Types of Content to Integrate into Your LMS: How can you boost your strategy to better engage today’s learners?
There is a misconception that a learning management system (LMS) can only support online learning. Although this is true for some platforms, most LMSs now support multiple types of learning activities. This is an important feature because people learn differently, they like options, and content isn't always delivered in one format.
This article will identify the different types of content that you can integrate into your LMS and explain how, by doing this, you can boost your training strategy and more effectively engage learners.
Within an LMS, learning can be organized into two categories:
- Learning activities: Your learning content, delivered in various formats. This can include, but is not limited to online lessons, downloadable documents, learning journals, seminars, webinars, videos, and URLs.
- Evaluation activities: How you are going to assess learners to ensure that they are competent. Examples of evaluation activities (or items) include: practice tests, assignments, external qualifications, online exams, and practical evaluations.
Remember that information can be disseminated in various ways, and you want to ensure that your LMS supports all of the different ways people can learn and be evaluated. Let's review some of the learning and evaluation activities identified above, beginning with the one most associated with an LMS -- online lessons.
An online lesson is a course or module, delivered via the Internet through your computer or mobile device, that can be conveniently accessed anytime, anyplace. The advantages of offering online lessons as part of your learning strategy include added flexibility, convenience, and cost savings. They also allow you to reach a geographically diverse audience more effectively.
Online lessons are generally easy to upload into your LMS, however, you need to ensure that they are saved in a file format that is compatible with the LMS. Most platforms support SCORM and Tin Can file types.
Sometimes the easiest way to disseminate information to your learners is by handing them a manual or a document to read. A downloadable document learning item allows for an administrator to attach any number of documents that may be wanted as reference. Having the ability to upload these types of resources to your LMS, and assign them to a learner in a learning path to download and complete, is a handy feature. It not only allows everyone to electronically store important documents, but also conveniently access them when needed.
A learning journal is "a collection of notes, observations, thoughts, and other relevant materials built-up over a period of time", usually relevant to learning and/or work experiences. Having the ability to include a learning journal in a learning path has many benefits. It not only allows learners to reflect on their learning journey, but, on completion, provides a good set of notes that they can return to at any time. Research even shows that including reflection-based activities in your training program improves transfer, meaning that a learner is more likely to remember what he/she learned and apply it back on-the-job. If this feature interests you, look for an LMS that supports learning journals.
Seminars and Webinars
Just because an LMS stores and delivers content online, doesn't mean that you can't include seminars and webinars in your learning program. A seminar is a synchronous, face-to-face workshop usually held in a classroom. Webinars are also synchronous, but occur online using a web conferencing technology. Webinars can also be pre-recorded and uploaded to your LMS at a later date.
Many organizations adopt blended learning approaches, meaning that they offer both eLearning and in-class training sessions. Blended learning is beneficial because it improves efficiencies, saves money, and personalizes learning. For example, before someone attends a workshop, you might require them to complete an online course, which introduces them to key concepts. This allows the workshop facilitator to go beyond the basics.
Ultimately, you want to be able to manage all of this activity in your LMS. Your application should allow you to set up seminars and webinars, manage enrolment, and track attendance. It can become a nightmare if you're having to manage your eLearning content in one place while your offline content is somewhere else.
Videos and URLs
Microlearning, or offering bite-sized chunks of content, is becoming a norm in corporate training. Therefore, providing videos and access to quick links or URLs are great strategies to incorporate into your learning program. A URL learning item offers the ability to link outside the application to the Internet to access specific content. There are a couple of ways to use URLs. One is to bring it into the application and the other is to provide a link that opens in a separate window. Both approaches work, so you'll need to decide what works best for your learners, and make sure that your LMS can support these delivery mechanisms.
Practice Tests and Assignments
How you evaluate your learners is just as important as deciding how you will deliver your content. Including practice tests, for example, allows your learners to practice what they've learned and make mistakes in a safe environment. Similarly, having learners complete an assignment and upload it to your LMS for grading provides instructors/facilitators with a good idea of how well the content is being digested. For more information on creating effective eLearning assessments, check out Christopher Pappas's article, where he provides seven awesome tips.
External Qualifications and Practical Evaluations
An external qualification can be used to identify an external vendor or organization who provides training or offers some type of certification useful to your employees. Once a learner completes the external qualification, they would bring that certification in the form of a certificate or document that could be uploaded into your LMS. This allows you to easily manage and recognize individuals for completing training that happens outside of your organization.
A practical evaluation, which usually takes the form of an on-the-job evaluation, can be used if you require learners to physically demonstrate a skill. Organizations often use a document or skill check to assess the learner to a specific standard. This document can then be signed and uploaded into your LMS.
Both of these approaches have the potential to engage your learners if used effectively. We know that adults prefer flexibility when it comes to learning. Therefore, allowing them to take courses or complete a certification outside of your organization can be an exciting option for them. Furthermore, some jobs simply require that your employees demonstrate that they can perform certain skills. You want to make sure that your LMS can support these evaluation activities.
Having a robust online environment allows you to effectively evaluate your learners directly within your LMS. It also enables learners to conveniently access tests/quizzes and receive immediate feedback. Furthermore, you'll be amazed at the amount and type of data you can generate from an online exam. Not only will you be able to assess how well your learners comprehend a subject, but you'll also be able to determine how well a question is being answered, and tweak your training appropriately. Sometimes, if everyone is getting the same question wrong, it means that it's a bad question.
Choose an LMS that will allow your administrators to easily upload whatever question formats you like, from multiple-choice to long-answer, complete the phrase, match question and answer, or file upload.
As this article demonstrates, there are many ways to integrate different types of content into your LMS and further engage your learners. Consider including downloadable documents, online lessons, videos, access to content on the Internet, learning journals and/or offering webinars and seminars. Also think about how you might evaluate your learners. Options include online exams, assignments, external qualifications and/or practical evaluations.
Now that you have learned a little more about the types of content you can integrate into your LMS, take some time to explore the different features of SkillBuilder® and ask yourself how you can deliver the best version of training for your organization.
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Jill is an Instructional Designer at BaseCorp Learning Systems with more than 10 years of experience researching, writing and designing effective learning materials. She is fascinated by the English language and enjoys the challenge of adapting her work for different audiences. After work, Jill continues to leverage her professional experience as she works toward the development of a training program for her cats. So far, success has not been apparent.