2 min read
5 min read
This is the second in a two-part series.
Last post we talked about defining the LMS selection process, and gather background information so you are well prepared to evaluate potential LMS applications. In this post we focus on creating a requirements list, with specific tasks and scenarios to aid in the evaluation of each LMS.
STEP 3: CREATE A REQUIREMENTS LIST
Selecting an LMS is based on needs: the better you understand your needs and requirements, the easier it will be to identify an LMS that meets your needs. Defining the features you need can be a time consuming task, but at a bare minimum, ask yourself the following questions:
- How many users does the LMS need to support?
- Do I need a hosted or installed solution
- Is SCORM/AICC support required?
- How easy is the user interface?
- Is customer support readily available and responsive to my needs?
It is also useful to create some task scenarios that you need to accomplish using the LMS. Write up a few – something like, ‘I need to assign several courses to trainees in the accounting department. The courses have to be completed in a specific order and re-training has to be done every 5 years.’ Or, ‘I’m the supervisor in the window installation department. How will I know if all of my team has completed the necessary training for installation? How can I find out who is ready to do a particular product installation?’ Use these scenarios to help identify key features that you need in an LMS. You will use them again in STEP 4.
Before writing the scenarios, come up with a list of general goals LMS users will have. Ask yourself: What does every user need to be able to do using this application? For example, everyone needs to take courses - assigned and from the course catalog; every user needs to know which courses are required and when training is due; every user needs to be able to see their training history. There are also general tasks that specific types of users need to accomplish: create a new course, modify an exisiting course, report on training completions/status.
Once you've come up with the list of general goals, you can write task scenarios. These scenarios provide context so LMS evaluators engage with the interface and perform tasks as they would in the real-world.
Poorly written scenarios tell users which features to use when interacting with the LMS, rather than allowing the user to choose how to complete the task. By recording the way individuals choose to complete the task, you can compare LMS's to see how easy the system will be before you commit.
Here are 3 tips for writing scenarios:
(1) Make the Task Realistic
User goal: Take and resume an assigned course.
Poor task: Take the New Hire Training course.
Better task: Take and complete a course that is due within 30 days.
(2) Make the Task Actionable
User goal: Report on training compliance in a department.
Poor task: You want to see training compliance. Go to Reports and run the training compliance report.
Better task: Use the LMS reporting tools to report on training compliance in your department. Get a specific list of compliant/non-compliant employees..
(3) Avoid Clues and Describing the Steps
User goal: Look up quiz results to improve quiz questions..
Poor task: You want to see quiz results for New Hire Training. Go to the LMS, sign in, and run the Quiz Results Report.
Better task: In an effort to improve quiz questions, look up the results of the New Hire Quiz. Determine if the questions are effective or need to be improved.
Usability.gov - Useful information about website/application usability.
LMS Scenario Form
Use this form to record your task scenarios. Includes examples and brief process description.
Not sure if you need a SCORM compliant LMS? We’ve got the guide for you! Download our SCORM 101 eBook to see if that is a feature you need.
STEP 4: ANALYSIS & EVALUATION
Depending on the size of your team and the number of potential vendors you’ve identified you have a couple of choices as to how to proceed with the actual evaluation of potential LMS vendors.
If you’ve identified 3 or fewer vendor’s:
Have each member of the team conduct an individual study of each LMS, answering basic questions about the overall experience, usability, & features included.
If you’ve identified more than 3 potential vendors:
If you’ve identified more than 3 potential vendors, assign a single vendor to each team member. The team member completes the individual study as detailed above. Come together as a team to review the preliminary results of the evaluation, and to further prune the list of potential LMS’s down to 2 or 3 vendors to study in detail.
Use the tasks/scenarios you created in STEP 3 during this evaluation process – how easy is it to accomplish the real-world tasks you’ve defined? This will give you better insight into how well the LMS meets the needs of your organization.
