This post concentrates on the success of your Moodle or Totara Learn site post-launch
In a previous blog series on “Effective Learning Design” we discussed implementing the ADDIE process when launching your Moodle or Totara Learn site. But what happens when your existing, fully launched site hits a brick wall further down the line?
Some clients come to us at a later stage in their journey in need of help to bring their site back to life. Very often we see that organisations spend considerable time and effort in the build-up and launch of their site, only to struggle in keeping its momentum 6-12 months down the line. Here we look at the vital areas you may want to consider to ensure the ongoing success of your e-learning site.
1 Review and analyse
It’s easy and understandable to get wrapped up in the launch of your site. Once that has been and gone an ongoing essential process is reviewing your site.
Is it meeting your original objectives? Does it engage your users? Are you seeing an uptake in learners on your courses?
Conducting a review process on a quarterly or six monthly basis helps to assess admin processes, navigation, user experience feedback and effectiveness of the learning design – all essential aspects to ensure your site’s overall success.
While it's important to get feedback from those using the site when your site is in its infancy, feedback in the months following your site launch is just as important. After all, your users are the ones who will – ultimately – determine its success, so you need to ensure their expectations are being met.
Feedback is valuable, but actionable feedback even more so. The more specific the feedback questions are, the better – it’s really worth tailoring your feedback questions to align with the business or learning goals you had in mind at the initiation of the project.
2 You had me at login!
You may have the most interesting, engaging courses that will be sure to “knock the socks off” your learners but if your site is not so visually appealing then all your hard work creating those courses may be in vain. Website expectations are higher than ever – no matter who your audience is they are already interacting with great looking sites elsewhere. How does your LMS site shape up? Investing in a polished on-board theme can significantly transform how your users feel about their learning experience.
3 Keep your content up to date
It goes without saying that you need to make sure your courses and resources are current and up to date. But what about fresh, exciting content to keep your learners coming back for more? You can include your latest news, events or even videos and documents that you think will appeal to your audience. These can be applied via interesting front page banners or news feeds, try random selection from large question banks or seek contributions from participants in social and collaborative activities. A key component of making this happen is awareness and confidence about the system and its capabilities.
4 Let your learners know about the site
So, if you’ve followed the above key points and your site is looking good, fresh, up to date and inviting, you need to make sure your users know about it! Encourage learners to your site by regular communications with interesting, relevant content that will attract them and improve your learner uptake as a result. Both Moodle and Totara Learn make it easy to make announcements and, Totara Learn in particular, can be set up to ‘ping’ reminders at appropriate times.
5 Get techy
Ok, so you don’t need to know the ins and outs of a server if you’re not that way inclined – but someone will need to make sure your site is technically sound. Imagine the scenario; your site launch is a complete success and your learner numbers are increasing on a daily basis ... then all of a sudden your site goes down. All those learners (and time invested in getting them there in the first place) could be in jeopardy, with your potential reputation at risk. It’s a good idea to carry out a technical assessment or health check on your site so that you can view the potential risks or complications before you get to that point, ensuring that your site is prepared for its success.
(It is worth noting here that the performance of your site largely depends on the infrastructure and environment in which the server that hosts the site sits. Using a credible hosting provider who will alert you if you are nearing your bandwidth/user limit can prevent such a situation occurring. If you are hosting your site in-house however, a technical assessment is strongly recommended.)
6 Keep your site up to date
We mentioned earlier about the importance in keeping your Moodle or Totara content up to date. But there is also the technical side that needs to be addressed too. As you may know, both Moodle and Totara HQ release major and minor version updates throughout the year. Not only is it recommended to keep your site up to date with a later version for security reasons, but new updates bring new functionality to further engage your users! If you are in a competitive market, offering additional functionality in your course offerings may be what sways learners to come to you.
7 Know your stuff
Moodle and Totara are large platforms. It is easy to get carried away with its functionality and tools available, so much so that it hampers your initial objectives and what you are (or were) trying to achieve. If your site has been running for several months but you are struggling with the minefield of features available then taking some essential Moodle or Totara training will help you focus on what you want to get out of your site, as well as knowing how to hide away other non-essential functionality to make your site look clean and user friendly – ultimately keeping you on track with your prime objectives.
8 Time and patience
Last, but most definitely not least, having a successful Moodle or Totara Learn site needs a lot of time and patience. As with most projects, investing a lot of time and effort in the beginning does not guarantee its success in the longer term. Ongoing time and patience is vital to ensure its success. If you don’t feel that you have this available you can always invest in a credible Moodle or Totara service provider who can take the management and maintenance off your hands completely.
Here we have covered only some of the key points you should address along your eLearning journey. If you require further assistance, or would like a more in depth, personal look at your site we offer Moodle and Totara Learn healthchecks http://info.howtomoodle.com/moodle-totara-healthcheck/contact-us that will do just that. Call us on 0330 660 1111 or get in touch to discuss your individual requirements with our team.