In many organizations, workplace learning consists of getting people into a room to listen to an instructor. If the workforce is distributed, the room used may be virtual instead of physical, and the donuts served may be imaginary instead of real.
When these organizations become fed up with the effort of trying to manage their learning initiatives using pen and paper, spreadsheets, and various stone-age tools, they acquire a learning management system. The smartest of these organizations don’t then abandon instructor-led learning, but rather aim to provide learners with quality content in many different formats and learning modalities:
In evaluating learning management systems, you should consider the ability of the LMS to support instructor-led events even if you presently think you’ll only be serving self-paced courses to your learners. Your needs over time may change. (Just ask anyone who’s ever paid to have a tattoo removed.)
Here’s a list of LMS features required to manage instructor-led events:
- Instructor-led courses can take place in a physical or virtual classroom
- Instructor-led courses can issue certificates as well as educational units, credits, or points
- Instructor-led courses can be configured to have prerequisites
- Instructor-led courses can be part of a blended learning curriculum
- Instructor-led courses can have multiple sessions
- Instructor-led courses can have sessions that automatically repeat daily, weekly, etc.
- Instructor-led courses can have sessions that start and end on specific dates
- Enrolment into instructor-led sessions can be restricted to specific groups of learners based on any criteria (location, business function, role, etc.)
- Instructor-led course sessions can be configured to require approval from an administrator or instructor before a learner is fully enrolled
- The system manages venues, including maximum seating for each room
- The system manages wait lists
- Learners on a wait list are automatically notified if a seat becomes available
- The system is smart enough to uncover conflicts, where an instructor or venue is booked for two different events at the same time
- The system provides a way for learners and instructors to add course sessions to their personal calendars (Outlook, etc.)
- The system provides a calendar-view of sessions to learners, instructors, and administrators
- Resources such as study guides and other supporting materials can be attached to instructor-led courses
- The system can provide instructors with teaching materials associated with their classes
- The system provides an easy way for instructors to take attendance, ideally using a mobile device such as a phone or tablet
- Learner performance in an instructor-led course can be graded by an instructor
- Students are automatically notified if a change is made to the scheduling of an instructor-led courses
- The system provides learners with clear e-mail communication regarding enrolment, session reminders, and course completion
- Instructor-led courses can be branded with images so that they appear distinct from other learning content in the system
- The system has an easy way to provide learners with course evaluation surveys (Kirkpatrick level 1) once they’ve completed an instructor-led course
Have I missed anything? Please add them to the comments section of this post.
Remember reflection? That’s something we used to do occasionally before we all became addicted to checking our Web-enabled devices every few minutes for our much-needed digital data fixes. Prior to the mobile revolution, people could at times be seen staring off into space, just thinking. If you were to spot someone doing that today, you’d think “So sad. That person lost his phone.”
According to the American Library Association, by 2020, information on the Internet will be doubling every 15 minutes. Consuming information without taking the time to reflect is bad for the development of critical thinking skills. Without reflection, we become locked in a pattern of remembering and communicating information without taking the time to assess whether the information is true, utter garbage, or a valuable missing piece in a puzzle.
Keeping and contributing regularly to a personal learning journal can be an effective way to encourage reflection and develop critical thinking skills. Mark Smith’s article in the encyclopaedia of informal education titled ‘Keeping a learning journal‘ describes the following benefits:
- The first and obvious use of writing a journal is that it helps us to remember something later.
- Second, the act of putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) engages our brains. To write we have to think.
- Third, it isn’t just that writing a journal stimulates thought — it allows us to look at ourselves, our feelings, and our actions in a different way.
- Fourth, writing things down in a journal also allows us to ‘clear our minds.’ Having made a note of something we can put them on one side for consideration or action at a later point.
- Last, and certainly not least, making journal writing part of our routine means that we do actually take time out to reflect on what might be happening in our practice and in our lives generally
Learning journals can be made a part of a learning plan through the support of a learning management system. Here’s an example of how this learning strategy might be implemented for a management skills curriculum:
1. Create a journal template in MS Word or your preferred text editor to distribute to your learners. This template should contain questions or comments to encourage critical thinking.
2. Upload the journal template and make it available to learners.
3. Create a task as part of the curriculum that enables learners to upload their journal.
Learners will then be prompted to upload the file at the appropriate point in the curriculum.
4. In the event that you would like an instructor, coach, or mentor to review the learners’ journals, provide them with access to the files through the administrative control panel of your LMS:
July 3rd: Cool Things You Can Do With a Learning Management System (That You Probably Haven’t Thought Of)
I’ll be presenting a new Webinar for HR.com on July 3rd titled “Cool Things You Can Do With a Learning Management System (That You Probably Haven’t Thought Of).”
Learning management systems are designed to enrol learners into courses and learning events and track their progress. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Some systems have become so powerful and feature rich that they can be used to do much more, allowing you to leverage learning management system technology to meet other business needs.
Join me, Richard Nantel. VP, Enterprise Learning Solutions at Blatant Media, to examine:
- How to use a learning management system as a communication platform
- How to use a learning management system to manage contests
- Using a learning management system as a curator to the Web’s best content
- How to use a learning management system for team problem solving and collaboration
- How to use a learning management system for document management
- Using a learning management system as an intranet
- How to use a learning management system to manage the onboarding of new employees
- How to use surveys to gather information about your learners
- How to use a learning management system for market research
- And much, much more
This fast-paced presentation won’t bore you with a bunch of PowerPoint slides. Instead, we’ll focus on hands-on demonstrations of ways a learning management system can be used to do more than just deliver courses and track learner progress.
I hope you’ll join me and share your ideas.