Content Hosting Primer

One of the questions I have been asking for years is ‘where is your content’.  When I first started working with Learning Management and eLearning in general, the term ‘cloud’ wasn’t a marketing trend yet.  Clients, customers, and even the companies I have worked for put their eLearning content wherever they could but generally behind a corporate firewall along with their Learning Management System (LMS).  One client I had was a commercial client that sold content – since my company hosted their LMS, we also hosted their content on the same servers.  Very easy setups!

Today it’s different.  Users are not just behind your firewall.  They are out in the world accessing the content from their phones without noticing any difference in quality of throughput or security restrictions.  This is a fantastic step forward and gets us all closer to performance driven content delivery where the information is given to us right at the moment we need it. But getting closer to this nirvana is a hard thing to do technically and as it turns out sometimes it is a very hard thing politically and socially within companies.

Content hosting is a relatively easy thing to do.  You procure a cloud environment, upload some content, plop the URL into your LMS and run….right?  It can potentially be that easy.  There is work to be done and technical tasks that need to be completed, but none of them are beyond an experienced person’s ability. 

There are a few questions to ask yourself next time you’re considering reviewing where your content is hosted (internally or externally).  Some of them include:

Where is your audience?  This is the primary in driver in your content development and should also be a primary driver in how you host your content.  Does your audience need access outside of the network?  If so, how will you ensure security and reliability in the connection? Who is paying for them to consume the content (who pays for wifi, data plans, etc)?

What technology is your content? This is not a call to debate the best technology, but once that determination is made, the hosting and consumption vehicles must be able to support whatever is chosen.  You may determine that you don’t even need mobile enabled content and this can be an easy question.  The point is that someone has to make the determination before you spend a significant amount of time, money, and resources on a piece of content that may not work on your intended audiences’ device.

How do you want to report on consumption? This could be a little controversial within your company.  Are you launching LMS courses that communicate completion back to the LMS?  Are you just launching videos that may or may not reside in some other system and you just want to track the launching?  There are a lot of different options depending upon the business need for the content.

An experienced content hosting team can help coordinate along with your eLearning producer to make sure your content is delivered flawlessly.  After you have made the decision to host (internally or externally) there are steps to help get your company through the technical snags that will happen.  In the next few posts we will further explore hosting and how you can effectively host content for all of your users.