Providing Headless Learning Management Systems for Educators | Cloudinary

Providing Headless Learning Management Systems for Educators

Continuing some of the recent discussions on MX Matters about headless architecture and systems, we learn how Thought Industries recently extended their customer education and external training platform to be headless.

Sam and Maribel at Cloudinary sit down with Jack Antico – Technical Program Manager at Thought Industries – to better understand the purpose of learning management systems and the considerations companies should take if they choose to go headless as part of their education and enablement-based plans.

Sam Brace: [00:00:00] Welcome to MX Matters. This is where we talk about all things tied to the visual economy, talking about the ways that images, videos, rich media assets are being displayed, being used across websites, mobile apps, and other amazing projects by leading companies, leading developers, leading thought industry people, as we might be talking about a little bit later with all things that are gonna be really driving the trends in that overall economy. My name is Sam Brace. I am the Director of Customer Education here at Cloudinary, and joining me for this episode for the first time, but certainly not the last is Maribel.

She’s been many things at Cloudinary working as a customer success manager and now as a technology partner manager. And she works with companies big and small to understand how they can integrate with Cloudinary, and she’s obviously gonna be somebody that’s gonna add a lot of [00:01:00] insights, a lot of wealth to the overall conversations in this episode, and as I said, in future ones too. So Maribel, wonderful to have you here.

Maribel Mullins: Thanks for having me, Sam. This is so exciting and yes, I can’t wait to have this conversation, but yeah, happy to be here. Thank you.

Sam Brace: So joined with us for this episode as the guest is going to be Jack. And Jack works at a company called Thought Industries.

Thought Industries is one of the leading providers of learning management systems for companies that are typically in the software as a service space or SaaS space. And in previous MX Matters episodes, we’ve had lots of conversations about headless architecture, maybe tied to MACH, and the overall stack that can be part of that, in terms of microservices and API first and cloud native SaaS and headless architectures, they’re moving in an interesting direction with some of their products to be focusing on learning management systems being able to be headless. [00:02:00] So while we’ve had conversations about content management systems, we’ve had content overall about the headless space, we thought it would be interesting to bring Jack and the Thought Industries team in to help to explain why the learning management space or the overall customer education space is something that is also receiving the same type of treatments.

So Jack, happy to have you here.

Jack Antico: Thanks. Happy to be here.

Sam Brace: So Jeff, from your perspective, I think we need to set a foundation here. What exactly is a learning management system?

Jack Antico: So a learning management system is essentially like an online school in many ways. It’s where you can host content for users to go and learn. It’s a very crowded space. There’s like over 700 players in it. You can separate LMS into two categories. There’s internal LMS, which is like the majority of the space. It’s where you get training on conduct or your employee handbook or you get training on like internal marketing resources or stuff like that.

And there’s also external LMSs, that’s what Thought [00:03:00] Industries is. Those are externally facing. So it’s training customers on how to use your product, training partners on how to use your product.

Sam Brace: I’m sure most people that are working here, because we’re talking to those in the technology space, they’ve probably encountered an LMS in some form or fashion throughout their career.

Whether they’ve joined a new company, they’ve had to go through employee onboarding and they had to make sure like, don’t share your password to people and make sure that you’re not harassing your colleagues. That’s types of stuff that lives sometimes in learning management systems because people have to track the progress of that.

How much of a course did they complete? Did they complete the course? Can it reward certificates? So those are all activities that would be tied to an LMS. But you talked about something that I think is interesting about the external side of it. Like so what, why exactly would you be using an externally facing lms?

Jack Antico: There’s lots of different use cases. There’s a professional training use case. For example, we work with a lot of healthcare providers or healthcare industry people, whether [00:04:00] that be training nurses on their latest certifications or training physical therapists or, you know, some people for their job, they have to get a certain requirement every year, so we could train them for that. Um, all sorts of different use cases.

Sam Brace: That would normally be where they would buy a system. Right? And then from there, that would also include a front facing element, meaning this is the way that people can interact with the LMS in the sense that they can register for a course, they can sign up for an account, they can make sure they’re tracking their student progress. That’s the front end, right?

But then you have all the back end data that would be there as well. Someone that would be in an administrative role that would be tracking the progress of those things, they would be tracking, how do we make sure that certificates are being rewarded the right way?

