The good news is that if you are involved in a project to implement a new LMS, you have many resources available. A little bit of exploration will reveal blog sites that write about learning, podcasts that talk about it, and a variety of organizations that publish research on the topics of learning and LMS selection.
Some of this information is vendor-biased, which is not always a bad thing. Some provide reviews and analysis focused on the LMS market and specific reviews of LMS products. Some are learning specific, but mention LMS topics on occasion.
One of the more interesting aspects of this wealth of information is that you now have the ability to download or access several different learning management systems. While these may not be your final candidates, they do allow you to open up and play with something you may never have seen before.
One of the things I say to my students is true in business organizations as well. While your project (or class) is active, you should be reading a little bit every day to build your background, the depth of your knowledge, and your mental model of the topic.
By the way, with all the information I am about to present it might be helpful to restate that my narrow interest here is in helping you define what you need to do before you actually start to do it.
In the first chapter in this section, I will explore a variety of written, spoken, and broadcast resources that can build your topic knowledge and mental model. Highlights include the Association for Talent Development, or ATD, and the eLearning Guild websites, which contain much useful information in just about all forms, and those sites will be explored to point out some very useful resources. Other websites such as John Leh’s Talented Learning Blog, provide a wealth of information about specific learning platforms and vendors. Over the course of this chapter, we will explore these and many additional resources that will make you the expert on all things LMS.
In the second chapter, you’ll delve into the very practical skills needed to evaluate an LMS. I think I can say with a high degree of certainty that learning to drive an LMS is a lot like learning to drive a car. Until you actually get behind the wheel, you will not really know how it feels. Fortunately, there are several different “live” systems that can either be loaded locally on your PC or which provide logons to sandboxes within the system that will allow you to touch, feel, and experiment with features, capabilities, and usage. Two systems that we will explore in depth in this upcoming chapter will be Moodle and Ilias. Both are open source, and while they may not be your final choice for a system, they will provide a working environment to explore and to learn. By the time this chapter is completed, we will use each of these systems to add users, classes, and content which will give you a feel for how the system works, and how that might differ from how you work.
So that’s it. We now have an outline and a fairly robust list of topics in an order that I believe reveals them in a way that builds a useful mental model of the underlying systems and processes. In future entries, I will be adding details that bring us to the business of building the topic by topic guide.