Learning Items in SkillBuilder® LMS: An Instructional Designer’s Dream

Shauna Carson

Have you ever wanted to design a training program, but were limited to the capabilities of your LMS? Or has your LMS had the functionality, but you've been in a bit of a design rut, not sure how to branch away from typical online delivery of training? Well, SkillBuilder® LMS may be the answer you're looking for.

This article will discuss the many ways SkillBuilder® LMS can accommodate an instructional designer's dream scenarios. It will identify what we refer to as Learning Items and describe how you can incorporate them into various Learning Paths for your learners to complete.

What is a Learning Item?

In order to provide multiple ways for learners to acquire knowledge and skills, we've identified and developed a collection of learning, evaluation and recognition items, called Learning Items. Each Learning Item represents a piece of knowledge, a skill, a course, a test, or a training requirement that learners must complete.

What's great about Learning Items is they allow instructional designers to incorporate all types of learning activities into a training program and deliver (and manage) learning in a single LMS. For example, you could include documentation that learners must download and read, a SCORM- or Tin Can-compliant online course, a video, a resource on the web, and an exam all in a single learning path. It's not just online learning!

Let's take a closer look at the different Learning Items available to you:

Learning Items

  • Downloads: The downloadable document Learning Item allows you to provide an individual document or series of documents as a reference to your learners. These documents could be informational, procedural, or they could be actual manuals. The downloads Learning Item can also be used for distributing job-aids or resources that will help learners be successful on-the-job.
  • Learning Journal: Learning journals allow learners to record their thoughts as they work through their training program. They are a great way to encourage your learners to think and reflect on their learning.
  • Online Lesson: An online lesson Learning Item is what we would think of as eLearning. It is the ability to attach an eLearning course and provide or make it available to a learner as one of the items along a learning path.
  • Practice Exam: It’s important to set your learners up for success. The practice exam Learning Item can be used as a pre-test, allowing learners to determine their level of knowledge prior to completing their training, or as a practice assessment before they complete their final exam. It allows learners to make mistakes and learn in a safe environment.
  • Seminar: Yup, seminars can 100% be managed online. Many organizations incorporate blended approaches, so having the ability manage registration and attendance is important. You can add the seminar Learning Item into a path with other learning activities, so learners can visually see what is required of them.
  • URL: A URL Learning Item gives you the ability to link outside the application to the internet to access specific content. There are a couple of ways to use URLs; you can choose to bring it into the application or have the link open in a separate window. This is a great feature if your training program includes video. Simply upload your video to a hosting site (Vimeo, YouTube, etc.) and include the link using this Learning Item.
  • Webinar: Webinars, that is, seminars that are conducted over the internet, are a great way to engage with your audience wherever and whenever works best for them. The webinar Learning Item allows you to upload pre-recorded webinars, or schedule upcoming live webinars, which you can then upload so learners can review it or access it after the original session.

Evaluation Items

  • Assignment: It’s often difficult to incorporate graded assignments into an online course. The assignment Learning Item allows you to ask learners to complete a task, such as create a video, write an essay, etc. and upload their responses for grading by an evaluator.
  • External Qualification: An external qualification Learning Item is used if you want to recognize individuals who have completed training/certificate programs from an external vendor or other organization. After completing an external course, the learner can bring their certificate to their supervisor or LMS administrator who would then upload their proof of completion into the LMS. This allows learners to get full recognition for completing training that happens outside of your organization. Remember, learning happens all the time, not just at work.
  • Online Exam: This Learning Item is a robust, enterprise level online exam environment allowing the LMS administrator to structure online exams using a full blueprint with multiple categories and characteristics for each of the test items within the online test. There is a lot of flexibility on how you can set up the test, with different types of test options including multiple choice, true/false, downloadable file and short answer. Further attributes can be assigned to each of the questions in the test to allow for ordering, random delivery, or percentage delivery.
  • Practical Evaluation: The practical evaluation Learning Item can be used if a learner must demonstrate a particular skill. This takes the form of an on-the-job evaluation. Organizations often use a document or skill check to assess the leaner to a specific standard. This document can be signed and uploaded into the LMS.

Recognition Items

  • Certificate of Completion: Recognizing employees for their training efforts is beneficial to your organization. It not motivates employees, but also encourages positive behaviors. At the completion of learning, learners are awarded a certificate of completion, which you can customize to match the look and feel of your organization.
  • Open Badges: Open Badges are verifiable, portable digital badges with embedded metadata awarded to recognize learning, skills and achievements. When a learner completes a Learning Path associated with a badge, they can download the badge, post it to social media and/or upload it to their Backpack or Open Badge Passport.

learning-items Recognition Items (not shown here) are automated and awarded to learners upon the completion of their training requirements.

Why are multiple Learning Items important?

At the core of adult learning theory is the notion of self-concept: "as a person matures, their self-concept moves from one of being a dependent personality toward one of being a self-directed human being". This allows adult learners to take part in directing their own learning, requiring instructional designers to provide options and flexibility in how learning is completed. It's equally important to remember that people's learning preferences vary, and learning can happen in many ways.  The Learning Items identified above address this challenge and equip you with ways to create training and offer flexibility.

Additionally, mixing and matching these items helps keep a training program fresh. Nothing demotivates a learner more than the same old training, presented in the same old way. Challenge your learners, think outside the box, and see the benefits.


The next time you are creating a training program, use these Learning Item types as a blueprint for your design. Learning doesn't just need to be packaged in an online course or in a classroom, and true blended learning uses a variety of approaches. However, you also need to ensure that your LMS can support your design and it can be frustrating when it doesn't; It takes all the creativity out of your design when your only option is an online course. Ready to take your training to the next level? SkillBuilder® LMS can help.

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Shauna Carson

Shauna graduated from the University of Toronto in 2002 with a Master of Arts in English before moving home to Calgary to work in the fast-paced, detail-oriented oil and gas industry. Now certified as a technical writer, Shauna is comfortable writing in a variety of styles, and for a variety of audiences.