LCMS Report Comparative Analysis of Enterprise Learning Content

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					Executive Summary

LCMS Report:
Comparative Analysis of Enterprise
Learning Content Management Systems

By Bryan Chapman and the staff of

777 pages

Does the concept of “learning objects” translate easily to today’s business environment? Learning objects
are the core underlying principle on which learning content management systems (LCMS) are founded.
We’ve been monitoring the proliferation of enterprise learning constructed from a wide variety of source
material, such as legacy documents, graphics, streaming media, PowerPoint, etc., added to a central
database and then widely distributed as either structured e-learning or as a freeform, company-wide
knowledge base used for just-in-time learning — or a combination of both. We’ve seen some dramatic
success stories from companies like Cisco, IBM and Toyota University, who understand and appropriately
apply learning content management strategies to maximize their e-learning development processes.
We’ve seen organizations large and small use LCMS technologies to successfully engage and leverage
subject matter experts and novice developers as primary contributors to large-scale projects designed to
collect and disseminate knowledge throughout the organization. We’ve watched companies that have
completely transformed their costly in-house development practice into a well-organized, e-learning-
publishing machine.

However, we’ve simultaneously witnessed some dismal failures where learning content management
technology has been completely misused or misunderstood; where technology designed to make modular
learning content easily reusable has literally created a source of mass information overload, in which
learning objects (topics) are linked together in sequences that don’t make sense or provide
misinformation when presented out of context, serving to confuse rather than educate.

What’s the difference between the success stories and the failures? What role does the technology play in
creating the problems? In some ways the technology has outpaced our ability to use it wisely. LCMS
vendors continue to add innovative new feature sets, when most of us are still grappling with some of
the basic concepts of learning object design.

We believe that when LCMS technology is appropriately applied and matched to an orchestrated e-
learning strategy, with a complete instructional design plan for designing and using learning objects,
great efficiencies can and will be achieved, such as (1) rapid and productive content development efforts,
(2) seamless collaboration among subject matter experts and course designers, (3) the ability to make
instantaneous, company-wide changes to critical learning content, (4) the ability to create multiple,
derivative versions of content applicable to different audiences from senior management to line-level
workers, (5) access to find and reuse learning content just-in-time and just enough, and (6) ultimate
reusability of content by making it available through a wide array of output types such as structured e-
learning courses, CD-ROM courses, learning material available from a Palm device or PocketPC, print-
based learning for use in classroom settings, etc.
In this light, we examine some of the best enterprise-level applications on the market that use learning
object models for the purpose of creating, storing, reusing, managing and delivering learning content
from a central object repository to learners throughout the organization. Indeed, the purpose of this
report is to assist you in understanding the potential of learning content management systems and to
help you identify commercially available systems that match your specific business needs, technological
infrastructure, and most importantly, your instructional needs.

What Is in this Report
Here is a high-level description of what each section in the report contains:

Section II – Why Use an LCMS?

LCMS technology isn’t for everyone. For simpler e-learning strategies, it would be considered overkill. In
this section, you’ll learn why LCMS products were created in the first place, what problems they solve,
and the conditions that make LCMS a technology to consider. We’ve included some tips we learned from
reading many RFPs from companies large and small who have considered acquiring an LCMS. You’ll learn
the top ten features sought by these companies and also be provided with a brief summary of recent
trends observed in the adoption of these systems.

Section III – Key Definitions: Compare and Contrast

As you read LCMS advertising literature and listen to the vendors, you’ll often hear terminology used
interchangeably. For example, some of the vendors call themselves “content management systems”
rather than “learning content management systems.” However, there is already a well-established group
of content management system providers that have very little to do with e-learning applications. Tools
such as Documentum and Vignette, which are from the content management space, provide
organizational infrastructure for all types of content and digital assets which can be found in a company.
It is helpful to know the difference in philosophy and functionality between traditional content
management systems and learning content management systems. Still other vendors refer to their
systems as enterprise-level authoring tools, which leads to a confusing comparison between an LCMS and
tools like Authorware and ToolBook. This section will provide a definition for each of the common terms
often confused with (or sometimes associated with) learning content management systems.

Section IV – How to Choose an LCMS

Assessing the features of an LCMS can be a bit complex at times. These enterprise-level applications
literally have hundreds of features to consider. This section includes information on how to streamline the
selection process by focusing on and prioritizing only critical functionality. It shows you how to create a
short list based on your critical needs. Then, you can continuing your search based on your short list.
We’ve tried to make this short list process easier for you by including an “At-a-Glance” chart at the
beginning of each product review. Section IV is also a breakdown of the information these summary At-a-
Glance charts contain. This section will prepare you to quickly rule out systems that won’t meet your

Section V – LCMS Product Reviews

This section contains extremely detailed information on the 24 products reviewed during our research
process. At-a-Glance charts can be used to quickly identify specific products that will or won’t meet your
needs. You can read reviews by staff for each product. You can find a plethora of
information on each product from systems requirements, to company size, to price, to levels of
reusability, to question types supported in each system, etc., etc. These reviews will help you conduct a
thorough analysis of each LCMS.

Section VI – Other Products Using “Learning Object” Technology

This section contains information about other LCMS system that are worth considering. Some of these
products use “learning object” technologies in parallel ways, such as systems that focus exclusively on
creating knowledge bases, or ones that are primarily used for traditional content management but also
can be used for learning content management. These are definitely systems to watch as the industry
moves forward.

Section VII – Comparative Grids

Here you’ll find the same information as in the detailed product reviews. However, the information is
presented in a convenient side-by-side comparison format. You’ll find yourself referring to these charts
throughout your selection process.


