From Hiring to Retention: Unraveling the Connection Between Employee Development and Organizational Success

From Hiring to Retention: Unraveling the Connection Between Employee Development and Organizational Success


In the fast-paced corporate landscape of today, organizations face numerous challenges in attracting top talent, nurturing their potential, and retaining them for long-term growth. A well-crafted hiring process and a robust retention strategy are vital components of any successful company. However, what truly sets apart high-performing organizations is their commitment to employee development. This article explores the critical link between employee development and organizational success, shedding light on how investing in learning and development (L&D) initiatives can lead to a more engaged, skilled, and loyal workforce.

The Foundation of Success: Effective Hiring

The journey towards organizational success begins with hiring the right people. Identifying candidates who align with the company’s values, mission, and culture is paramount. By implementing rigorous selection processes, including behavioral interviews, skill assessments, and personality tests, organizations can ensure they onboard individuals who not only possess the necessary skills but also exhibit a strong potential for growth and development.

However, even the best hiring process cannot account for every aspect of an employee’s professional growth. This is where L&D initiatives come into play, shaping the talent acquired during the hiring process into high-performing and committed team members.

The Role of Learning and Development (L&D) After Hiring

Empowering Employees with Knowledge

A well-structured L&D program equips employees with the knowledge and skills they need to excel in their roles. Through workshops, webinars, online courses, and mentorship opportunities, organizations enable their workforce to stay up-to-date with industry trends and best practices. This continuous learning culture not only fosters innovation and adaptability but also boosts employee confidence, leading to enhanced job satisfaction.

Fostering a Culture of Growth

Employee development is more than just skill-building; it’s about nurturing a growth mindset. Organizations that prioritize L&D signal to their employees that they are invested in their personal and professional growth. This fosters a positive work environment where employees feel valued and supported, leading to increased motivation and commitment.

Improving Employee Engagement

A Gallup study revealed that only 36% of employees in the United States feel engaged at work. One way to address this challenge is by providing opportunities for employees to learn and grow within the organization. When employees are engaged in their roles and have opportunities for advancement, they are more likely to stay committed to the company’s mission and goals.

Bridging Skill Gaps

In a rapidly evolving business landscape, skill gaps can be a major roadblock to success. Employee development programs can identify and bridge these gaps, ensuring that the workforce remains competitive and adaptable. Whether it’s leadership training, technical certifications, or soft skills development, L&D initiatives help close the chasm between existing skills and the skills required for future success.

The Connection Between Hiring, Employee Development and Retention

From Hiring to Retention: Unraveling the Connection Between Employee Development and Organizational Success

Organizations that invest in employee development often reap the rewards of improved employee retention rates. Employees are more likely to stay with a company that values their growth and provides opportunities for advancement. Let’s explore some key connections between employee development and retention:

Increased Job Satisfaction

Employee development leads to higher job satisfaction as employees feel more engaged and challenged in their roles. When individuals see that their efforts are recognized and rewarded through training and development opportunities, they are more likely to find fulfillment in their jobs, reducing the likelihood of seeking opportunities elsewhere.

From Hiring to Building a Sense of Employee Loyalty

When employees know that their employer is invested in their growth, they develop a sense of loyalty towards the organization. This loyalty fosters a deeper emotional connection, making it less likely for employees to leave for other opportunities.

Empowerment and Autonomy

L&D initiatives not only provide employees with new skills but also empower them to take ownership of their career paths. Empowered employees are more likely to proactively seek opportunities for growth within the organization rather than seeking external job offers.

Retaining Institutional Knowledge

High employee turnover can result in the loss of institutional knowledge, leading to productivity gaps and increased training costs for new hires. By retaining employees through effective development initiatives, organizations can maintain valuable expertise within their workforce.


In today’s competitive business landscape, organizations must recognize that the journey from hiring to retention is intertwined with the power of employee development. Investing in L&D initiatives creates a positive work culture, improves employee engagement, and fosters loyalty among the workforce. By embracing the connection between employee development and organizational success, companies can build a highly skilled, engaged, and loyal team capable of driving their growth and prosperity in the long run.

