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If creating and selling eLearning content is your core business, you likely carry around a lot of frustration around lack of license control. You know the pain associated with a loss of revenue because you can’t turn off a client’s access to your training. You spend hours wishing you could uncover just how many learners are using your content so you can properly bill your client.

We have seen this first-hand. Our customer the SANS Institute found that licensed content revenues could increase annually by an estimated 20% if clients were charged accurately for the number of learners who used materials.

Since most of your courses must be SCORM compliant, you likely see no option but to directly provide your clients with proprietary training files. We would guess that your current distribution model looks something like this:

  1. You create eLearning training, likely in a few different standards to account for your different customers’ needs.
  2. You establish licensing terms with your customers, which account for details like how many users can access the content or how long your customer can use your course.
  3. You distribute your training courses to your customer, which they play and track in their own learning platform or LMS.
  4. You contact your client to manage your license; you manually ask if their user count has increased, request they stop using content after a license expired or chase them for payment because they are continuing to use content past their license.

Thankfully, there is a way to manage content licenses. eLearning content distribution solutions allow you to centrally host your content so it can be more easily released, managed and understood. A new formula for success could look like this:

  1. You create training in the eLearning specification that best suits your content and establish licensing terms with customers who use your training.
  2. You upload content into one central location, which automatically serves that content to your customer’s learning platform.
  3. You establish your customer’s license type from various options that allow you to specify terms, users and time.
  4. You restrict access automatically when license terms are met, such as learner count or expiration date, or manually cut off access for non-payment.
  5. You build and protect a recurring revenue stream and waste less time managing contracts. You increase revenue by spending more time identifying sales opportunities and tracking when customers are nearing usage limits so they are encouraged to increase their content licenses.

The SANS Institute has seen a significant increase in revenues by ensuring customers are paying for the right number of learners. They have used eLearning content distribution solution Content Controller, which allows them to centrally host content and deliver it to customers, licensed on their terms.

There are plenty of ways you can use eLearning content distribution solutions to better manage your licenses. We’d be happy to help you figure out the best technical set up for your needs.

 

 

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You may have noticed some new terms we’ve been using around here to describe some of the problems our software helps to solve when it comes to distributing eLearning content. Over the years, we have described our solutions as Cross Domain, Dispatch and more recently, Content Controller. While these are specific products that help solve the problem, we want to better describe the problem at hand, and a solution to help you get there.

In a not-so-small nutshell, we’re talking about the ability to host content and share access to courses with your customers (internal or external) rather than more traditional distribution models which require content providers to deliver the entire course package to customers. There are some nuances here which are important to point out.

  • Share access- allowing customers to take your courses on terms you control because the content remains in your possession
  • Deliver the entire course package– giving the content (in its entirety) to customers, ultimately giving up the ability to manage that content after the hand off

Some background
For content providers to distribute their courses with clients and other 3rd parties, a standard like SCORM usually comes into play. Sparing you the technical details, this typically entails delivering the entire course package to a customer who then must host and manage that content.Whether it’s keeping up with updates to the course or keeping track of license compliance, the customer has a lot of work ahead of them managing those courses. And the content provider has little control of that course once it’s handed off.

How we talk about it
We started down the path of Content as a Service and Training as a Service, but quickly realized that these imply other types of solutions that CMSs (think WordPress) tend to provide and it became confusing for what we’re really talking about. A few more iterations have led us to a term we think better represents what we’re tackling for the eLearning industry. Wait for it….

eLearning Content Distribution Solutions. While it’s not the catchiest title ever, it’s more accurate than any -aaS or other phraseology.

So when you hear and see us talking about eLearning Content Distribution, it’s really just a shorthand way for us to refer to all of the above- sharing access to your content across a wide variety of platforms, while retaining ownership of both the user experience and your best asset- your learning content.

Questions or thoughts on the way we talk about it? Let us know. Most importantly, we want to hear about the challenges you have when it comes to distributing your eLearning content and find the best way to tackle that problem.

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How can I automatically update my eLearning training content in my customer’s LMS or learning platform?

We hear this question a lot. Whether your training is your primary business offering (say you create and sell web based training courses) or you provide training as part of a larger product offering, you likely spend a good deal of time and energy distributing your training content and making sure each customer has the most up to date version.

We hate to say it, but we’re not surprised. SCORM compliancy is nearly always required for you to share content with any third party system. And while the standard helps ensure compatibility and increase your market, it also makes it incredibly hard to ensure content quality and release updates. Distributing online training content looks like this:

  1. You create training, likely in a few different standards to account for your different customers’ needs.
  2. You hand over your course to your customer, which they play and track in their own learning platform (whether a Learning Management System or Learning Experience Solution).
  3. You make an update to your course and have to ask your customer to update their version.
  4. Your customer manually updates their version and distributes it to their learners.

Well, we like to be the bearer of good news!

