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Monday, September 10, 2007

LMS Conversation with Tracy Continues

This is a somewhat different experience for me. Tracy Hamilton and I are having a weird kind of slow, public conversation using our blogs. But it also feels like a reasonable way to do it - which makes it somehow even more weird. With that caveat -

You can find the beginning of the conversation and my list of Learning Management Systems (LMS) Gotchas.

In response Tracy just posted -LMS - I don't want to be Little Miss Should've. Among her points:
Gotcha #1...Unrealistic Expectation....okay maybe, this is a definite we'll see. I don't think we are aiming too high here.
Just because you aren't aiming high doesn't mean you and your stakeholders won't be disappointed in what you get. In fact, what seems like it should be really simple to do can sometimes be hard in an LMS. Especially if you don't configure things right from the start.
Gotcha #4 - Failing to Identify Key Differentiating Use Cases...I'm going to admit here....I'm not sure what this one means. I'm going to need some help clarifying this mistake.
Sorry - without the details that are in the report, it's a bit cryptic. A "Use Case" is an example of how a particular user will use the system. Tracy - you actually have the beginnings of some use cases when you say:
I really would just love something that is going to track our staff education (outside the organization), something to help with booking the internal courses, and something to launch and better yet marked the annoying core curriculum (still marking the paper ones from June).
You just would need to flesh these out a bit to tell us what you really mean when you say "track" and "booking" and "marking" - the verbs all indicate you want the system to do something for you. What exactly is that?

The other key aspect to the gotcha is "differentiating." When you go to select, what use cases are a bit different that will really make one LMS better for the use case than another. Most of your use cases will be quite normal and LMS products will generally do them the same.

Of course, this gotcha relates quite closely to the other gotchas. Without having the details of what people will be doing with the system (the use cases), you aren't really in position to test it, nor are you in position to have realistic expectations about how well the LMS will be able to handle those cases.

Tracy - I look forward to hearing more about your experience. And, your description of the process to get the LMS starting in 2003 will resonate with MANY (if not most) people in our field.

2 comments:

TRACY HAMILTON said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer me, yet again. Your responses here clarify everything a bit more. We do have some "Use Cases" in mind for the system and as you stated hopefully time will tell that we have not jumped in with both feet too far that we disappoint our stakeholders, users and admin.

Thanks again Tony for the help.
Tracy

Jody Baty said...

Another gotcha that I've run into more than once is the lack of integration with other systems in the enterprise. Institutions will typically run an LMS trial before purchasing. But this is usually limited to a few courses, maybe a hundred students, and a couple of faculty members. Everything goes great, and a purchase is made. Then September rolls around and there are thousands of students who are enrolling in hundreds of different courses. This too often turns into a nightmare.

Key systems you want to make sure your LMS can integrate with are:

* Student information system
* Synchronous learning tool
* HR System in the case of corporations
* Active directory or LDAP

It may be a bit of a stretch to find an LMS that integrates with all these systems out of the box. At the very least, the LMS should expose an XML-based API that allows for integration to take place if required.

Jody Baty
Lead Developer
my Curriculum Analysis Tools (myCATs)