BLOG: Where do businesses find their LMS content?
Are you amongst the three-quarters of firms that use a mix of in-house and third-party training content in your LMS? For their recent report into ‘In-House vs. Third-Party Content: Which Is Best for Your LMS?’ Software Advice, a site that rates learning management platforms, surveyed 150 corporate LMS administrators on their use of third-party versus in-house training materials and found 73% use both. From knowing the industry that stat probably isn't a huge surprise. But the report does throw up a few interesting stats that go some way to confirming what until now have largely been anecdotal hunches or common sense conclusions. For example, the Software Advice report confirms video is the most popular format for training content with 82% of those surveyed creating videos in-house, while 85% obtain video from third-party sources. [caption id="attachment_4072" align="alignright" width="287"] Most Common Purposes of Training Content[/caption] In-house content is used mainly when training needs to be company-specific, while third-party is most often used for generic or compliance-based training. The majority (+75%) of users believe LMS content is extremely effective for job-specific, technology and compliance training. The corporate LMS market grew 21% in 2014 highlighting how companies are seeking better ways to train employees. From talking to clients about our SkillsServe online learning and development platform, we know the demand for comprehensive blended learning experiences is greater than ever. Third Party But Not As We Know It Increasingly the LMS is seen as only part of a wider learning and HR ecosystem, and the ability for users to have seamless single sign-on, and for systems to exchange data securely and reliably has never been greater. The growth of TinCan xAPI - a new way for different technologies to ‘talk’ to each other - is expanding the opportunities for third-party integration. As the TinCan xAPI gathers momentum we will inevitably see more demand for seamless data transfer between LMSs and Learning Record Stores (LRS), or, like with SkillsServe, you can have your TinCan LRS integrated within the platform itself. Things like e-book readers, digital newspapers and examining bodies will start implementing TinCan, bringing even greater potential to incorporating varied third-party content. [caption id="attachment_4075" align="alignleft" width="300"] Top Reasons for Using Third Party Training Content[/caption] LMS Apps, and tools like mobile CPD, have gone from nice- to-haves to must have features. The potential for Apps is almost limitless, and the development of bite-sized chunks of learning, video clips and modules that can be tackled offline to sync with a main system once online again are all key in creating 24/7 Just-In-Time (JIT) blended learning. When it comes to mobile and native Apps and xAPI, SkillsServe was one of the first LMSs to provide on/off sync when we launched our CPD App in 2013. Over a quarter of the report respondents that use third-party content said it’s because the training need is basic/generic. The learning doesn’t have to be however, and advances in technologies like TinCan and Apps mean third-party can produce increasingly diverse, role relevant, JIT, effective learning. In-House Gets Sexy! [caption id="attachment_4080" align="alignright" width="300"] Top Reasons for Using In-house Training Content[/caption] Those surveyed by Software Advice who created in-house training content most often say it’s to make the content company-specific (53%). Yet, like with third-party content, massive leaps forward are also being made in the production of in-house content too. Gone are the days that in-house content has to be dull, flat text, poor quality images, ‘click next’ linear snoozefests. Budgets, and especially in the ever-changing regulatory financial services environment, the need to update content effectively and quickly, has increased the demand for in-built rapid authoring tools. Increasingly, customers are looking for simple authoring tools to be built into their LMS. Whether quickly converting a PDF into something more creative, turning a PowerPoint slideshow into an interactive module, or putting some life into a Word doc, our eCreator authoring tool, integrated within SkillsServe, enables the creation of short, highly-engaging and mobile compatible courses. eCreator allows for the inclusion of video, high-quality animation and graphics and quizzes, and courses can even be created and edited on a tablet. eCreator comes with a full set of standard templates and themes, which can be company-branded or bespoke. This is all really useful for sharing existing knowledge within a business as it allows you to enhance your existing learning with company-related content such as case studies, updates from key personnel or a video from your CEO. As a result, the return on learning will be far greater. The Right Blend We're big believers that the most effective learning comes through action-based, role relevant training, using case studies and scenarios that challenge the learner to apply knowledge not simply regurgitate facts to pass a test. But while the report states that “content is ultimately what drives improved performance”, content is only as effective as the way it is used, and that is where learning pathways and programmes come into their own. On a corporate SkillsServe platform you are likely to see third-party content, in-house content, classroom events, videos and corporate information. The drive for professionalism is also frequently reflected by the addition of professional body exam support and compliance titles, such as those we have created with our partner organisations, such as the CII, CIPS, BBA, CML. Additionally by partnering with bodies such as leading financial services consulting and training specialists FSTP, we are able to add to SkillsServe’s holistic and integrated content approach with face-to-face training and advanced event management. With all these assets available in one place, you can create tailored learning pathways to fit the development needs of an individual or a cohort. For example, you could enhance one of Unicorn’s off-the-shelf compliance training titles with a short video about your company’s processes and policies, a couple of company specific case studies and add an in-house multiple choice quiz. Learning pathways guide the employee through their career development, incorporating all the elements needed to achieve stated goals. The best employee training programmes pull all this together and deliver it through one user-friendly system, where the complexities of the backend technology is masked by the simplicity of its frontend appeal. Brian Westfall, Market Research Associate, Software Advice, concluded: "We learned a lot on LMS training content. First, companies should use a mix of in-house and third-party content for maximum effectiveness. Second, short-form video is the best format, and a number of cost-effective tools have made it easier than ever for companies to make their own videos. "Finally, content should be created in-house for specific, internal company knowledge and that third-party content can fill any remaining generic training gaps. Using these best practices, corporate LMS users should be able to put together effective training courses to engage employees.” Read the full report here.