Before you venture into the online learning or teaching business you need to understand it well. Not the “I-think-I-know-it” well, but the “I-know-the-best-way-to-do-this-and-can-give-you-other-options” well. You need to understand what a client hopes to achieve from the application you are providing. And to ensure the success of your learning application, you need to choose a solid learning management system. Your LMS is the backbone of your e-learning website. And, you need to know it inside out. Just grab a knife and cut open the learning management system.
There are several elements which together form the system. And these are from a provider’s perspective. As a provider of a learning management system, there will be some expectations from your audience. Get started with the basics. Understand your clients, and their needs.
Understand Your Clients: Students, Teachers
Since your e-learning website is a business, and every business has clients, do you know who your clients are? Students and Teachers. Quite obviously you need to build your system around these clients. Your Learning Management System is a medium, using which students learn, and teachers teach. This teacher could rightfully be you. Your learning management system should separate out student and teacher intent on your e-learning site. And it can do this, only if it creates different roles for students and teachers.
Student and Teacher Roles
Every LMS available in the market provides you the option to create student and teacher roles. These roles are created to cap privileges each user has on your site. A student can access courses and lessons but not test answers. A teacher creates the course material, tests, and quizzes. Each user would have an account on your site, which they could personalize.
But you must look beyond simple role creation. Do you want to have paid registration for your site? Or maybe a monthly subscription fee. Your LMS should have an option to allow paid membership on your e-learning site.
Courses and Lessons
Courses are what your clients are looking for on your site. Students are looking to sign up for courses, and teachers are looking to create courses. Since courses and lessons are the offerings of an e-learning site, your LMS should support all kinds of course and lesson material. For example, to refrain from monotony, teachers are looking to incorporate various methods of learning. They create videos, presentations, animated or interactive lessons, and so on. Your LMS should have an option to upload such file formats as part of a lesson or course.
- Paid Courses: Also, membership on your site could be free, but courses could be paid. Your LMS should also have an option for students to purchase courses.
- Time-bound Courses or Lessons: An additional functionality you could want, would be time-bound courses or lessons, wherein students have to complete the respective lessons or courses within a particular time-frame.
- Certification: Students want written evidence of the completed courses. Although, you could post these certificates to them, (if you intend to do so), a better option would be to e-mail them the certificates, or add them to a student’s account.
Groups, Discussion Forums
Drawing a parallel to group assignments, and student discussions, your LMS should provide the possibility for students in a group to coordinate. There could also be common forums for students taking the same course.
Add the Management Component: Evaluation, Reports
Want to know how well students are progressing? Maybe you don’t, but teachers using your site would want to know. Student evaluation, progress tracking, and timely reports should be built into the learning management system.
Tests, Quizzes, Assignments
To help teachers evaluate student progress or for students to track their own progress as compared to other students in the course, or his/her group, there have to be some evaluation criteria. This component can be added as tests, quizzes, assignments, etc.
- Quiz creation Tools: Depending on the audience you plan to cater to (for example, elementary students, university students, graduates, post-grads, etc.), you should consider providing tools to create different types of tests or quizzes.
- Time-bound Tests: If time-bound evaluation is important, your LMS needs to support such a functionality as well.
- Awards and Badges: A good to have feature would be the possibility to award students ‘titles’ or ‘badges’ upon test, quiz or course completion.
Student Progress and Reports
Student reports could be in form of statistics, charts or graphs. Of course the option you consider better, would depend on individual preference. However, more importantly, there should be automatic notifications sent to teachers, with student reports. This can be a great time saver for teachers and can definitely improve user experience.
As a provider of a Learn Management Application like an e-learning website, you have to pay equal attention to all these aspects. Because these aspects are important to your clients and will define the success of your system. But there is another facet to online learning applications. And that is they system setup and business development as the owner, to ensure that all these feature mentioned above run smoothly. Stay tuned for the next part of this article, which will explain to you just that ‘The Owner’s Perspective‘. For now, be sure to leave your comments and suggestions in the comment section below 🙂
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