The Appendix provides additional resources, such as a master checklist of features collectively found
across all LCMS products. This is helpful to make sure you’ve covered all your bases when seeking out
the appropriate technology. You can also find a summary of the LCMS meta-analysis data here for quick
review. Also, with LCMS technology comes a slew of new terminology. You can find out what these words
mean by looking in the Glossary.
Table of Contents
   Section I—Introduction                                         6
    Research Methodology                                           8
    How to Use This Report                                        12
   Section II – Why Use an LCMS?                                 14
    Points of Pain                                                16
    Overview of LCMS Usage                                        19
    What Organizations Are Asking for When Creating an RFP        23
   Section III — Key Definitions: Compare and Contrast           26
    Learning Object                                               27
    Learning Content Management System (LCMS)                     27
    Traditional Content Management                                28
    Knowledge Management                                          29
    Authoring Tools                                               30
    Learning Management System (LMS)                              31
   Section IV – How to Choose an LCMS                            34
    A Process for Assessing Your Own LCMS Needs                   35
    Description: At-a-Glance Headings                             36
    Critiques                                                     44
   Section V – LCMS Product Reviews                              46
    ADAM (eOrigen Limited)                                        48
    Anlon 4 (Anlon)                                               72
    Aspen (Click2learn)                                           92
    Docent Enterprise LCMS (Docent)                              118
    Evolution (OutStart)                                         144
    ForceTen (Eedo Knowledgeware)                                174
    GalbraithMedia LCMS (Galbraith Media)                        202
    INTELLINEX LCMS (INTELLINEX)                                 226
    iPerformance (Online Courseware Factory)                     254
    Jupiter Suite (Avaltus)                                      278
    Knovada Knowledge Systems LCMS (Knovada Knowledge Systems)   304
    Knowledge Management Studio (Knowledge Management Group)     326
    KnowledgeBridge (Websoft)                                    350
    learn eXact (Giunti Interactive Labs)                        376
 LogicBuilder (LogicBay)                                       399
 mGen Enterprise (mGen)                                        426
 SmartBuilder (SuddenlySmart)                                  452
 GeMS SWIFT (Gemini Learning Systems)                          476
 Techniq (Vitalect)                                            500
 TeraLearn LCMS (Ask International)                            524
 TopClass LCMS (WBT Systems)                                   546
 Total Knowledge Management (TKM) System (Generation21)        572
 Trainersoft Studio (OutStart)                                 600
 Vuepoint Learning System (Vuepoint)                           622
Section VI – Other Products Using Learning Object Technology   648
 eSocrates LCMS 3.0 (eSocrates)                                649
 ExpressTrain (Princeton Center)                               650
 How To Master (InfoSource)                                    651
 IntraLibrary (Intrallect)                                     652
 IPress/KBridge (KnowledgeXtensions)                           653
 Kaleidesckop (Expert Systems Design)                          654
 Lumenix (Handshaw)                                            655
 RapidTrain (Mindflash)                                        656
 Theorix LCMS 4 (e-com)                                        657
 University360 (RWD Technologies)                              658
Section VII – Comparative Grids                                660
 Content Authoring Capabilities                                661
 Support for Third-Party Authoring Tools                       665
 Streaming Media Support                                       667
 Other Built-In Authoring Functionality                        670
 Reusability and Content Tagging                               672
 Workflow Management (During Course Development)               674
 Revision Controls, Archiving and File Management              683
 Learner Interface (Content Player)                            686
 Collaboration Tools for Learners (Not Third-Party Tools)      689
 Multilingual Support                                          695
 Standards and Specification Compliance                        698
 Output Formats                                                704
 Interoperability with Third-Party LMS Systems                 710
 Built-In LMS Functionality                                    713
 Product Background                       722
 Pricing                                  734
Appendix                                  742
 Master List of LCMS Features             743
 Meta-Analysis Summary of LCMS Industry   752
 LCMS Vendor Contact Information          760
 Glossary                                 763
Version: 2.1

Company: BrandX Systems Unlimited Ltd.

Screen shot of authoring interface.
At a Glance
Built-in content authoring functionality                 The LCMS has basic authoring capabilities,
                                                         but is mostly a content assembly system

Output types                                             §     E-learning
                                                         §     CD-ROM
                                                         §     Offline courses for non-connected
                                                               learner (learner can download course,
                                                               take it offline on their laptop, upload
                                                               course performance after completion)
                                                         §     Printed version of e-learning content
                                                         §     Knowledge management interface
                                                               (searchable learning object repository
                                                               with open access to individual
                                                               learning topics)
                                                         §     Output content into Microsoft Word
                                                         §     Output content into Microsoft
                                                               PowerPoint format
                                                         §     Output content as XML for transfer to
                                                               another system
Built-in assessment development and delivery utilities   Yes

SCORM-conformant                                         §     Version 1.2
                                                         §     Version 1.1
AICC-compliant/certified                                 Compliant

Section 508-compliant                                    No, but will be by Q4 of 2002

Pretests can dynamically build a course path             Yes
based on learner performance in the pretest

