So it's been over a week since Learning Technologies 2014 finished in London, and what an incredible week we had. This conference was a landmark year for me - the first time I had been invited to speak at the conference! My session was called "Beyond the Organization", with the remit of delivering tips on how to implement a Learning Management System (LMS) for customers based around the world. I think that 90% of visitors to this conference deal with delivering learning to employees rather than customers, so I was graced with the presence of a small but select group of interested attendees!
My talk focused on they key aspects of what I had learned in the past 3 years, of delivering an online learning solution to a global audience. While I managed to waffle on for almost an hour in the conference room, I thought that within this blog post I would share the 5 key points that I focused on within my talk:
- Start small. When we launched our Learning Management System, I was afraid. Afraid that there wasn't enough content. Afraid that there weren't enough features. Afraid that there weren't going to be enough people using the system. In hindsight, what I should've spent more time worrying about was the quality of the system and the content itself. Whilst it is very important to have an abundance of high quality content and lots of people regularly using the LMS, I could have focused my energy on this once the LMS had been successfully launched. So tip #1 is to not be afraid to start small. Once you have the correct formula, it is possible to increase traffic and improve content afterwards.
- Calculate how much time a project will take - and then double it! This is something that I should have learned from all of the hours I spent watching The Apprentice on TV. I think they recommend whenever an entrepreneur starts a business, they should always double the amount of time and costs that they had initially calculated. I think that the same can be said of implementing the LMS. Whatever costs you calculate, and what ever timescales you predict, doubling these is probably a good rule of thumb.
- Involving the SMEs and trainers from the beginning will bear fruit in the future. We have a large team of technical trainers and subject matter experts. Involving these guys at the beginning of development was a crucial aspect in ensuring that we not only had the correct information on the system, but that we also had advocates for the LMS who would go out and speak to potential users in a positive manner. For me, the key point here was to ensure that the trainers and experts understood that the online learning was not here to replace their jobs, but to complement them. And to make them more valuable to the business, by giving them time to focus on tasks that they currently don't have time to focus on. This is a really important topic, and one that I shall definitely blog about in more detail in the future.
- A feature-rich LMS doesn’t mean a lot if you don’t have sticky content. When I launched the LMS, I was really focused on making sure that the system had all of the bells and whistles. Social feeds, FAQs, badges, opinion polls etc. You name it, I wanted it. But it was actually more important that the learners were using the LMS for accessing learning. Once you have a regular stream of visitors to the site, you can then start making that the LMS more engaging.
- Learners expectations will increase once they receive good quality online learning. So once I had launched the LMS, I expected to be inundated with thousands of emails, thanking me for implementing such a life changing system and bring crucial training to their desktops. Whilst I did receive a few appreciative comments, what we had actually done was in fact raised the bar of our learning. Now our learners expected a full range of courses, on any and all subjects, and to be designed to the same high level. We'd created a monster! (But one that I'm excited and proud to have helped create!)
Have you implemented an LMS within your business? Have you found any of the items from the list above to be true? What tips would you have for someone who was about to introduce an LMS? We would be really keen to hear any of your thoughts in the comments section below.