MOOCs versus LMS Systems: A Guide for Businesses

Today, most businesses and organizations use a learning management system, or LMS, to handle the ongoing training and education needs of their staff. However, that’s not the only option out there. You can also use a MOOC in some instances. What are the differences between MOOCs and LMSs? Which is the right option for today’s business needs?

The Key Differences between MOOCs and LMSs

While the concept behind both MOOCs and LMSs might seem pretty similar, there are some key differences that set each option apart.

  • Learning Location: Within a MOOC, learning takes place at home and is then applied in the classroom (they were originally developed for use with college courses). This can work very well in a business environment, as well.
  • Certification: MOOCs are designed for both general educational improvement and for pursuing formal credentials. This makes them very applicable for businesses where professionals need to re-up their knowledge of techniques, regulations, laws and other compliance and licensing considerations.
  • Blending Is Simple: One of the best things about an LMS is that it enables blended learning easily. The same is true for MOOCs. This is particularly true when it comes to in-house training for businesses and organizations. A MOOC can be used for general training, and then the LMS for more in-depth needs.
  • Social: Social integration has become incredibly important for online learning, even though many LMSs lack any social sharing components. MOOCs, on the other hand, are innately social – they were built originally with social sharing in mind, so there’s very little modification needed to make them work for business needs in this regard.
  • Customization: We’re talking here about customizing a MOOC to a brand, rather than to an individual user. Surprisingly, MOOCs can be very easily customized with your organization’s brand, logo, ethics, culture and more.

The Way Forward

If you were paying attention to the points above, you should have noticed something: MOOCs are not designed to replace your LMS. They can work hand in hand with them. They can be added to your LMS learning programs to provide further benefits and make ongoing training simpler and easier for your employees. However, they’re not going to do away with your LMS. Why is that?

Simply put, unless you invest a significant amount of money and time into custom developing a MOOC just for your own business, they are too broad to replace what your LMS is capable of providing already (or what a new LMS can offer if you’re looking to upgrade your outdated system).

Many companies are combining widespread education and training systems using MOOCs. For instance, a well-known US-based healthcare company recently combined their two global education sites with a custom-designed MOOC. The upshot was better personalization for users, better branding for the company, more interactive education and training options, and a better overall quality of education in all.

A Component, Not a Platform

The most important thing to remember is that MOOCs are entire courses, but they are not platforms. They’re a component of education, but not the means to attain that education. MOOCs can be part of an LMS, but an LMS cannot be part of a MOOC. More and more businesses will find the value of integrating these unique educational solutions into their LMS moving forward, but the key is still choosing the right learning management system in the first place. Of course, with the ever-growing number of LMS offerings on the market and new capabilities, that choice may not be as difficult as it once was, particularly if you’re looking for unique or advanced functionality.


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