They would be setting up the reporting mechanisms to show people who’s completed what at what times. But what’s interesting about the concept of headless is where we’re decoupling the front end of something from the back end of something. So [00:05:00] from that understanding, why would someone want to have their LMS be decoupled? Why would they wanna move into a headless situation?

Jack Antico: There’s lots of different reasons. The most important thing is all coming back to data. So it’s very rare for… almost like never happens that one company all of their data is in one source. It’s very rare. So essentially with headless, you’re allowed to bring in data from your LMS, such as like learner participation and certifications and attendance and stuff like that. But then you’re also allowed to bring in data from other sources, whether that be a headless CMS, you’re bringing in data from a place like Contentful or another headless CMS.

Or you could bring in data from e-commerce or other places like that. You can bring in data from all sorts of different areas, which is why it’s such a popular use-case.

Sam Brace: Looking at that perspective though, because you’re right, you do have it where, yes, the LMS is a single source of truth for learner data, but to your point, it could be where we want to weave in certain other [00:06:00] systems into the overall experience.

That makes a ton of sense of why that would be taking place. This sounds like an extensibility type of effort. For the learning teams, the people that would be producing the educational content, for them to weave it in to e-commerce platforms and to content management systems, into some of the things that you mentioned.

It seems like that’s the solution. To say we should go headless. Is that the fact, or is it just because that’s the trend that’s going on, or is it more of it’s stating a lack of integrations that maybe other LMSs are providing to these learning teams?

Jack Antico: There has been a very large headless trend.

That’s not the reason Thought Industries is pursuing headless. We’re pursuing headless because it’s what our customers want and it’s what they’ve been telling us for a while. And then as far as the most popular use cases, pulling in outside data, it’s just every LMS and every person’s learning setup is just so different.

We talk to so many different customers who have so many [00:07:00] different unique wants and needs. It’s impossible for us to serve everyone’s needs. So we give them the keys to their own kingdom with headless. And they’re able to generate their own solutions for their own unique needs.

Sam Brace: So what would be some of those unique needs? Do you have an example? You don’t have to mention customers, but like, is there anywhere this is a very clear use case of where a headless LMS environment would’ve benefited them compared to what they would’ve had if they hadn’t moved into that type of environment?

Jack Antico: One really interesting use case that we found is AR and VR. So essentially like being able to integrate questions and different experiences into AR and VR is really cool. And we don’t necessarily have all of these experiences happening in the same place. So for example, you could have some type of training be on your phone with an AR app.

But then after you complete that training, you go into a virtual reality simulation and you complete that virtual reality simulation in some type of lab. [00:08:00] Or you do some type of physical training with your hands in person in real life. And then after you complete that training, you can log back into the app and resume the rest of your coursework and training there.

So that’s one, you know, interesting use case, but there’s so many different ones. It’s hard to pick one, but that is one interesting one that we’ve seen.

Maribel Mullins: Are you seeing a shift on how people prefer learning? Like, are you seeing more like a shift towards mobile devices or tablet learning or, you mentioned AR/VR? Are you seeing more people gravitate towards a certain device or format?

Jack Antico: I think the trend that we’ve seen is contextual learning, so meeting the learners where they are. If you’re having an issue with your car or something, for example like that, and there’s an online school, an LMS for fixing car parts.

Maybe there’s an AR app on your phone where you can pull it up and then it shows the car and it shows exactly where underneath the hood where to touch what and which buttons to press. It’s one thing if you learn that and then you know, two weeks later you’re like, Oh, well what do I actually do now?

It’s much better to [00:09:00] actually have that learning in the moment when you need it, as opposed to having it, you know, two weeks to a month before, and then you’re like, Oh wait, what did it say? What part was that again? I think that’s where we can provide a lot of value for people and that’s where headless is really powerful because you’re able to deliver that data. Wherever the user is, we meet the user where they are.