Tools for SMEs to create content as a Word document      §     Developers save Word in .doc format
                                                               and attach it as content (.doc file
                                                               appears in the browser for the
                                                         §     Developers save Word in HTML
                                                               format and attach it as content
                                                               (learner sees HTML version of the
                                                         §     Other method: Tool converts
                                                               documents into a learning object with
                                                               defined pages which maintain styles
                                                               applied in the originating document
Tools for SMEs to create content                         §     Developers save PowerPoint in .ppt
as a PowerPoint presentation                                   format and attach it as content (.ppt
                                                               file appears in the browser for the
                                                         §     Developers save PowerPoint in HTML
                                                               format and attach it as content
                                                               (learner sees HTML version of the
                                                           §    Other method: Tool converts
                                                                documents into a learning object with
                                                                defined pages which maintain styles
                                                                applied in the originating document
Collaboration tools for learners                           §    Learner-to-learner e-mail
                                                           §    Learner-to-instructor (and vice versa)
                                                           §    E-mail
                                                           §    Threaded discussion
                                                           §    Live instant messaging (person-to-
                                                           §    Live chat (synchronous group)
                                                           §    Ability to cluster learners into work
                                                                groups for group study sessions
                                                           §    Live voice-over IP
                                                           §    Webcasting
                                                           §    Virtual whiteboard (freeform drawing)
                                                           §    Virtual PowerPoint-like presentations
                                                           §    Application sharing
                                                           §    Learners can add comments to
                                                                specific learning objects and store
                                                                them as individual study resources
Company offers LMS functionality                           Company offers LMS system a separate
                                                           offering (although tightly integrated with
                                                           the LCMS)

Interoperability with third-party LMS systems              §    Oracle iLearning
                                                           §    TRACCESS
                                                           §    Saba
                                                           §    KnowledgePlanet
                                                           §    Docent
                                                           §    PeopleComeFirst
Successful integration projects with traditional content   No
management (document management) systems

Server types supported                                     §    Windows NT
                                                           §    Windows 2000
                                                           §    UNIX
                                                           §    LINUX
Databases supported                                        §    Microsoft SQL
                                                           §    Oracle
                                                           §    SyBase
                                                           §    Microsoft Access
                                                           §    Other: MySQL
Number of clients using LCMS solution                      15

Percent of clients – hosted vs. installed                  Hosted: 66%

                                                           Installed: 33%
Company size                                         12 employees (total)
(# of employees)
                                                     §   5 in development
                                                     §   2 in sales and marketing
                                                     §   5 in services
Pricing estimate for a locally installed solution    Year 1:

                                                     §   500 users = $55,353
                                                     §   10,000 users = $223,731
                                                     §   25,000 users = 373,557

                                                     Year 3 (cumulative):

                                                     §   500 users = $88,417
                                                     §   10,000 users = $352,776
                                                     §   25,000 users = $601,774
Pricing estimate for a hosted solution               Year 1:

                                                     §   500 users = $61,893
                                                     §   10,000 users = $245,105
                                                     §   25,000 users = $454,441

                                                     Year 3 (cumulative):

                                                     §   500 users = $161,261
                                                     §   10,000 users = $621,185
                                                     §   25,000 users = $1,169,259
Year LCMS originally released                        1999

Date and version number of the most recent release   Version 2.1, August 2002

Contact Information
BrandX Unlimited Ltd.
123 Commerce Drive 13th floor
Springfield, OR 97246
Phone: (800) 555-5454 or (503) 456-9898
Fax: (503) 456-9899
Web site:
Product Overview
BrandX is an XML-based LCMS that enables instructional designers to build course outlines using
a course outliner. This process builds a skeleton structure that is devoid of content. Instructional
designers can annotate this structure with media scripts that define production requirements for
images, audio, video and slide show presentation. These media scripts can be generated into
formatted reports. These are some of the features of the LCMS:
§   Concepts can be developed using the course outliner, and media scripts can be developed
    and be used by media producers.
§   Existing content can be mined from within the BrandX CMS via metadata, or from across the
    enterprise via the Content Interchange. The BrandX Forms application provides a means to
    capture knowledge and resources from SMEs, and the XML Transformation Engine can
    convert virtually any printable file to XML for courseware deployment.
§   New content can be authored in any of the 25 forms-based XML authoring templates. The
    application can be launched via the Web to support distributed authoring, and BrandX’s
    check-in/out capability allows collaboration in development. Content can also be authored in
    third-party simulation and media tools such as Flash, RWD InfoPak, and e-SIM Rapid Builder.
§   A review interface allows reviewers to provide comments that are stored within BrandX.
§   A single source of XML content can be published to multiple formats including Web,
    standards-compliant AICC and SCORM formats, and print.
§   Content can be invoked from any Web-enabled system, supporting e-learning, portal and
    EPSS applications.
§   Detailed tracking data can be interpreted to perform item analysis and statistical content

Three top competitors
§   Click2learn
§   OutStart
§   Knowledge Mechanics

BrandX is one of only a few systems covered in this report that include LCMS, LMS and virtual
classroom software as part of a single-point solution. However, the system is also modular
enough that the LCMS can be used in a best of breed configuration with other third-party LMS
solutions as well.

We found the system to be one of the easiest to use from a novice developer’s perspective. The
interface was very intuitive, and we were able to move through our review tasks very quickly
with little difficulty. For example, when we set up a new course, a wizard guided us through the
process and even offered suggestions for various instructional modules. Based on our answers,
the system automatically set up the appropriate course structure. We also selected our look and
feel from a series of templates. It was as easy as picking a background in PowerPoint. The look-
and-feel templates are well designed and attractive, with muted colors and watermarks to focus
attention on the content rather than the background and button sets. We discovered that the
system has one of the easiest tools to use for creating your own new schemas (both look-and-
feel and text styles) of all the systems we reviewed. In addition, you can create your own
schemas for local use (within the course you are building) or make the template available to
various groups, or even the entire enterprise, by simply choosing the level of deployment.

