eLearning Part II: What to look for when choosing your platform

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Choosing your eLearning system can be tricky and time-consuming. To avoid being seduced by functionalities you will never use, you need to be clear on the set of requirements for the system. Think of it as making a shopping list before you go to the grocery store and sticking to it.

Learning Management Systems (LMS) are web-based frameworks that handle all aspects of the learning process, from registration and administration to resource management, content delivery, and reporting and certification management. The right platform for your programme will include all the functionalities you need and at the same time, will meet your budget limitations. If you read our latest blog post on what to consider when designing your eLearning programme, then you know that asking the right questions will get you the right solution.

Let’s run you through the key points to consider when choosing your platform.

Content

Your eLearning platform starts with its content. First, ask yourself whether you are capable of taking care of the recording, post-production (editing) and publishing yourself. If you aren’t, opt for a vendor who can take care of this for you.

Secondly, think about where and how the content should be recorded:

  • Recording conference sessions: A cost-efficient way to provide content for your eLearning programme is to record sessions at a conference or congress you are already organising. You and your colleagues already put a lot of work into finding the right topics and speakers, the presentation slides and talks are ready so why not take advantage of this? At Open Slide & Services we record the presentations at your conference – whether it is in one room or in 30 parallel rooms.
  • Recording content in a studio: Content for the eLearning platform is captured in a studio.
  • A ‘hybrid’ solution: A mix of recorded conference presentations and captured videos such as f.e. an introduction video, a panel discussion or interviews with experts.

Thirdly, contemplate whether you want to publish the presentation with or without a video capture of the speaker.

Course structure and key functionalities

Depending on how much content your course will provide, you probably need a well-structured platform which allows you to create different sessions, with each session containing a range of different presentations. Apart from that, you might want to opt for the following functionalities:

  • Structuring the content into compulsory and optional modules;
  • Fast-forwarding and whether this can be disabled;
  • Resuming presentations when a participant left the presentation mid-course and the ability to start over;
  • The ability to quiz participants.

Progress tracking and certification

In most cases, you will need to reward the participants with a certification at the end of the course. Many LMSs offer the possibility to track participant progress, with the possibility to automatically generate certificates upon course completion. Ask the vendor whether the platform will automatically send out a reminder to participants when the deadline for course completion is coming close.

For participants, tracking their own progress is important as well, we suggest providing participators access to a practical progress overview 1) of the complete course, 2) per session, 3) per presentation.

Back office

Apart from the initial set-up of the platform, you may want to take into account the level of access you want as an administrator. Do you want to be able to take care of creating new modules and uploading new course content yourself or do you prefer to look for a vendor who will provide these services for you? Decide on whether lessons are added only once, on a regular basis or ad hoc.

Usability

It’s important to keep in mind who the target group is: design the eLearning platform so your beneficiaries are confident using it. Even without conducting complex usability studies, you can work to improve user experience and thus increase the programme’s efficiency:

  • Ensure the platform is accessible in browsers and on types of devices your target group is most likely to use;
  • Avoid complicated platforms, keep it easy to navigate;
  • Provide easy and intuitive access to the information available;
  • Avoid unnecessary features.

Pre-launch tip: Get a colleague – who is not involved in the eLearning programme – to test the platform. Was following a course easy? Did any of the features confuse them? Were they able to find all the information they wanted?

Administrative and helpdesk support

Opt for a vendor who will take care of the registration of participants – including the sending of an introduction email – and helpdesk support for your participants. This allows you to decrease your administrative tasks and will make your life easier when it comes to enrolling participants in your eLearning programme.

This blog post is brought to you by Mieke Barbé by Open Slide & Services.

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eLearning Part I: What to consider when designing your programme

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The online learning experience has deeply changed during the last few years, with Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) at the forefront of making knowledge sharing and lifelong learning more accessible and more attractive. More and more organisations are using the available technology to deliver (low-cost) remote learning programs for employees or association members, but how do you get started yourself?

Creating an eLearning programme for your staff or members is a challenge: the variety of models, platforms and the different features that come with each platform can be overwhelming. No need to fear that the information coming at you will mean that you will not see the wood for the trees, if you consider the most important components of a learning programme you will find your way to a tailored solution.

One of our MPI Belgium members outlined four components to consider when designing your eLearning programme: the broad aim, target group, content plan & budget for your eLearning programme. Only after deciding upon these you should start looking at the platforms and features available.

What is the broad aim of your eLearning programme?

The most important component of outlining your eLearning programme is to understand what the broad aim of the courses is. Write out your overall goal, and individual objectives for each (sub)course. Keep in mind your content needs to be relevant and interesting to your target group!

  • Do you want to provide adequate knowledge about a certain procedure and provide certificates for those completing the course?
  • Do you want to provide knowledge about a certain products so that your sales persons can effectively address prospects?

Who are the target audience of the course?

Define your target audience and what it is they should be taking away from completing the course, also think about the technical skills of your target group.

  • Who would be taking the course?
  • What is the knowledge gained from participating in the course?
  • Why will your target audience participate, do you need to provide them with a certificate or license?
  • Does the target group need self-paced courses, taken whenever suits them best?
  • Are eLearning targets equipped with the technical skills for the eLearning programme, and what level of skills do they have?

What content should be shared and in which form?

Have a brainstorm session on what type of content should be shared, how many courses should be created and what the eLearning delivery format for each lesson should be.

Some example questions to ask yourself:

  • What is the content we want to base our programme on? Are we talking about recording speeches and presentations during already existing events (such as a conference or annual meeting presentations) and translating them to an online course? Or are we looking at recording content in a studio?
  • Should the courses be interactive?
  • Do we require compulsory and optional modules?
  • Should content be unlocked gradually or accessible all at once?

What is the budget in place?

Budgets are important in every aspects of your organisation, for your eLearning programme you should ask yourself:

  • How much budget do I want to spend on the IT infrastructure (platform and features)?
  • How much budget should be set apart to create the courseware?

This blog post is brought to you by Mieke Barbé by Open Slide & Services.

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