Sam Brace: If I’m thinking about it correctly and tell me if I am, essentially a headless LMS would be the API layer to a lot of things that could be tied to the learning experience. Because if we’re using the example, I go work on this particular simulation. As soon as I achieve progress, like I’ve done this task or I’ve learned this thing, and then that could feed data back to show the progress that’s been taken, that can also help me with being able to potentially earn a certificate if I’ve achieved certain goals along the way. So it’s really saying that you’re combining a lot of different API calls together, where we have Thought Industries acting as the progress [00:10:00] checking, the enrollment aspect in certain ways, the certificate granted.

But then on top of that, you have it where other platforms can easily tie to that. So that way as soon as I click this button on this other system, it can report back in that way, and it’s all done because it’s headless. Am I understanding that correctly?

Jack Antico: Yeah, totally. You can do all sorts of different funky things. You could even use two LMSs in the same way. You could have a Thought Industries course and use that for the first part. And then once you get to a certain part, you send them to a different LMS and you have them complete three or four different chapters there.

And then once they’re done with those chapters, they come back into Thought Industries. Some customers that we’ve been talking to, they’ve been managing their LMS for so long. They actually develop their own LMS and they’re like not ready to part ways with it. Those integrations are very much mandatory for them because they’re not ready to give up the old LMS that they’ve invested so much time and resources into.

Sam Brace: I could also see it being valuable cuz we’ve talked a lot about in previous programs, microservices, where rather [00:11:00] than having a certain aspect where you have to completely rip apart this big stack, you can essentially swap out what happens to be there.

So if you have, as an example, the search capabilities of the LMS for the external user. Let’s say that the default search that you would normally have doesn’t cut it for them and they would prefer to use somebody like an Algolia or another type of service like that. It’s easier for them with the code, as long as they understand what’s happening there, bring in Algolia, remove the other search that happened to be there, and then that’s something that you can also benefit from by being headless. Cause everything’s much more swappable.

Jack Antico: Yeah. And you could do search, you could do image hosting, you could do video playing, audio playing, you know, all those different microservices.

Sam Brace: You’re controlling your own destiny when it comes to the technology that you’re using for the learning experience, which is something that we’re seeing a lot when it comes to headless CMSs, when it comes to the web presence.

So now it’s just kind of taking a lot of those [00:12:00] mindsets and saying it’s not just for the website, it’s also this other thing that we have managing the whole educational aspects of the company, which is cool to see that you guys are moving in that direction.

Jack Antico: No, it’s really cool. And headless, a lot of it’s taking control of your own destiny, and being able to develop features if there’s like an integration that’s really important to you because our platform is API first, you can just go out and build it instead of having to wait for us to build it. Kind of the trade off there is like, you know, with great power comes great responsibility. So because you have all this flexibility and customization, it’s kinda on you to be flexible and how to customize it.

That’s kind of the big thing that I think people need to be thinking about before they go headless. Is this worth it for my business? I think most of the time the answer’s yes, but not all the time.

Maribel Mullins: Jack, you mentioned customization. I know Sam mentioned Algolia, but what other microservices do you see people using with the LMS, the headless LMS?

Jack Antico: Yeah, I mean, we see all sorts of different types of microservices. At Thought Industries, we really like Airtable. We’ve been using Airtable [00:13:00] for a while, so for some like internal demos we’ve been, you know, playing around with the Airtable API.

Sam Brace: I think one thing that is interesting about this though is it’s a very similar experience to what we found with content management systems as well, is that, you have all of these developers, right?

And they’re all really excited about headless architecture, and it makes sense, right? Because it’s allowing for them to not say, Well, we can’t do this and this and this with this. It’s giving them all the access to the APIs that they would need to develop a really turnkey experience for learning. But the people that ultimately create the content are not the developers in most cases for these LMSs.

How do we marry the two together? How are you guys working to help explain the significance of this to the content creators or the educators that likely have never touched your APIs before?

Jack Antico: Yeah, it’s a great question. It’s definitely like a difficult handoff because you have two people kind of speaking like [00:14:00] two different languages. The technical and the non-technical folks. With headless, what it boils down to is just requirements. You can say yes to more, you know, is it possible to integrate with Contentful?

