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.
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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.
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.
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 inter- faces.)
- 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.
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.)