Psychological Safety at Work: Fostering Growth, Trust, and Performance

Psychological Safety at Work: Fostering Growth, Trust, and Performance


In today’s rapidly changing and highly competitive business landscape, organizations are increasingly recognizing the importance of creating an environment where employees feel safe to express themselves without fear of criticism or reprisal. This concept is known as psychological safety, and it plays a vital role in promoting collaboration, innovation, and overall employee well-being. In this article, we will delve into the depths of psychological safety at work, exploring its definition, why some leaders may be afraid of it, the barriers that hinder its establishment, and whether it truly hinders performance.

What is Psychological Safety: Beyond Fear of Criticism

Psychological safety refers to the belief that one can express their opinions, ideas, and concerns without the fear of negative consequences such as criticism, punishment, or rejection. It encompasses a sense of trust, openness, and mutual respect within a team or organization. Psychological safety encourages individuals to take risks, share diverse perspectives, and engage in constructive discussions, ultimately fostering an environment of innovation and learning.

Why Some Leaders Are Afraid of Psychological Safety

While psychological safety is widely acknowledged as beneficial, some leaders may feel apprehensive about fully embracing it. One primary reason is the fear of losing control. These leaders may worry that by allowing open dialogue and differing opinions, it could lead to chaos, dissent, or a loss of authority. Additionally, leaders who prioritize short-term results over long-term growth might view psychological safety as a potential hindrance to productivity, as it requires time and effort to build trust and nurture a safe environment.

Barriers to Psychological Safety

Several barriers can impede the establishment of psychological safety within a workplace. One common barrier is a lack of trust among team members. When trust is low, employees may hesitate to speak up, fearing that they will face disregard or the use of their opinions against them. Another barrier is a hierarchical organizational culture that discourages dissenting opinions or discourages challenging the status quo. Additionally, a lack of clear communication channels and feedback mechanisms can make employees uncertain about where to voice their concerns or ideas, hindering psychological safety.

Does Psychological Safety Hinder Performance?

Psychological Safety at Work: Fostering Growth, Trust, and Performance

Research has found that psychological safety positively impacts performance. It indicates that a safe environment for risk-taking, idea-sharing, and mistake-making without punishment fosters innovative thinking and problem-solving. Psychological safety fosters a sense of ownership and empowerment among employees, leading to increased motivation, collaboration, and productivity. Furthermore, it fosters learning from failures and continuous improvement, essential for organizational growth and adaptation in today’s dynamic business environment.

Creating a Psychologically Safe Workplace:

  1. Foster Trust: Build trust among team members by promoting open communication, active listening, and demonstrating empathy. Encourage team-building activities and create opportunities for personal connections.
  2. Lead by Example: Leaders must model psychological safety by actively seeking input, encouraging diverse perspectives, and responding constructively to feedback and ideas. Encourage healthy debate and avoid punitive behavior or negative reactions to dissenting views.
  3. Establish Clear Expectations: Communicate clear guidelines on respectful communication, encourage questions and curiosity, and emphasize that mistakes are opportunities for learning and growth.
  4. Encourage Feedback: Create feedback mechanisms that enable employees to provide anonymous suggestions, share concerns, or raise issues without fear of retribution. Regularly seek feedback from employees to demonstrate a commitment to continuous improvement.
  5. Promote Learning Culture: Encourage continuous learning and skill development by providing resources, training opportunities, and recognition for personal growth. Celebrate and learn from both successes and failures.


Psychological safety at work is a critical component of a thriving and innovative workplace. By creating an environment where individuals feel safe to express their thoughts, take risks, and collaborate, organizations can unlock the full potential of their employees. While some leaders may have concerns about losing control or hindering performance, research consistently shows that psychological safety enhances creativity, engagement, and productivity. By actively promoting trust, open communication, and a learning culture, organizations can cultivate psychological safety and reap the benefits of a motivated and empowered workforce.

Job Roles in the Training Industry

Job Roles in the Training Industry

Instructional Designer? LMS Administrator? Trainer? You’ve probably seen these terms in job ads or have even used them to describe yourself. If you’re just beginning in a training related profession (that’s not in a school) or interested in getting started, it can get confusing trying to describe what these different roles are and what they actually DO.

