7 LMS Best Practices from Leaders in Higher Education
Educe Group recently partnered with Washington University in St. Louis and Cornell University to discuss challenges faced by Institutions of Higher Education looking to implement effective Learning Management Systems (LMS). In the webinar, LMS owners Michele Harashe (WUSTL) and JoAnn Shepherd (Cornell) provided insights and lesson learned from their respective experiences working with Educe Group in implementing Saba Cloud to meet unique compliance requirements and maximize employee engagement within their respective institutions. Michele and JoAnn provided a thorough analysis of the nuances that make Higher Ed learning landscapes so complex to navigate, along with a list of best practices for doing so.
We’ve gathered a few of their key lessons learned:
Choose the right system to meet your needs. Pay attention to previous pain points and pick a system that will quickly eliminate them. For example, certain features that not all systems provide –such as immediate access for new hires, iCalendar attachments and ad hoc user group creation/assignments– will serve as quick and easy wins for administrators and end users alike.
Introduce a robust governance structure to addresses variable needs of partnerships and ownership. As part of their implementations, both teams strategically instituted governance structures to systematically address all needs across their respective organizations. For example, WUSTL set up a dual structure consisting of a Product Governance Committee and a Content Governance Committee, each with clearly-defined objectives and responsibilities.
Centralize as much as possible, while still addressing needs across the enterprise. By carefully accounting for the needs of different user groups, both teams were able to significantly reduce the total number of systems used across their organizations. This has saved valuable time for learners having to figure out the correct system they need for a given task, and has reduced support and administrator time spent on helping them. Keys to this success lie in putting significant investment into data cleanup and naming standardization, as well as identifying all user populations early on for inclusion in testing/decisions from the beginning.
Plan for a tempered rollout to ease the system/process transition. Don’t overwhelm your user base by rolling out a myriad of new process changes/training immediately; keeping a certain amount of experiences, terminology, etc. the same will make the release more manageable. Similarly, instead of overloading users and administrators with training sessions and materials on the entire system at once, offer optional training that they can access as needed. Once the initial rollout is in place and users have adjusted to the new system, you can then gradually phase in additional system features and/or user groups.
Prioritize the learner experience when configuring your site, aiming for usability, smooth transition, simple interface, and minimal clicks. Bringing in all learner historical transcript to one place will make their lives much easier. As intuitive as the system may be, you’re bound to still receive process questions from learners, so be sure to provide helpful documentations and tutorials where they can be easily accessed.
Set up a centralized, tiered support structure. Both teams created system aid materials and organized support structures in order to streamline resolution and feedback process flows. If a learner runs into a question or issue, they can first check available system documentation, guides, QRCs, etc. If that doesn’t do the trick, then they reach out to the single/centralized support contact; this single-service setup saves time on both sides lost to redirecting service calls.
Leverage external networks for collaboration and support. Saba provides a variety of continuous learning resources for its customer base. They have several workspaces to help customers find answers to platform-related questions, and they host Special Interest Group communities, regional user group meetings and an annual conference to help customers connect virtually and in person with others both within and outside of their industry. Outside of Saba, there are additional helpful networks to join, such as the eLearning Guild and Brandon Hall. WUSTL administrators benefit from a monthly forum for all 150 learning admins, where they can receive updates on system health and governance priorities, benchmark with their counterparts and hear from guest speakers.