The 5 Questions to Ask When Selecting an LMS

September 28, 2015 at 10:00 am | Posted in Weekly Tips | Leave a comment
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The availability of learning management system (LMS) options can seem endless.

According to Market Wired, ”the LMS market is forecasted to be worth $7.83 billion by 2018.”

There are proprietary software options as well as free, and even open source software options. Though remember, price does not dictate quality. Nor does free really mean free.

Selecting an LMS can be a daunting task, but is achievable. It is important to identify your business requirements and then apply them through research to narrow down the search.

Depending on who you ask, business requirements will vary. However, the five Ws: who, what, where, when, and why are a good place to begin.

Here are five broad questions including sub categories to assist in identifying your business requirements.

Who is your target audience?   

There are standard LMS features, but certain tools and features cater to different industries. For example one LMS may focus on businesses that want human resource tracking and compliance, where another LMS focuses on delivery of online courses and training. Is your target audience students, employees, or clients?

What is your budget?

Most people start out wanting the “Ferrari” product, but soon realize their budget is more of a “Honda.” Hondas are great products too. However, it is best to determine your budget prior to wasting time on an LMS that is out of the budget range. That said, if your budget is limited do not automatically jump to open source software. Be aware of the hidden costs in “free” solutions including the need for experienced IT people on staff to implement them. Even if your budget is large it is best to identify needs and wants and then select the appropriate LMS that fulfills them, rather than just going for the most popular LMS out there.

Where do you plan to host the software?

Technical requirements are key and can quickly assist in narrowing down options. Most people opt for the software-as-a-service (SaaS) option due the accessibility, reliability, and scalability provided by that model. The SaaS model requires minimal technical support. The LMS provides technical support, maintains the hardware and software and upgrades are as simple as the click of a button. An installed option, however, can offer more customizability and ensure security compliance.

When do you plan on implementing the LMS?

Obviously, it is best to take time to consider your choices and transition from current to new LMS over time, but that is not always an option. If you need to move quickly ensure that the new LMS is able to accommodate a fast transition. Remember to backup all of the data in your current LMS and keep a copy in case you need it later. Only move what you need into the new LMS. Sometimes it is best to begin fresh and build the course from scratch. Implementing a new LMS is an excellent time to revamp or enhance current content.

Why are you searching for an LMS?

The features and tools are typically the main reason people search for a new LMS. Create a survey and poll your instructors and users on their needs, wants, and desires. Analyze the results and determine the frequency to identify commonalities. It is recommended that you identify a key stakeholder from each area and create a committee to assist in the LMS selection process. Here are a few features the committee should consider:

  • e-portfolios
  • Gamification
  • Video conferencing
  • Competencies
  • eCommerce


After the business requirements are identified and the survey results are analyzed the next step is to research LMS options that meet the criteria.

Schedule demonstrations of the LMS software and request trial accounts for testing. Have your super users setup a course and determine how user-friendly the software is and whether it has the appropriate features and tools. If possible have one of the users review the course and obtain their feedback.

Present the information to the committee and schedule a second demonstration to answer outstanding questions. Obtain LMS pricing and then present the information to the committee for a final review and recommendation.

Finally, begin the implementation process and enjoy your new LMS.

Like this advice?  Selecting-an-LMS-Checklist to refer to during your process.

Originally published on Capterra blog.

Gamification Drives Results

September 17, 2015 at 10:00 am | Posted in Interesting Facts | Leave a comment
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Gamification in the Workplace

September 16, 2015 at 10:00 am | Posted in Interesting Facts | Leave a comment
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Gamification of Business

September 15, 2015 at 3:00 pm | Posted in Interesting Facts | Leave a comment
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Gamification of Business

Gamification: Culprit or Victim?

September 15, 2015 at 11:57 am | Posted in Weekly Tips | Leave a comment
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Recently Gamification has become the fad we love to hate, but why? And is it really a fad? If you were to take a poll in your office, you may find people using words like “silly,” “unnecessary,” and “childish,” to describe the use of gamification in your workplace. If this same group was probed further, you may also find that these feelings stem from a direct experience with gamification that left them with a less than desirable taste on their professional palate. Gamification however has been tested and proven to garner a positive return on investment. So, why is this research based concept the cause for so much eye-rolling at the mention of its name? Is it possible that the concept of gamification is not the culprit, but instead the victim?

Placed in Gartner’s Hype Cycle in 2011, corporate America had high hopes for gamification. Victor Luckerson wrote Let The Gamification Begin (TIME) in 2012, stating

“Though still an experimental business strategy, gamification is expected to be used by 70% of the world’s 2000 largest companies in some form by 2014 and generate $2.8 billion in consumer spending by 2016.”

