Beware LMS’s Proprietary Authoring Tools!

#authoring #authoring tools #elearning #Learning Management System #LMS #online courses #Online Training #proprietary #SCORM

Tod Browndorf

Coggno_AuthoringWe get asked if we have an integrated authoring tool, not often, but enough to warrant a post outlining our position on integrated authoring tools.

Here’s the short tweet: “Use a neutral authoring tool that will be supported by any LMS.”

Not to sound disingenuous, but here at Coggno we consider authoring tools, and LMS functionality, two separate and distinct functions.

There are LMS providers out there that have incorporated their own authoring tools into their product, and while this may seem to be a convenience, it has many hidden pitfalls that need to be considered.

1. Why buy a car that only takes one brand of gas, or a phone system that requires one specific language to be spoken over it?  

Once you format your curriculum into a proprietary authoring tool it will only successfully run and report in that one authoring tool’s LMS. You will never be able to export that content to another LMS unless you completely reformat it, which will require removing the images, audio, video if there is any, and script, and re-purposing them into the authoring tool you choose to go forward with. In other words completely rebuild it. You’ll likely spend many man hours preparing your content, then have your review team spend hours combing over it for accuracy, do you really want to have to go through all that again if you change providers? So you’re stuck, and while an onboard authoring tool may seem convenient, it is really a blind alley by which companies are able to compel their clients into never being able to leave.

So now that you can’t leave, this means that you are completely at the mercy of the provider to:

  • Keep their tools current with new browsers and operating systems
  • Support old browsers and operating systems as they become less common

Example: Many of our trainees are using systems that were installed 10 years ago, and while many do download current browsers, many do not. It is very important to work in an authoring tool that will not only look forward to the newest browsers and O/S’s but also continue to look back and support legacy versions.

  • Finally, continually upgrading an authoring tool that harnesses the latest technology is a business unto itself.

2. Why doesn’t United Airlines build their own planes?

Running and operating an airline is somewhat similar to operating an LMS – you have many, very different users, all with different needs and requirements, spread out all over a geographic, or many geographic, areas; while they all “hop on” and may learn together albeit at different times, they all end up in different places, with different expectations. The technology required to successfully build a repository for these individuals (or in our case content) is a completely different set of skills that are required to deliver them successfully. Boeing needs aerospace engineers, and technicians, assemblers and electricians, United needs operators (pilots), safety personnel (flight attendants), sales and marketing folks, and of course customer support personnel.

Authoring tools and LMS’s are analogous to this example. Companies that devote their time to creating those tools require engineers and software testers that test their code along different systems. LMS’s concern themselves with delivering and reporting on the curriculum delivered, and of course interacting and supporting the users of the content.

To us it’s two different skill sets that are best left that way; we can recommend some great authoring tools, and help you use them, then harness their power to facilitate a great training initiative, one that we can work closely with you to see that it is successful.