Choosing an Online Learning (Training) Platform-Key Questions to Ask
In order to choose a proper, relevant online learning (training) platform for learning/training needs, for educational purposes (Schools in particular and Educational institutions in specific), companies in the corporate sector – must evaluate on what the platform will be used for, who will use it, when, and under what conditions.
To help determine which online training platform best suits your requirements, here are a few important questions to find answers, to evaluate better:
Q: How many people will use the platform? How many people will access it simultaneously?
A: This question will affect the configuration of servers to host your online training platform. The higher the number of students who will access simultaneously, the bigger the capacity you should hire.
Q: Is the requirement a multi-language online training platform?
A: Almost all the platforms offered today in the market allow multi-language options, not all of them do it in the same way:
- Some are more flexible and allow a language version to have different content, features, and profiles than in another language version, while others only allow clone structures where the only thing that varies is the language in which the information is displayed.
- If offices are in different countries and each country has a training model adapted to local needs, it is possible that the simple model will not cover expectations.
- Aspects such as the publication of different content and courses, assigning different roles to the same profiles depending on the country of origin, or the ability to create content that is visible only in one language and not for the rest are details to put the focus on when analyzing the multi-language option of a new platform.
A multi-language platform is not necessarily a “translator” platform. The platform, unless it is hired with translated content included, usually allows courses and materials in different languages to be loaded, but usually, it comes empty.
Q: Does the platform be accessible from mobile devices and tablets?
A: Consider the new platform to be “responsive” (ie, that it fits the screen format of any device) and having a mobile app to access the platform which will have the advantage of offering access to training from anywhere and at any time even when one does not have internet access.
Q: Does the platform need multiple access profiles defined?
It is crucial to define the individual profiles that will have access to the online training platform.
For example Will there be a definite platform for administrators, course tutors, students, managers of students, training managers in the company, HR managers, community managers, external collaborators, technical support, student care center..?
Q: Will each profile have different permits and functions assigned?
A: Do a complete map of roles (from the essential to the desirable, through the recommended ones) and define which profile has to perform each role in the tool.
A possible format is to create a crosstab, where one places tasks or roles on an axis and access profiles on another axis, so that one can see at a glance which profiles do what and if there are overlapping roles (same roles accessible by different profiles).
At times, the same function is essential for a profile and only desirable for another (for example, to register a student in the platform can be essential for a manager, but only desirable for the profile of a direct boss). The definition of these priorities will make it easier when it comes to giving up certain features of an online training platform according to budget constraints, or to determine in what order functionalities should be incorporated if one has to adapt to a platform development at different stages.
Q: Will the data need to be uploaded on the new online training platform?
A: It is imperative to have an electronic record of employees in the company to ensure that the platform allows training aspects to be assigned with ease. Digital is recommended for long-distance companies that have a lot of information traceability of their employees accumulated over time.
Q: Will learners need people accessing the platform from outside the office (for Corporates)?
A: Cloud platform usually becomes handy in such circumstances. If a company has to train external employees or providers, commercial networks, this is apt.
Then again, data protection in the country of operating to that where the company is registered could differ, and hence abiding by the laws is a must.
Q: What additional training tools need to be included in an Online Training Platform?
A: Many tools can be incorporated into the platform, as an enhancement, besides the basics of a course repository. Each tool performs a specific function.
If the requirements is:
- to need a virtual classroom that allows webinars, online tutorials, or video conferencing between dispersed teams
- to allow the creation of online courses with authoring tools
- a system of instant messaging that is programmable to send messages to groups of students if certain conditions occur (For example, sending a welcome message to group 1 a week before the course starts)
- Will you need a social network where students can create discussion groups, invite others to participate, or post comments on the “wall” of other students
It is important to define the needs of the company before choosing what to include on the platform, to avoid being dazzled by functionalities that after increasing the initial investment, then fall into disuse and subtract response time in the daily use of the platform.
Q: Does the data monitoring on the learning platform compatible with other pre-existing monitoring tools that are already in use (within the company)?
A: Depending on the size of the company, it is possible that one may be keeping track of data in different verticals (finance, sales, product, etc.).
