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Debunking the LCMS Myth
There has been a lot of buzz in the e-learning market around defining what learning management systems and learning content management systems are and are not.
There has been a lot of buzz in the e-learning market around defining what learning management systems and learning content management systems are and are not. In 2001, META Group predicted that learning content management systems as a market segment were temporal and transitory because most enterprise learning vendors will include learning content management capabilities. Now, in 2003, this theory has been validated by the market conation of so-called stand-alone vendors. However, the term "LCMS" still lingers as part of learning content management modules that are part of an enterprise LMS framework. (See Figure 1.)
As of June 2003, more than half of the companies in the stand-alone LCMS market segment have gone out of business (e.g., Avaltus, Knowledge Mechanics) or downsized tremendously (e.g., WBT). More strategic LCMS players, such as OutStart and Hyperwave, have successfully repositioned themselves as learning platform vendors combining content functionality with basic LMS functionality (e.g., learner management, measurement and administration capabilities). Most leading LMS vendors (e.g., Docent, Click2learn and Intellinex) are selling LCMS modules, with the exception of Plateau, which is actively developing partnerships with vendors that can supply this capability, in order to remain competitive. META Group believes that over the next few years, enterprise-learning vendors will provide connectors for exchanging learning content with traditional document managers (e.g., Documentum, Interwoven and Vignette). Eventually, by 2006/2007, organizations will employ a federated enterprise content management strategy geared toward an indexable virtual repository for all of their content.
LMS and LCMS History
Learning management systems were originally developed in the early to mid-1990s to handle the administrative functions of online training, and they included management of all aspects of training outside of the virtual classroom. Typically, they were client/server systems focused on delivering, scheduling, assessing and testing skill levels, as well as managing and administering courseware. Now they have fully evolved into Web-based systems, managing both online and off-line courses, supporting a global enterprise system and being integrated into other enterprise-level systems (e.g., CRM, ERP and HRMS, or human resource management system, applications). The term "learning content management system" (LCMS) was coined by a consortium of six software vendors in an attempt to differentiate themselves from standard LMS vendors. Ironically, three of these six vendors, Knowledge Mechanics, Avaltus and Peer3, are now defunct.
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