How to defend LMS and Course design

Hi All,

Having an issue with my manager regarding how much detail we should include on our LMS. 

A little background: My company is a power and IT infrastructure manufacturer (UPS, surge protection, rack systems, etc.) and our training users include sales staff, electricians, other end users, and assorted IT staff.  Our LMS has a main page with icons and labels for each product group.  The user clicks on the icon to see a list of courses that apply to that product group, which they can then enroll. We also include featured courses, as well as the top 5 courses by enrollment.

The conversation is about how simplified the LMS should be.  I feel that there is a basic assumption that these users can view our product categories, featured courses, and top 5 list on the LMS (all of which are pointed out on the initial welcome page) and determine which product trainings they want.  The response I get is "What about people who've never done online training? They dont know which courses they should take." 

Am I overstating the basic ability of an online learner? If not, how do I communicate that the base level is accurately established? I am accused of looking at this from a trainer perspective and not as a user, but I genreally pride myself in being able to design for beginners as well as I design for experts. Any suggestions?

9 Replies
Tim Slade

From what you've described, as long as the learner knows what area of the business they work in and the content is organized as such within the LMS...it sounds pretty straight forward. However, there is nothing common about common sense .

I'm sure you have specific courses every new person is required to take, correct? Would it be possible for your LMS to auto-enroll these new people in the required courses or curriculum upon being employed? This would remove the need for the new user to figure it out on their own. I did this at a previous company and it was very successful.

Also, maybe these new people could benefit off of a short 5 - 10 minute eLearning course explaining the LMS and how it works. Maybe this course could be featured on your front page for all new users?

Lee Fowler

I'm proposing a quick video that walks users through the training site, so they can see all of the options available.  Genreally, our users are not internal, and could choose any number of the courses we offer.  My thought is that it will be rare that someone gets to the training site and has no idea what they want to learn. If they do have difficulty deciding what they want to learn we feature courses and have the top 5 courses detailed.  Maybe I should point out the featured section and top 5 more heavily as a good place to start if they are unsure which courses they'd like to complete.

Beyond that, I always come back to "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them drink." 

Bruce Graham

Lee Fowler said:

The conversation is about how simplified the LMS should be.  I feel that there is a basic assumption that these users can view our product categories, featured courses, and top 5 list on the LMS (all of which are pointed out on the initial welcome page) and determine which product trainings they want.  The response I get is "What about people who've never done online training? They dont know which courses they should take." 

Lee,

I pretty much agree with your interpretation here.

Re navigation - my standard answer to that question is usually something along the lines "...oh...if they get too confused, I am sure they will go for a coffee break, select their drink using a combination of around 6 visual and audio cues, then drink it over a 5-minute period where they are navigating the WWW using their phone or iPad".

Our learners are not stupid.

If they do not know what courses they should take, they should perhaps not be taking courses. The consumption of (corporate) courses/learning is only ever about increasing profit, decreasing loss of reducing risk. If they do not have a personal development plan that requires they take a specific course to help achieve one of these, as part of their personal objectives, then perhaps they should leave the LMS alone until they do

Bruce

Steve Flowers

The best way to find out how users will respond to a system is to test the system with users and ask them We've had the same discussions at various times about systems. It always ends the same way - we stopped assuming we knew how users were going to respond and what they needed. Planning some tests and mini-focus groups to see how they used it and get their opinions on what worked well and what might work better.

Scott Hewitt

Hi Lee,

How about test and measure? Try your approach ask some of the learners what they think and get the feedback? When I worked in CD-Rom burn time was hours and the cost was huge! It is much easier to test and try out things and we have loads of analytics to mix with our user interviews and feedback. You can then see what actually works.

Have you heard of A/B testing? It is widely used across web design testing and web marketing and it is easily applied to elearning projects. Have a look at these links:

http://www.quicksprout.com/2013/05/02/7-ab-testing-blunders-that-even-experts-make/

http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/06/24/the-ultimate-guide-to-a-b-testing/

You might find it interesting and I think it can be applied to elearning design and layout.

Hope this is interesting,

Scott

Sheila Bulthuis

Great articles, Scott - good food for thought.  I love the tie-back to science experiments, that's totally what it is - experimental group, control group, see what the differences are.

 

I wonder if, when a client is hesitant to try a new approach or idea, we could frame it as A/B testing.  Not that I'd want to build a whole course in two different ways, but it would definitely be feasible to do some testing on a given component.  Or two different courses for the same audience...  the thing that is immediately coming to mind is the navigation question:  "We'd like 5 minutes at the beginning of the course about how to navigate the course."  I love the idea of suggesting that if we're rolling two courses to the same type of audience, we do one with that approach (which the client wants) and one with another approach (no nav instructions, optional nav instructions, etc.) and see what kind of feedback we get.

 

I'll have to think more about that - thanks!

john faulkes

Just to add that for most learners I meet out there, it's not about grasp so much as attention span.

It's tempting to spend huge amounts of time and brow-furrowing in building ultra-clear and comprehensive explanations of 'what's here' and' how to do this and that'. Trouble is no-one will take time to read it properly.

I think your current, simple concept looks good. I endorse what others have said about testing. Trainer perspective can be a little dangerous...get some naive learners to have a go and see what they can do!

Phil Mayor

john faulkes said:

Just to add that for most learners I meet out there, it's not about grasp so much as attention span.

It's tempting to spend huge amounts of time and brow-furrowing in building ultra-clear and comprehensive explanations of 'what's here' and' how to do this and that'. Trouble is no-one will take time to read it properly.

I think your current, simple concept looks good. I endorse what others have said about testing. Trainer perspective can be a little dangerous...get some naive learners to have a go and see what they can do!


Agree wholeheartedly.  When we "upgraded" to Moodle 2 we added in some browser sniffers to tell users that IE 6 was unsupported, that their javascript was disabled and that their popup blocker was enabled.  Users just did not read the warning and still called support