In this brief article, we’ll look at common training positions and what they entail. We’ll relate them back to 4 things a training department must do to be effective in a modern organization:

Communicate knowledge to learners

Somebody must understand the knowledge well enough to teach others face-to-face. For most of human history this was as far as a training team department went.

Create learning resources

It turns out creating and using materials that can be distributed and shared makes training much more efficient. Technology and research have greatly improved the kinds of materials that can now be created.

Manage resources and records

Record keeping is necessary for training to become integrated with the operations and policies of an organization. The bigger the organization and the more knowledge they have to train, the more complex a task this becomes (which is why electronic Learning Management Systems have become commonplace).

Plan the big-picture direction of the team

A modern training team might be comprised of unique individuals with unique skills, but they need to be able to work towards common goals inline with the rest of the organization. Assuming most if not all training departments are trying to accomplish these 4 things, the roles below should now make sense!


Trainers communicate knowledge to learners. They are usually the most hands-on role in a company’s training department. Trainers get out in the field and work directly with their learners — teaching, demonstrating, and advising. They need a solid understanding of the content they are teaching and good communication skills to pass it on to their students.

Common Responsibilities

  • Leading classes, webinars, and demonstrations
  • Meeting and working directly with learners
  • Writing or recording classes, webinars, and demonstrations as reusable learning materials
  • Instructional Designer

Instructional designers create learning resources

An instructional designer is a content creator — whether it’s written materials, digital presentations, videos, or interactive games. A good instructional designer understands the best way to identify learning objectives, create a plan for delivering and assessing knowledge, and build resources to support it using a variety of media.

Common Responsibilities

  • Creating curriculum, programs, and courses for learners
  • Working with subject matter experts to collect knowledge
  • Writing, designing, filming, editing, and sometimes programming learning content
  • Learning Management System Administrator

LMS admins manage resources and records

A learning management system (LMS) is a tool (usually a piece of software) that tracks learning resources and records in an organization. The LMS administrator is the person that keeps it running smoothly. That means working with different teams and roles like IT staff, instructional designers, executives, and end users to ensure the LMS is well-maintained and fulfilling its planned purpose.

Common Responsibilities

  • Managing and maintaining the LMS and its users
  • Troubleshooting LMS issues
  • Working with the rest of the training team to implement training solutions
  • Training Manager

Training managers plan the big-picture direction of the team

Like most managers, a training manager is primarily in charge of people. The training manager might not get hands-on with the learners, content, or software involved in training, but they oversee and plan-out the big picture goals of the training department. As we go up the company hierarchy, a training manager might be called a director or, eventually, a chief learning office (CLO).

Common Responsibilities

  • Managing a team of people
  • Setting targets and creating plans to achieve them
  • Reporting on the status of training projects
  • Working with other departments and stakeholders
  • Learning Specialist

In some cases, a company might be looking for a “learning specialist” or “training specialist”. Usually this means that they are looking for someone who can do all of the above.


Training is an important part of every organization and one that is still evolving. The roles above are common ways that organizations are structuring responsibilities in their training teams. Whether or not they follow the conventions above, someone has to:

  • Communicate knowledge to learners
  • Create learning resources
  • Manage resources and records
  • Plan the big-picture direction of the team

Or sometimes it’s all up to one person. Being deficient in any of these areas means less effective training for the whole organization. Common roles evolved as a way to distribute these responsibilities to the right people with the right skills.

We hope you found this article useful whether you are career planning, job searching, employee searching, or just looking for a better way to describe what you do!

Learn more about Cogcentric and our customizable Fabric LMS!

What’s in Your Instructional Design Tech Kit

What’s in Your Instructional Design Tech Kit?

Hello learning professionals! When you’ve been working in training for a while, you get attached to the stuff you work with (and the people too I guess). In this blog post, I want to share about some of the tools that have become part of my everyday work and why I think every instructional designer should consider them.

The laptop is the main workhorse in your kit; it goes with you to the office, out in the field and at the café. The MS Surface Book was first released in 2015 and immediately became an instructional designer’s dream machine.