Yes. Is it possible to use a different languages engine? Yes. Is it possible to use different search? And then I think where the teams need to come together is like, well, yeah, it is possible, but like, is it worth it? And that’s a question that like, we can’t answer for customers. They kind of have to answer it themselves. If they want to spend their own internal developers time doing it, they can do that. Also because it is headless, a really nice option is you can hire a third party to code an integration or do stuff like that for you if your personal team doesn’t have bandwidth, which is really cool. But I think that is kind of the large conversation that teams need to have themselves internally, which we try to help facilitate as well.

Sam Brace: In my opinion, the move to headless requires development resources. It, it absolutely does.

And I think that’s one thing that sometimes gets missed [00:15:00] in these conversations because as we’re saying headless, it’s so helpful for developers. If you lack it, don’t just get excited by this buzzword. Like you have to have people that know how to do something with these APIs that are so flexible, right?

Let’s say I am a company and I have heard, Oh, I can have a headless LMS today. This is an exciting thing. What are the things that I should be planning for before I call Thought Industries or call another company and say, you know, let’s build it. What are the steps I need to have taken place? What could happen is people could talk to you and it’s putting the cart before the horse that they wanna go headless before they’re ready to go headless.

Jack Antico: So there’s like the actual content authoring itself, but then for the actual building of a learning instance or an LMS website, that’s where the technical piece comes in. So I think just having a plan for that ahead of time is, you know, do we have the developers for this? Do we have the budget to hire developers?

Something that I will say is the headless product that Thought Industries has is utilizing the MIT [00:16:00] open source license. So all the code for us is open source, which I think is really big because there’s lots of, you know, headless players out there who aren’t open source.

There’s lots of different tradeoffs with that. But we’re really happy that we’re open source. But part of being open source is that you’re able to utilize other open source tools such as Builder.io or other WYSIWYGs, which let you take in an open source framework and drag and drop different elements of it around.

So just because you know it’s headless doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re completely leaving the non-technical content creators or the business users behind, we still have, you know, support for them. They have to kind of go through different avenues to get there, but you know, it still is possible, but I think knowing which avenue you’re gonna take to build your learning instance or your LMS website before you purchase a headless LMS is definitely a conversation that you should be having.

Maribel Mullins: When I’m thinking of like a headless CMS system and developers who are involved in how they design it for websites and whatnot, do you have to have a special person to [00:17:00] create the front end of a LMS system? Does somebody have to have knowledge about that?

Jack Antico: There’s the classic problem of the designer to the developer handoff where the designer will make some Figma files, hand it off to a developer, and then the developer will create it, you know, create the code for it.

And then the designer will be like, Well, this isn’t anything like that I wanted to look like. That’s definitely a common problem. We’re trying to solve for that or, you know, help alleviate parts of that process. We have a Figma design library. So there are kind of ways to try to make that handoff easier, but there definitely will always be things that get lost in translation.

But trying to mitigate that is, you know, just part of doing business when you’re headless.

Sam Brace: I think one thing that’s interesting about what you talked about is about open source, right? It does definitely open up the amount of the types of developers you can bring into your project. Because let’s say like, I know JavaScript, Oh, JavaScript’s open source, everybody can use JavaScript, right?

And there’s many open source technologies that are built off of JavaScript. Thinking about it from that perspective, like we know APIs, we understand also the concept of an SDK, like a wrapper around these [00:18:00] APIs. Is there any types of particular programming languages, like let’s say like I’m the company. I’m saying I’m searching for the developers and trying to understand do I have these skill sets within my team? Are there any particular SDKs or programming languages or frameworks that would benefit a development team that has to work with a headless LMS?

Jack Antico: I think it depends a lot on, you know, which headless LMS you’re trying to integrate with.

Us personally, we’re using TypeScript and GraphQL. Those are our core technology tools, so obviously having a familiarity with those tools would be beneficial. That being said, you know, headless comes all back to data, which is for us is powered through GraphQL.

I actually personally didn’t know GraphQL before I kind of began on this headless journey with Thought Industries. But it’s very easy to pick up if you’re like a programmer. It’s basically just SQL, but for APIs. Um, so I think those are kind of the two main things to look out for.

Sam Brace: I shouldn’t have to say to myself like, Oh no, I have to learn TypeScript and I have to learn GraphQL. What I should hear from what you just said is, you know, I don’t know what those [00:19:00] terms mean, but here’s what I do know is I can go ask my vendor that I wanna use. What do you think is important and make sure I’m weaving it into job requirements when I’m looking for that next developer, building a team or even looking for a partner to say, I need to be looking for a development shop that understands GraphQL through and through.

