Choosing a Learning Management System: Three Major Factors to Guide You
Today’s learning management system “food for thought”: what are some factors to consider before deciding to take your class or training program online? Take some time to reflect on three factors: your budget, your audience, and your goals and objectives.
Although it should never be the most important factor, one obvious consideration is your budget. Even though it may not be accurate the first time you draw it up (especially it it’s a new training program you’re trying out) it’s important to do it anyway. This way your training staff will have a goal to shoot for. You budget can always be adjusted later, when more information about training costs is known.
Keep in mind that your savings from online learning will come from many sources, including the relatively low cost of materials, travel, seat time, and administrative costs. For example, it generally takes at least three times as long to build e-learning material than it goes to create face-to-face training. However, depending on your needs, online training is typically quite cost-effective compared with face-to-face training.
Seat time, which refers to the time spent by the learner in any learning environment, is one important source of savings when going the online route. Depending on the learning material, online learning usually has a pronounced advantage over classroom training in this regard. Research suggests a roughly 50% reduction in seat time when a course is performed online. This depends on the content, of course, but for most types of learning material it applies.
The ability to change the format of learning material into many kinds of media (video, audio, text, etc.) is inherently time-saving. For instance, content is read about twice as fast as compared to its spoken form (for example, written text versus a lecture). Learning management system training, rather than allowing someone to do all the talking, allows learners to just read about it. Here one might argue for the interactive component of a classroom learning environment. Not to worry—we’ll get to that in a minute.
Second, think about your audience when opting for or against online learning. Do your students already have experience with online learning? In what ways do you expect them to benefit from online training?
But regarding your audience, there is one critical factor that rises above the rest. It’s something that comes in to play when you are actually creating your content on a learning management system or LCMS. This is the fun factor. Why is this important? Studies suggest that the absorption of learning material is much likelier when the way in which it was learned is enjoyable.
To do this, just empathize with your students. Sure, you may be very enthusiastic about the content you are developing, but imagine that you are designing a course about something you have no interest in (say, acarology) Create content that is not only to-the-point and informative, but also engaging. Here course creators can learn a great deal from children’s online learning environments. All too often adult online learning is dry and unimaginative, while e-learning created for younger learners is filled with well-developed, intrigue-piquing, and engaging features. Even if the graphics you have available are simple, engaging content is possible and crucial to capture and maintain students’ interest (at any age level).
Lastly, think about your goals and objectives for the online course. What are your time constraints? What new skills and knowledge should employees understand and be able to put into practice upon completion of training? Will opting for online training help you realize these objectives, and in what ways? Before signing on to any learning management system program, start by asking yourself these key questions.
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