Its big selling point was a detachable screen and pen input. That meant that you could flip the screen around and use it as a digital notepad. The fact that the pen input feels accurate and natural means it’s great for sketching storyboards, outlines, workflows, diagrams and more.

Add to that great battery life and enough power for most instructional design work (writing, web administration, light graphic design) and it’s a great fit for any instructional designer. You’ll definitely be bringing it to any brainstorming discussions, info collection meetings, and authoring crunch sessions.

Sometimes you need some good old fashioned power from your machine and that’s why I still keep a decent desktop PC handy.

A desktop is still the best way to get the most power for your dollar and as an instructional designer, I put that extra power towards compiling Storyline projects, rendering video, processing graphics, and more.

My current build has an AMD Ryzen 5 2600 CPU, 16GB DDR4 RAM, and an NVIDIA RTX 2070 graphics card running it. That’s enough to cut lots of time off rendering video and provides a smooth experience on even the most processor-intensive jobs.

Every instructional designer needs a reliable camera. It is there with you for formal video shoots whether it’s documenting procedures, instructions, lectures, or an interview. You might need it for capturing information in the moment while out in the field.

A good camera means clear results that look professional and gives you lots to work with if you are editing videos, creating technical documentation, or programming interactive applications.

I use a Panasonic GX85 because it is a great compact mirrorless camera that is easy to carry along for still photos, but also produces excellent video. That’s due to high quality image stabilization that you usually don’t get in a small camera. Remember if you are shooting video to bring a good tripod, microphone, and lights to get the best results!

A big part of an instructional designer’s job is delivering live or recorded video presentations. Nothing is less professional than a bad sounding presentation with distorted, hard to understand audio. A good microphone gives you clear, professional sounding audio and makes your voice sound even better.

The Blue Yeti is a classic microphone that sounds great and is easy to use. Just plug it into your USB slot and it works on almost any device.

Lastly everybody needs a good phone for work. Your phone often becomes your primary emailing, messaging, calendar, and meeting device. It might not be an exciting choice, but I use an Asus Zenphone because it does all of the above without breaking a sweat and doesn’t do much else. The Android ecosystem means that I have every app I need for emailing, web browsing, scheduling, and more.


That covers my daily devices and how they fit into my daily routine. Do you have tools that you use that you feel every instructional designer or LMS admin needs to hear about? Do you have questions about any of the devices about and how they might fit your everyday work? Write us a comment below or contact us at!

Learn more about Cogcentric and our customizable Fabric LMS!

Sharing the Load with your LMS

Sharing the Load with Your LMS

When you’re an LMS Admin, your LMS is your workhorse and partner. It should be doing the leg work so you can focus on big-picture planning, decision making, and working with your stakeholders. Does your LMS fulfill its duties as your trusty companion or do you find yourself doing most of the heavy lifting?

Here are a few ways we’ve seen LMSs help or hinder their admins. These are based on real stories and experiences (the good and the bad)!

Generating Reports

Decision makers (including yourself) depend on good data to get a detailed view of their organization and plan accordingly. It’s not uncommon for LMS admins to be responsible for running reports but the worst requests an LMS admin can receive are recurring tasks. “Hey, can you create this report for me? And do it every Monday? Forever?”

Don’t spend your time running and building the same report in excel over and over again.

Does your LMS allow you to create and save custom reports? Use custom reports to let you generate the reports you need instead of cobbling them together from 4 different files!
Work with developers to automate reports; email them direct to your recipients or save them to a centralized (and secure) location.

Registering Users

User accounts don’t create themselves, or do they? Creating accounts one by one for your users is a time sink that can eat up hours in the week. Does the creation of every user account on the site depend on one admin?

Don’t get roped into creating each account by hand!

Create a user registration workflow that works for your organization using integrations, self registration, invite links, or managers to create accounts.
Distribute the responsibility of account creation. Who knows best which user accounts should and should not be on the site? Give them the permissions to control their own team.
If you have a “master list” of users on an existing platform, develop and integration to sync your accounts.

Publishing Content

“Launch day”– 2 words that might give any LMS admin nasty flashbacks. Whether you are launching a brand new training program, introducing a new sales promotion, or simply updating existing materials, it can mean all sorts of unpleasantness.

