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SharePoint 2010 – A Learning Management System (LMS) for Government \ DoD, Private Sector\Fortune 1000, and Educational Institutions | (SP vs. Blackboard)

Posted by Errin O'Connor on Jul, 18, 2011 11:07

Your organization more than likely already owns SharePoint licenses and may be using it for collaboration, the Intranet, an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) \ Enterprise Records Management (ERM) solution, or to meet a variety of other business requirements. One area where SharePoint is being extremely underutilized by a majority of organizations is as a Learning Management System (LMS) or Enterprise training solution.

We all live in a time where information is almost instantaneous and mobile advancements in the world are only helping to increase our expectations of “information at our fingertips” 24/7. In looking at how organizations conduct training or certification classes or provide educational materials to their end-users \ students \ staff, there are a variety of existing methods such as classroom training, distant learning, or computer-based online training (CBT).

The “brick and mortar” training is slowly becoming a thing of the past as organizations \ institutes of all types are trying to cut back on airline and travel expenses, the loss of having their staff gone for days on end, or not having 24/7 access to the materials to allow for their already busy day-to-day schedule.

There are existing popular LMS systems that exist such as Blackboard, recently acquired by an investor group, andothers but if you can achieve with SharePoint 2010:

  •          Courseware administration and development
  •          Course enrollment
  •          Assessments or quizzes for student \ class placement
  •          24/7 secured online training (and by the way you probably already own the licenses to SharePoint)
  •          The development of learning paths, tracking of student progress, and customizable (audience driven) courseware
  •          Grade tracking
  •          Integration with Plagiarism Prevention Tools
  •          Executive Dashboards \ Business Intelligence via seamless integration with Microsoft PerformancePoint 2010

The most powerful element, in my opinion, that other LMS systems do not always offer, is the tracking of a student or staff member’s training \ achievements \ certifications, etc. for the entire lifecycle of their training while they are in the organization \ institution.

If you not only take the above information into consideration, but the fact that Microsoft has acquired Skype, you can also offer real-time video chat and training to enhance the student(s) experience in a 100% integrated LMS SharePoint platform with Microsoft Outlook, Word, Excel, etc. as well as it having the ability to sit atop aSharePoint ECM solution with industry leading external (extranet) access from anywhere in the world.

SharePoint’s multimedia capabilities (Digital Asset Management) and metadata (content type) tagging will allow your training staff to offer an enhanced experience to the student(s) and collaborate across multiple departments (worldwide) in the development, version tracking, and ultimate final approval of the courseware for the organization.

SharePoint is being used by a large number of educational institutes and organizations \ government institutes as their primary or secondary LMS \ Courseware Management System. The following list is just a small sampling of its use and diversity as this platform:

  •          Branches of the U.S. ARMY
  •          Portions of Harvard
  •          Purdue University
  •          Portions of the University of Phoenix
  •          Kansas State University
  •          University of New Orleans
  •          University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC)
  •          Rhode Island Public School Districts
  •          Worcester State University

With a SharePoint LMS, there is going to be some configuration and\or custom development which can easily be managed to scale for size or performance but if your organization \ institute already owns and is using the software, a SharePoint LMS is yet another huge way SharePoint can produce real measurable and tangible Return on Investment (ROI).

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