assembly, maintenance and publishing / branding / delivery of learning content.
Rather than developing entire courses and adapting them to multiple audiences, an LCMS provides the ability for single course instances to be modified and republished for various audiences maintaining versions and history. The objects stored in the centralized repository can be made available to course developers and content experts throughout an organization for potential reuse and repurpose. This eliminates duplicate development efforts and allows for the rapid assembly of customized content.

So with content being developed and managed efficiently the next big step is creating the user interface. Follow the blog for further updates.


  1. In this article i love this sentence "E-learning provides a platform where a person can interact with teachers"

  2. Interesting and very informative topic. Thanks for sharing your ideas, can't wait for another one. Cheers!

    content development