The Content or the LMS? Which Comes First?

From knowledgedirectweb, post by Melody Montgomery

Which comes firstYou need both. Without content the LMS is an empty cookie jar. It’s pretty looking but frustrating every time you open it. Then again, content without an intuitive platform for delivery is a treasure hunt, often without a treasure map to guide you.

But wait, don’t order yet, there’s more.

Before EITHER the content or LMS is considered, it is important to step back and think:

  • Who am I providing this content for and why do they need it?
  • What can I offer that is both relevant and unique?

If you cannot answer either of those questions, then neither content NOR an LMS will help you provide successful educational material. Once you have a clear direction, understanding what type of content will be most relevant will help you select an LMS. What will resonate with your audience and how will they consume it? Will they have blocks of time at their computer or will they be getting the information in snippets on their mobile devices? Knowing what the content should look like narrows the requirements so it’s easier to find the best LMS for delivering that material. It doesn’t necessarily need to be all written out before LMS consideration begins, but it is helpful to have a vision for the final content types and formats.

When we get requests from associations considering an LMS, it is always interesting to get an understanding of the current learning environment. For many there is already educational content, but it’s been developed sporadically, over time, it’s not all consolidated in one location, and it’s hard to navigate through all the archives. For others, the board is under pressure to offer educational content, but there isn’t any yet and they want to know how an LMS will help. Unfortunately, an LMS without content will not help provide education. Then again, content alone will not provide efficient education.

The reality is once the type of content is determined, and the LMS vetting process begins, there is time to start actual content authoring. The process of determining LMS requirements, narrowing down vendors, getting stakeholders to review demos, and debriefing on the different options can take weeks or months. Once an LMS is selected, there is still time to continue developing content. Implementing an LMS can also take weeks or months, depending how you need the system configured.

The end result of the original question? You can choose the LMS first and develop the content on the way, AS LONG AS you have done the strategic thinking about what types of content you need and how you want it delivered. Have the final destination in mind before you start building the road to get there.

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