These are some pretty lofty numbers and a very quick turnaround. This huge expectation of corporate buy in and return on investment set the stage for the attitude of disappointment that is developing around the use of gamification today. With everyone scrambling to jump on the bandwagon of the next big thing to change the “game,” gamification is falling victim to the adverse effects of supply and demand. More buzz equals more demand. Every tech company on the market now claims to be able to supply gamification tools and features. The more estimated profit that is expected as a result of providing gamification opportunities to employees and customers, translates into the less research being done prior to purchasing these gamification products. Companies do not want to “waste” the time choosing the right mixture of features to fit their specific needs. Plainly put, everyone is just trying not to be left behind and very few have a true vision for the future of gamification in their workplace.

“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.” Johnathan Swift

What was and still is invisible to many is the need to find the right fit of tools and features when incorporating gamification into your workplace. One visionary, Yoav Vilner, contributing writer at Entrepreneur and start up expert, believes

“To integrate gamification successfully into the employee training process, it needs to be incorporated into the very core of corporate work-flow. It must become part of the organization’s communication and feedback DNA, rather than some temporary, superficial supplement that sticks out like a sore thumb.”

Just like with any other decision made in the boardroom with the intention of propelling a company forward there must be a plan. In order to successfully infuse the use of gamification into the culture of your workplace this plan should seek to explicitly answer such questions as what, why, how, and who.

What is the goal? Why is the use of gamification necessary to reach this goal? How will gamification help us reach this goal? Who will be directly impacted by the use of gamification? And maybe most important, which features, tools, and product will best fit our needs? By answering these questions you are well on your way to designing a strategic plan for embedding the use of gamification into the culture of your company. Success is on the horizon when you are able to transition employee opinion about the use of gamification in your company from, “let’s see how long this lasts,” to “this is how we do things here.”

Edvance360 offers a variety of tools and features that can be incorporated in your company’s current culture –including proven gamification tools. Our dashboard, collaboration tools and various other features can be customized to flow seamlessly into the fabric of your company’s workflow. If you have questions and/or would like more information please contact the Edvance360 sales team at

MOOC Cheating Prevention

August 27, 2015 at 2:56 pm | Posted in MOOC | Leave a comment
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In an article in Campus Technology, Dian Schaffnauser published information on students cheating in MOOCs that MIT discovered through some rather fancy algorithms.
Researchers from MIT and Harvard University have uncovered a new cheating scheme specific to MOOCs. As they explain in a working paper freely available online, some students are taking advantage of design features that allow for the creation of multiple accounts for a MOOC platform. They use some of the accounts to ferret out the right and wrong answers to quizzes; then they use one remaining account to submit only the correct answers.
Most of the cheaters seem to be in other countries, but the article serves as a good reminder that you can help to prevent cheating with some good best practices.
Preventing CAMEO (the name they have given this form of cheating) may be as simple as mixing up the questions from one test-taker to the next or withholding answers until after all assignments are due, according to the report. But content providers will have to consider the trade-offs. For example, the report said, “If instructors withhold the ‘show answer’ option until after the problems are graded, this would constrain generally desirable asynchronous MOOC usage, and students will not have the rapid feedback touted as a pedagogical benefit of online learning environments.” Also, randomizing questions are easier in some types of courses than others.
These, quite frankly, are just simple online best practices for course designers. So, we thought we’d show you how to employ them, just in case.
  • Mixing up the questions form one test-taker to the next

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 7.05.24 PM

This is done by using the “Random block of ___ questions” setting. To set this up for use, create or import your questions into your repository folders, creating a question bank. Then, when creating the test, select the many questions from the question bank you’d like the test to cover. In the test settings, select “Random block of ___ questions” setting and enter the number of questions you want on each test-taker’s test. (You can later select question you want on EACH test, no matter what the rest of the questions are, just FYI. This is especially good for the essay questions.) An example would be to have 100 possible questions in the question bank, then set the number of randomized questions to say, 40. Each test-taker will see 40 questions but each person’s test will be so randomized as to WHEN the question appears and WHICH 40 of the 100 appear, that it makes cheating much more difficult. See screenshot.