It may be necessary to cross certain data (for example, an increase of the number of sales related to the number of sales techniques courses taught to commercial staff from a certain date), or the results in project implementation and customer satisfaction based on training provided to project managers by geographical area. For this control information and to perform an analysis of big data with cross data, the platform must ensure that it communicates well and in real-time with the monitoring tools which are already in use. Otherwise, getting these reports will involve a huge amount of manual work that will subtract agility to data, as one will obtain the reports, days after the analyzed event.
Q: Does the platform allow one to perform global management training?
A: A few Online Learning platforms only allow the delivery of courses.
A few steps such as detection of training needs, budget allocation, content creation, events publishing, assignment of students, cost control, allocation of tutors, classroom management, materials management are not covered, usually. These are more important if the requirements intend to manage face-to-face or mixed (blended) training from the platform, not just online training.
Making sure that all these steps are included in the platform, which is needed to remain in control.
Q: How to track the use of the learning platform and use of the courses (within)?
A: There are several issues to consider for:
- Do you need to obtain global or local data?
- Comprehensive data, or data obtained by department or by employee position?
- Will you need a real-time response?
- Will you be required to track the profitability of courses based on the cost of content creation, delivery, and monitoring and the number of sessions and assistants?
- Will you do socio-demographic monitoring of the use of the courses? (What interests them most to younger profiles, what to seniors, what to men or women, which to residents in different geographical locations)
Each type of report generated may have some implications of development on the platform.
Q: Does the platform want to apply gamification?
A: To motivate employees to get trained and not to leave the courses before completion, it is possible to use the gaming methodology in training:
- Choose a platform that allows the allocation of badges that divide the training pathways into levels of increasing difficulty, which encourages both competition and cooperation among employees, to manage the achievement and recognition of achievement and apply different easy to identify prizes depending on the level of participation and engagement in the platform or the course.
The use of avatars that are improving their characteristics throughout the course in terms of achievements is an example of this allocation of awards recognizable by other students involved in the same training course.
Q: Does the Online Learning Platform have a requisite to include a Social Environment?
A: Today’s platforms allow students to have an active (not only passive) participation during online learning:
- This means they can not only be creators of content for other students, publishing information, documents, reports, analysis, etc. that they can share with others
- In addition, a social environment allows users to assess the contributions of others by posting comments and opinions, generating a debate on professional issues the employees themselves choose as priorities.
Incorporating social enhances the exchange of information between employees located in different departments or different locations, encouraging the participation of multidisciplinary and multicultural teams.
Q: Is the primary requirement, having a customized online training platform, or is it to get adapted to a pre-existing platform?
- Having an own platform might guarantee that the functionality will be tailored to your needs over time. However, a customized development involves a greater investment of time, resources, and money. Its use is immediate since the signing of the license agreement and you will always have the freedom to change providers in the future, as the disbursement is made equal only to the service received and you will have no need to amortize the investment.
- On the other hand, predefined platforms typically offer their customers the opportunity to receive regular updates, although it is true that often these updates are performed according to general market studies and will not respond to your specific needs.
To choose an existing platform, it is highly recommended to request for a demo and then to use it for a couple of weeks and ensure you do the preliminary tests, to verify that the platform meets your requirements, such as:
- Check that all the profiles can be configured and can perform tasks marked as priority
- Let the platform undergo a stress test, with the maximum possible simultaneous accesses or massive user or data loads, to verify its limits
- Check the system security. Involve the technical team to fetch advice
- Let prospective students use it to check its usability:
- Is it intuitive?
- Is it easy to use?
- Do they come to a fornix end and do not know how to follow?
- Do they find what they are looking for quickly?
Extract reports to fetch meaningful data
Finally, once the final decision is taken on the procurement of the learning/training platform, do not forget to properly communicate it to everyone!
Do not assume they know about it just because it took you weeks working on it, and also reserve a provision for training by profiles. No matter how good the choice made is, if users who work on the platform do not know how to use the platform, they will not be able to do so.
mPowerO offers the best advice if you are struggling to choose an Online Learning/Training Platform for your Educational Institution’s learning needs/Corporate Training needs.
mPowerO provides continuous support and is an end-to-end offering to your Online Learning/Online Training requirements.
Reach out via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us at https://www.mpowero.com/ for more information.