Using an eLearning content distribution solution–which allows you to centrally host your content so it can be more easily released, managed and understood–your process could look like this:

  1. You create your training in the eLearning specification that best suits your content.
  2. You release updated versions of your content to one central location, which automatically serves that content to other learning platforms of various customers or brands.
  3. Your customer does not upload any new files into their learning platform/LMS.
  4. Your customers and learners can immediately play the latest version of your training.

The SANS Institute has found success implementing a content distribution solution. Keeping training content up to date was of great importance but very time-consuming. Using Content Controller, they’ve ensured the most current version of content is always served to learners.

The good news is that there are a few ways you can implement eLearning content distribution solutions to best suit your needs. We’re happy to help you figure out how.

 

 

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At ATD 2017 this year, our CEO Tim Martin had a chance to talk about Content as a Service (CaaS). This conference was my first in eLearning, so I was excited to hear how companies are thinking about CaaS (or if they even know what it is). Out of the 125 attendees in Tim’s session 90% were from organizations, 5% were vendors and 5% fit into a category that was neither (or both!). On the organization side, the majority of attendees had more than one LMS and one poor soul had 10 LMSs to contend with in her company.

Tim discussed what Content as a Service is and how it solves the challenges of distributing courses across multiple systems by centralizing content in order to control and better understand the learning experience. (Sidenote: if you’re looking for further resources on CaaS, check out these blog posts). He also had a chance to answer some pretty common questions, such as…

How can an organization better distribute one piece of content to multiple LMSs?

For organizations who distribute content to multiple systems via individual files, content is not traditionally housed and managed in a central location. CaaS allows you to host a course in a single location and create proxy files to share with multiple LMSs that point back to that original course. When you update or edit your course, you edit a single file that is automatically available from each LMS.

What level of reporting is possible with CaaS?

CaaS enables you to see the usage of your content across all of your LMSs. Previously, any usage data or reporting was trapped in each LMS. With CaaS, the content and its corresponding data are centrally housed, allowing you to track both general utilization and deeper reporting like question-level analytics. Remember, reporting is always dictated by the eLearning specification you use.

How can vendors benefit from CaaS?

One of the coolest things about leveraging CaaS to distribute your content is that it empowers you to create unique, relevant experiences suited to specific learners. This is especially powerful for vendors who offer dynamically generated content within their system, which is hard to package and ship to an LMS.

Content as a Service also allows vendors to ensure the highest level of quality by consistently providing access to the latest version of a course. Financially, vendors are able to enforce the content licenses and subscriptions.

How can Content as a Service apply to a instructional designer?

Meet an instructional designer and you’ll quickly understand how passionate they are about creating eLearning content rooted in both design and science. With CaaS, an instructional designer can make sure the user always has the latest, best version of a course. And, they can finally understand how learners are interacting with a course (see reporting details above) so that they can adjust their content accordingly.

How are other businesses using CaaS?

If you’re looking for inspiration, look no further than the SANS Institute, who uses CaaS to help them efficiently manage and understand their eLearning content. If you want to know how Content as a Service can benefit you specifically or if you have a question about how it works, reach out to us.

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Last week we were incredibly excited to share a brand new, Content Controller case study for The SANS Institute. The case study describes the success they have using Rustici Software’s eLearning content distribution solution Content Controller to help them distribute and manage training content. When we were publishing the case study, we couldn’t help but reflect upon how wonderful they are as a client. SANS has continuously inspired us, encouraged us and collaborated with us. We’ve created a better product, and are a better company, because of them.

We started talking to SANS about their eLearning content distribution challenges two years ago during ATD ICE 2015 (Side Note: Tim will be speaking at this year’s ATD conference!). At the time, Content Controller was a glimmer in our eye. We had begun thinking about what it would mean to help companies better manage and control their content through eLearning content distribution solutions, but we hadn’t worked out what a product entailed.

We were therefore lucky to start chatting with SANS, who shared that same glimmer in their eye. At the time, SANS was struggling to effectively release version updates for their customers and they felt like there had to be a better way to manage content.

Worlds collided; the timing was perfect. Content Controller was born.

Since those first conversations, SANS has been a collaborative partner involved in the development, launch and evolution of Content Controller. We have had meetings in person to discuss product mock ups. We have picked their brains about how they use the product. We have supported feature requests inspired by their challenges.

Point of fact, SANS was the inspiration for one of our most popular features, Equivalents. SANS customers were finding it cumbersome and time-consuming to manage multiple languages of the same course. As a solution, SANS wanted to enable their customers to present a single course to a learner and let the user select their language. Equivalents solves this problem precisely and our product is better for it.

Last year, Content Controller was awarded a Brandon Hall Group’s Excellence in Technology Award for Best Advance in Content Management Technology. This award granted to Content Controller for revolutionizing content management and delivery could not have been possible without fantastic customers like the SANS Institute.

We are unbelievably thankful to SANS for inspiring us to create a better product and making our days more enjoyable through collaboration. And we can’t thank them enough for being champions of our company.

So, two years later, we’d like to say, “Cheers!” to SANS. We’re glad to know you and incredibly happy to work with you. Here’s to many years to come.

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