Don’t be on the receiving end of the proverbial dump truck of content to publish at 2AM on launch day!

  • Pre-load your content on the site or, better yet, build it online so your content is stored and ready to go with the flip of a switch.
  • Schedule your content to publish ahead of time so any switch flipping is handled automatically– reducing chances of human error and late night work.

Send reminders

When it comes to training, reminding people to get their requirements done is half the battle (especially for recurring courses). Sending out reminders and notifications, however, is not fun and a big waste of mental effort (I already have a hard time keeping track of dentist appointments).

Don’t clog your calendar up with other people’s reminders!

Does your LMS track expiry dates and send warnings for training requirements? Establish your expiry warning rules and automate the process directly in your system.


Your time as an LMS admin is too valuable to spend on things that can be automated. Good planning and design by an LMS admin can produce workflows that run smoothly and take the pain out of day-to-day admin work.

Have a story you’d like to share with us about silky smooth LMS workflows you’ve applied? Or horror stories about doing all the heavy lifting yourself? Send us your stories at!

Want to see how Fabric can be your heavy-lifting LMS companion? Try it for free!

Instructional Design Skills on Your Team

Instructional Design Skills on Your Team

Creating a world-class training program, like most other big projects, is not the responsibility of a single person; it takes a team to make something great. Think about all the pieces a learner touches when they go through an effective training program — administrators, instructors, online infrastructure,  multimedia, online resources, live training, assessments, etc.

Training programs are complex things made up of multimedia, processes, and design and more that require a wide array of skills.

You don’t want one person’s DIY project to represent your entire company’s knowledge,  workflows, and best practices; you want the best talent for each job!

Here are some areas of expertise and skills you want on your training team to create an awe-inspiring training program. It’s likely you will find people who can wear multiple hats but it can’t all rest on the shoulders of one person.

Instructional Design

This is an instructional design focused blog so obviously it’s going to be on here. ID is the skill of collecting your learning requirements, designing the end-to-end process of how learners are trained and assessed to meet those requirements. The plan created by the ID determines how all other aspects of the program are produced.

A training program without instructional design might miss the point of training despite doing everything else right. You need instructional design skills to analyze your organization, design curriculum, build training prototypes, create effective assessment strategies, and interpret the results.


Whether writing scripts for a video, technical documentation, or chapters in a training manual, communicating clearly is essential in training. A training program without good writing is confusing, vague, and a slog to get through. Writers take key points and concepts and convey them in the most effective way regardless of the medium they are writing in.


It’s not easy capturing the attention of your audience and delivering your knowledge smoothly and effectively. Having a great presenter means great live seminars, webinars, and recordings that draws in your learners. A training program without good presenters means you might be losing you learner’s attention even though your learning content is solid.


Graphics in the form of info-graphics, charts, illustrations, styles, and more take your materials to the next level and helps your learners easily conceptualize, understand, memorize your content. It’s not just about looking good, but taking difficult concepts and bringing them to life (looking good helps too!). A training program without graphics lacks clarity and memorability.

Video filming and editing

Multimedia is a great way to present your learning content with presentations, demonstrations, workflows, animations, and much more. In many cases, multimedia is the best way to teach your lesson (could you teach someone to tie a shoe with written text alone?). Video filming and editing skills open up many possibilities for your training program.

Software development

Programmers make systems work or multiple systems work together. If you need to store data from an online form, automate a process that takes lots of human hours, or create a completely custom workflow, you will need software development skills on your team.


Who is on your training team and how do you divide your tasks based on their skills? Do you have the skills on your team to create a great training program? Identifying the skills required and dividing your roles up optimally means having a great end product for your efforts.

Learn more about Cogcentric and our customizable Fabric LMS!

Instructional Designers Assemblers or Directors

Instructional Designers: Assemblers or Directors?

Instructional designers are not primarily assemblers, although it might be easy to associate instructional designers with some commonly used tools (such as: Captivate, Storyline, Sharepoint, WordPress, Fabric, etc) and assume that’s all they do. These tools are great for assembling concepts, multimedia, quizzes and more into a tangible package, but that is just one piece of an instructional designer’s job.

