Today's technology makes it possible for people to access an abundance of learning resources to help them do their jobs. However, with more resources comes the potential for chaos. Learners can't find what they need, and your company intranet becomes a dumping ground for material. This is where a learning portal can prove to be handy.

"Making a decision whether or not to have a learning portal is a quandary facing many of our clients today," says Innovative Learning Group CEO Lisa Toenniges. "The choice to have one becomes clear once they understand how it differs from an LMS, and how it can provide employees easy access to relevant, appropriate resources just in time when properly designed and developed."

LMS vs. Portal

So, what's the difference between a learning portal and a Learning Management System (LMS)? An LMS is a software system that manages and administers the entire learning process, housing the course catalog, curricula, and employees' training history. It also can house informal learning and performance support resources such as job aids, videos, communities, wikis, blogs, etc.

A portal, simply put, is an intranet site that provides a gateway to a company's learning resources, including the LMS (if there is one), reference information that exists elsewhere on the intranet, and other company systems related to employee development. The portal also may contain overview and guidance to help employees make the best of use of available learning resources. Although a portal is essentially a website, careful consideration still needs to go into designing and developing one.

TIPS FOR CREATING A LEARNING PORTAL

Determine the scope of content. Will the content be broad or narrow? Everything being posted on the portal should be given thoughtful consideration. Will it include sections for social media, general department communications, or will it just be the outer face of your LMS?

Determine the sequence of learning. Will the portal contain discrete resources or a prescribed way for employees to go through a learning curriculum?

Determine the taxonomy. How are learners accessing materials? How are materials labeled and chunked? Will there be search functionality? Consider how the portal organization with mesh with learners' job roles and tasks.

Determine the look and feel. How will it be branded? Who will design and create the branding?

Determine the technology. What's the best way to build it? Will it support mobile devices? Where will it be hosted? How is it accessed? Will it be global? Does it need translation? How will it be maintained and by whom? How will it work with your LMS?

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