Once you’ve finished building, testing, reviewing and refining your learning platform, you’re probably ready to take a year off work and watch as the users flood in and shower your efforts with praise. In an ideal world, this would be the case - but as we all know, it doesn’t quite work like that. There’s still more work to be done once the final configurations have been made and your learning management system is waiting in the wings, and this work can spell the difference between a roaring success and a learning platform that runs out of steam long before its time - if it ever gets off the ground in the first place.
So once you’ve chosen a new LMS, built it and are ready to release it to your users, how do you make sure they care about it as much as you do? These seven tips will ensure your learning platform launches with a bang, not a fizzle.
1. Keep an eye on your terminology
Anyone who works in learning technologies will know that the industry is a minefield of acronyms and jargon. LMS, SCORM, MOOC… there’s a lot to get your head around, and this is even more apparent for your users, who probably won’t know any of these terms. It helps to get into the habit of referring to your learning platform using the same terminology you want your learners to use, such as the name of the platform (‘Learning Hub’, ‘Development Zone’... 'MABLE' anyone?!) rather than calling it an LMS - put yourself on the same page as your users from the very start to make it crystal clear what they should be doing.
2. What data do you already have?
Many organisations have a wealth of information about their employees at their fingertips - but not all of it is ‘LMS friendly’ straight off the bat. Performing a data cleanup before you import data into your learning platform is crucial to ensure that you’re only working with the most up-to-date, accurate information. It will be much easier to maintain data if you start off in the right way than to rectify the issue once your LMS has already launched.
3. Be honest
Even with the best intentions, your learning platform won’t be the most exciting place for your employees to visit. Of course, it primarily exists to support your business goals, and you shouldn’t shy away from this. Be honest with your audience and tell them exactly why the LMS exists - but also be sure to emphasise the benefits they can get out of it. If you have learning paths set up for career development, open badges and certifications for ‘portable’ evidence of their skills or the ability to contribute to collaborative resources for recognition, now is the time to mention it.
4. Get the content in place
An LMS with one lonely piece of content isn’t going to inspire anyone. Before you launch, make sure you have plenty of resources to explore without overwhelming new users with too much choice. If you’re doing a phased launch, think about the first groups who will get access to the platform, and ensure that there is a good range of content for them to browse. It is also best practice to provide some ‘signposts’ to guide people towards the most relevant areas of the LMS when they first login - or even a user tour to help people navigate to the content they need.
5. Check and double check your IT infrastructure
Before you start inviting people to join your LMS, make absolutely sure that your IT infrastructure can support it. Check in with your IT team to ensure that all the devices used across the organisation will support the learning platform and everything on it for a smooth user experience. This means checking the bandwidth, browsers, firewall restrictions and everything else. For instance, it’s no good linking to YouTube videos if YouTube is blocked on your organisation’s network.
6. Make a clean break
If you think it’s tough getting people to engage with your learning management system, just try getting them to engage with two! If you’re migrating from a legacy system to a new learning platform, ensure you’ve mapped out the transition. Things like importing user data and content can happen behind the scenes, but in your communications, make it crystal clear when the old system will be switched off and the new one will be in action. Ideally, you will give your users some warning in case they have any questions about the transition prior to the switch.
7. Prepare your communications strategy
This is a crucial step that so many organisations just don’t consider. A multi-channel campaign is often the most successful - both online and offline. After the initial email, set up follow-up emails to drip feed content to learners and keep your new platform front of mind. You can also create banner graphics to promote your LMS on other systems (such as the intranet), or in email signatures in internal emails. A print campaign may comprise posters placed in prominent areas around the workspace, pull-up banners in social spaces and materials to sit on employees’ desks to act as a constant reminder to access learning. Including a short link or a QR code for easy access should help maintain engagement rates long after your official LMS launch date. Crowd-sourced content also keeps learners invested and involved in the success of your learning platform. A.G. Barr's solution by Learning Pool contained lots of internal marketing elements to keep the platform front of mind throughout the launch.
Ready to roll out your learning management system? Hopefully these tips will help you get off to a good start.