Most instructional designers know that there’s more to it; but are the other stakeholders on the same page? I think an instruction designer is more like a movie director than a technician. You might not feel like you’re Stanley Kubrick or Steven Spielberg, but let’s look at the similarities.

eLearning content is a creative medium

Your industry might not be as fun as filming Jaws or E.T., but training content is a creative product. There are an infinite number of ways you can design your content to communicate the message you want to tell. It’s your job to invent something that clicks most with your audience. You’ve got to get creative!

Working with a team

Instructional designers are not lone wolves. You need provide direction for your writers, your filming team, your graphic designers, your coders, your Subject Matter Experts, and your acting talent. Imagine a movie written, directors, filmed, and acted by the same person—sounds like a box office bomb.

Using technology

Directors need to be technical even if they aren’t working directly with the technology; you can’t direct without understanding how the cameras, sound, editing, and special effects work. In the same way, an instructional designer might not be filming instructional videos, programming the LMS, or creating the graphics for a course; but they need to understand and be in control of the process.

Making your vision happen

Ultimately, as an instructional designer, your job is not about any one thing but doing whatever it takes to make your vision happen. Your stakeholders might not care what camera you use, what LMS you are publishing on, or what editors you decide to make your content in. Your job isn’t tied to one thing—your job is to make the whole thing come together in the end like a classic movie.


In the end, instructional design is not the same thing as directing a movie. However, it’s interesting to look at how the role is implemented and perceived in your organization.

Do you feel like your role as an instructional designer has been too “small” or otherwise misunderstood within your organization? Have you been in a situation where you felt like there was too much to do in your role? Have you found creative approaches to making your vision happen? Send us your story, we love to hear from our community!

Learn more about Cogcentric and our customizable Fabric LMS!

What’s the Deal with SCORM

What’s the Deal with SCORM?

Everyone working in eLearning should be aware of SCORM and xAPI even if you don’t work directly with eLearning tools or code. That’s because SCORM (and xAPI) is not a specific tool or technology but a big-picture set of standards that ensure eLearning content is shareable and reusable.

What is SCORM?

SCORM (which stands for Shareable Content Object Reference Model) is a set of standards for creating training materials that was developed by the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative from the Office of the United States Secretary of Defence. It was introduced as a guideline to creating eLearning content that is modular and reusable across multiple systems. That means that a SCORM lesson doesn’t have to be tied to a single course, learning management system, department, or organization. The ADL (and many other organizations) realized that this was hugely important when creating, maintaining, and tracking large amounts eLearning materials.

Imagine you build an awesome new training lesson as a PDF (not exactly eLearning but its digital). Your lesson is so great that another organization wants to use it for their training as well. You can easily give them your PDF files but you’d also need to give them a lot more information if they want to successfully use your lesson as part of their program.

What are all the parts of the lesson (videos, images, documents, etc)? In what order should a learner complete the lessons? Who records that a learner has completed the lesson? These are the kinds of problems that SCORM tries to solve. SCORM itself is not tied to any single company, content, or tool.

How does it work?

There are 2 parts to making SCORM work: the LMS and the eLearning content. Both need to be speaking the same language.

The LMS needs to know what to do with SCORM content that it is given. It also needs to listen for important events from the content as the learner is using it (“Quiz passed!”, “Quiz failed!”, etc). On the flip side, eLearning content needs to clearly indicate how it is meant to be deployed and it also needs to send the important messages to the LMS.

SCORM standards tell LMS developers and eLearning designers EXACTLY how this information must be communicated so they can each build their own piece and know that they will work perfectly together.

A few technical details

The primary technology used by SCORM is Javascript, the main language used to control behaviours in web browsers. A SCORM compliant LMS listens for specific instructions in javascript from the learning content.

The most common instructions include Initialize (get ready to receive data), Terminate/Finish (store the completed data), Set Value (set a specific variable to a given value), and Get Value (get a saved value back). The values you save are the key to storing data in SCORM. Some of the most important variables to record are the Completion Status (completed vs incomplete) and a Score. Developers can also store individual question responses or time spent on the content.

