Learning Management Systems (LMS) and Learning
Content Management Systems (LCMS). A new group of companies
are developing sophisticated learning content management tools that
enable enterprises not just to create and access flexible repositories
of content, but to understand the interaction of employees and others
with that content. These tools are essential to enterprises managing
the content and context of learning and application. Companies developing
LCMS include Centra, Docent, ePath Learning, Generation21, Global
Knowledge, IBM Mindspan, WebMCQ, Knowledge Mechanics, Leading Way
Knowledge Systems, Giunti, HarvestRoad, and others.
Across the world, learning management companies, institutions,
and other learning enterprises are creating new breeds of learning
management systems sometimes also referred to as Managed
Learning Environments (MLE). These systems provide a means for organizations
to manage online learning experiences and integrate them with traditional
learning offerings. The most advanced LMS track student progress
and competencies. Many create communities of reflective practice.
Some of these systems are proprietary, others feature open architecture
compliant with emerging standards for learning content. There are
over 150 proprietary LMSs currently at large in the world of learning.
Many of these offerings are integrating the LMSs with enterprise
portals. Companies like WebCT, Blackboard, TopClass, e-college,
Granada, Prometheus, Saba, Docent, click2learn, IBM learning Space,
Oracle (iLearn), and institutions like the Macquarie University,
Monterrey Tech, and the Open University of the Netherlands are leaders
in these ventures.
In practice, LCMS and LMS are complementary. Over
time, they must be interoperable and seamlessly share metadata.
They must integrate with institutional ERP and legacy
systems. They must interoperate with repositories of content not
initially purposed for learning (such as news archives and digital
libraries). As enterprises develop easily integrateable, interoperable
applications solutions, the current distinctions between types of
systems will disappear.
Learning Content Management Systems will
increase in importance with the increase in e-knowledge traffic.
At the same time, they will lose their distinct identity as they
become a seamless part of the portalized capabilities of an organizations
infrastructure. New generations of LCMS capabilities will need to
deal with the integration of just-in-time knowledge into learning,
performance, and decision support.
Expert Networks and Communities of Practice.
The tacit knowledge that is critical to most organizations resides
in formal and informal networks. Internal enterprise networks have
been greatly enhanced by the development of organizational intranets
in recent years. Some have spawned genuine communities of practice.
Most expert networks reside within single corporate enterprises
and are strictly proprietary. On the other hand, a substantial number
of formal and informal networks are affiliated with professional
societies, trade associations, philanthropies, and other non-profits.
They span an entire profession, industry, trade, or philanthropy,
and are the foundations for emerging communities of practice offering
access to a formal body of knowledge consisting of content, context,
process, and tacit knowledge. The proliferation of strategic alliances,
joint ventures, and other partnerships within the business world
also underscores the configuring power of networks and networked