Last week I had the opportunity to participate in the Learning Collective web series headed up by our friends at RISC. With many conferences getting moved online or postponed, we were happy to join this series to help share knowledge and insights with the greater eLearning community.

The archive of that webinar is now up in case you missed it and want to catch the recording. Now for the “too long; didn’t watch” version.

Extended learning network—what is that?

Simply put, if you have training or learning content that you deliver to multiple audiences across multiple systems, you have an extended network. Think of it as users outside of your LMS or training platform. Examples of this might include:

  • Extended enterprises that have a wide network of partners, distributors and other external users
  • Associations that provide training programs to members
  • HR groups managing pre-hire or contractor training

Important to consider

With many systems and different types of learners, come many variables. While this is not an exhaustive list, these are the most commonly asked questions we get from people working in or designing their extended training network.

Access and compatibility

How will users access your courseware? Making sure that your content works in a wide variety of LMSs is critical. Your courses should support the eLearning standards like SCORM, AICC or xAPI. On the flip side, you also want to think about permissions and make sure you have a way to protect your content and disable access too.

Managing content updates

How do you ensure consistency and accuracy? Updating and maintaining courses across your extended training network is not easy. If you anticipate making changes frequently, make sure you have a plan to ensure that the latest and most up-to-date course is the one that learners are actually taking.

Tracking and visibility

How will you know who is taking your courses and what happens in the course? When courses are delivered across multiple systems, you end up with data in many places and sometimes lose the ability to see any data at all.

You have options

Two of the most common ways to deliver training across an extended network are to share course files or to use a content distribution model.

Sharing assets

One of the easier ways to get content into your network is to simply hand over the course files for your customers and partners to deliver in their own system. While it’s a quick way to get your courses out, you will have troubles down the road when it comes to managing updates, reporting and turning off access. Options here would include using an authoring tool to create and publish courses in multiple standard formats.

Sharing access

We’re seeing an increase in customers opting for this path which solves many of the problems already covered. Rather than sharing course files with each system separately, a distributed model allows you to centrally manage the courseware and provide access to your extended network via proxy files that point back to your course. This allows you to address the issues of access control, streamlined content maintenance and a centralized reporting system. Options here look like Content Controller, SCORM Cloud Dispatch or some type of Learning Content Management System (LCMS).

So the “TL;DW” version is long too, but we covered a lot of ground! If you have questions, ask us anything. You might also enjoy this helpful training guide that covers how to manage courses across an extended learning network in more detail.

Tammy knew what SCORM was several years before joining Rustici Software, and she’s not even a standards dork. She’s the Director of Accounts and Marketing, the general wearer of lots of hats. She’s also an Iron(wo)Man many times over.