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 6.17.10 PM

  • Withholding answers until after all assignments are due
In most cases, the answers are withheld until all students have finished the test, ensuring they can’t share their answers or use this CAMEO method of cheating. In Edvance360, this is done by selecting “Students may review once all students have finished the test” option from the drop-down in the test settings. Additionally, the test-creator can choose to hide the test answers permanently by selecting “No” from the “Display Correct Answers to Students?” drop-down box. See screenshots.
Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 7.05.30 PM
Lastly, the article suggests:
The researchers are ultimately hoping that course content creators will put some of the prevention strategies in place. “One of the most interesting lessons from the paper is that there are ways to mitigate cheating that are straightforward and implementable by the teams creating online course content,” Chuang said. “We also expect platform improvements, such as virtual proctoring, to help reduce cheating.”
Edvance360 LMS does contain a test proctoring module, should one of our clients desire to use it. For more information on this or the above features, please contact Training at

10 Technology Trends in Education

August 25, 2015 at 11:42 am | Posted in Integrating Tools into Online Courses | Leave a comment
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Now that technology is affordable more people have access to education. However, education is not necessarily enhanced by the technology. Technology is a tool to facilitate learning, it is not a “silver bullet”. Rather than throwing technology at education, we should be evaluating how technology can enhance learning. One of the benefits of technology is the ability to provide content in multiple formats to cater to the different learning styles. It seems as if parents continually complain about the education system yet the availability of resources for learning today is far greater than it was previously. At some point, ownership of learning should be placed on the student, technology and teachers can only bare part of the burden.

Yesterday, Biz Journal published the article, 10 Communication Technology Trends Shaping Education. The author wrote an excellent closing paragraph. “A new type of education, and a new type of educator, is emerging. We are going forward to a learning system of the latest gadgets and apps, while returning to an older teaching model where the teacher knows the student, not just the subject. We are finding out that anyone with the right platform can be an expert at something, and anyone with the will to learn can become a student. We have new tools. We have new toys. They are one and the same.” The 10 trends are:

  1. Gamification
  2. Flipped learning
  3. Distance education
  4. Mind mapping
  5. Social media
  6. Digital textbooks
  7. Just Google it
  8. Augmented reality
  9. User-generated content
  10. Big data

Edvance360 is compatible with all of the communication technology trends above. Contact us today,, to learn how Edvance360 can enhance your education courses and training programs.

E-Portfolios and Gamification

August 17, 2015 at 1:07 pm | Posted in Integrating Tools into Online Courses | Leave a comment
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The University of Notre Dame won the Campus Technology 2015 Innovators Awards. Campus Technology published the details in the article Pairing E-Portfolios with Badges to Document information Learning. E-portfolios are an electronic method for displaying learning achievements and examples of work. Badges are electronic methods for displaying proficiency. Some universities provide e-portfolios and badges as part of the learning management system (LMS) tools.

Notre Dame realized that the full potential of e-portfolios was not being leveraged so they decided to integrate badges. G. Alex Ambrose, Associate Director of E-portfolio Assessment at the University of Notre Dame said:

“If we are going to harness the full power and promise of e-portfolios beyond a single course assignment and show employers what students know and can do, then we need the digital badge to communicate specific competencies with evidence and motivate students to make their learning and skills visible”

The Notre Dame project was divided into three phases. Phase one utilized existing tools Digication and other campus-based systems to encourage students to provide evidence to support the achievement for the badges. As the project progressed Notre Dame explored alternatives that were free and easier to use. Eventually, Notre Dame used an API third-party integration to streamline the e-portfolio and badge progress. Now that the project is completed Notre Dame is exploring displaying hyperlinks to e-portfolios and digital badges on official transcripts. In the future, Notre Dame wants to explore the effects on the completion rates of MOOCs when awarding digital badges to users.

Edvance360LMS-SN has a MOOC platform called MOOC360 that is already awarding digital badges for completion of MOOCs. HarvardX published an article on the impact on learner intention on the completion rate of MOOCs.  The article stated that: “HarvardX courses the average completion rate is around 6 percent, on par with the overall “low” MOOC completion number often cited by the media.”

Cathy Garland, VP of Sales & Marketing had the following comment on digital badges and MOOC completion rates:

“Edvance360 LMS-SN has been awarding digital badges for the completion of MOOCs for a while now and we already know that it yields higher completion rates. One of the Summer 2015 MOOCs on Natural Theology had an 18.9% completion rate.” Since the inception, Edvance360 LMS-SN has promoted SMOOCs (smaller massive open online courses) that divide classes into smaller sections so that instructors can interact more one on one with students. The SMOOC and awarding of digital badges seems to have contributed greatly to the above average completion rates of our MOOCs.

Many LMS’ provide e-portfolios and badges, but not necessarily as a fully integrated tool for displaying individual accomplishments. Universities typically have a multitude of stand alone systems. Edvance360 LMS-SN is an innovator and actually integrated the LMS into the social network. If you are searching for one platform to deliver on-site, online and hybrid courses/training with the ability for users to build and display e-portfolios including digital badges checkout Edvance360 LMS-SN.

