Digital content and online learning are far from new, but as we have learned – especially in light of the past year – quality online learning experiences are in high demand. In fact, many post-secondary institutions and school districts across the U.S. have opted to continue virtual learning options for students indefinitely. Organizations are assessing their capabilities and the tools they use, and many have implemented not only the traditional Learning Management System (LMS) but also a Content Authoring Management System (CAMS) to deliver the highest quality content and learning experience. There is a lot of confusion, though, on the differences between an LMS and CAMS. Does your organization need both? When is the right time to integrate a CAMS with my LMS? Let’s dive into these important questions and distinctions.
First, let’s define what an LMS is and is not. An LMS is a software application that allows users to administer, document, track, report, automate and deliver educational courses, training, and learning programs. While there were early examples of an LMS, we focus on the introduction of LMS from the Internet era and beyond.
One of the earliest internet-based LMS platforms introduced was SoftArc, which delivered online learning across Europe. Other platforms evolved from this product, but generally, the LMS created a digital connection between facilitator and learner. LMS allows teachers to create and incorporate course materials, communicate learning outcomes, track progress of learners, create tests, among many other benefits. The LMS became the digital version of the face-to-face classroom.
However, because the LMS was the first real portal for learning, it became a “catch-all,” providing a number of useful tools, but in many cases, not going deep enough in certain areas. An LMS shines with its ease of sharing key classroom documents, such as syllabi and articles, hosting discussions, and incorporating assessments of student progress and grading. Yet, it was still missing some key pieces.
As online learning continued to grow, many organizations faced challenges and limitations presented by the LMS. The LMS was a stellar tool for facilitating online learning, but many organizations found that it lacked features to support the actual content creation process. Some of the challenges organizations faced (and continue to face) include:
- Adhering to accessibility requirements;
- Creating detailed modules through collaborative development between designers and subject matter experts (SMEs);
- Cataloging resources, modules and courses;
- Spending a lot of financial resources on off-the-shelf content;
- Losing track of resources inside the LMS;
- Failing to adhere to content design best practices;
- Failing to adjust to different learning styles; and
- Failing to ensure all content is continuously, correctly and efficiently updated.
Organizations were discovering that while an LMS alleviated some of their issues, it did not address them all. This added in hours of more time dedicated to creating, developing and deploying the content for the online courses – time and resources that many organizations did not have. As a result, they sought a more holistic and professional approach to creating and deploying content that was simple and efficient, but did not sacrifice quality or accessibility standards.
Without consistent, high-quality, engaging content, none of the LMS features resulted in learners gaining the desired learning outcomes. Organizations who valued design best practices and the content creation process discovered there was a giant missing piece to the puzzle. This is where CAMS came in.
Like many educators, CourseArc founders Katie Egan and Bethany Meyer found themselves searching for a tool that helped manage the content creation process and came up short. This led them to create their own tool – what we all know now as CourseArc – that integrated seamlessly with many of the LMS products on the market. Tools like CourseArc help organizations manage the design process within their own instructional design team, incorporate multifaceted resources while meeting accessibility standards, share content across the organization, manage and maintain a library of content and resources, and seamlessly push content updates across the organization, among many other capabilities. Think of it this way: if you were to cut your grass, it would be much more effective to use a lawnmower. You could use scissors, but it would take a long time and the blades would be cut uneven. Scissors may be able to do the job, but they were not designed to do that. On the other hand, a lawnmower is designed specifically for that job, and makes cutting your lawn more efficient and effective.
Organizations that started with the core concept of an LMS but have grown beyond its capabilities and require CAMS are able to deploy their content through LTI. It gives organizations the best of both worlds: a system to ease the burden of the designers behind the scenes (CAMS) with a seamless handoff to the facilitators on the front lines of learning (through the LMS). CourseArc – a CAMS – is a content and authoring management tool that facilitates the collaborative creation of engaging and accessible learning. Here’s how we are different than an LMS:
How a CAMS, like CourseArc, is different than an LMS.
CAMS, like CourseArc, would not have existed without the development of the LMS. LMS has allowed facilitators to mimic face-to-face interactions through online portals, and have truly paved the way for continued growth in the online learning space. As organizations continue to mature, the desire for a more sophisticated approach to designing, developing and managing content that meets the increasing expectations of their learners and ensures their compliance with accessibility standards is paramount. The dynamic duo of LMS and CAMS creates that next level of capability for organizations who truly wish to build a lasting and sustainable approach to educating and sharing content online.
Does your organization need a CAMS? Download the CAMS 5 Reasons Checklist.
CourseArc integrates with many LMS’s and our team of expert designers and engineers are here to help you plan for the success of your organization by integrating the CourseArc CAMS with your LMS. Talk with a CourseArc expert today because it is time to find out if a CAMS is right for you.
CourseArc was built as a tool and team to support organizations as they build online content. Check out our resource site to see how we can help your team. Check back to our blog and social media feeds for additional resources and case studies on how our clients are using CourseArc to move their classrooms online.