LMS Tips: March 2012 Newsletter: Focus On E-Learning. Online version.


Learning Management vs. Course Development


March 2012


The implementation of a Learning Management System (LMS) is a key element of an online education project, but an integral part of that implementation is the course development, whether it is created, purchased or a combination of both. An LMS will deliver, track, and in some cases, serve as the primary course development tool. Examining course development, and its relationship to the LMS, will increase training efficiency and effectiveness. Consider:


What content already exists and how can I use it? Take inventory of existing materials and resources. You may already have web-deliverable components and need only an authoring tool to create your learning screens. Or, you may need to convert text from Word to HTML. Conversion to streaming video or Flash can prepare multimedia (MM) materials for use in a network-based learning environment. Identify colleagues with expertise and materials pertaining to the course, even if delivered in other formats.


How and when do I use MM? Video and other MM such as Flash can be valuable and entertaining when demonstrating a procedure or concept. To hold learner interest, and save bandwidth, MM should be brief and targeted. Consider whether the MM object can stand alone as an entire course section or should be embedded into a learning screen to enhance, add variation and complete the learning concept.


How do I utilize the authoring options? Identify the authoring options in the LMS, and whether you can utilize external authoring options. Can you use multiple authoring options within the same course by creating sections from different sources? Evaluate the testing features and decide how many exams or quizzes are needed, as well as what information needs to be tracked and reported.


What technology best communicates the content?  Subject matter will normally dictate the choice of design and media. If you are trying to teach software procedures, a screen capture or recording of your mouse movements might be the most effective way to communicate the concept. Or, you can use static images but incorporate “hot points” that open MM objects in a pop up window. Simple images and text utilizing variation in backgrounds, color choices and arrangement can be very effective.


What materials are online content or support documents? Instructional material is needed to teach the concepts and knowledge you want to disseminate. Material that covers special cases, alternative methods or additional examples can be organized as support documentation.


When do I need an introductory course to lead to more advanced courses?  Most experts agree that the cardinal rule of authoring is to make sure courses are not overwhelming in size. Make sections manageable and possibly divide the course into multiple courses. Grouped courses effectively to cover a specific competency or certification. Job requirements, experience levels and learner diversity will also help you determine how to structure course offerings.


Your LMS should facilitate, not dictate, how your content is structured. Needs and environments will change, and the avenues offered by the LMS to create and adjust training content will remain vital.







Training Tips


Use Student Enrollment Options to Your Advantage 


The enrollment process is one of the most important components of your online training program. For administrators, enrollment can be time consuming and require the input of large chunks of learner information. For students, the login is the first thing they see when they enter the learning environment. Neither wants to get bogged down.


Keeping it simple, your enrollment process can be unattended and automated, with activation occurring when the student self-enrolls. You can augment this option by adding an approval step by the administrator or training manager. Passwords can be pre-selected by the administrator or created by the learner.


The administrator can define sign-up periods for students by generating start and end dates for enrollment by course, with auto-generated email notification to students and reminders to managers. Instructors can impose class size limits, if desired, and then create a waiting list when the maximum enrollment is met. As student openings occur, the system will automatically enroll the next in line. 


Bulk enrollment of student information is an ideal solution and time-saver, and you can import data from a spreadsheet or database at any time. If you want to generate a payment option, the e-commerce function can be set system-wide or class-by-class to accept credit card or PayPal payments upon enrollment.


These are just a few of the enrollment options that you can implement for your online training program. Whichever you use, make sure the options work for you.

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