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6 LMS best practices for instructional designers

Sometime ago your organization realized that the only way to keep rising in the ever-more competitive business environment is to continuously invest in its employees and their professional development. So the top management decided to get the best LMS that will meet the specific organizational learning needs.

Maybe they pondered upon the differences between a proprietary, an open-source, and a cloud-based LMS. Maybe they agreed that the benefits of the latter type outnumber the ones of the other two. Maybe you had a say in all this decision making process. Perhaps you were also directly involved in the LMS migration process (in case the new LMS was not the company's very first), and the installation process as well.

Now you have a shiny new LMS up and running. What next?

You know you could do a million different things with it, besides just creating courses, that each and every employee will benefit from. But with so many features and options, things can get a little overwhelming. We're talking about a new platform, after all.

Here are exactly 6 best practices that instructional designers follow when it comes to getting used to a new LMS and figuring out how to use it at its full potential:

6 LMS best practices for instructional designers

1. Keep everything organized

Organize all courses and learning materials according to all the necessary variables. An online learning platform offers searching and sorting tools, as well as calendars and other organizational features.

Remember to name all your courses, documents, and multimedia content in a clear manner. This way, learners will easily find what they need when they are looking for something specific, and you'll avoid later confusion. Also, keep each course syllabus in an easy-to-find spot, and don't forget to set the deadlines for assignments.

2. Post once and only once

This comes in tight connection with the previous point. Avoid posting the same piece of information in multiple locations in the LMS, as this inevitably leads to a lose-lose situation.

Your learners lose time while figuring out what version of the multiple learning materials is the one they need, which creates frustration. You lose time checking two or more places instead of one, looking for the same thing, which is also frustrating. And if you ever decide to duplicate a course and use it later, or for a different group of learners, things can escalate even more, causing some more frustration — and some unnecessary used space.

So, remember to just post once.

3. Keep all the key documents in one clear place

This clear place can be the home page of the company LMS, the dashboard, an always-there menu, or any other place that is easily accessible for your learners.

What I mean by a key document is any document that learners will need to reference throughout the training program: the course syllabus, the course schedule, the IT support forum, and any other formal business policy that is relevant to the course.

4. Use announcements

Create a discussion board and use announcements efficiently. Let your learners know about any updates, clarify parts of the courses that they seem to struggle with, remind them of due dates, and even post extra learning materials for anyone with a thirst to know more.

This will strengthen communication between you and your learners, and give you an idea about who is more engaged, or who needs a helping hand.

5. Don't be afraid to use the new tools

A new learning platform comes with the challenge to learn how to use it not only for the learners, but for instructors and administrators as well. You certainly know how to use the basic features and tools, but maybe the testing period was not enough for you to click on every button and follow every link. And with a modern LMS that can meet hundreds or even thousands of learning needs, you definitely need some time to get to know it inside out.

But if the system has an intuitive user interface, you'll get there sooner rather than later. Just remember the principle "divide and conquer". Start with what you already know, and gradually learn how to use and to incorporate new tools in your courses. Gamification, polls, or video integrations can certainly keep your learners hooked to your courses.

6. Complete that training

Most LMS vendors usually offer training for all new clients and extend the assistance to use their system through some sort of on-going support. You should benefit from each minute of that training, ask questions, and clarify as many things you find hard to understand at first.

You'll certainly discover the power of the new e-learning platform eventually, if you do it on your own, but why not accelerate this process and learn how to use the LMS thoroughly faster? Every training session that the vendor provides can save you and your team hours when creating a new course. Just go for it.

And so the exactly 6 LMS best practices for instructional designers have come to an end. I'm sure there are more, so I invite you to share your thoughts in the comments section. I might add them to this post and change the number in the title.