Review of Kokm
Kokm is more than an LMS. Kokm provides an online business solution: an intranet, an extranet, a resource library and an LMS. This means that Kokm is a slightly different product to the stand-alone LMS which we usually review.
The services which Kokm provides constitute a unified platform which, through the integration and unification of its services facilitates communication, connection and learning within a business. These three features are all features of a good LMS, and so the holistic Kokm package may not be as far from a traditional LMS as we think. In short this is an LMS aimed at that once mythical concept of the Learning Organisation.
Intranet, Extranet, Internet… these three terms are all confusingly similar, which makes it difficult to distinguish between them! The Intranet service which Kokm provides is a sort of internal website which members of your business can use, but which is otherwise private.
The intranet service can be seen as the core part of Kokm’s offer. It is primary in relation to Kokm’s other services in that it is the internal network around which external networks (such as the extranet and website) are built. In this way it provides a basis for the Kokm package.
The purpose of the Intranet is to connect the workforce. It enables its users to communicate, share information such as files and folders, and keep up to date with their business’s latest news. None of these features are a business’s specific goals, but by connecting employees in this way Kokm creates a general unified framework which helps to expedite any business’s specific goals.
Kokm has obviously benefited from the research undertaken and has sought to offer a service to support social learning and knowledge sharing in the organisation. For an organisation looking for a simple alternative to Sharepoint Kokm offers an interesting possibility.
An extranet is an extension of an intranet (the extranet is external, whereas the intranet is internal). This means that not only do members of the intranet have access to it, but that access is extended to other non-intranet members. Importantly, it is not public (it is not accessible via the internet). Think of it as the exclusive invite-only party of the business networking world.
The use of an extranet is often in business-to-business relationships with suppliers, vendors and partners. As the extranet is identical to the intranet apart from its accessibility, the structure of the extranet which Kokm provides, and its benefits, are identical to that of the intranet.
This means that Kokm enables the connection which is created between your employees by the intranet to be extended, connecting your workforce with the employees of other businesses. This external connection can expedite the processes and goals of working with other businesses, just as the intranet’s internal connections expedite your own business goals.
Here we find Kokm touching on the notion of the extended enterprise, which we note is an area of growing interest to LMS vendors and something that has really only been available to large organisations until very recently. We anticipate this to be an area of strong market growth and Kokm has shown considerable innovation in developing this feature.
So far so good, but isn’t the focus of this review the Kokm LMS? Perhaps those readers who are more clued-up about LMSs will have noticed, but the key themes we have been talking about: connection, communication and unification, are all things that are highly valued in the LMS world. Kokm goes one step further with its relevance to an LMS with its resource library, which features applications which are directly linked to a successful LMS.
Kokm provides the facilities and the storage space for text files, media files including video, podcasts, surveys, quizzes and downloadable resources. Of these resources, Kokm place special emphasis on video. They use a solution from Kaltura which enables your workforce to upload, share and watch videos from around the web and from each other. We can again see the emphasis on communication – although this time in a different mode – between employees. This may not be an orthodox form of communication in the way an email is, but it hints at a recent trend which we are seeing in learning and in all forms of media: social connection.
Social connection is important for an up-to-date business solution because it taps in to recent social media and social learning trends. Businesses see the benefit of employees constantly communicating with, and learning from, each other at a personal as well as professional level, and Kokm taps in to this benefit by facilitating social interaction. Kokm does this not only with its resource library, but it also has features which enable your business to easily connect with social media sites such as LinkedIn, and it provides forums and wikis for your employees to use.
Kokm therefore provides a platform for social learning, something which is difficult to simply ‘bolt-on’ to a more traditional LMS, but which Kokm can easily provide due to its holistic approach to connection, and unified approach to networking systems.
The more obvious benefit which the resource library provides to an LMS however, is in the name: resources! With a large library of resources at your fingertips, such as videos, quizzes and podcasts, creating e-learning and using existing content as e-learning becomes a lot easier. As these resources are also a part of the intranet and extranet which employees, through using these systems, will become familiar with, employees won’t suffer any initial inertia at the idea of e-learning.
On the Kokm website, the LMS is listed as one of the four services which constitute the Kokm package, along with intranet, extranet and resource library. This suggests that the LMS is a distinct and individual service in the Kokm package. This is certainly true. However, over the course of reviewing Kokm, I have come to see the entire Kokm package as one big social LMS.
The features of the Kokm package which I have mentioned boil down to two keys features: social connection and learning resource availability, which qualify Kokm as a Learning System. Kokm also enables employees to learn online, through the use of resources such as video and quizzes, and to engage in social learning. As the Kokm solution provides a system for these three activities, it certainly has the ‘L’ (learning) and the ‘S’ (system) of an LMS. It is with the inclusion of the self-contained LMS that we get the ‘M’ (management) through the recording and tracking of learners and their activity. Kokm then, is a classic LMS in the sense that it features the L, the M and the S, but it does this through a holistic collection of services in a way that I have not yet seen.
The Learning Organisation
By using a business’s information systems and finding their potential as learning systems, Kokm creates an LMS from the ground up. This is great as it means that the LMS is an inherent part of a business’s structure, and that by operating within that business, employees are learning. This takes away the stigma of learning or taking a course, and employees can learn as they go. At least, this is how it could work in theory. I haven’t seen an example of Kokm in corporate action, and so my conclusion is based on information rather than experience.
Perhaps a downside to the Kokm model is that for it to work in the way I imagine it, it requires a good up-take of all its features. For example, the resource library will not provide a resource of e-learning materials if nobody contributes video to it, and the social learning aspect of the system will be greatly diminished if the forums and social media-connectivity are not taken advantage of. This suggests that Kokm is best suited to a certain type of organisation: one whose members are aspiring to learn more, are familiar with learning, and have a culture of sharing information. With this type of organisation, the Kokm model the potential is considerable.
Whilst reviewing Kokm, I was given access to the Kokm demo site. In is default state, there is a lot of information on certain topics here, whilst it is hard to find information on other topics. I found the variety of information in this library overwhelming, as it is difficult to research a system with so many facets without clearly structured resources. However, I have been informed that the set-up of each client site, including the Library and its structure, is entirely customisable and is driven by the client’s requirements. The default library which I experienced may not have been ideal, but it seems that when it comes to the bespoke service that Kokm offers to its clients, they’ve got things under control!
All in all, Kokm sounds very exciting. The emphasis on ease of connectivity and communication will certainly expedite business goals and relations. The ‘built from the ground up’ LMS which features social learning as well as community-driven resources is a fresh take on the LMS market which repeatedly features products that are too similar.
Last of all, did I mention mobile? All of Kokm’s services are designed with mobile in mind, meaning that Kokm should perform well on-the-go. This benefit, combined the ability of Kokm to gently introduce the learner to e-learning, means that much of the initial inertia towards e-learning will not occur. This is certainly a sought-after feature in the LMS world!