In my Thanksgiving eve post “Choosing a Learning Management System: Three Major Factors to Guide You”, I asserted that the three most important factors to choosing an LMS are your budget, your audience, and your goals and objectives.
Well, I’ve done some rethinking since that post. Perhaps those three points were a little unevenly divided. After all, considerations of budget and audience are fairly straightforward–not much to explore within those topics. On the other hand, within the factor of goals and objectives are hundreds of mini-factors. Many of these involve imagination, creativity, and optimism, tempered by a healthy dose of realism.
In fact, there are a few balancing acts going on. Finding the right mixture and balance in your learning management system course is everything.
It isn’t necessarily best to pack a course full of head-spinningly dynamic material–the highs and lows should be woven in to give the course texture and a nice flow. Perhaps you don’t need a learning management system course that involves lots of Flash-based animation or gaming. On the other hand, you certainly don’t want dull, dry content anchored exclusively in text. Obviously, a non-engaging online academic course is sure to be a flop with your students.
But let’s think about your objectives and goals for your course. First of all, why deliver your training online? What does an LMS provide that you can’t find in another system?
You already know that the right combination of different useful software applications makes a powerful LCMS or learning management system. You just need the right combination for your purposes.
What features do you want to need your LMS to have? Would your students benefit, for example, from video content like demos and simulations? Is there a certain process or procedure that would be best taught using both visual and audio media?
You may want your learning management system to have some kind of Flash-based app. One example is Rapid Intake Unison, which allows course developers and subject matter experts to capture, storyboard, develop, review, test, and publish Flash-based learning content.
Applications like Rapid Intake Unison are user-friendly to all content developers–even people who aren’t Flash geniuses. In fact, users don’t even need to know Flash. All you have to do is fill out form-based templates to create interactive Flash-based courses, tests, quizzes, learning games, demos and simulations.
Besides specific multimedia features you want your course to include, consider timelines. What is your goal for training completion? Consider not only the amount of time your students will realistically be able to devote to the course (both onsite and offsite), but the available time of the person administering the training. Is it necessary that the course has both in-person and online components? Regardless of the answer to this question, how much time can the person administering the training spend daily, weekly, and/or monthly on this training initiative?
Take advantage of your learning management system’s assessment tools and automated grading system. The automation of these unsavory aspects of instruction is able to save instructors a great amount of time. After all, it’s ultimately wise to quiz students on a regular basis to ensure that they have understood and absorbed the learning content.
Too often, it becomes evident in the post-training period that employees are not actually employing the new skills and processes they’ve recently been trained in. Besides creative and engaging learning content, the most effective way to make this information stick is to frequently quiz students on the material. In this and other ways, a learning management system is often able to help instructors and training content developers achieve training goals and objectives efficiently and cost-effectively.
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