Setting Up A Learning Management System For The First Time

What you need to know about building your own online learning system for the first time

Custom LMS Development

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t a time when the world has been thrown into chaos amid the coronavirus crisis, more and more people are turning to technology for help.

And, while online training has become increasingly popular over recent years, its concept as a very real need is now being realised more than ever, with schools and businesses now closed and learning moved into the home.

With that in mind, we know many businesses are now gearing up to train staff and teach students online – which is why we’ve pulled together some steps to help if you are setting up a Learning Management System for the first time.

Planning your LMS

When starting a new project, you never jump in feet first without doing your research (it’s arguably the most crucial part of the whole process). In today’s climate, it might be tempting to go for the first off-the-shelf product you come across, but this might cause you bigger issues down the line. You might not have the time you would like to plan, but planning is still important, even if it is a fast-tracked version.

Budget – First off, plan your budget. How much, realistically, do you have to spend right now? If you’re not sure how much extra budget to ask for, get in touch with a range of providers to get a feel for costs and what you will get back for your money.

Objectives – Next, consider what your objectives are; do you want a system that allows for significant student-mentor interaction? Are you looking to use interactive games or videos in the courses? What will be the final outcome for learners once they have completed each course? Does your LMS need to integrate with any other systems? E.g. your website, or your CRM?

Team – Who will be key in creating the content and helping to shape the course? Do you have colleagues who can input their IT expertise and help to guide the setup? Who else in your company/organisation do you need to work with?

Scale – How many leaners do you have? Will you roll this out to everyone straight away? Do you need to be able to scale this at a later date if it goes well?

Timescales – And, finally… deadlines. When does this need to go live? Your answer is probably asap. But, consider a realistic deadline which will give you time to do things sensibly but quickly. Set goals along the way so that you know if you are on track or will have to re-forecast.

You’ll also need to decide at this point if you want to work with a cloud-based system or traditional software – and we’d highly recommend working with the former (a cloud system meaning that you will be able to access it from any device without having to download additional software).

Choosing the perfect provider

Chances are, if this is your first time setting up an LMS, you’ll want to work with a provider who will be able to offer extensive experience in all areas of eLearning, from gamification to data management and beyond.

And, while that is incredibly important, you will also need to make sure that they are also available to help you every step of the way, from building the blueprints to development, testing and deployment.

Ideally, a good provider will be able to create an extensive and clear road-map to ensure your objectives and goals are met in the best ways possible while creating the ultimate user experience. A good provider should also be able to adapt to your needs as the project progresses, working in an agile way.

Find out who will be your point of contact throughout the project. Make sure you have someone assigned as an account manager or project manager who will champion your requests at their end, and keep communications open during the process.

Be wary of providers who are offering a time-scale which sounds too good to be true. Ask to speak to current/previous clients, or as a minimum, take a look at some case studies. Were deadlines met? Did customers feel looked after? Did they arrive at the solution which was right for them?

Making your system user-friendly

If you’ve landed a good provider, this part of the process should be fairly straightforward – ensuring that your system is user-friendly.

Everything from account set-up to actually completing the course should be easy to navigate and presented in a clear, simple way that allows the learner to stay focused on the key thing they are there for – learning. Depending on the size of your organisation, you might have your own UI designers who will want to contribute or at least oversee this part of the development process. Alternatively, your supplier should be able to offer UI Design as part of the project.

Test and… launch!

Once you have created your LMS, testing is vital to pulling out any kinks and ensuring that all your objectives are being met. Get members of your team to try it out, alongside volunteers outside of the business who can give an objective view on how the system works for them.

Once a project has been deployed to a staging or testing environment, it is often tempting to rush through the testing phase in the excitement to get it live, but be patient! Lack of testing at this stage can result in issues later down the line. Your supplier will have tested your LMS at their end, from a technical point of view, but you now need to test it at your end to be sure it works in the way you need it to.

Don’t expect it to be perfect first time, testing and fixing is an important part of the agile development process. You can then work with your LMS provider to put that feedback back into the project and ensure that, on launch, your LMS is ready to go.

If you’re looking for more information or support on building an LMS system, get in touch with the team at BuildEmpire here.