Every year the Gilfus Education Group assists hundreds of eLearning and online training organizations, including academic institutions, in selecting or evaluating their Learning Management System – LMS, Learning Content Management System- LCMS or Course Management Systems – CMS. In addition, many academic institutions embark on their own Learning Management System Evaluation projects to understand which Learning Management System is the best for them. For various reasons each academic institution selects a specific application, be it open source or proprietary or because of ease of use, costs or, functional and pedagogical reasons.
Instructors who develop, share, and/or present online materials s use learning managements systems (LMSs) in “hybrid” or fully online courses, to present those instructional materials to students. In general, there are three categories of LMSs available for these purposes:
- Proprietary vendor systems
- Open source, community-shared/developed systems
- Innovative LMS opportunities
Proprietary Vendor Systems
For many years a number of proprietary systems have been marketed to higher education. Of the companies that originally entered this marketplace only a handful now commands a significant market share. The list of companies includes Blackboard (with their acquisition of WebCT and ANGEL Learning), and Desire2Learn. A significant characteristic of all these companies is that they provide institutions with a content-free infrastructure for the presentation of online materials. In order to demonstrate their value to their customers, these companies strive to provide outstanding reference examples of the utility of their system over their competition. To accomplish this, each seeks to form strategic alliances with partners who can provide content that can demonstrate the superiority of their system’s instructional design and presentation functions.
All the companies mentioned above have partnered with content publishers because they consider publisher content to be a superior source of multi-disciplinary high quality academic content.
Publishers have determined that through the marketing efforts of these leading LMS vendors, their collection and services will be exposed to hundreds of thousands of higher education instructors and their students, worldwide. This exposure can lead to increased partnership possibilities, an increase in the number of individual members, and the potential for significant growth of a content collection. Since these companies also have aggressive international sales programs, partnering with them significantly improves the quality of our services offered through the initiative.
Publishers have signed Partnership MOUs with Desire2Learn, and (prior to their merger) Blackboard, ANGEL Learning, and WebCT. Their strategy is to work with such vendors so that their content catalogs can be exposed to an increasingly large number of higher education faculty who will see the content as they use one of these LMSs.
For each of these LMSs, the following has been deployed:
|Blackboard||Search Building Block|
|ANGEL Learning||Simple Search functionality|
|Desire2Learn||Simple Search functionality|
|Moodle||Plugins can be enabled to allow for searching|
Publishers continue to explore additional opportunities with each of these vendors to provide our partners and members with advanced functionality that will make authoring of online materials with dynamic content more efficient and more effective.
Open Source, Community-Shared/Developed Systems
LMS customers, over the past five years have demanded increased functionality from LMS vendors. As proprietary LMSs have become more complex, and as customers have become more dependent on a particular LMS, licensing and support costs have increased dramatically. Many customers feel that these price increases are not warranted or feel that they would like to be more in control of the LMS functions they wish to offer on their own campuses. As a consequence, a number of open source LMS projects have been initiated. The most noteworthy of these are Sakai and Moodle.
At the present many publishers have not partnered with either of these, but they are working with both to understand how they might bring content functionality into the teaching and learning environments offered by these LMSs.
Innovative LMS Opportunities
From time to time unique, innovative, and forward looking LMS projects are brought to the attention of publishers and are invited to enter into partnerships by the leaders of these projects. Publishers views such invitations as opportunities to participate in leading edge research and/or development that may significantly evolve electronic learning and LMS systems. publishers invite such invitations from both operational and grant seeking standpoints, and looks forward to participating directly or indirectly with such partners.
LMS Partnership Goals
The overall goal of partnering with LMS vendors, particularly when search or RSS functionality is part of the partnership agreement, is to provide LMS customers with better and more convenient access to publisher resources from within a vendor’s LMS environment.
In general, project plans may develop with an LMS vendor call for the vendor to:
- Integrate access to publisher functionality from within their systems.
- Provide marketing exposure to the publisher through mutually agreed-upon joint press releases (usually crafted by the vendor’s marketing departments).
- Provide publishers with a presentation platform, gratis, at their annual users’ conferences – which tend to be attended by influential campus personnel.
- Present and highlight, together with one of their campus customers, successful deployment of their LMS with publisher functionality, at a publishers conferences.
In undertaking such partnerships, a primary objective is to minimize development work and support required by publishers staff, but to assist and advise the partner in their implementation of publishers services from within their products/systems. Except on a negotiable fee basis, publishers do not do any development of partner-based products or systems related to the services described in this document. Publishers do work cooperatively and in an advisory role with partners during their development cycle; final deployment decisions concerning issues that may affect user interfaces or system performance are the partner’s responsibility.