Presently, Web-Based Training (WBT) and e-learning software are in high demand. These contemporary enlightenment tools are a cost effective and manageable way to overcome issues with accessibility to educational materials. They convey knowledge and resources in an interactive, media rich environment that facilitates information retention. As a result, educators and corporate trainers alike are demanding adaptive and engaging software that meet their specific needs. A report by Docebo titled E-Learning Market Trends & Forecast 2014 – 2016 predicts that the global e-learning market will gross $51.5 billion by 2016. As institutions and companies invest in web-based educational tools, software providers must capitalize on the growing market and develop quality e-learning software systems.
When engineering an e-learning or WBT system the essential goals are to create a functional, easy-to-use learning management system with a robust authoring tool. Attributes of a quality WBT and e-learning software lend a hand to usability, interoperability, and portability of information. To achieve this, it is best to avoid bad performance, poor navigability, restricted customization, limited cross-browser functionality, and narrow access to mobile devices. Correctly implementing the fundamentals allows you to provide software with a flexible, captivating, and interactive educational experience.
The backbone of any e-learning and WBT software is the design and functionality of the LMS platform. The LMS is the software application and framework to deliver, administer, document, track, and report e-learning and training modules. Specifically, it hosts the components for registration, class rosters, curriculum management, content repository, and assessment features. The LMS also incorporates user and management portals to facilitate real-time communication and feedback. Customized plug-ins for e-mailing, instant messaging, direct communication, video conferencing, and message boards foster a “connected” environment.
There are a wide range of software platforms available for building a custom LMS system. These platforms vary in terms of total cost of ownership and usability. Open source options including Moodle, .LRN, Sakai, and Dokeos have lower total cost of ownership but may not meet regulatory standards for security and usability. Proprietary virtual learning environments such as Litmos, Topyx, Saba, and Blackboard can require licensing fees, as well as additional costs for software upgrades and maintenance. These platforms may come with constraints that limit what an institution can do with the software once the licenses are purchased. A third option for developing a LMS platform is to use cloud-based software that pulls tools from a variety of sources to create a functional, low-cost platform. However, this option lacks many key features that institutions look for including security, authentication, and freedom from unnecessary distractions such as advertising and external interference. A developer looking to create a cloud-based alternative to open-source or proprietary LMS software will need to address these concerns to create a viable virtual learning platform.
Online learning and training platforms have the ability to host a plethora of interactive media. Developing or integrating a proficient authoring system with an LMS allows for the creation of multimedia content by non-programmers, or people with little technical knowledge, to sync text, videos, images, and sounds. One can further the development of an authoring tool and create a module for customized gamification templates to promote software interactivity.
There are some open source options available for those who wish to adapt a cost-effective authoring tool. These are free licensing programs including eXe, H5P, and Authorpoint. If you wish to interface with a more professional application for content creation you can integrate with some of the more prominent examples including Storyline, Articulate, Lectora, Blackboard, and Captivate to develop custom content creation platforms that meet your needs.
The final feature of an effective e-learning or WBT platform is cross-platform and cross-browser functionality. Modern students have endless options for how they can access a learning platform, which means that institutions and businesses will be more likely to want a platform that works well without limitations on the browser or device needed to obtain optimal functionality.
Whether you choose to buy a proprietary platform or have one built from scratch using open-source software, you will still need to be sure that your platform conforms to Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) and Aviation Industry Computer-based-training Committee (AICC) objectives. SCORM and AICC are concerned with the interoperability of content across multiple learning management systems.
When it comes to LMS platform development, there are countless options that can be incorporated into the platform but the most important features are not the extra tools and capabilities of the platform. Your platform can have every bell and whistle available, but if it is not user friendly, reliable, and secure it is unlikely it will succeed in the highly competitive e-learning software market.
Chetu does not affect the opinion of this article. Any mention of a specific software, company or individual does not constitute an endorsement from either party unless otherwise specified. This blog should not be construed as legal advice.
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