Campus Technology Study Ranks Accessibility of Top Learning Management Systems

A University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign study published in March comparing learning management system has concluded that the latest crop of learning management systems evaluated have made “significant progress” since the assessments started in 2005.

The review examined four major LMSes:

  1. Blackboard Learn version 9.1 Service Pack 6 and 8
  2. Desire2Learn version 10
  3. Moodle version 2.3
  4. Sakai version 2.8.
If not designed with accessibility in mind, Learning Management Systems (LMS) can pose accessibility problems for students and instructors with disabilities. Depending on the features enabled for a given course, students with disabilities could find that participating independently and effectively is nearly impossible. In addition to disenfranchising students, a lack of access to learning resources can expose institutions to legal liability under Section 508 and potentially ADA rules.

Learning Management System 101


Selecting a Learning Management System




Six critical differences of a public facing LMS

Training programs are normally created for employees of an organization.  MicroAssist’s E-Learning Division has created a number of e-learning programs where the learners are outside the organization.  We have learned that when e-learning programs are created for learners outside the organization a number of design requirements change.   The changes in requirements for the Learning Management System (LMS) are particularly significant.

First, what is a Learning Management System (LMS)?   A learning management system is software that allows you to  manage, measure and report on the  delivery, and effectiveness of training programs. It provides the means to perform administrative tasks, such as:

  • User Management
  • Course Enrollment
  • User and Course Reporting
  • Provision of online learning
  • Assessments and tracking

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What is SCORM?

SCORM stands for Sharable Content Object Reference Model.  The SCORM standard was driven by the Department of Defense (DoD) so that it could reuse the training it was buying  across the various Learning Management Systems (LMS) the U.S. government used.  In 1999, the DoD tasked ADL to create a common specification and standard for e-learning to drive e-learning interoperability between LMS’.  SCORM was released in 2001 and was quickly adopted by both government and industry. Today it is the de facto standard for e-learning interoperability.

SCORM is a set of technical standards that allow e-learning products interoperability.  Interoperability is the ability of two or more systems or components to exchange information and to use the information that has been exchanged. SCORM defines a specific way of constructing Learning Management Systems and training content so that they work well with other SCORM conformant systems.

Sharable Content Object (SCO) indicates that by adhering to the model you can create units of online e-learning training material that you can use across different e-learning platforms.

Reference Model implies that instead of creating the standard from the ground up ADL referenced and harmonized already existing industry standards from AICCIMS and the IEEE LTSC.

The SCORM standard basically defines two things 1) How the course is packaged 2) How data is exchanged between the course and the LMS.

A SCORM package contains information required but the LMS to import and launch content in an XML file (lmsmanifest).  The LMS Manifest file answers questions about the physical file structure of the data as well as course information (such as course name)

The data exchange definition defines how the course should interchange information with the LMS.  It allows the course to make requests of the LMS–“get calls”–like “Ask the learner’s name”.  It also allows the course to “set” information in the LMS such as “The learner scored 80% on this test.”

It is vital to choose an LMS that is SCORM certified.  SCORM is the de facto standard for the industry.   Content creation tools such as Lectora, Articulate and Dreamweaver produce SCORM compliant packages.   You can also buy courses that are packaged for SCORM compliance.  If you decided to change to a new LMS your courses will still work.



What is a LMS?

What is a Learning Management System?

A Learning Management System (LMS) provides the platform that enables the management, delivery of tracking and reporting of learning content and resources to students. Most LMS systems are web-based to facilitate “anytime, anywhere” access to learning content and administration.

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