Richard Kordel | Guest Blogger

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LMS Categorization Approaches

LMS Categorization Approaches

In the last entry we took a look at naming conventions for learning management systems (LMS) and how your LMS might look after sorting your training library into four categories: job function, delivery mechanism, technical requirements, and required vs. elective training. This time, I would like to start with a similar idea, but perform the separation or categorization approach according to some of the distinctions that relate to job functions.

What type of work does a particular class address? What kind of workers? Some different categories of training that you might note here are sales training, product technical training, internal computer system training, or training in the safe handling of factory equipment. Each of these categories is going to combine a number of different types of materials and different instructional requirements which will help you define what you need from any prospective LMS.

Start with sales training: While this catch-all phrase seems so clear and self-explanatory, it actually covers several different types of training, all of which have different requirements.

  • Are you training newly hired salespeople who need to learn a company sales philosophy and approach? Does this philosophy exist as a book that they must read? When students enroll in the course, will the LMS care for ordering or shipping the book (or any other required materials) to them? Is there a PDF that is sent to them that they can print once they are enrolled? Where is it stored? How will you assess your students after the class? Is that tool part of the class and a linked item in the LMS entry? One of the critical things that is often tied to classes like this is whether students will keep their jobs. If you are forced to let someone go because they “don’t get it,” is your LMS record keeping robust enough to stand up to a potential lawsuit?
  • Are you introducing a new customer resource management tool to your sales staff? If this tool is computerized, then you will need to ensure that students either bring their own computer to class or have the class in a computer room. Is the software installed? If not, who installs software in your company? How will they find out about this class and what needs to be done to prepare? Is there a sandbox that the students can play in, or are you entering data into the live system (and does the entire supply chain panic for 30 minutes every time you hold class?) How much of this is (or can be) managed through the LMS?
  • Are you presenting a new product or family of products? This is so often labeled as “sales training” that I will not try to fight it here, but simply ask what products you need to show. Will a slide deck work, or do you normally have a working model available in class? Where does this come from and can the order or a prerequisite for the order be part of the LMS entry for the class?

A worksheet that lists the various requirements that you need to track for each class you offer will be helpful. On this worksheet, list all the things that “just happen” before a class can take place. For example, for Sales Training, you will need to schedule the sales staff to be in one place and out of the field for the requisite time. What reminds you to do this? You should also think about other people who might need to be involved to deliver a consistent message, such as the Vice President of Sales. Does the LMS have some mechanism that will allow you to do this type of scheduling?

For product technical training, when you introduce a new product, you are probably going to need a couple of different classes. One will be for existing sales staff who already know the product line but need to know where this new product will fit. Another will be for newly hired sales staff who will need to build a mental model of the product line from scratch. Can this training be re-sequenced or restructured so one development effort can be targeted at multiple populations? What requirements does the delivery of this training put on the training staff and does the LMS contain those requirements?

Next time we will continue to slice and dice the various training categories.

One final word, I am not suggesting that there is one, ultimate, perfect LMS solution for your needs - one that does everything I have been outlining. The reason for this exercise is to help identify and define your existing training processes before you start talking to LMS vendors so that you have a good picture of what you need to do as opposed to what the various systems will allow you to do.

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