Warren Kennard is a globally connected higher education professional and reformer with extensive...
Learning management system: migrating to a new one
It is highly likely that at some point your organisation will adopt a new Learning Management System (LMS) to improve its elearning courses. Or, at the very least in your career, you will probably be involved in an LMS migration. This migration can often be a stressful time for those who work in online learning. But at Oppida, we don’t think it needs to be. In addition to exceptional project management (which will be discussed in another blog) we have compiled our top 3 considerations that will help your elearning product maintain its quality and allow it the opportunity to even improve through the migration process.
1: Properly scope the learning design implications
LMS’s are all very different; a factor that is no doubt playing a large part of the reason you are moving to a new one. The way that content is structured in one won’t necessarily translate directly to the other’s learning environments. Therefore, having someone on the migration team who knows both systems and can provide best practice guidance on transferring and enhancing elearning content from one learning management system to another can prove vital.
Questions to ask when considering migrating your training programs and learning tools include:
- What elements of our current system do our students love? What do they always complain about?
- How is the learning environment navigation different?
- How do we get the most out of the new LMS platform’s functionality and analytics? What design changes will be needed to achieve this?
- How can we use this migration process to new LMS software to enhance or curate the teaching and learning content?
- How will online learning assessments now be submitted?
- If learners now have access to the content on their mobile what will it look like? How does the LMS offering respond to mobile devices?
For example: If moving from Moodle to Canvas, it is important to consider learner navigation as Canvas is set up to be quite linear. Depending on how your learners normally access content, you may need to build in additional navigational elements into pages and modules to ease the path of the students’ learning journeys. One of Oppida’s biggest beliefs lies in enhancing the learners’ experiences with elearning, and so the learning design of an online course should always reflect this in every aspect.
2: Learner experience and user’s workflow
Almost everyone in an organisation is affected by a new LMS, from your internal team through to the external learner. Therefore, everyone’s challenges need to be acknowledged and, in as many ways as possible, planned for.
Questions to ask about the external implications of your LMS migration on the online course users:
- How will the learners be invited into the online training/learning course?
- How will they log in?
- What will the learner see first (and, more importantly, what do you want them to view first)?
- How does your learning audience typically communicate with the online course facilitator? Is this method going to be the same in the new system? Will a new method need to be implemented?
- What alerts do you want learners to receive by email or mobile notification?
Internally, your learning designers, subject matter experts, tech team, and administrators will be directly affected by the change too.
Questions to ask about the internal implications on your online education stakeholders:
- What implications does this have for the internal team’s workflow? Will it make some things easier and some things harder? What balance is needed to be achieved to mitigate any additional complexity by the new LMS software?
- What business rules may need to be established to ensure consistency across the teams using the new learning management system?
- If using a cloud-based LMS, how will the analytic data be downloaded, managed, and analyzed?
- Who needs what level of access to what areas of the LMS platform?
For example: In Canvas, institutions have the opportunity to choose how a learner logs in. Typically, this can be either by a student number or the student’s email address. If your online learners are used to entering their emails then maybe think twice about changing this process. Your LMS administrators may cop a barrage of ‘I can’t log in’ complaints if you do!
3: Foundational processes of migrating to a new learning management system
At Oppida, we cannot stress enough the importance of creating clear and scalable business rules around how online learning content will be displayed. Not only does it make life easier for your learning designers, but it also can exponentially improve the learners’ experiences. These clear and scalable business rules can be implemented in the form of a style guide, migration guide or page/module layouts.
Consider for example:
- How will videos be uploaded and embedded? What tools will you use to integrate assets with your elearning course?
- Where are online content assets stored if using a cloud-based learning management system? How secure is the storage?
- What elements of consistency will always be provided in the learning journey (e.g., articles, sound bites, quotes, etc.)? Can a style guide be established for these?
- What terminology is in use to describe parts of the learning journey? Is an editing guide provided to those who need it?
For example: In most LMS’s, if you upload videos to the system and insert them into the content, it will often slow the page loading time significantly. It is always recommended to use a third-party cloud-based system to store videos and then embed the asset into the page that way. At Oppida, we love Wistia, Vimeo, and, if you are a large organisation, Panopto.
So, now what?
This article suggests a process which is just the starting point. An LMS migration can be quite complex, and so it is always recommended that it is a team decision and a team effort. Work together, keep the learner at the centre of all your decisions, and always look at ways to establish a best practice process to save time in the future. You will thank your past self for it later!
Keen to learn more about Oppida? Discover the motivation behind our company’s inception, our founder’s values, and how we can help you in our previous blog post here.