It will be easier to work with when it has to come with LMS implementation. Right?

Jack Antico: Yeah, exactly. And I mean, like, you know, we’re headless, so, you know, whatever head you choose, you can, that’s kind of what the technology you wanna search for. So if you want to build a Swift mobile app, you’re gonna wanna find a very good Swift developer.

Or if you’re very into AR and VR, you know, looking for a specific technology stack that fits your needs there. That’s kind of the beauty of headless is it’s so flexible.

Sam Brace: And, and it’s, it’s definitely a slippery slope that I’ve seen companies take with this because we’re saying like, hire good developers. But then what I’ve seen them do is they throw every single buzzword that they’ve ever heard attached to developers and they throw it all on. They’re like, “must know CSS and SQL.” It’s like, well, those are two different people and [00:20:00] it’s like, so I, I think it’s where like a little bit of vendor back and forth, a little bit of asking people around like, what did it take for you to go headless, will be helpful rather than just being like, find the best developers out there. Cause you’re gonna find a lot of shapes and sizes, right?

Jack Antico: Yeah, absolutely. We personally have five verified partners that we’ve vetted a little bit. And they each kind of have like a specialty, like one is very good with AR and VR, another is a very good design firm.

So we are trying to not just throw customers off the deep end and be like, All right, now go find someone to build this.

Sam Brace: But I think that that’s also a great thing to be asking is like, do you have people that you would readily wanna work with or that you recommend for us? If you’re seeing that it’s not possible to do it completely all in house. One of the other things that I wanna ask you about, as somebody that understands open source to an extent, and I can’t promise I’m the world’s utmost expert on this, but it is to say that one of the things I’ve seen with other situations where you’re readily contributing the code, it’s [00:21:00] attached to a GitHub repo or repository.

So is that gonna be the same case for what Thought Industries is doing with the LMS? Are you guys looking for people to be able to fork the code? Clone the code? Are you looking for PRs and pull requests for people to contribute to this? Or is that even something that is outside of the realm of what you guys are looking at for this type of headless endeavor?

Jack Antico: Yeah, no, we’d love pull requests. We’re definitely looking for people to contribute back to the repo. You know, our repo’s available right now on GitHub. And I think it’s really beneficial for the customer too because, say they like build an integration or some type of component or you know anything and they want it supported going forward, they don’t wanna fork the full repo because then they’re gonna lose out on all the updates that we bring to it.

But if they submit a pull request, and we’re working on making like a contributing guide, that’s kind of the standard is you have like a contributing guide for how people can go about making these pull requests. We’d love to get those into the platform because we’re not the only ones who, you know, write code.

And if someone writes a whole awesome feature for [00:22:00] headless LMS or any type of open source project, you know, why wouldn’t they wanna contribute it back to the repo?

Sam Brace: This is also helpful because you can make sure that it really is controlling your own destiny.

Because if you have development teams that are tied to this, they can be in regular conversation feedback loops with people that are writing and authoring these APIs that will be part of your headless environment. So I, I love the strategy. It makes a lot of sense to me on why to do that. I think that almost be if I was looking at a checklist of the things that I would want if I was building headless LMS, headless anything, I’d wanna have a way to have that feedback loop with the people that I’m gonna be using their APIs as part of my composable architecture.

Jack Antico: Yeah. I mean, it’s a pretty crazy idea if you think about it, versus the traditional SaaS model where, you know, other developers get direct access to the people writing the code.

We also have a Discord server where you can engage with our team, and then you get actually like, contribute code back. If you think about a SaaS, that’s a crazy idea. Imagine being able to launch a feature on like Instagram [00:23:00] that, like you yourself wrote, I would never think about doing that a million years, but because we are open source and we, you know, are headless, that kind of is a possibility.

Sam Brace: So thinking about this, so like I, I kind of have a checklist in my mind, like, okay, if I’m sitting here as a listener and I’m saying, okay, and now I’m starting to understand the things that I would have to make sure are done there, we’ve kind of covered the bases. The development team has to be able to understand how to use this API.