The company has obviously focused a lot of their attention on making the system more than just
a content assembly tool. Even though we could quickly use our externally created legacy content,
we found ourselves spending most of the review time trying out the on-board content authoring
tools. A novice content author would most likely feel very comfortable in the system. We opened
the Repository Viewer and quickly uploaded our legacy content using a simple browse approach.
We appreciated the fact that the system has preview utilities everywhere, even inside the import
window. We pulled in the Flash file into page one and resized it on screen. Next, we imported a
Microsoft Word file. The system automatically converted the file into HTML. We wished that the
system would have given us a choice of whether to convert the file or keep it in its native format,
although we know that the advantage of automatic conversion is that the objects become
editable and reusable when automatically converted to HTML. For example, the Word document
we imported contained text and graphics. Once imported, we were able to use the on-board
HTML editor to reposition the graphics and even use them on another page.

PowerPoint import was just as easy. We threw the system a curve ball by importing a PowerPoint
with embedded audio (in .wav file format). Most of the other LCMS products required us to
extract the audio first and then import it separately. BrandX handled this situation with more
elegance by giving us the option to convert the PowerPoint to Flash on-the-fly (a new feature
recently added to the system). The resulting content was an animated Flash file with all the
custom PowerPoint animations preserved and automatically synced with the content -- without
having to do further preparation on the file outside the system. We think this will be a great time
saver for those organization with a need for converting large amounts of PowerPoint-based

We used a wide variety of built-in authoring utilities and found some unique differences when
compared to other LCMS products. Most systems have templates for creating test questions.
BrandX has themed templates that go beyond the standard format. For example, they have a
couple of themed exercise for drag-and-drop learning activities.

The system has a wide range of collaboration tools -- from simple threaded discussion groups all
the way to full virtual classroom implementation -- as part of the standard package. We
discovered that the host of virtual sessions can perform live searches on the learning content
database and use them as part of the learning experience.

While many systems allow somewhat linear branching, we enjoyed being able to create
hyperlinks and branching based on performance to other pages, external URLs and even round-
trip calls to specific learning objects (go out and complete the learning object, then return to the
point of origin). Although the system doesn’t seem to allow for very complex or sophisticated
branching schemas, we found it to have just enough capability to offer good remediation for

On the downside

The system didn’t have a method for pulling our multiple-file Dreamweaver (CourseBuilder)
interaction into the repository. We did, however, find a nice work-around. We simply loaded the
entire folder to the server, located the new URL address, then created a link inside BrandX. The
content played seamlessly in the learner playback window. We wished that BrandX would have
been able to store this interaction with its dependencies so that other developers could benefit by
reusing the entire interactions or pieces of the interaction.
The system is still missing an automated process for creating dynamic pretests. You can use the
branching capabilities of the system, but the model may be too complex for a purely novice

We found the dialog boxes for some of the advanced interaction types (such as matching and
drag-and-drop) to be a bit too busy and hard to follow (as compared with other LCMS solutions
with these interaction types).

On the whole

The system uses a Flash-in, Flash-out model that has some distinct advantages in the area of
user-friendly, scalable content. This makes it not as open to source material that wasn’t created
in Flash, but it yields some nice results on the learner side. The system has a nice method for
informing learners of their progress, providing a good mix of quick and detailed performance

Best use recommendation

Ideally suited for those needing a 100% browser-based LCMS. It is a good central platform for
novice and experienced content developers. The Knowledge Sharing feature may be of special
interest for those with a vision to have learners participate in structured e-learning with infused
knowledge management capabilities.

Input Method – Content Creation and/or Assembly

Built-in content authoring functionality

The LCMS has basic authoring capabilities but is mostly a content assembly system.

Content authoring overview

BrandX believes that content should be natively authored in XML. They ascribe to a philosophy of
open XML content authoring. While content can be authored in any validating XML tool like
AborText or Frame+SGML, the BrandX user interface is preferred by them.

New authoring templates can be added by adding an XSD (XML schema definition), and XSLs (for
Web and print). The system dynamically creates a structured XML authoring interface from the
XSD. The content created in the editor is valid XML.

Presentation layout templates are created with XSL, and when applied to XML content, render it
in any desired presentation format, such as Web or print.

The system also supports non-XML based content such as media formats, HTML, and legacy
Web-based CBT formats.

New templates can be added via professional services engagement. In Q2 2003, the company
plans to incorporate a user interface to add new authoring/publishing templates.

Local client vs. browser-based content development and/or assembly

Content can be done either through a browser or through a locally installed client application.
Built-in assessment development and delivery utilities


Level of expertise required to use the system

The system is designed for a novice to use with minimal training. A novice can learn how to
insert elements onto the authoring stage and arrange static screen elements such as text and

Some of the more complex interactions such as animate-on-timeline or simulation are highly
customizable and require more experience to use effectively. These elements can be
implemented by non-technical users since the authoring interface uses standard widgets to
customize attributes; knowledge of scripting languages is not required.

A typical learning curve is a half day of training for a user to be comfortable using the authoring
environment, or one to two days to be familiar with the more advanced features.

Template types

Content templates each provide a selection of layouts. The user can toggle through a selection of
screen layouts to choose. A basic screen layout may be a simple rectangle in which text is
written. Toggling through the layouts automatically re-positions the text to screen left, screen
right, screen top, screen bottom, etc., leaving blank space beside the text for positioning
graphics, etc. There are several screen layouts available for use with the basic screen and bullet
builder. There are also alternative layouts provided for each of the standard question types.
Additional templates can be created on request.

