One of the things many people do not know about the infamous Beverly Hills is that there used to be a town crier (you know some dude dressed up in some coat with tails) who would welcome people as they drove into the area – specifically rodeo drive. 

I’m not sure if he is still there, I never pay attention as I zoom into the area – after all who has time to listen to some guy dressed in special garb, but I digress.

Anyway, he follows suit (no pun intended) of the old days of a such criers as you entered a variety of locations.  These folks provided all the day’s news, pronouncements and other talkative fare.  Yep, it was a sight to be seen (in my time warp machine).

Hear are my town crier announcements – from what a LMS needs today (and many offer it, but not all) to the downright – who is calling the shots here because they need a lesson on who are administrators.

Hear Ye – What your ol’ LMS might be missing

(Rings the bell)

Home Dashboard

I can never understand why not more LMS vendors have a home page for learners that lists some key items on it, rather than a veribage package that is overwhelmingly, or minimal details that are worthless.

I’m not talking about a tunnel page here, I’m talking about the home page when a learner enters the system.

It should contain at least some of the following (which can be turned on/off by the administrator)

  • Courses learner is registered for – I love the video blocks that some sites use, which are not limited to just video courses but also all types of courses or content
  • Ability to launch or enter course right on the home page
  • A calendar – ideally where a learner can hover over to see or register for events..a click to a larger calendar in the site is ideal
  • Search function
  • Course catalog area link – so they can click it and go a course catalog (if available)
  • Transcript (again, if available and again goes to an area that has the transcript)
  • Perhaps some type of social component or components
  • Course status – i.e. progress bar
  • Announcements
  • If you can post ads or video – then an area for that

As for capabilities

  • Ability to move around the blocks – think drag and drop
  • Ability to turn on/off blocks – if admin allows it
  • Ability to add widgets – if admin allows it

And a huge piece here

  • A very modern UI that is crisp, clean, visually stunning with appropriate colors – sure admin can change them if they want, but the UI as a whole should maintain this modern UI look

So what is the continuing issues in systems

  • Dated look – I mean some of the systems looks like they were built in the 1996 with those looks, this only does a disservice to the learner and also to your system. It looks like freeware. I mean I’ve seen shareware that looks better than quite a few systems.
  • Saturation of information – Let me tell you what that means to the learner. Sleep.. and trying to find where to enter their courses
  • Homepages that seem more oriented to the administrator than the learner

Hear Ye, Hear Ye – My name is “Administrator”

Just a quick piece here because it is quite simple to do.  Create a home dashboard for your administrator.  So, when they enter, key data with graphs and such is beneficial and admins tend to like it.

People want to see some immediate data, but their are a lot of systems who go right into tiles of information that the admin has to click to see the next steps of stuff, adding users, etc. – there are many systems that have an overabundance of info, that is just drains people.

Oh, and many admin sides are massively out dated.  And I mean bad in that case.

Hear Ye, Hear Ye CSS, everybody knows that right?

First off, if you (the vendor) thinks this was a great idea to put into your system, thinking that either the admin knows CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) or someone in IT does, then I must assume that this person was in charge of bringing about “New Coke”.

I just do not get it.  I consider myself super techie guy and I know HTML and some JavaScript. But CSS? Zero.  I also know IT/IS directors who do not even know any programming languages let alone CSS.  Oh and these guys work for a couple of Fortune 500 places as well as SMB.

When you think about it, it really isn’t part of their role to know programming languages and not even for some of their folks.  That would be like saying hey since you are an IT person, you must know all about our HRIS platform.  They don’t.

So, why would you stick CSS into the admin side of your LMS and think that the admin can do it, or even someone who is in IT/IS?  And for some LMS vendors the CSS is the only thing that enables the admin to change the colors, look/feel of the site, change tabs, etc.

I’ve also seen HTML too.  When you think of many administrators (and this is no slight intended), knowing even HTML is unlikely. Heck, most Training Directors, L/D folks and HR folks do not know HTML.

Also, in any SMB or even large companies it is not as simple as picking up the phone or e-mailing who is running IT and expect them to just jump out of their chair or send someone over to do this right now, let alone next week.

Maybe I am missing something.  Maybe these systems believe that their platform is open source and everyone knows coding and programming.  Because that is the only explanation for having this in their systems. 

Or they assume that folks will go out to Freelancer or eLance and hire some CSS expert to go into the LMS and do their magic.

Hear Ye, Hear Ye Big Data

If you are involved in talent management, HR tech, even L&D then you are probably aware of the term “Big Data”.  I recall looking at various TM systems as well as LMSs that have TM/PM functionality and never seeing any deep analytics nor ability to do any form of “Big Data”.

But last week, I actually found a LMS that does “Big Data” with all the bells and whistles that are a must to achieve it.  In its simplest terms, it an administrator to select various data fields and identify trends or in a longer sense creation of a longitudinal study.

For example, a client wanted a deeper dive on their employees as related to their degree, courses completed, years at the company, and location.

So they selected folks who had a B.A. degree, were from specific states in the Southern region, worked at the company for three years and attended an virtual class on sales along with a web based course on a specific sales topic.

End result?  Learners from Georgia had better sales than learners from the other states – Alabama, South Carolina and Florida. 

At a different company they wanted to know certain employee specifics as related to their TM platform and leadership development.

They identified employees who had scored high in their performance reviews in the accounting department, based in NY and MA, who had a MBA/ then a separate group  with a bachelor’s degree, and completed two courses tied to leadership growth. 

At the end of the day, they sought out the conclusion – the results. Specifically, did employees who have a MBA, retain the information longer than those without a MBA?

The result? After three months, learners who did not have a MBA retained the information longer than those who did.

Big Data to me is ideal for really drilling down more information – thus deeper analytics that will be of use to a L&D dept, HR folks and even a training dept.

For me, it would rock, because I am into statistics and dicing/slicing all types of data.  But not everyone is like that (why not? just kidding).  Thus having Big Data capabilities would not be of use, and could impact whether they either purchase a system that includes it or more importantly, use it.

Bottom Line

Town Criers used to be all the rage.  Heck, you could find them on every dirty town square in the world.

They had a purpose to identify the key facts of that day.

Something that some LMSs could use today.

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