You have to have a development team. It’s a good idea to check to see what types of technologies are gonna be required to do this properly. Maybe investing into a type of solutions partner here. Is there anything else that’s like a big checklist item that I’ve maybe skirted over or is where you’re hearing it more from customers or maybe as your team is going through the planning processes that more customers or potential customers should be thinking about as they’re moving into the headless environment?

Jack Antico: So I think builder.io. What’s really cool about them is that they, I think, make it very easy for technical and non-technical teams to collaborate because they let you [00:24:00] register, I think it’s React components, so you can have your developers create these custom React components, which you know, are very custom. They have their own look and feel. Very unique. But then they also give the non-technical user access to these custom components that the developers have written, which they can then kind of drag around and customize through React props and, you know, various different methods of customization, which is really cool.

I think Builder’s really good there for that kind of handoff that we were talking about earlier, Sam. I mean, that’s not necessarily like the best use case for every team. Like if you have a team of a hundred percent developers, just make, you know, a React app or an Angular app. But if you have like kind of a mixed team, maybe, you know, Builder.io would be a better use case for you.

Sam Brace: Yeah. The team that’s authoring the content being separate from the team that’s developing the LMS, I kind of see that what you’re describing as almost like this middleman where they can ensure that the development team can get what they need, access to flexible environments, build a flexible environment, but content team isn’t stifled with the development of the [00:25:00] courses, the learning materials, the resources that they’re gonna be building either. It makes sense to why that would be something to be considering if you move to headless. And it sounds like from what you’re saying, Thought Industries is probably gonna start having some type of interaction more with these services like Builder, but it’s also one that there’s other players in the space, which we all love that can be also ones to be considering as you’re going through it, because as we’re saying with headless, you don’t have to be tied to any one vendor. You can say like, Oh well I like Stackbit, or I like what other ones that happen to be out there. And you can choose what you want for your visual experience too.

Jack Antico: Exactly, yeah. There’s tons of different open source tools. We’ve explored a lot of different options, which is really cool.

Maribel Mullins: From the viewpoint of the content authors, does their mindset have to change as far as going headless? Cuz I, like, in my head, I’m imagining like they’re providing content and, but now they know that for instance, it’s gonna go on AR/VR or it’s gonna go on mobile or something that maybe they have to change the way they lay out the content or the way they provide the content.

So is that [00:26:00] a mind shift or you think everything’s the same still?

Jack Antico: I think a quiz question is ultimately a quiz question. It’s gonna be like a multiple choice question with four choices. I don’t think that’s really gonna change a ton. And I think just because you have the actual content themselves, whether it be like quiz questions or text pages, they can actually change how those questions are displayed, are determined by the actual technology that you’re displaying them with. So I think that’s more on like the technical user to decide how to best do that versus the people actually like writing the content. But it’s definitely something where those teams would have to collaborate more closely on.

Sam Brace: The one thing that I would say that would be really helpful if you’re thinking about moving to a headless environment, at least from my experience, is that If you have people on the content team that understand basic HTML, basic CSS, basic JavaScript, it can help a lot with mirroring some of these concepts together.

Cuz like if you are exposing more of a technology layer to the content authors, for them to understand some of the underlying parts, not all of it. We’re not asking [00:27:00] ’em to interact with an API in that way, but for them to understand like what are the moving components of their systems can be helpful.

Also I think Markdown is another like content authoring area that I would say people of both sides of the house should understand. And it would be very helpful when it comes to doing this type of decoupling to be like, okay, but our content team might have to author more things in Markdown than they ever had to. And that can actually be a really easy way to get things out. Maybe the quiz questions have a Markdown component to it compared to putting things into a text field or a dropdown list.

Jack Antico: Yeah, that totally makes sense. I’m actually so happy you brought that up, because that’s something that we’ve kind of been looking more into. And it’s an interesting use case, because if you actually look at like some API documentation for various websites, their entire documentation is written in Markdown because kind of Markdown’s the preferred tool for authoring more technical oriented documentation. Think about just like READMEs on GitHub. Those are all in Markdown. We’re actually supporting a really cool technology [00:28:00] called MDX, essentially Markdown and React kind of combined in one. And it’s kind of like the best of both worlds in many ways because it’s not super intimidating for non-technical users to learn.

