Relationships with our Learning Management Systems (LMS) are not all that different from our romantic relationships. We spend time evaluating features and taking systems on a series of dates until we commit to the one that seems to meet our needs. We make a big splash at the beginning, introducing everyone involved and investing time to get things off on the right track.
Once the honeymoon phase is over, things settle in and the relationship becomes part of our day-to-day lives. Unfortunately for some of us, little things you were able to overlook initially become annoying issues. For some, restlessness sets in that can result in looking for something new and exciting. Then comes the end of an LMS contract, a change of staffing, or just “time” to do an LMS review.
It’s not that the LMS evaluation process is a bad thing; quite the contrary. A good review process is helpful in refocusing and reminding everyone involved of the priorities and chance to make some positive changes. However, the unfortunate side, is that too many times it seems easier to walk away and start fresh with a new LMS relationship.
Before you throw away your learning platform investment, consider these 5 ways to rekindle the LMS relationship.
1. Take the opportunity to gather feedback.
There are most likely things that could use improvement, and many times it’s the minor things that cause the most agitation. Work with your institutional research team or a faculty member who works on survey construction to help create a survey instrument to gather feedback. You can also set up some focus groups to let people talk, but remember to have set questions to keep the conversation constructive.
Lastly, consider running some usability studies. If you’ve never done this, it’s fascinating to see how everyone navigates the site and accomplishes their tasks in different ways. Use all of this feedback collectively to see where improvements can be made.
2. Change up your look.
While there is always something comfortable about sticking closely to the familiar, selecting a new theme or making updates to the one you have is a way to help things feel fresh and new. Use the information collected from the surveys, focus groups, and usability testing to make data-driven decisions about changes to the front page and user dashboard. Consider ways to remove clutter while still providing easy access to the most common resources through your course design.
3. Re-Implementation – Renew your vows.
Throw a big party; make a big splash. There is value in going back to the beginning and creating the same excitement you can experience if you were changing to a new LMS. Pick a target date for the re-implementation and develop a campaign—have a communication strategy, offer some high-level demos and more in-depth training sessions. Get power users involved in presenting at brown bag events or speaking at a webinar about specific ways they use the LMS and its associated tools.
4. Consider a change of hosting situation.
To continue to use analogies, be careful that you are not “throwing the baby out with the bath water.” Often we hear from people that their experience with Moodle was less than stellar – it crashed, was slow, looked terrible, was hard to manage, etc. Consider that these attributes have little to do with Moodle as an LMS, and everything to do with your hosting environment. If you’re self-hosting or with a Moodle partner, and they’re not meeting your current needs consider a change of provider, not your LMS.
5. Evaluate your whole technology ecosystem.
What you were able to do 5, 10, or even just 3 years ago has probably changed drastically. Think holistically about your learning strategy. What are you doing for account creation and authentications? Are course creations and enrollments automated in real-time? (If not, talk to us at eThink!) Are there external tools for proctoring, video streaming, retention, and analytics you could better integrate into the LMS?
And don’t stop at the tools. Think about who is involved in the learning strategy beyond teachers, students, and instructional designers. Consider librarians, accessibility specialists, student support staff, academic coaches, institutional researchers, extra-curricular program manager. Remember Moodle has a flexible set of permissions allowing you to create appropriate roles and access to enable these and others to participate in activities going on within the LMS.
Sometimes, like in any relationship, you simply need to take a step back and focus on areas where you can improve. Your relationship with your LMS is no different. Take the time to assess where you stand with your learning strategy and consider simple changes that can help strengthen your relationship with your LMS.
Your learning platform, especially if you’re using Moodle or even Totara, is capable of growing with you and adapting to meet your changing needs. Instead of simply “calling it quits” and deciding to start over with a new platform, protect the time you’ve already invested in your LMS and take these 5 steps to rekindle your love of the LMS you’re with.