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How to make an easy to use LMS

  • Open Elms Easy to Use Netlfix inspired LMS

As an ergonomist working in software design, I am constantly looking for ways to make complex systems simple. So what is the solution? The ergonomic designer has no holistic panacea, instead there are several tools which can be drawn upon: functional grouping (placing similar functions together), cultural norms (apply what we know in real life to the design) and use colour and movement to attract attention. All very simple processes but often not applied; in the sphere Learning Management System design this is never more true.

These data driven systems are often governed by function (producing reports, editing learner details, assigning learning etc.) with little regard to how the form - aka the user experience - should adapt. It seems the database was built - then the person has to adapt - aka "be trained" - to use the system. This approach to Learning Management System is prevalent throughout the e-learning industry; in nearly all cases a database system is built and then the learner is expected to use the very same system (with options removed) to access the learning. This is akin to an online newspaper offering you access to their Content Management System with the Save button removed on each page. Companies in competitive marketplaces need to make sure that their product appeals to their mass users - to do this they need to make the user experience as attractive and easy to use as possible.

But the need for training is a product of bad design - and an additional income stream for the bad designer of LMS! Good design requires no training. Don't believe me, Google "iPhone training" and see how many companies you get offering this service - not exactly a mass market offering.

So how did we resolve this dilemma - how did we design the latest version 8 of our Learning Management System - Open Elms - that people did not need to be trained on?

Well we took our inspiration from Netflix. Anyone recently been on a Netflix training course? I think not? The secret was to take inspiration from a design which many people were already familiar with and adapt the design to LMS functionality The learner's experience has been written from scratch and is completely separated from the administrator's LMS functionality. On logging in, the learner has 4 options - all of which are clearly defined - this compares with up to 130 options in some Learning Management Systems! As a result the operations make sense and work harmoniously together.

Simplicity of design does not lead to any lack of functionality - you just need to guide the user experience in the right way. Feel free to check out open elms - contact e-Learning WMB for an online demo. Open Elms does everything except from tying shoelaces, it just looks like to does nothing more than play your favourite film!

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