Sometimes, your online learning platform can seem like a sinking ship. Like the Titanic, you smashed the champagne bottle, christened your Learning Management System the Super Great LMS II and set sail with great hope and expectation. You were convinced your online learning plan was going to work this time; your learners had embarked on the learning journey of their lives, the sea was calm, the sun was shining and nothing could go wrong – the lifejackets and lifeboats were just for show.
So there you were, steering the ship and soaking up the rays on the poop deck, when all of a sudden an iceberg appeared from nowhere – and we all know how the sad story ended…
As the captain – aka L&D professional – you’ve got to make some very important decisions when your online learning programme is failing. But unlike seafarers, you don’t have to go down with your ship. You don’t have to sit by and watch your LMS fail – it’s never too late to make changes, plug the leak and secure success.
Here are 5 Ways to Improve Your Learning Management System and prevent your training boat from capsizing:
You’ve probably heard the term ‘gamification’ bandied about willy-nilly, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. By adding gamification functionality to your online learning in the form of badges, points, achievements and leaderboards, you create a learning environment in which your learners are motivated, intrigued, engaged and eager to learn.
You can set up your LMS to award points and badges when learners complete eLearning modules and interact with the platform. Give ‘em the ‘Sherlock Holmes’ badge for using the search functionality, or the ‘Long Haul’ badge for having been logged in for 90 minutes; the ‘Learning Legend’ achievement for completing 3 eLearning modules, or ‘Super Scholar’ for gaining 100% on a test.
Far from standing around helplessly on their sinking ship, once you add gamification to your LMS, learners will take an active role in their online learning. And active learners will help to plug the leak in your ship’s hull.
2. Make it pretty, inside & out
People are attracted to things that look nice – it’s a fact of life. But more than just outward appearances, it’s important that your Learning Management System has depth and personality too. You can’t expect your learners to enjoy their learning journey if they’re being asked to use an ugly, badly created platform. You wouldn’t expect guests on a cruise to put up with a filthy, poorly maintained ship, with dead-end corridors and complicated signposts, would you?
It’s time to embrace the fact that poor design and bad user experience are very real causes of sinking ships. We’re surrounded by gorgeously designed applications all day long (does the brand ‘Apple’ ring any bells?) so why should learners have to put up with something that looks and feels like it was designed on a PC from the Stone Age? It’s just not good enough these days, when the technology is there to create such stunning digital platforms with fantastic user experience at their heart.
Imagine if you filled a ship with eager passengers, told them how exciting their journey would be and how much it’ll improve their lives, and then cordoned them off in separate areas of the ship, never to meet again. Wouldn’t they feel lonely? Disheartened? Disengaged? Demotivated?
You can’t expect to run a successful cruise company if you keep your passengers separated and miserable, so why would you think solo online learning journeys were a good idea? Once you create an online learning platform where learners can communicate with one another, you’ll find your learners are much more enthused and involved in their online learning programme.
So create a communication hub or a dialogue stream and watch the water drain away and buoyancy return to your ship.
4. Get interactive
How interactive is your online learning platform? Can learners explore the LMS, pick up badges and points on the way, talk about their achievements with other learners and share badges on social media? Or is your LMS basically like an expensive data store, where learners log in and see only the courses they have to complete and tests they need to take? Are all your ship’s doors locked, with ‘No Entry’ signs all over the place?
When learners are able to interact on and with their online learning platform, they suddenly become more involved and more interested in logging on, taking part and pushing their learning forward. When you make their learning environment fun, interesting and many-layered, they take an active role in their learning. No longer will your LMS will be a cold, lonely, desolate place – it’ll be a hubbub of activity and enjoyment!
5. Get competitive
If you really want to keep your online learning ship afloat, you need to introduce competitive elements. Once you’ve created leaderboards on your LMS (see #1) that display to the whole company how well each learner is doing, you’ll find that their motivation soars. No one wants to be at the bottom of the leaderboard – in fact, coming second can feel pretty bad too, so you’ll find competition is rife at both the bottom and top of your leaderboard.
When learners are fighting it out amongst themselves to gain the most points, achieve the most badges and ‘level up’ the fastest, you won’t have to worry about any icebergs on the horizon.
When you’ve put these five lifesavers into play, you’ll find your online learning platform stops sinking. In fact, once you’ve ‘plugged the hole’ (added gamification, encouraged competition and collaboration, introduced interactivity and given your ship a spring clean), you’ll find that it’s your passengers doing the hard work to keep the boat afloat. You can sit back and watch as they bail water without having to be asked – they’ll begin logging on, taking online learning courses and interacting all on their own, using their initiative.
And rather than having to avoid dangers in your path, it’s the icebergs that should be terrified of you – such a strong ship full of motivated passengers will surely demolish all that stands in its way!
Once you’ve taken steps to save your LMS, you’ll find you’ve created a culture of active learning. And as a captain, don’t you want your passengers’ learning journeys to be as enjoyable as possible?
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