Standard templates:
§   Bullet builder
§   Basic screens
§   Contact details
§   Multiple choice single answer
§   Multiple choice multiple answer
§   Drag-and-drop
§   Cross link
§   Drop-down menu

Question types

Multiple choice question (single correct answer)                                        Yes

Multiple choice question (multiple correct answers)                                     Yes

True/false                                                                              Yes

Short answer (typed response)                                                           Yes

In-line, fill-in-the-blank questions (type answers in mid-sentence)                     Yes
Freeform essay question                                                        No
(graded by an instructor or keyword analysis of multi-sentence response)

Matching question                                                              Yes

Sequence question (sequence the order of steps in a procedure)                 Yes

Hot spot question (invisible touch area on top of a graphic)                   No

Drag-and-drop question (position drag objects with targets; could be used to   No
assemble a jigsaw puzzle; more than just a drag-and-drop matching question)

Built-in software simulation development tools

Built-in utility to record demonstrations of software tools                    Yes
(record cursor movements, e.g., Camtasia, Lotus ScreenCam, etc.)

Tools to create hot spot (click) interactions                                  No

Tools to simulate data entry fields, requiring the                             No
learner to type into data fields (and judging response)

Tools to create and simulate objects (without screen                           No
capture) such as buttons, pull-down menus, list boxes, etc.

Instructional games
§     Tic-Tac-Toe quiz
§     Super Tic-Tac-Toe quiz
§     Bankrupt! quiz game
§     Sink the Fleet quiz game
§     Operation Fire Storm
§     Save the Earth
§     Car Racing quiz

Role-play creation tools


Other special interaction types

Matrix and bubble grid.
Support for third-party authoring tools

Flash                                                                               Yes

Dreamweaver                                                                         Yes

Authorware                                                                          No

Director                                                                            No

ToolBook                                                                            No

Lectora Publisher                                                                   Yes

TrainerSoft                                                                         No

ReadyGo                                                                             No

Word                                                                                Yes

PowerPoint                                                                          Yes

Tools for SMEs to create content as a Word document

Import method for Word documents                                                    Yes

Developers save Word in .doc format and attach it as content                        Yes
(.doc file appears in the browser for the learner)

Developers save Word in HTML format and attach it as content                        Yes
(learner sees HTML version of the content)

They have created special utilities adding templates, macros, and/or menus          No
inside Microsoft Word allowing developers to add content that is
automatically converted into learning objects

They key off Word styles and convert stylized text into learning objects            No

How developers work with Word documents
§   Developer can copy and paste text from a Word document into the BrandX page.
§   Developer can use the proprietary BrandX Word macro templates if these were used as the
    basis for storyboarding. These would then be imported, via the BrandX import system,
    appropriate badging selected, and then imported into BrandX.
§   After importing into BrandX, each screen must be checked for text formatting (using HTML
    tags), positioning of graphics, bullet points, etc.

Round trip Word (the ability to export Word, make changes, then re-import)

Yes. The developer first creates the course structure in the LCMS and assigns templates to each
screen. Then the course is exported into the Word document using the Storyboard feature.
Content is then entered into the Word document by the developer. Once the content is finished,
the Word document is then imported back into the LCMS and all changes are updated into the
original course.
Tools for SMEs to create content as a PowerPoint presentation

Import method for PowerPoint presentations                                          Yes

Developers save PowerPoint in .ppt format and attach it as content                  Yes
(.ppt file appears in the browser for the learner)

Developers save PowerPoint in HTML format and attach it as content                  Yes
(learner sees HTML version of the content)

They have created special utilities adding templates, macros, and/or menus           No
inside PowerPoint allowing developers to add content that is automatically
converted into learning objects

How developers add PowerPoint presentation material into the LCMS

The LCMS allows PowerPoint files to be imported in two ways. First the entire PowerPoint show
can be imported as a single file. The developer would use the Simulation template to display the
entire PowerPoint show in a single screen. The user would move from screen to screen by using
a scroll bar. The other method would be to use the import tool that breaks up each of the
PowerPoint screens into separate screens in the LCMS course structure.

Built-in utilities for streaming audio


Support for streaming audio formats
§     RealAudio
§     Windows Media Player
§     QuickTime
§     Flash Audio

Built-in utilities for streaming video


Support for streaming video formats
§     RealMedia
§     Windows Media Player
§     QuickTime
§     MPEG
Other Built-In Authoring Functionality

Preview function (without compiling the material)


Built-in spell check


Built-in rich text formatting

Rich Text on main content screens                                                 Yes

Rich Text on question stems                                                       Yes

Rich Text on question answers (distracters or foils)                              Yes

Rich Text on question feedback                                                    Yes

Rich Text on table of contents or menus                                            No

Built-in support for global styles

Global text styles can be set for module/lesson/unit headings                      No

Global text styles can be set for body text                                       Yes

Global text styles can be set for button labels                                    No

Global text styles can be set for feedback text                                    No

Global text styles can be set for screen layouts                                  Yes

System comes with a library of look-and-feel elements
(backgrounds, button sets, etc.)

Comes with 17 look-and-feel templates. Developers can create additional templates through a
built-in editor.

Automated tool for creating glossaries from e-learning content


System allows for conditional branching as learners move through the course
(beyond linear branching based on a sequence of learning events)


Use of HTML as formatted text

Recommend using an external HTML editor for creating HTML content.
Reusability and Content Tagging

Company’s learning object philosophy

Their view is consistent with the IEEE’s definition of a sharable content object and the SCORM
definition of learning assets and sharable content objects.