A SCORM complaint LMS is responsible for listening, storing, and retrieving this data for later use.

How can I create SCORM content?

You probably don’t need to worry about the LMS side of SCORM but you and any content creators you work with are in control of ensuring the content you create is SCORM compliant.

Design: it all starts with design. When creating content, you are in control of the tools and methods you use to create your content ensuring that it is SCORM compliant. This includes both the technologies you choose and the instructional design you implement. Learning content that meets all the technical requirements to be SCORM compliant but doesn’t make sense outside a specific context is not shareable or reusable!

Configuration and tools: many authoring tools such as Adobe Captivate or Articulate Storyline include SCORM support — you just have ensure you set up and export your content with the appropriate SCORM settings. These tools ensure the content you export is speaking the right language.

Programming: SCORM is not tied to any particular tool and any eLearning content can be made SCORM compliant by programming it to communicate with an LMS.

SCORM started with version 1.0 in 1999 and since then has evolved; the most recent incarnation of SCORM is called Experience API (or xAPI). While the details of the technology have changed, the underlying idea has stayed the same: setting a standard for LMS’s and eLearning content to speak the same language and ensuring eLearning content is sharable, reusable, and trackable.

Learn more about Cogcentric and our customizable Fabric LMS!

CMS vs LMS What’s the Difference

CMS vs LMS: What’s the Difference?

Ever since the internet came and took over our lives and our work, programmers have been creating online management systems. Customer relationship management, content management, learning management, and so on.

Each management system did something unique that made it specialized for its purpose. But the number of systems that became available diluted the meaning and made it hard for users and organizations to determine what’s best for them. Let’s take a quick look at Learning Management Systems (LMS) and what makes them specialized for learning apart from other management systems such as Content Management Systems (CMS).

The always connected nature of the internet made it perfect for centralizing important data for storage and collaboration. Data could mean anything from text articles, multimedia, inventory, personal information, and more. For all this data, or content, there had to be a way to get it into and out of the system and the amount of content could grow to be massive. Manually coding your static website to publish all this content became impossible so content management systems were created.

Today, 38.4% of all websites are run on WordPress, you might have heard of it. Shoppify, Joomla and Drupal make up 2.9%, 2.3%, and 1.5% of sites respectively. For many companies, Microsoft Sharepoint is the go to content management system internally. It turns out that all this content on the internet needs to be managed somehow!

What LMSs Bring to the Table

Learning management evolved into a different specialization from content management. This is where systems like Moodle, Canvas, Blackboard, Absorb, and Fabric stepped up. What did these programs add to the mixture that made them especially suited for learning?

Content Structure

LMS developers realized that learning content simply is not structured like a website or blog. Your math textbook was not organized into categories with articles sorted by most likes. No, it was structured into chapters and lessons and started with foundational concepts that increased in complexity. Learning management systems needed to provide ways to structure content to improve learning, not encourage casual reading.

Progress Tracking

The management part of learning means that there must be some record keeping on who has learned what. In schools this is done through certificates, diplomas, and degrees—you get a physical piece of paper that signifies that you have successfully learned a specific set of skills and knowledge. This proof is necessary to show other people what you are able to do (e.g. get hired). An LMS needs to do the same thing if it’s going to be useful.

Assessment and Marking

The other part of managing learning is assessing how the content was learned through assessment. We remember these from school as exams and report cards and, whether we liked it or not, they were an important part of our learning experience. It gave both students and teachers a tool to identify areas where the student needed help or where they could be challenged more. These functions are as useful in the workplace as they are in an academic setting.

Conclusion: The Right Tool for the Job

Training departments that try to build their training programs on Sharepoint or WordPress will quickly run into problems when it comes to structuring their content in an optimal way for learning, providing proof that the training program has been completed, and recording how well the learners internalized the knowledge. The results from these attempts are often kludgy and inefficient.

Learning management systems provide critical features that are specialized for learning in the areas of content structure, progress tracking, and assessment. They saw that content management systems were not equipped to handle learning and added features based on best practices in education and academia that everyone is familiar with like certificates, report cards, and text books.

