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Posts Tagged ‘reporting’

The Learning Management System Feature People Hate the Most

April 11, 2013 2 comments

Richard Nantel, Vice President, Enterprise Learning Solutions, Blatant Media | Absorb LMS

Satisfaction surveys of learning management system administrators invariably identify reporting as the most reviled feature in their platform. Administrators complain about reporting being unintuitive, cumbersome, lacking customizability, not being powerful enough, and just generally being bad at displaying the data administrators want.

So, why aren’t LMS solution providers fixing the problem? The short answer is that it’s really tough to please all system administrators:

  • Some administrators want the reporting features to be super easy. They want templates with one button to push.
  • For other administrators, one-button-to-push templates with few options are a living hell. They want infinite power and customizability in their LMS reporting capabilities.

For LMS vendors, coming up with reporting features everyone likes is like trying to open a restaurant that serves only one dish. Your cheese lasagna with buffalo mozzarella flown in daily from Italy might be a hit with some customers but the carnivores will complain on Urbanspoon that the recipe should have had meat and the lactose- and gluten-free crowd will tell their friends they were up all night with cramps after eating at your lousy joint.Lasagna. Some rights reserved by jeffreyw on Flickr

So, the bottom line is that in designing their platforms, LMS solution providers are constantly walking the fine line between ease-of-use and how powerful and customizable to make their reporting features.

If you’re looking to acquire your first learning management system, or if your needs have changed and you are considering switching systems, here are some things to look for in evaluating the reporting features of LMS.

  • Report templates—Your LMS administrator may be a geek with a capital G who likes to create all reports from scratch by typing SQL commands into fields. That’s great! …until that person leaves your organization and someone else needs to step in and take over the work. You want a system that contains basic templates that can be customized to quickly display the information you need.

Absorb LMS Report Templates

  • Consistent user experience across all report templates—You shouldn’t have to learn to create a report, and then need to learn how to create a different report. You should be able to learn how to use one report and then apply those skills to all other reports. Whether you are creating a report showing the progress of a group of learners in a curriculum, or a report showing a list of learners on a waiting list for a classroom-based course, getting to the data using similar features will significantly reduce the learning curve for administrators.
  • The ability to show, hide, and rearrange the order of columns in reports—Sometimes, you want to show more, or less, of the information contained in your system’s databases in a way that’s clear and easily understood.

Absorb LMS Show/Hide Columns in Reports

  • The ability to query the fields in a report—Whether you want a listing of learners in a specific city, a list of people who scored less than 70 per cent on a recent exam, people who have completed a course within a given time period, etc., you want to be able to search for—and display—the data you need.

Absorb LMS Field Query

  • The ability to automatically e-mail reports—I guarantee you, there will be at some point in your learning initiative, a need for a manager or team leader to monitor the progress of a group of learners. Sure, you can give that individual access to the LMS’s admin features and ask her to get her own darn report and leave you alone, but a simpler and more politically astute approach is simply to have a report automatically e-mailed to the individual. She’ll love the fact that the report is sitting in her inbox when she gets to work on Mondays. She’ll say nice things about you to others. You’ll be a rock star.

Absorb LMS Email Report

  • The ability to export data—Sometimes, you just want to play around with data outside of the LMS. Or, perhaps you’ll want to archive some information you feel you no longer need.

Absorb LMS Export Data

  • The ability to save and retrieve a report you’ve created—It’s a major waste of time to have to recreate the same report over and over again. If it’s been saved, it will take one second to call up the information you want.

AbsorbLMS-Save_Report

In closing, the best way to assess the reporting features of a learning management system is to decide what reports you might need and ask the vendor to demonstrate the creation of those reports. If the person demonstrating the platform can’t create the reports you require within a few minutes, chances are your satisfaction with the platform will be low once the initial honeymoon phase has passed. Save yourself some heartache and be disciplined about evaluating this critical component of LMS technology.

Your Most Useful Learning Management System Report: The Learning Matrix

September 12, 2012 Leave a comment

Richard Nantel, Vice President, Enterprise Learning Solutions, Blatant Media | Absorb LMSReporting is often a headache for learning management system administrators.  As soon as admins depart from using their system’s pre-built report templates, they can sometimes find themselves in an alternate universe of SQL queries and database tables.

Reporting poses a challenge to LMS vendors as well. In designing their software, they need to find the right balance between ease-of-use and ability to create highly customized reports.

In creating the reports you’ll use regularly, you should first consider what you need to get out of the LMS. One of the key learning management system requirements for most organizations is the ability to track learner progress. To meet this fundamental need, there’s one report that really shines, the learning matrix. The learning matrix report provides, at a glance, a summary of where all or a subgroup of learners are in regards to their course activities.

Learning Matrix

In the screen capture of a portion of a learning matrix above, we can quickly see that Usain Bolt, even while busy training to be the world’s fastest human, was able to complete one—or 12.5 per cent—of the eight courses in which he’s enrolled. Well done Usain! Even in the midst of busy touring schedules, singer/songwriters Neko Case, Amelia Curran, Céline Dion, Kathleen Edwards, and Leonard Cohen have completed two of their eight courses and are well on their way to being certified in their management curriculum.

One of the benefits of a learning matrix report is that it can provide a great snapshot of learners’ progress in a curriculum or course bundle. Rather than creating multiple reports for individual courses, you can, at a glance, get a global view of how learners are progressing.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Setting Up Your Learning Management System (Part 10)

This is the final instalment in this series! Here are all the previous posts:

STEP 10: Create Reports

Congratulations! We’re at the last step of the process. The reason we’ve left the this step to the end is that it’s easier to create the reports you need when you have actual activity data in the system. So, you could potentially take a break after adding learners to the system, allowing them time to interact with the content. Then, you can create the reports that will allow you to evaluate the success of your learning initiatives.Absorb LMS Schedule Report

In this step, you want to:

  • Create relevant reports. Common useful reports include:
    • Learner progress in different courses, either for all your learners, a group of learners, or individual learners
    • How learners collectively answered test questions
    • Course evaluation reports
    • Certifications obtained
  • Save those reports if your LMS provides this option
  • Push out those reports to external managers if the LMS contains this feature

Timeline

You don’t need to go through all the steps in this series in order. Some steps can be done simultaneously by different people on your team, as the image below illustrates.

For more information

We regularly present the content from this series as a Webinar. Please see our list of events