Digital Distribution Platforms Vs Learning Management Systems
February 27th, 2017
Most organizations that publish a lot of educational content are focusing a lot on their content management and distribution strategy.. The key elements of a content strategy are a learning management system and a digital publishing and a digital distribution platform. These systems often work together to ensure further reach and cross-platform delivery. However, very few people know the difference between a dedicated digital publishing platform and a learning management system.
Learning Management Systems – an integrated solution
Typically, a learning management system is a type of software application, which is more complex and functional than a generic content management system or a digital publishing platform. In simpler terms, an LMS is more of a training control system. For example, a learning management system provides a platform and an ecosystem for many e-learning courses. A typical LMS additionally performs a wide range of other tasks, these other tasks usually include tracking completion levels of students, score recordings, analytics and reports for administrator and some level of authoring of content.
A competent learning management system allows a teacher to generate reports and assessments, send & receive assignments, provide feedback to students, and also send reminders- all from the same virtual location.
Most LMSs are now available on the cloud as well as offer an on-premise installation at the educational institute.
Digital Publishing Platform– centralizing the entire workflow
A content management system or digital publishing interface is usually more static than an LMS. A publishing platform is simply an application, or a set of applications, which allows a user(s) to centrally manage the content. The Editorial team at the content publishing company, who has the required permissions can edit, add, view or remove, content as they see fit.
The core use of a CMS system is to integrate all the possible versions of the content, making it easier to include changes in it. This stems from those instances when multiple users have tried to make changes to various versions of a document, only to forget about one version that remained unchanged. A good publishing platform provides a powerful tagging mechanism so that content can be tagged for various educational standards and als improve search-ability level.
A typical CMS or digital publishing platform has workflow enabled in it that would allow different stakeholders to review and approve the content before it is published either digitally or in print. A good digital publishing platform these days also allows packaging the content in different format i.e. ePub 3, Scorm etc.
Digital Distribution Platform – Anytime Anywhere learning
Most publishers today have no control on their own content. Typically they hand over scorm or ePub files to different channel partners. Once the content is handed over there is no control on how many users are accessing the content, how they are using the content. Even providing updates to content can be painful because there is no single source of consumption. A digital distribution platform allows distribution of content that has been created by the publishing platform to different user bases. By design a distribution platforms guarantees content security by encrypting the content and should have a strong License management system.
A good distribution platform is device agnostic and allows consumption of content on any device ( iOS, Android, Windows, Linux etc). Platforms like MagicBoxTM are also fully offline such that users are not required to be connected to the internet all the time.
One added benefit is that in a distribution platform you can also host multiple content types including journals, books, reference work, webinars, and other scholarly content, which can be used by instructors and students . Some distribution platforms also have an integrated eCommerce module and allows a publisher to sell content directly to end users.
How do they differ?
The difference between these three systems emerges when you look at their core functionality. A CMS allows only for viewing and editing, while an LMS encourages participation and learning. On the other hand a Distribution platform allows for easy storage, access and sharing of content. Therefore, each system has its own set of functions and benefits.