Learning Management System (LMS) Platform

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One of the first tasks put on my plate when I started as an e-learning developer here 3 years ago was to research our options for taking the various forms of classroom-based training offered here online. I had experience with various Learning Management Systems, so I jumped in with both feet, installing and testing a wide range of systems.

We had a few immediate needs for a simple LMS system, one that would track a user’s progress through a simple video course, but we needed to make sure that the solution we chose would be able to grow with us as we expanded our e-learning course catalog.

We looked at open source solutions like Moodle, hosted services like Macromedia Breeze and WebEx, and customized out-of-the-box solutions from various vendors. Each had advantages and disadvantages.

One thing that was certain was that we wanted to have the ability to use SCORM or AICC compatible learning modules. This would allow us to bring in third-party courses to offer to both internal and external customers.

As we examined each option, a few things began to stand out.

  • If we went with a proven, feature-rich system, we would be getting way more than we needed, especially at first. These came with a huge price tag as well.
  • Using an open source solution alleviated the price issue, but we couldn’t be certain that we could get the support we would need. Even as we were researching open source options, we noticed several that seemed to have been abandoned and had no community support to speak of.
  • Hosted solutions like Breeze didn’t give us the flexibility we wanted. Since we were just getting started with our LMS, we knew we would learn some lessons as we went (so to speak) and would want to expand in a relatively uncharted area of e-learning (personal finance).

As we talked with experts in the LMS arena, we started considering the advantages of building our own custom LMS from the ground up.

First, we could pick and choose the features we needed and build them as we needed them. This was a big plus, as Dave is big on starting small and growing your business as the need and opportunity are available.

Second, we would never be paying for features we didn’t need, as would likely be the case with out-of-the-box solutions.

Third, we have one of the most talented group of developers in Nashville, certainly in the state, and likely, in the nation. We knew that we could produce a better product than any vendor. Why not set the bar high and turn us loose on it?

So that’s what we chose to do. We brought an expert with years of experience in the e-learning industry on board, locked him in a room with some of the top software development and systems architecture people in the industry, and our LMS was born. At least in concept.

What we got was a scaleable, extensible system that is being improved every day and running underneath FPU Online and the Bankruptcy Education systems.

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