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Insights

Time for Your Annual LMS Checkup? 3 Things to Consider

Tuesday, January 28, 2020
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Whether you plan to replace your LMS this year or breathe new life into your existing one, here are some approaches to consider as you get ready to review.

1. Take a Use-Case Approach

If you spend most of your time as an admin on your LMS, you could be overlooking usability problem areas. Software developers create use cases to help them better understand the usability of a system. This tool can help isolate problem areas.

A use case is like a volley between the system (in this case, the LMS) and the user, called the “actor” (in this case, learner, trainer, manager, and the like). Each use case examines one specific task. The “volley” looks something like this:

Actor does this –> LMS does this –> LMS does this –> Actor does this –> LMS does this –> and so forth.

This volley is called the “basic flow” and represents a case where nothing goes wrong. A use case can also include alternate paths that represent something going wrong. Here is an example:

Use case: registration
Actor: learner
Basic flow:
learner clicks registration link
LMS prompts for information
learner completes form
LMS sends email verification
learner verifies email
LMS sends login credentials
learner accesses LMS
LMS sends welcome email
LMS sends course enrollment email
LMS sends learning path email
LMS sends group or forum login details.

Yes, we know that in between those interactions the LMS adds the learner—adds them to courses and paths based on job type and adds them to groups. But that is not relevant to our use case. All we want to know is how the user and the system are interacting.

In thisr example, we see that the learner is inundated with email notifications right away. This can be overwhelming and cause the learner to miss vital information. One solution would be to combine notifications, but that is lot of information for one message. It might be better to find a way to delay the notifications, so they don’t all hit at once.

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Other types of learner use cases might include enrolling in a course, taking a quiz, or getting a question answered.
Trainer use cases might include adding or updating a course and checking learners’ progress.
Manager use cases might include running a report, deactivating a user, monitoring usage, and so forth.

2. Research All Current Updates to Your LMS

Your LMS provider should be working hard to add new features and improve existing functionality. Do you know what updates your LMS launched during the past year?

Most LMSs have a list of current updates in the help section under “release notes” or “product news.” Many LMSs also have a roadmap of upcoming features.

Once you find your LMS’s release notes, read all the entries. Don’t limit yourself to entries you think are relevant to your current setup. Even changes to seemingly unrelated features can help you solve issues you’ve uncovered in your review.

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For example, say you see an entry in product news under a section called “Third Party Integrations” (that you may have ignored in the past) that states: New triggers and actions added to Zapier integrations.

So, you think, “Triggers and actions” sound like something I could possibly use to solve my registration use case notification issue. But what is Zapier? Lo and behold, you discover that you can “trigger” a Zapier integration to perform the “action” of sending delayed notifications to users via Gmail. Sweet!

3. Don’t Give in to Apparent Limitations

Just because your LMS doesn’t do something “out of the gate” doesn’t mean you can’t find a workaround solution. Case in point: solving notifications with Zapier as we saw above.

Even if your LMS doesn’t use Zapier, it likely has other tools you can use to create custom solutions or to interface with third-party services—tools like APIs, LTIs, and even direct integrations with popular services like Office 365 or Salesforce.

Bottom line: Don’t be intimidated by these tools. They can be easier to implement than you think. Here’s to your successful 2020 LMS checkup!


About the Author

Deltina Hay is an author, educator, developer, and the CTO of Elearning Delta. For nearly 30 years, Deltina has done custom programming, database management, web development, SEO, and LMS consulting for businesses of all sizes. Deltina is the author of three books and a regular contributor to learning technology and web development publications. She has published over 20 courses based on her books. Deltina is a Board Chair Emeritus of the Independent Book Publishers Association. Deltina launched Elearning Delta in partnership with publishing expert Christine Lehmann in 2016. Elearning Delta is a full-service e-learning company specializing in LMS consulting, set up, maintenance, and user support.

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