For a while now, my colleagues wanted me to give them pointers on questions to ask of their clients when helping them identify a Learning Environment/Learning Management System. I consider the below questions critical for repeated success. Repeated success is assured once you identify the client’s needs and the outcomes the business would like to achieve.
- Goals: What are the learning/teaching/training goals of the client? This will impact not only the course design but also the choice of LMS-e.g only self-paced, hybrid, totally facilitated (virtually ofcourse when talking about a Learning Environment/LMS).
- Nos. of Users: How many learners/students does the customer expect over the next 2-3 years?
- Nos. of Courses: How many different courses and cohorts do you expect over the next year or two?
- Source of the Content: Ask for the source of all their content, and not just what you are producing or designing for them i.e. produced in-house, or bought from other vendors as well.
- Ask what would be the revision cycle for the content. You will want to gauge how easy will it be on the LMS you recommend, and how will your LMS vendors take that change? There will be a minimal cost or sometimes even a significant cost associated with it.
- See if the customer would like to bring additional content onto the LMS.
- Ask for their go-live date. Critical information in case of customizations.
- Ask for need of an auto-generated certificate.
- Determine the design of the course or curriculum that needs to go onto the LMS at the outset. That will also determine the choice. If there are more than course/curriculum understand design of all.
- Ask if customer needs language support beyond English.
- Does the LMS need to be SCORM compliant? If customer is not informed on SCORM, recommend SCORM compliant content, and SCORM 1.2 for now. Only a few LMSs are SCORM 2004 compliant.
- What would you like to track? E.g start/finish/in progress, grades ( which activities), time spent in the program, time spent on an activity, peer-peer interaction (assuming the LMS has those features of social learning) and time spent by coach or mentor
- How robust should the management reporting capability be? Worry about this a lot when they start talking of integration with People soft, CRM software and the likes.
- Check for any other IT systems integration requirements. Sometimes the customer may not realize the need for it until you start asking them questions around enrollment process, grade passing process into a MIS etc.
- Check importance of security of content, and user data. Will determine preference for Software as a service (SAAS) or on-site hosting of LMS.
- Determine if they have administration and management personnel, or you need to provide that service?
Finally, hear very closely their aspirations to include social learning. Not all LMSs have all the features to facilitate social learning per your client’s vision. Again, make all effort to penetrate the invisible layer.