BrandX attaches metadata to learning assets to enable the reuse and sharing of those assets.
Customers can define their own taxonomy to label these assets, but they do not need to add the
tags, as the system automatically attaches tags to each asset. BrandX also has the notion of
sharable content objects, or SCOs, which are reusable instructional units that are tagged, stored,
launched and reused in the system. Those SCOs can also be exported to any SCORM 1.2-
compliant system.

Levels of reusability

BrandX offers reusability of content via a three point strategy:
§   BrandX supports reusability of content objects at all structural levels, including granular
    objects such as text, graphics and audio files
§   The content repository is set up into a taxonomy-based schema which is built to suit the
    client enterprise. Content is then stored under topics and sub-topic categories to facilitate the
    finding of existing data and assets
§   All content is tagged with the desired metadata schema, which is also set up to meet client
    enterprise needs, allowing content to be tagged with necessary and/or relevant information.
Also, a multi-filter search tool is provided throughout the content development process, enabling
developers to find an existing content object or to produce a list for browsing based on selected

Although objects at all levels of structure can be used in any number of applications, it only exist
in one instance and can be updated at that one instance. All courses that use that object will be
instantly updated. It is also possible to produce a list of all courses, modules or pages which use
a specific object, to selectively update some of these courses, modules or pages. The system also
offers a version control mechanism, which keeps a library of previous versions and enables
reverting back to these versions.

Tagging capabilities

Content can be metadata tagged, although only a basic range of tags are provided in the current
version. They are hoping to provide a fully extensible metatagging feature in Q4 2003 (version
At what level can content be tagged

Course                                                                                    Yes

Lesson/unit                                                                               Yes

Topic level                                                                               Yes

Page level                                                                                Yes

Media objects                                                                             Yes

Graphics                                                                                  No

Audio/video                                                                               No

Text objects                                                                              Yes

Scalable tagging schema

Yes; end users can set their own metadata tags, and there is a graphical user interface for
creating or changing the tag sets.

Dynamic Pretesting, Skill-Gap Analysis and Adaptive Learning

Pretests can dynamically build a course path
based on learner performance in the pretest


Overview of built-in pretesting functionality

Pre-assessments can be added at the course, lesson or topic levels. The BrandX Content Player
will automatically skip over the relevant topics or lessons if a learner answers correctly and will
display the next available topic or lesson in the course. If a learner tests out of a topic, the topic
can still be accessed from the table of contents.

Skill-gap analysis details

Test questions can be associated with specific skills                                     Yes

System shows learners and managers a                                                      Yes
skill-gap analysis for individual learners

System can store a hierarchy of job skills                                                No

System stores organizational data about job positions                                     No

Standard performance reports showing performance by skills                                Yes

System has built-in functionality for succession planning                                 No
(a learner can check their own acquired skills against other job positions)

Unique adaptive learning model beyond pretesting
(e.g., adapting to learning styles, complex branching capabilities, etc.)

BrandX provides a conditional branching capability that can be used to create complex behaviors.

Workflow Management (During Course Development)

Overview of built-in workflow management capabilities

A content extraction tool is provided to facilitate the development of the instructional design
document, scripting and storyboarding. Roles are assigned in terms of course administrators,
developers and subject matter experts. Each role has different privileges and multiple
administrators, developers and subject matter experts can be assigned with varying degrees of

A QA tracking tool allows course administrators, developers and subject matter experts to post
feedback on individual content files and screens.

Each role can have their own repositories for learning objects and media files. As content is
created, it is archived in the media repositories for integration into learning objects. Each learning
object has an owner, and it is the owner who determines the privileges associated with the
learning object. The system guides developers through the process of uploading, creating or
editing HTML files.

Functionality for tracking development process

Multiple authors can work on the same course at the same time                            Yes

Security log-in for valid course developers                                              Yes

Tools for tracking what has been approved for release                                    No

Tools for tracking copyright information                                                 No

Utility for tracking bugs during course development                                      Yes

Can create production notes associated with                                              No
specific development activities or course objects

Utility for assigning production tasks                                                   No

Can assign ownership of course topics, media, etc., to individuals                       No

Internal e-mail system to communicate with                                               No
others working on the project during development

Built-in product development timeline tools                                              No

Built-in courseware development budget                                                   No
forecasting vs. actual course development costs
Provides space for content developers to store shared resource files                   Yes
(without having to add them as course content)

Virtual Rolodex for keeping centrally                                                  Yes
located contact information for team members

Revision controls, archiving, and file management

Mark-up and revision controls similar to those found in Microsoft Word                 Yes

Content can be checked out and checked in (e.g., SourceSafe)                           No

Built-in archiving and back-up system                                                  No

Archiving can be turned on or off, depending on project needs                          Yes

Tools for tracking original creation date, date                                        No
of changes and reason for review (audit trail)

Other groupware functionality

System automatically creates audio production reports for recording narration          No

System automatically creates graphic production reports                                Yes
(descriptions of graphics routed to the graphic artists)

Learner Interface (Content Player)

Highlights and unique features of the learner interface

The student side is completely browser-based and features a main menu from which students
can access learning mode, take a test, access the reference tool, check their course progress or
view their history file. The learning mode navigation bar features forward, back, replay and mute
audio commands for local navigation. It also displays key information about the course, including
a description of the specific enabling objective a learner is working through at any given time, as
well as a file count to help measure the learner’s progress. Learners can use the learning mode
screen’s Notepad feature to help them capture key knowledge for future reference.