Creating Interaction in Online Courses

August 10, 2015 at 6:12 pm | Posted in Weekly Tips | Leave a comment
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Over the years there has been controversy over the quality of online versus on-campus courses. However, the enrollment of online education continues to grow. According to Grade Level: Tracking Online Education in the United States approximately, 5.3 million students took at least one online course in fall 2013 which is up 3.7 percent from the previous fall. One of the “complaints” is the lack of interaction and human element in online courses. The advancement of technology has removed that hurdle for online education. Learning management systems (LMS) typically provide communication tools such as discussion forums, online chats, and video conferencing. Really, the focus should be on the course design because technology is available to facilitate the rest. Online courses and training can be boring or engaging, just like in person courses and training.

Discussion Forums

Discussion forums can be used to engage students and encourage interactions among the users. For example, students might be required to respond to the discussion post, include three sources to support their post, and respond to two users.  The instructor can moderate the discussion as well as determine whether or not users are understanding the topic. Users are able to share their opinion, but also required to analyze and synthesize information. Discussion forums can be formal where the instructor moderates the discussion or informal where users share information. The online format is familiar to most users since they are accustomed to posting on social media and provides a voice for introverts that would not normally speak up in the traditional classroom setting. Discussion forums allows users to review the information as many times as needed and the debate can occur over the entire length of the course as users learn more and more about the topic. In the corporate setting discussion forums are a great collaboration tool for users that are in various locations. As time progresses the discussion forums can serve as a knowledge-base rather than one or two people holding all the information in email. As long as the moderator is interactive with users discussion forums can be an excellent tool for creating interaction.

Online Chats and Video Conferencing

Online chats and video conferencing provide real-time interaction. It can be difficult to schedule them so that is where discussion forums can be beneficial. However, chat logs and recordings of video conferences can be posted online for users that were not able to attend. In addition, multiple sessions can be scheduled to accommodate various time zones. Online chats and video conferencing provide synchronous tools that engage users that are more extroverted. Dividing people into groups can be helpful to make it easier to keep up with the conversation, but all sessions can be recorded and posted online for others to view. Video conferencing allows users to see body language and adds the “human” touch because you can see and interact with the person rather than just reading and responding to text.

Online courses and training allow users to learn at a time convenient to their schedule as well as accommodating various learning styles. Learning to use collaboration tools also benefits users at work. Discussion forums, online chats, and video conferencing collaboration tools that can be utilized to greatly enhance online courses and training. It is important to consider and utilize the various collaboration tools in course design. Users are continuously connect via their smartphones and tablets therefore this methodology should be incorporated into online courses and training to encourage engagement. Edvance360 LMS-SN provides these collaboration tools and much more to enhance your online courses and training.

Best Practices for Creating Videos for Online Courses and Training

July 27, 2015 at 6:25 pm | Posted in Weekly Tips | Leave a comment
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The use of videos has increased tremendously over the past few years. According to Statista, there were approximately 192 million unique video views during May 2015. Videos are posted online to social media sites by users as well as by professionals to online new websites. So it is no surprise that videos are being used in online courses and training. It is important to develop a plan before recording videos for online courses and training. Below are five best practices for creating videos:

  1. Determine target audience
  2. Create script for videos
  3. Record brief video segments
  4. Build interaction into videos
  5. Ensure video is easily accessible

Determine Target Audience

Prior to recording videos determine the target audience so you can identify your goals. Identifying goals provides focus so you can effectively communicate with your target audience. For example, training employees on policies and procedures may vary by position. The video for managers is probably more detailed than the video for their subordinates.

Create Scripts for Videos

Typically, videos are more professional when reading from a script. Think Facebook versus news videos. Scripts are also beneficial if you plan on providing closed captions. Closed captions are important for 508 compliance and you can expand the audience for people who speak other languages through sub titles.

Record Brief Video Segments

People have limited time and attention spans, so be brief. It is best to record video segments of 5-10 minutes with a maximum of 20 minutes. The length will vary based on your topic.

Build interaction into Videos

The natural progression of creating videos is to use the PowerPoint presentations as the script. Rather than simply reading a script, you can create interaction by using a conversational approach and providing examples or using case studies. As you progress try creating SCORM files with divergent paths, quizzes, and hyperlinks.

Ensure Video is Easily Accessible

Recording high quality video is important, but the video must be accessible from mobile devices too. You also need to consider whether or not the video needs to be accessible offline. Most videos are presented via streaming so the file format does not matter. However, if the videos will be downloaded the file format is important. The mp4 format is probably best because it can be viewed on Apple and Windows computers as well as mobile devices.

Posting Videos

Once you have created your videos the next step is posting the videos online. Consider using a learning management system (LMS) to host the videos and provide tools for monitoring and tracking usage. Edvance360 LMS-SN provides all the tools needed to deliver your corporate training program. Learn more.

Additional Resources

Video Streaming Services

Screen Capture Software



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