That said, many technologies evolve and content management systems that allow other developers to build extensions like WordPress and Joomla are able to have LMS features added on to the base CMS. Regardless, it is the fundamental features and the design of the product that make it a fit for your learning purposes.

Have you tried using a content management tool as a learning management system in your organization before? How did it go?

eLearning and Scaffolding

eLearning and Scaffolding

Making your eLearning materials interactive always sounds great at the beginning of a project. Interactivity has become synonymous with engaging and fun.

But there’s a catch. Interactivity can be very tricky to execute, especially if you don’t have a deliberate and realistic design to implement right at the start. How should we design eLearning materials that are also interactive?

Interactivity for the sake of interactivity?

In many cases interactivity starts out as a suggestion to make materials less boring. This is not wrong, but should interactivity really be the ultimate goal when designing learning content?

In my experience, I’ve seen a simple desire for interactivity blow up into difficult projects that, in the end, did not see the light of day. When eLearning authors start down the path of creating content for the sake of interactivity, they risk the following outcomes:

  • The activity is not fun and is not used
  • The activity requires too much resources and is never finished
  • The activity is finished but underdeveloped and doesn’t work
  • The activity does not improve learning and wastes time
  • Interactivity is risky because it doesn’t state a specific goal you are working towards, it’s just a feeling

You might design and develop in circles trying to capture a “fun” feeling but as instructional designers we usually have compliance, assessments, ROI’s, and other things to worry about!

Effective learning should be your goal, not just interactivity. If you are looking to make your content more engaging, I suggest you start with the concept of scaffolding instead of delving into the depths of “interactivity”—and you’ll likely end up adding interactive elements along the way.

Scaffolding in eLearning

Scaffolding is the concept of providing learning supports for your learners and gradually removing those supports as the learner progresses.

Think of these supports as training wheels on a bike that are eventually taken off when the rider can balance themselves; or a teacher that teaches addition with real apples until the students have mastered the skill of apple counting.

Educators over time have found numerous creative ways to use scaffolding in their teaching, reading out loud the same lines from a textbook over and over can only go so far.

In eLearning, scaffolding can be applied in a digital medium through helpful tables, questions, info graphics, hints, all the way up to complex games. We start with the goal of reinforcing the learning and think of the best method to do that. Sometimes it doesn’t have to be “interactive” in a traditional sense. The idiom “lefty loosey, righty tighty” is a mostly true mnemonic device to help you remember which direction loosens or tightens a screw or bolt (or many other practical items).

This minor device can be a big help to students (e.g. in carpentry or auto repair); they might be able to complete example repair tasks faster or be less likely to “screw up” and feel more confident in their abilities.

Let’s say “Lefty loosey, righty tighty” is now a scaffold we want to introduce in our eLearning. It can be presented online very simply with text (maybe spice it up with some font styles or graphics). We can use animations to demonstrate the idea. We can even build an interactive game where users have to click and drag a virtual socket wrench on screen. When we start with the scaffold, we start with an idea that will help the learner learn. From there we can use text, multimedia, or interactivity to get our point across but the focus is always on the learning.

Scaffolding doesn’t specify how interactive the device is, it can be a single graphic or a full-fledged 3D simulation, it is just concerned about helping the learner in a specific situation to move on. In eLearning, we can’t hover over the learner and speak directly to them. We have to make our scaffolding activities part of the content — ask probing questions, present mnemonic devices, play a video, or more. Check if the learner gets the material and if not, provide more tools to help them get it. Engage the learner first by providing them content to help them learn (assume the learner wants to learn the materials and not struggle), then design interactive elements where appropriate.


When you receive the next stack of source materials to turn into an eLearning course, resist the urge to make it interactive just for the sake of interactivity (however dry the materials may be). Instead, do what teachers have been doing for ages — think about the materials and ways that you can clarify, demonstrate, and reinforce the core concepts. The difference for an eLearning instructional designer is to consider the tools you have to build and deliver the activity — they might look quite different from a teacher in the classroom but the approach is very much the same.

Are you an instructional designer looking for the cleanest and easiest way to build scaffolded eLearning content online? Get in touch with us!