A hierarchical course tree allows the learner to keep visual track of their progress through a
course (can be hidden). The LCMS’s reference mode allows learners to search or browse through
the keyword archive much like using an index, helping them locate information quickly. Learners
have access to their own student profile information and history. The LCMS also generates
graphical reports to help learners track their progress through the course they are registered for.
Navigational controls that are part of the standard interface

Next (Forward)                                                                        Yes

Back (Previous)                                                                       Yes

Exit (Quit)                                                                           Yes

Course menu                                                                           Yes

Glossary                                                                              No

Help                                                                                  Yes

Ask an expert (mentor)                                                                No

Bookmark                                                                              Yes

Notes (learners can write their own notes)                                            No

Discussion group                                                                      No

Chat                                                                                  No

FAQ board                                                                             No

Overview of built-in collaborative tools

The collaboration center has three main components: discussion forums, instant messaging and
expert communities.

Discussion forums are online discussion groups in which users can view and post messages and
attach documents for others to view or edit. The main entry point in a collaboration center is the
discussion forum. In the discussion forum there can be any number of discussion threads.
Discussion forums course administrators have the ability to allow individuals to post articles

Instant messaging is also available to enhance communication while working and during the
learning process.

Expert communities work in conjunction with discussion forums and instant messaging. BrandX
administrators have the ability to assign expert status to individual users. Once users are
designated as experts, they may be added as an expert to different subject categories and
courses. These experts are subsequently available for learners to use as a resource to answer a
direct question in a discussion forum or give an educated opinion over instant messaging. Experts
also have the option to forward questions to other experts if they feel the need to gain a second
opinion. Collaboration Center users can also rate experts on the answers given. Learners can also
decide which expert to ask based on past ratings.
Collaboration tools for learners
(those that come with the standard system; not third-party tools)

Learner-to-learner e-mail                                                           Yes

Learner-to-instructor (and vice versa) e-mail                                       Yes

Threaded discussion                                                                  No

Live, instant messaging (person-to-person)                                          Yes

Live chat (synchronous group)                                                        No

Ability to cluster learners into workgroups for group study sessions                 No

Live voice-over IP                                                                   No

Webcasting                                                                          Yes

Virtual whiteboard (freeform drawing)                                                No

Virtual PowerPoint-like presentations (using bullet builder templates, etc.)        Yes

Application sharing                                                                  No

Learners can add comments to specific learning                                      Yes
objects and store them as individual study resources

Ease of swapping out look and feel

To change the look and feel of course content, authors can leverage style template repository.
Authors can define and change styles for the course or specific environments, modules and
pages. These elements can have their own specific style or inherit the parent style.

Multilingual localization capabilities

All content is XML and the application is written in Java making it theoretically capable of
authoring in any language. The user would select the language in the OS, and the system would
provide the correct character set and keyboard mapping.

Multi-byte character support
(for foreign character sets such as Chinese, Korean, Russian, etc.)


Learner interface languages available with system
(already translated and available from the vendor today)

French, German, Spanish and English.
Screen shot of learner interface.

Standards and Specification Compliance

General description of the LCMS’s compliance to common industry standards

It is the company’s position that all of the current industry standards are evolving and in many
ways impractical for some organizations to adopt. Given this, the company focuses on creating a
flexible metadata and sequencing framework that allows organizations to selectively comply to
standards. BrandX is a member of AICC and allows adherence to its standards both from an LMS
and content perspective. The current version of the system also supports adherence to SCORM
1.2 from a content and LMS perspective as well as the Army Learning Object standard.
Additionally, the company does follow and allow for adherence to IMS, IEEE and Dublin Core.

The product also supports Section 508 via its profiling system for individuals with hearing or
visual challenges. The product also complies with the FDA CFR11 standard.

§    Version 1.2
§    Version 1.1
Participation in ADL Plugfests
(testing interoperability between LCMS and LMS)

Plugfest 4, 5 and 6.



Section 508-compliant


Proof of compliance with Section 508 standards
for software and Web-based applications

Successfully tested with Bobby and JAWS.

Support for Microsoft’s LRN specification


Support for regulatory compliance standards

They are working towards ISO 9000.

Output Formats

Company’s philosophy for supporting multiple output formats
(e-learning, print-based learning, knowledge management, PDA, etc.)

BrandX was designed to enable browser-based access to a collaborative development
environment for output to multiple formats. While their initial efforts were focused on output to
electronic formats including PDA, CD-ROM and KM interfaces, recent versions enable outputting
to print format.

Output types

E-learning                                                                            Yes

CD-ROM                                                                                Yes

Offline courses for non-connected learner (learner can download course,               Yes
take it offline on their laptop, upload course performance after completion)

Printed version of e-learning content; all content can be printed from                No
the study room including content pages, FAQs, glossary, notepad, etc.

Formatted student guide                                                               No
(beyond just printing content as it appears in a course)
Formatted instructor, lesson plan                                             No
(beyond just printing content as it appears in a course)

Pocket PC                                                                     No

PALM                                                                          Yes

Knowledge management interface (searchable learning                           No
object repository with open access to individual learning topics)

Output content into Microsoft Word format                                     No

Output content into Microsoft PowerPoint format                               No

Output content as XML for transfer to another system –                        Yes
entire system uses XML behind the scenes to transfer all data

Back End Interoperability

Interoperability with third-party LMS systems
§   Intellinex
§   Saba
§   Williams Training
§   HRIS

Interoperability with third-party courseware vendors
§   ITG
§   NETg
§   U.S. Learning
§   ActiveEducation
§   Coastal
§   PrimeMedia
§   Ninth House
§   QuestionMark

Interoperability with third-party live e-learning/virtual classroom systems
§   WebEx (partnership)
§   Centra
§   HorizonLive
§   PlaceWare
§   Microsoft NetMeeting

Successful integration projects with ERP, HRIS and/or CRM systems
§   Dell HRMS
§   ATSS
Successful integration projects with traditional
content management (document management) systems
§   Documentum
§   Microsoft Exchange
§   Microsoft Index Server
§   PerFect Index Server
§   Watson
§   Ultimate

Built-In LMS Functionality

Company offers LMS functionality

Company’s LMS and LCMS functions are found in a single system (turnkey solution).

