I love EdTech. Let me be more precise: I love figuring out solutions to educational and business imperatives, through EdTech. Guides and deep dives on features are essential in a decision-making process. But it is only the “orchestration” that makes the value of an LMS tangible. From the first prototype or pilot of the solution, harmony should be at least a check in the box.
LMSPulse is not a provider of LMS services. But that does not stop the steady drop of LMS inquires coming on our inbox. An unexpected, and very welcome part of the job has become to play “EdTech match-maker.” (Keep’em coming!)
So today I thought it would be fun to make this an open challenge. For privacy reasons the request below will have some variations on the specifics. But the requirements are all in there. The challenge, ultimately, is to find the optimal mix of technology and pedagogy that maximizes outcomes and keeps ROI or costs in line.
Tips to find optimal solutions
Elearning consultants face formidable challenges. Friends seem like foes and vice versa. Solutions can outmatch each other without us realizing. We risk recommending the familiar over the best possible option. Not that it’s the professional’s fault not to always be in the know. A company that invests in SEO over its own product can rise above without telling much about what it does. (At least Quizizz gives me some idea, but what on earth is a Nearpod?) Feature sheets are never pleasing on neither form nor content. Google is easy to game and more frustrating every day. Communities can be a great ally, as long as you are willing to bond an be a net positive. Rating and reviews sites are, to say the least, imperfect.
There are probably better methods out there, but here’s what it has worked for us so far:
- Begin with the LMS. Rule them out until you find 2 or 3 you are willing to spend some time on.
- Find complementary tools and apps. Populate and refine your toolkit over time.
- Completely master each and every one of the features and setups. Become one with your EdTech. As reasonably as possible, of course.
- Explore your toolkit on real settings and keep up with the development roadmap of each apps. Study the docs, dwell in the forums.
- Take a look at what competitors are doing on a feature-by-feature basis. Ask what it would take for your chosen app to do it. Then ask that question under a cost-benefit perspective.1
- If other apps seems to be consistently outperforming, it might be time to switch sides. Remember: Your goal is your students’, nothing else.
- Remain as agnostic as possible. Play devil’s advocate against your own judgement regularly.
Challenge № 001
The client provides highly specialized training to a vertical of skill and seniority levels in the field, encompassing countries and languages. Adapted to an airport-heavy diet for in-person workshops, the training team finds itself stuck at home for the foreseeable future. Thus, online learning is the order of business, but they aren’t sure if they have ever touched an LMS. The nerdiest one in the all-nerds team had a reasonable grasp of what LMS do before a few weeks ago. But as of now, they do have a level of expertise to rely on, and a vast but relatively clear learning path.
- Given the urgency of the subject matter, their training is aimed to inform the everyday practice of their learners as quickly as possible.
- Same courses and subject matters must be taught in several languages simultaneously.
- The level of education and digital skills of the students is all over the place. The demographics is people over 18 with a job, but there seems little segmentation beyond that. (Or a great opportunity for segmentation?)
- Something similar goes for internet and mobile device access. The project stakeholders agree on the risky assumption that all learners have a smartphone running Android 5.0 or the latest iOS.
- Among the educational outcomes, each participant must create a charter project, directly tied to the vertical skill.
Read my answers. Can you do better?
- A mix of Moodle and H5P will be the basis for a fine-tuned, mobile-first, data intensive approach. This will prove critical to deliver on the key requirements:
- Multi-language (langpacks) make the LMS interface available in a variety of languages.
- Course contents must still be developed for each language. Techniques like automatic language detection (the user can still override the default) and multi-language content filters can ensure students only find content that speaks to them, literally.
- Automated reporting through the use of custom ad-hoc queries scheduled.
- Use of the Moodle App and its offline capabilities.
- An open source, secure video conference platform installed on a separate server.
- Mobile-first learning design: In practice, it means things like short texts in formats that allow for adjustable font sizes, emphasis on video or audio in short bursts, a general emphasis on micro-learning, etc.
- Interactive video, Hotspots, Drawing are examples of simple, interactive H5P activities. Other plugins or even social media integrations can also be considered, at various levels of depth. (The number of people who live on Facebook and are more aware of it than of the internet itself is in the billions. If we can’t beat them…)
- Social learning and “Mastery method“: Peer-to-peer feedback or evaluation, and team-based exercises are common practice. Novel ideas with promising effects include requiring or encouraging activities that involve providing help or advice to others.
- Plagiarism\Authenticity: Moodle offers an array of plugins that might come in handy.
What do you think? How could this development plan be improved, or its costs optimized? Looking forward to hear your thoughts!
- Speaking of which, I found this very enlightening video illustrating why Adobe is able to get away with charging upwards of $10,000 USD on software fees every year for a team of 5 or 6. Spoiler alert: It’s all about the cost-benefit!