Hours & Budgeting
At the bare minimum allocate at least one hour to analyze each potential vendor, including testing, tallying features, using task scenarios, and making recommendations.
If you don’t have the resources or budget required, limit the number of vendors you are evaluating – not the depth of your evaluation.
LMS Evaluation Checklist
Download the LMS Evaluation Checklist. Easy to check off LMS features, usability, overall impression, etc.
STEP 5: FINAL SELECTION
Talk with each of the finalist vendors. Get detailed information about pricing, additional fees, training, and customer support. Ask for references and check them. You will have this LMS for at least the next 3-5 years, so due diligence here is important. Compare best offer price quotes.
Final selection should be based on your evaluation results, pricing, and ‘bang for your buck’. Although it’s easy to choose the cheapest solution, remember to factor in hidden costs like purchase of support and training packages, purchase of additional software or off-the-shelf courses, fees for additional user licenses or disk space, to name a few.
Best of luck in your LMS search!
3 min read
This is the first in a two-part series.
You may be researching Learning Management Systems because you are new to online training. Or you may be researching alternative LMS Systems because it is time to replace your current product because the LMS doesn't have the features you require.
Either way, the LMS selection & evaluation process can be daunting: confusing industry-specific terms, hundreds of LMS Systems to choose from, superfluous vs. required features, and different pricing models. To help you with the process we’ve put together this LMS System Selection & Evaluation Toolkit. It includes infographics, guides, and checklists to get you started, as well as an overall plan to help you better manage your time, assets, and analysis.
STEP 1: BACKGROUND RESEARCH
Before you begin your research and evaluation of LMS systems, getting some background information will be helpful. It will familiarize you with industry specific terms and help you understand the scope of products available in the marketplace. You will see the variety of features offered and start to understand which features you will require in your implementation. You can get a high level overview of usability, reporting, and administration before you dive into the process more deeply.
Start Here: Learning Management System Glossary of Terms
Not sure what of the meaning of specific terms used on LMS websites? SCORM, AICC, learning paths – to name a few. Check out the LMS System Glossary to familiarize yourself with the nomenclature.
Next: LMS Roadmap
This infographic maps out the LMS selection process at a high level, giving you a great overview of key elements & decision points in the selection process. Download your copy today!
STEP 2: DEFINE THE PROCESS
In this stage you want to clearly identify your goals and objectives. Outline basic goals, processes and deliverables that you can communicate to team members. Establish the team, the selection time-frame, the methodology, and allocated hours. Have clear goals, whether that includes a budget limitation, time constraint, or other influential factors, and include them in the project definition. Create a project plan that details the overall objectives and budget. This will be given to the project team.
Become an LMS Expert
The process of becoming an expert user starts the same way you would research anything online: with a Google or Bing search to find potential sources of information and visiting those sites to gather details. This is a high level survey of what learning management systems have to offer in general. By looking through these sites, you are trying to become better versed on the products available, the scope of features offered, and scalability of the product.
Download white papers and other information offered on the websites. Are there particular vendors that appeal to you? Are there vendors selling products that are too complicated or difficult to implement? Conversely, are some vendors selling products that are too simple, that can't be customized or don't support your core requirements? Again, you are just trying to get a feel for the marketplace, so don't spend too much time here.
As you visit websites make notes of features that are common across LMS's. Be sure to include features that particularly stand out, or that you know you need in you LMS. Identify any industry-specific features that may be of interest. This list will be the starting point for your requirements list that you will generate in STEP 3. Before you begin evaluating specific LMS products, it's best to know your core requirements. This helps you avoid paying for features that you don't need, and ensures that you are evaluating LMS products that may be a good fit for your organization.
2 min read
An important consideration when looking for LMS software for your company is whether to invest in a hosted solution (also known as ‘Software-as-a-Service’, or SAAS), or to invest in an in-house installed LMS.
1 min read
A well written quiz is a key component of an online course: it allows you to evaluate the learner's progress, assess the effectiveness of the training, and allows learners to gauge their own progress.