Extent of LMS functionality built-in to the core LCMS

Log-in, authentication, and security of course access                               Yes

Course cataloging system                                                            Yes

Search engine for course content                                                    No

Launch and track e-learning created in LCMS                                         Yes

Launch and track e-learning from third-party courseware vendors                     Yes

Manage instructor-led classes                                                       No

Enrollment tracking, e-mail notification for instructor-led classes                 No

Resource allocation (room scheduling, equipment                                     No
check out, etc.) for instructor-led classes

Calendaring system (personal calendar for time-based events)                        Yes

Ad hoc reporting                                                                    No

360-degree evaluation                                                               No

Succession planning (automated function for learners to                             No
check their job skills against another position in the organization)

Other Human Capital Management functionality                                        No
(recruiting, performance reviews, etc.)

E-commerce (purchase courses online)                                                Yes
Implementation Time and Process

Average implementation time (from the time a contract is signed to deployment)

One month.

Implementation process
§   Technical installation: 20 minutes
§   Integration with other systems: 1-4 days
§   System set up: 1-5 days
§   Instructional design workshop: two days
§   Developer training: two-day course
§   Admin training: one-day course
§   Mentoring period: four weekly one-hour Q&A sessions

People and roles required for implementation

One person for each of these roles:
§   High-level consultant
§   I.D workshop
§   System set up
§   Application trainer
§   Integration and user data import
§   Interface customization

Third-party integration partners
§   Oracle
§   PeopleComeFirst

Additional services offered

Teaching companies how to design content using learning objects                      No

Integration with third-party LMS products                                           Yes

Integration with ERP, HRIS, and CRM systems                                         Yes

Courses on instructional design                                                     Yes

E-learning content development services                                             Yes

Tracking proprietary content (non-standards based)                                  Yes

Standards-compliant content certification                                            No

Other services offered

ASP hosting, e-commerce, eLibrary, skills gap testing, assessment, analysis and reporting.
System Requirements

Server types supported
§   Windows NT
§   Windows 2000
§   Other: Windows 95-98, ME and XP

Databases supported
§   Microsoft SQL
§   Oracle
§   SyBase
§   Microsoft Access
§   DB2
§   Other: Win9x, ME and XP

System requirements for learners

Windows 95/98/ME, NT or 2000
Internet Explorer 4.0+ or Netscape Navigator 4.08+ (cookie, Javascript, and Java enabled)
2D, 4 MB VGA video cards
28K Internet connection
Standard mouse and keyboard input devices
15-inch VGA monitor
For specialized content other software may be required, such as Flash.

System requirements for content developers

Windows 95/98, NT 4.0, 2000, ME
90 MHz Intel Pentium processor (or equivalent)

System requirements for Web server (whether locally installed or hosted)

Windows 95/98, NT v4.0, 2000 or ME (latest Service Pack where appropriate)
90 MHz Intel Pentium processor (or equivalent)
42 MB free disk space
Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator
The Java TM plug-in 1.3.x Java Virtual Machine (supplied if required)
DCOM 95/98 (if OS is Windows 95/98) supplied with install
MDAC v2.1 (version 2.5 is supplied with install)
About the Company and Solution

Number of clients using LCMS solution


Company size (# of employees)

12 employees (total)
§     5 in development
§     2 in sales and marketing
§     5 in services

Year company started


Year LCMS originally released


Percent of clients – hosted vs. installed

Hosted: 80%

Installed: 20%

Hosting partner


Percent of clients around the world

70% in North America

10% in Europe

10% in Asia

Percent client size

Large organizations (sales over $1 billion): 30%

Mid-sized organizations (sales over $100 million): 60%

Small organizations: 10%

Top 10 clients
§     State Farm
§     Berkshire Hathaway Insurance
§     American International
§   Allstate Insurance
§   Travelers/Citigroup
§   CNA Insurance
§   Liberty Mutual Insurance
§   Zurich/Farmers
§   Nationwide
§   Hartford Insurance

Number of concurrent learners tested on the system


Largest “behind-the-firewall” implementation


Largest “hosted” implementation



Pricing estimate for a locally installed solution

Year 1:
§   500 users = $55,353
§   10,000 users = $223,731
§   25,000 users = 373,557
Year 3 (cumulative):
§   500 users = $88,417
§   10,000 users = $352,776
§   25,000 users = $601,774

Pricing estimate for a hosted solution

Year 1:
§   500 users = $61,893
§   10,000 users = $245,105
§   25,000 users = $454,441
Year 3 (cumulative):
§   500 users = $161,261
§   10,000 users = $621,185
§   25,000 users = $1,169,259
Product Support

Product support available

Live telephone support                                         Yes

24-hour support available for no additional fees               No

24-hour support available for additional fees                  Yes

E-mail support                                                 Yes

Active user support groups (peer-to-peer advice)               No

Product conference (live event)                                No

Vendor offers training classes available on product            Yes

Third-party (training partners) classes available              No

Vendor offers full outsource courseware development services   Yes