Blended learning remains one of the dominating forms of the eLearning market. According to TechNavio report blended learning market share is expected to grow for additional 13% in 2017 and will account for around 53% of the eLearning market by 2020. Another report states that 77% of the US companies offer eLearning training to their employees, with another 8% considering trying some eLearning solution. But what LMS should they choose? We believe that Open edX platfrom is the perfect match for implementing the blended learning model, and here is why.
We conducted a market analysis of the eLearning solutions offered for blended learning, including Bersin by Deloitte, Absorb LMS, TotaraLMS, TalentLMS, UpsideLMS and others. These LMS vendors consider a certain list of LMS features important for blended learning deployment. These features differ a bit from our list of the most important LMS features, as they emphasize blended learning in particular over the eLearning in general:
- Low subscription fee or an open source LMS
- Broad branding and customization options
- Content import and LMS integration
- Convenient content authoring and management
- Simple learner enrollment and management
- Possibility to choose between learning models
- Detailed learning process statistics and training efficiency measurement
- Engaging learner communication and collaboration tools
- Convenient exam proctoring instruments
- Social and mobile integration to enhance the learning process
Let’s explore how these features are implemented in Open edX platform.
Open source LMS platform with vast functionality range
Open edX is an open source LMS written in Python and supported by a huge international community. After initial installation/setup investment and some minor maintenance expenses it is essentially free for the owner. The platform includes both the Open edX Studio CMS for online course development and LMS for the learning process management.
Highly customizable eLearning solution: “Everything is possible!”
Open edX provides immense branding and customization options, from choosing fonts, backgrounds and button locations for your portal to complete themes branded under a company, campus or faculty style. Custom module development allows meeting any company requests and fulfilling the training tasks.
Content import and LMS integration into existing corporate ecosystem
Corporations almost always have some kind of in-house employee training programs in place and want to use these materials after transition to blended learning. Open edX is SCORM compliant, which means the company can fairly easily transform existing online materials into an Open edX course. The costs of online course design and development from scratch to deployment vary greatly, however. The other important feature is the fact that Open edX has lots of API extensions, allowing it to integrate seamlessly with existing HR and employee training department software.
Content authoring and management in several clicks
Open edX uses XBlocks content structure - minor complete course elements that can be easily composed into a ready content. There are hundreds of ready XBlocks out of the box and custom ones can be created relatively easy. The course content can be easily managed, adjusted and reorganized if need be, empowering intense reuse and diversification to meet the business goals set.
Convenient learner enrollment and management
Open edX utilizes multiple ways of learner enrollment (self-enrollment via platform, email invitations, .csv import, etc.) and management. All the learners enrolled for a course can be split into groups and easily transferred between these groups, which is especially important for corporate training.
Different learning models for different courses
Open edX supports synchronous, asynchronous and blended learning models. The learners can study fully online or have their exams in class (On-Campus proctoring), they can gain access to the new course stages only with a group (synchronous, instructor-paced) or on their own, as they advance the course (asynchronous, self-paced). This is the approach corporate training departments value a lot.
In-depth learning statistics and per-learner training efficiency measurement
Open edX provides detailed learning analytics through its Insights module. Overall course learners’ statistics or per-learner individual data, all aspects of learning process are covered by this powerful tool. This allows precise measurement of different learning approaches and strategies, which is also very beneficial for corporate training.
Variety of engaging channels for communication and collaboration
Open edX platform delivers a variety of channels of communication and collaboration between educators and learners. Discussion forums for all learners of certain course, separate groups or cohorts of learners for working on different projects, chats and push notifications, even a Telegram bot - all these channels help augment the learning process greatly. By implementing the “learning by teaching” approach, collaboration helps learners comprehend new knowledge better and improve their skills much more as compared to passive knowledge consumers.
Ample selection of exam proctoring models and tools
Open edX allows multiple approaches to the exam proctoring process. On-Campus proctoring system helps monitor the students passing the exam in class, while Examus integration into Open edX allows precise control of online testing. Any campus or corporation can choose amongst several proctoring modules due to multi-proctoring functionality and select the model that fits their goals best.
Mobile access and social integration to enhance the learning process
Open edX delivers multiple social integration tools and houses a convenient mobile app to ensure the learners can access the course and stay in touch with each other (and the educator) anytime, anywhere. This allows the learners to receive corporate training without spending time and money on commuting to the class or devoting work hours to it, which helps improving their skills without reducing productivity.
The full list of Open edX LMS features and possibilities is too long to be a part of this article. However, the fact that Google, Microsoft, Mercedes-Benz, Harvard, MIT, McKinsey, Berkeley and Stanford, FUN (French Ministry of Education online course portal), XuetangX (Educational consortium of 10 biggest Chinese universities), Edraak (Arabic educational portal established by Queen Rania) along with many other universities and companies worldwide use Open edX as their eLearning solution of choice - this fact speaks for itself.
As you can see, blended learning has a great potential and Open edX platform is a great choice of LMS for blended learning, both for campuses and corporate training.