LMS integration: why are APIs so important?

The role of the Learning Management System (LMS) in today’s environment is primarily to manage training administration, classroom training, scheduling of courses, mandatory compliance training and certifications. But the world of online learning goes way beyond the LMS – there are other parts of the learning infrastructure that are being handled by other systems.

It’s essential that your LMS can integrate easily with other systems to make sure your organization is ready for the world of digital learning. Most organizations expect their LMS provider to help them connect with other systems but there is not a lot of LMS integration actually occurring.

Three steps toward future-proofing your learning program

How to invest in your LMS now and be ready for the future

Adaptive learning. Gamification software. Microlearning. Thanks to these exciting new tools and advanced technologies – along with the evolution of business needs and market trends – the global electronic learning market is booming. Predictions are that it will continue to do so, with growth reaching $255 billion this year.[1]

If you are charged with managing the learning management system, or LMS, in your organization, you’ll be on the lookout for opportunities to incorporate these new tools and technologies. But be careful; it’s important to give a great deal of consideration to future-proofing your technology.

LMS best practice: enhanced user experience and analytics capabilities

This post is the second in a 2-part blog series that looks at some of the ways that L&D managers can improve the learning technology in their organizations, with a specific focus on user experience and analytics. To read part 1, click here.
 

Learning Management Systems create poor user experience

According to a study conducted by the Brandon Hall Group, 50.6% of organizations say poor user experience is a significant barrier to satisfaction with learning technology. It’s important for a company to have an easy-to-use, modern-looking system.

Employees today are both oversaturated with information and short on time. They need to be able to quickly access the right learning tools and information.

According to learning analyst, Talented Learning, it is easier for LMS users to tolerate weaker user experience when training is mandatory, such as regulatory compliance training, but when the LMS is used for extended enterprise, such as dealership network training, the users must be persuaded to complete training regularly. In this case the user experience is key.

Key best practices for improved user experience

  • The User Interface (UI) has to be intuitive to reduce the number of clicks required to complete a task.
  • Applications have to be user-friendly and not built for experienced users only.
  • Make sure administrators, as well as selected users, can modify the layout of their homepage, edit menus and shortcuts and easily create new skins. This is a matter of configuration and not customization.
  • Social features such as forums are important for an LMS. It’s a place where managers and employees can share ideas and contribute to the development of best practices. Make sure you can easily embed Widgets (for example internal forums, Twitter feeds and YouTube videos) into your homepage so they are easily accessible for users.
  • Understand your vendor experience with learning portals and how well they integrate with the LMS.
  • Just-in-time learning is vital to the success of a learning program. Learning should be accessed on mobile device whenever users need it. That is why the ability to download content to a mobile device for playback even when offline is important.
  • Upgrade your LMS frequently – LMS vendors invest significant development resources into making sure that each successive version provides even better usability. This should also take into account user feedback, to give the best learning and performance management experience on any type of device.

 

Analytics capabilities

Measuring the business impact of learning using analytics tool is becoming increasingly important for the L&D function. 39.7% of organizations say poor analytics capabilities is a significant barrier to satisfaction with learning technology.

 

Key best practices for enhanced learning analytics

  • Focus on data that matters to your organization. Big data expert and author Bernard Marr points out in an article on Forbes: “Why go to all the time and trouble collecting data that you won’t or can’t use to deliver business insights? You must focus on things that matter the most otherwise you’ll drown in data… This is why it’s so important to start with the right questions.”
  • Start your journey with analytics now. It might take years to gather enough data before it will actually be relevant for the organization.
  • If you have already started your journey, make sure your analytics engine integrates multiple data sources. Your engine should correlate learning to other data coming from the rest of the business.
  • Most organizations don’t yet have a data analyst dedicated to learning. Make sure you have flexibility to create your own reports and easily create dashboards and charts without the need to learn complex tools.

 

Did you enjoy this blog? Then you might also be interested in our “8 Best Practices for a Successful LMS Implementation” brief. Download it now. If you’d like to speak to a NetDimensions LMS consultant about the challenges your organization is facing, get in touch here.
 

LMS best practice: top tips to integrate with multiple systems

In today’s fast-paced global environment, companies are regularly challenged to adopt and respond to new business and compliance requirements, quicker than before. The learning technology landscape is evolving quickly and the role of the Learning Management System (LMS) is changing too. Most organizations who invest in learning technology and e-learning are using an LMS – more than 700 learning management system vendors compete in the marketplace. In this context, it can be overwhelming for organizations to find the learning solutions that best fit their needs.

In this two-part post, we will discuss why Learning & Development (L&D) managers are not satisfied with their learning technology (and more specifically with their LMS). We will also provide some best practices on what you should consider when you select an LMS.

LMS implementation can be like solving a puzzle

According to the Brandon Hall Group’s Learning Technology 2017 study as much as 23% of organizations indicated that they were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their LMS. The dissatisfaction level is higher than with any other learning technologies.

The Brandon Hall Group has identified three main barriers to satisfaction with learning technology:

  1. 52.2% of organizations say the inability to integrate with multiple systems is a significant barrier to satisfaction with learning technology.
  2. 50.6% of organizations say poor user experience is a significant barrier.
  3. 39.7% of organizations say poor analytics capabilities is a significant barrier.

 

Inability to integrate with multiple systems

Most organizations want to have technology providers that can help them connect their LMS with multiple systems. According to the Brandon Hall Group’s “Focus on Integration 2017” study, 76.7% of surveyed organizations say that integration capabilities are essential or critical to their business processes.

So how important is it to integrate your LMS with the following systems?

*Brandon Hall Group’s “Focus on Integration 2017” study

Despite being seen as important or even critical by most organizations, there is not a lot of integration actually occurring. The platform most commonly integrated with the LMS is the Human Resource Information System (HRIS), and even then, only 37% of organizations say this integration exists.

Best practice ways to integrate your LMS

Pay attention to the following recommendations to make sure your LMS integrates with the systems that are critical to your business.

Key best practices for improving LMS integration

  • Involve your IT department early in the process. The learning function needs to work hand in hand with the IT function when it comes to systems integration.
  • Identify current and future system integration requirements. If you are replacing a system, look at the integrations you currently have to understand if they are all necessary. You should make sure your LMS integrates with the right systems.
  • Define how often shared items need to be updated and establish whether your systems need to communicate in real-time.
  • Define your target: what do you want to achieve with this integration? What is the business goal?
  • Prioritize and document your requirements: What is deemed essential to have in order to support your business and what connections are simply “nice to have”?
  • Avoid customizations when possible. If you decide to customize your LMS because it’s critical to your business, make sure your vendor will support these customizations when the time comes to upgrade your system.
  • Understand your vendor’s experience with integrations. Make sure your vendor can integrate with any third-party systems via Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). For companies that operate in a highly regulated environment, it might also be important that the LMS integrates with non-typical HR systems. For instance, it might be critical for your LMS to integrate with your security or access control system, as was the case with NetDimensions client CERN, so only those who completed certain certifications can access certain areas of the building. Make sure your vendor has the flexibility and the API library to help you achieve this.

We hope you enjoyed part 1 of this blog series which outlines some of the different ways that L&D managers can improve their learning technology. Part 2 can be found here. You might also be interested in our “8 Best Practices for a Successful LMS Implementation” brief. Download it now.

If you’d like to speak to a NetDimensions LMS expert about the challenges your organization is facing, get in touch here.