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Implementing an LMS

09/04/2014 Leave a comment

A couple of days ago I was asked for a few ideas on how to get started with writing an LMS implementation plan. I thought some readers here might be interested in what I wrote to the enquirer. The following is not a complete how to, but might help with those first conversations before the real planning starts. 

 

Identify your stakeholders

Obviously students, teachers, academic and administrative staff at your institution, and ICT staff, but stakeholders could also include (but are not limited to) – industry partners, parents, mentors, employers, standards bodies (your national qualifications authority or your industry governing bodies), prospective students, partner learning institutes, …

Considering your stakeholders, identify who should be in your project team and write up what you think their roles could be.

 

Scope

In your project plan list what is in-scope and what is excluded. 

  • Will the LMS take enrolment automatically from your student management system? Enrolment is one of the most important things to figure out and you shouldn’t underestimate how much work this might be.
  • Will your LMS pass grades out to an external records management system at your institution?
  • What customisation will your LMS site have have for your institution? Did you include marketing department in your stakeholder list?

Include in your plan what constraints there are and what assumptions you have made – e.g. financial constraints, time constraints, assumptions around IT support for staff and students…. is there wireless on campus for students to bring their own devices and can they connect, and Is investigating this something you list as in or out of scope?

 

Cost

Include in your plan some costings… servers and infrastructure, project management, external consultation, licenses if applicable, IT staff to setup the environment, trainers to teach the teachers/students how to use the LMS, designers if you are going to create course material for the teachers (though I wouldn’t! I would get specialists to help the teachers do this as a better long term investment).

 

Communication

You will need a communication plan. Decide how you will communicate the arrival of the learning management system to stakeholders, and how it will impact on them. Communicate the changes they can expect, the training that will be available, and the support they can access. 

 

Think about it as more than just setting up a website

Make sure you plan includes setting up a pilot before building your production environment, getting stakeholder feedback to ensure when put into production your LMS works in a way that meets your teaching and learning needs.

Have a testing environment for trying things out before they are put into production.

 

Supporting your LMS implementation

You will need documentation of the test, pilot and production environments.

You will need teacher and student guides to using your LMS (tailored to your institution). Face to face training, training videos, and other training resources and activities are all options that you should explore within the context of your institution. 

You will need IT support – phone, face to face, and email support for teachers and students, and potentially for other stakeholders.  

 

The future

Have a backup and recovery strategy.

Plan for future feature upgrades and decide if this will this be on request ad hoc, or at planned times such as six monthly or yearly.

Plan for maintenance, bugs, and security patching. You might have one day a month or quarter that is publicised as scheduled maintenance day, so as to reduce the impact of downtime for your students and staff. 

 

Evaluation

Decide how will you evaluate the project at the end – e.g. did it meet budget and time and quality expectations? Decide how you will measure quality – e.g. surveying students and staff and other stakeholders during pilot and after going into production, perhaps looking at academic achievement if improving this is a goal?

Be prepared to do something about it if the evaluation reveals areas your learning management system (or how it is used) can be improved. 

 

 

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