There’s like kind of Markdown editors and stuff like that. But it’s also where technical users are very comfortable, just because that’s kind of like the go-to documentation, content tool for software engineers. I don’t know if it’s a very popular use case, but it’s definitely a use case that has a lot of value for a specific niche.

Sam Brace: But it is to say, Headless is ultimately a topic that is a very developer driven topic. So I think being able to say like, Hey, there’s some things that your content team might get pushed into some areas where we’re saying, Okay, I’m not immediately comfortable with this, but I’m gonna get more comfortable with it. Or how do we make sure that we’re finding the gaps between the two and getting them to get along in some ways? I think Markdown can be one where there’s lots of applicability, there’s lots of value to it, to understanding it.

And frankly, you might find the content team says, This is [00:29:00] easier to author content if we know how to do it this way. But to the same extent, if you not finding that, that’s where like the Builder.io’s of the world can come in, and they’re like, great, we can easily take all of this API data and create a nice layer to it so that they’re used to, text-based fields, drop down, sliders, all the things that are tied to typical user interfaces.

Jack Antico: And something I think we’ve talked a lot about is like, you know, headless data. You know, we talked a lot about like reading data. You also have the ability to write data so you can create update data. A very popular use case for the LMS world is if someone has like a tool that they’re very comfortable authoring content in and say they switched to Thought Industries or a different LMS, they would traditionally have to do some type of migration or manually copy and paste all their code into the new content authoring tool, which is a very painful experience. And then they have to learn a whole new content authoring flow. One of another advantages of switching to a headless LMS is that you don’t have to switch from where you’re authoring content. We kind of can meet you where you are as long as you just set up like the necessary [00:30:00] API connections to transfer that data, whether that be on like a weekly or a nightly basis.

But I think that’s one more use case and one more example of being able to go headless.

Sam Brace: It is helpful because I could see it where people are authoring things in a certain space, exactly as you said. They can keep their existing flow and the development team has created the underlying APIs. Literally nothing changes for the content team. We just keep doing as they are, and there is this whole new workflow that sends it to this new space, new area for it to live. That’s also highly exciting.

So Jack, we’ve unpacked this topic, I think fairly well. Obviously this is something where the conversations about headless, just to explain with our podcast shows how there is many different facets, many different aspects of ways to look at this and to understand with this because it’s a continually evolving topic within, as we’re saying, the visual economy.

But for someone like you, for also the overall team that you’re working with at Thought Industries, where do you [00:31:00] recommend for people to go to learn more? Not necessarily just about your product, but where are you staying up to the latest and greatest when it comes to what’s happening in your field and helping to drive maybe some of the roadmap or drive some of the initiatives that are happening with your company?

Jack Antico: Yeah, we definitely keep an eye on other open source CMS. There’s not really like another open source LMS that’s headless. But just looking at like open source trends in general, technology trends, whether that be like the latest, you know, React tools that are being released.

I think a new version of React was dropped recently. So I think just keeping up the trends there and then trying to support the latest technology is kind of where we’ve been looking the most.

Sam Brace: Excellent. Well, Jack. This has been fantastic. So for those that are like, Oh, I really think Jack was insightful, I would love to keep learning from him. Where can people follow you? Are you on LinkedIn? Are you on Twitter? Where can people go?

Jack Antico: Yeah, mostly on LinkedIn. I also have like a YouTube channel that I kind of maintain for like Thought Industries, LMS learning [00:32:00] stuff. So you could go there as well. It’s just Thought Industries on YouTube, and then LinkedIn I think my handle is just Jack Antico. But yeah. Thanks so much for having me on the show, Sam. It’s really great to be here.

Sam Brace: And Maribel, of course, first time. But you did great.

I’m so excited to have you here. And of course we’re gonna be hearing a lot more of Maribel for all of you better listening in future episodes.

If you had a great experience listening to me, Maribel, and Jack talk about all of these fun topics, make sure to like and subscribe on all the platforms where we happen to be on and where you happen to be, of course listening.

And on behalf of everybody here at Cloudinary and the team that’s tied to MX Matters, thank you for listening and we hope to see you at the next one.