In the past, many companies purchased third party applications for Learning Management and either installed the application in house or accessed it via a hosted model. You can now take advantage of the investment you have already made in the SharePoint platform and implement all the capabilities of a Learning Management System within the secure SharePoint system.

As defined in Wikipedia, “A learning management systems (LMS) is a software application for the administration, documentation, tracking and reporting of training programs, classroom scheduling, online events, e-learning programs and training content”. The LMS normally contains a catalog of course content (in many different media formats), authoring tools, personalized programs, curricula, certifications, test material and the necessary administrative tools to manage all of the above. A LMS is often part of an overall HR and Performance Management system.

Within the SharePoint domain, there are several options. If one wants a simple schedule of available course dates, then using out of the box functionality to provide a structured or enhanced calendar will work. Add some out of the box workflow for approval and you may have all that you need. However, for those organizations with more sophisticated needs, there are at least three viable vendors that have built solutions on the SharePoint 2010 platform. Each of the vendors offers the basic functionality, although with their own area of specialty. While one vendor is more applicable for an academic environment, others are more appropriate for a corporate training environment. Some products are a module of an overall HR Performance Management system; some have better authoring tools; most all support SCORM-compliant material. (SCORM stands for Shareable Content Object Reference Model and is a collection of standards and specifications for web-based e-learning.) The learning management systems reviewed are:

If you are looking for an LMS built on SharePoint, there are now some very viable alternatives that have all the functionality of a standalone LMS. The selection of the right system can be a daunting task; however, it is very similar to the selection of any system or application. The major steps are:

  • Define the Business Objective. How will the LMS system fit into the business strategy and drive business performance? At this point, the key success factors are defined.
  • Define the Scope. What components are needed and how does it interface with your existing systems and/or content?
  • Define the Key Criteria. What are the must-have sets of functionality, such as SCORM compliance, testing and accreditations and/or multiple languages? This list could be quite extensive, so make sure you identify the must haves that are unique to your organization.
  • Select the Short List of Vendors. Review the list of potential vendors against your list of criteria and select the top two.
  • Vendor Demos. Set up demos of the vendors for your core team.
  • Develop Prototype or Proof of Concept. This may not be feasible in all situations; however, if you are looking at a very large and complex deployment, a proof of concept could save you time and money in the long run.
  • Deploy and Roll-Out. Making the decision is often the easy part. The actual deployment takes a good deal of planning. Also, do not forget to develop a roll-out strategy to ensure the proper adoption of the system.

If you want to learn more about Learning Management Systems deployed within the SharePoint environment, contact Abel Solutions. In fact, if you are interested in any third party tool or application built on SharePoint, please allow us to guide you.

This month’s tip contributed by Hank Edwards, Abel Solutions SharePoint Strategy Consultant.