Monday, February 01, 2010

What systems are used in e-Learning

What systems are used in e-Learning ?
An e-learning system typically consists of three main elements:

i. A key element in any e-learning structure is a Learning Management System (LMS) or a Learning Content Management System (LCMS), a software program that stores and delivers the course content, and tracks student access and progress. A good example of an up-to-date system is the eLeaP LMS that leverages Web 2.0 technology. We’ll talk more about how an LMS works in a later section.

ii. Another critical element of an e-learning system is a courseware development process (sometimes called authoring) that prepares the content for e-learning delivery. Despite the differences in technology and delivery methods, e-learning relies on essentially the same principles of most traditional learning methods, imparting new knowledge and skills that alter behavior and improve performance.

Typically, e-learning courseware produces training courses that comply with the SCORM standard, a set of technical standards for e-learning software products. The purpose of the SCORM standard is to tell programmers how to write their code so that it can “play well” with other e-learning software. According to several industry experts, SCORM governs how online learning content and Learning Management Systems (LMS) communicate with each other. SCORM does not speak to instructional design or any other pedagogical concern, it is purely a technical standard. The purpose of this standard is to enhance the interoperability of training materials from one system to another.

A recent development has been what is called “rapid deployment” training, using PowerPoint output converted to Flash for web delivery. Commonly used courseware development programs of this genre include Articulate Presenter (
www.articulate.com) and Adobe Presenter (www.adobe.com), along with a number of similar programs that convert PowerPoint presentations to Flash for easier storage and relatively universal access. In addition, there are a number of simulation programs such as Adobe Captivate and Camtasia (http://www.techsmith.com/camtasia.asp) that are used primarily to demonstrate and train users of software programs or to deliver “how to” technical presentations. In some cases, content can also include video productions (in whole or in part) for web or streaming media delivery. “How to” videos abound on You-tube.

Learning Content Management Systems (LCMS) provide these capabilities as an integrated part of their packages. Selecting an e-Learning and training platform such as an LCMS, offers a natural solution for those needing an easy to use system that can be implemented quickly.

iii. The final element is a delivery and receiving platform that presents the training to the learner. This typically resembles a client/server environment when used on the Internet or an intranet, ensuring the user access to the material. On occasion, e-learning is delivered through a CD-ROM or DVD that is physically delivered to the learner. This media can be used on a computer or on any CD or DVD player capable of reproducing video, replacing, in a way, the old-fashioned training movie.

This delivery platform typically requires a host using TCP/IP. Today, many systems are in place that leverage Web 2.0 technology. Web 2.0 sites allow users to collaborate or to change content, whereas earlier systems limit users to just viewing the material presented. Web 2.0 systems improve access to simulations and games that enhance and reinforce learning. Make sure you select LMS/LCMS platforms which leverage the capabilities of Web 2.0 technology to the advantage of the user.

We also see e-learning delivered through teleconference presentations such as those provided by Webex or GoToMeeting. Although presentations are typically “live” and instructor-led, the platform can also be used to deliver static, pre-recorded materials. These programs are designed in ways that enable them to provide virtual classrooms; they use dynamics that enable the users and presenters to interact.

Keep in mind, any of these elements can be combined in a number of ways to enable a full spectrum of e-learning technology…from content creation, to content access and delivery. As an example, have a look at the eLeaP LMS/LCMS and you’ll find an excellent example of how these features can be combined into a single platform that serves virtually all the functions needed to produce and deliver e-learning. This system offers tools for creating, delivering, tracking, reporting, and administration, all on a hosted website dedicated to each specific user. What’s most remarkable about systems such as this is their ability to be deployed almost immediately, with setup taking less than a day. Students, too, find it user friendly and require little or no training to get started.

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