TEN. Where Will Your E-Learning System Reside?

-1. Where will your e-learning system reside?

- Where your e-learning system physically resides is

important because it affects your costs and the way you manage your system.

- You have three choices:

1. Run it on your private intranet.

2. Use a public system.

3. Get private access to a shared system.

Tell Me More

You might think that your e-learning system simply resides on the Internet and that it doesn't really matter where the physical machines reside. In a sense that's true—it won't matter too much to the students who use the system. But in another sense, it will make a lot of difference to your costs and to the way you want to manage your system.

You have three basic choices of where your e-learning system resides

1. Run it on your private intranet. If you think in terms of classroom training, it's like building your own education building on your own land. You own the building and you completely control what happens there. You manage everything yourself.

2. Use a public e-learning system at a Web site that anyone can go to. If you think in terms of classroom training, it's like sending students to a college or university. You don't run the university, but your employees can enroll in classes just like anyone else in the general public. You have next to nothing to do with the system management.

3. Get a "private access" shared system. This looks to your students like #1, but you can reduce some costs by sharing resources with others. If you think in terms of classroom training, this is like renting a floor of an education building for your company's exclusive use. Only your employees have access to your education floor, and all the classes delivered on that floor are only for your employees. However, you share the building facilities—for example, everyone uses the same cafeteria, and the building overhead is shared by all tenants. You have very little to do with the system management.

There are pros and cons for each approach, as you'll see as you read the subsequent questions and answers for this chapter.

-2. Why would you host your own e-learning system?

- If your e-learning system is installed completely within your company, you get complete control. You can, for example, connect your e-learning system directly to your HR system.

- You also bear all the costs and all the system management tasks.

Tell Me More

When you host your own e-learning system, it is installed within your company, inside your own firewall, on your own intranet. (Again, it's the Web equivalent of building your own education building for classroom training on your own land.) It's a separate installation of servers, software, and courseware just for your employees. No one else can access it (unless you explicitly authorize outside access). This is the way many companies today implement corporate universities.

In order to implement your own private e-learning system, you might:

- Build your own system from scratch.

- Buy commercial e-learning applications and integrate them yourself on your system.

- Buy commercial e-learning applications and have another firm do the system integration work for you.

The big advantage of hosting your own e-learning system is that you get complete control. The disadvantage, of course, is that you bear the entire cost of building and running the system. How these two things balance out will depend on the specifics of your situation.

Here's a quick summary of the important factors for hosting your own e-learning system.

Factor

Host Your Own E-Learning System

Courseware

You can deliver any kind of courseware: off-the-shelf courseware, custom courseware that you have developed for you, or courseware that you build yourself.

Learning management system (LMS) application

You can use an off-the-shelf LMS software package or you can build your own LMS.

Control

You have complete control of the system, which means:

- You control security. You can let in only employees. Or you can let in selected suppliers or customers too.

- You can connect your e-learning system to other computer systems and applications in your company, like your HR system. (It might take IT system integration work to accomplish this, but it's possible to do if the systems you want to connect have system-system interfaces.)

- All the system operating work is your responsibility. You have to maintain the IT systems, maintain the courseware, make updates as needed, and run the help desk for users.

Cost

You bear all the costs, including initial implementation, operating costs, and system updates and upgrades.

Speed to get up and running

If you're at all familiar with IT projects, then you know that sometimes they can take a long time to deliver the completed system. (Not always, but it's a good rule of thumb.)

 
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