Getting Organized When Launching Large-Scale E-Learning

One of the most intimidating things in the learning and development field is launching your first large-scale e-learning initiative to your entire company. So many things could go wrong. People might not be able to log in. If they can log in, the right course might not be assigned to them. Learners might not be able to find the course. Course completions are not tracked properly causing re-takes and frustration. Worst of all, senior leadership may come to you because they are getting so many complaints.

Ah, the joys of e-learning. Project Plan to Get Organized

The good news is that these mishaps can be avoided with some forethought and planning. So in this post, I will share with you a few things you can do to get organized and avoid most of the major frustrations that can ruin a large-scale e-learning launch.

Who Needs to Take It

The first step in getting organized is to know precisely who needs to complete the e-learning course you are about to launch. This seems simple enough, but the importance of a good list should not be underestimated. You do not want to get into the habit of launching a course and then responding to email-after-email from managers who say, “I want these people to take the course, too.” This is a slippery slope that will lead you to a life of constantly adding and removing people from a course at the whims of managers stuck in the urgency of their day.

Before you launch a course to anyone, sit down with as many stakeholders as possible and find out who needs to complete the course. Make sure this list is as complete as possible. Once your list is complete, you can begin to add users to your learning system.

Mindflash makes adding users easy by allowing you to add users one-at-a-time or in bulk by uploading a spreadsheet that you have exported from your HRIS system. Just make sure you have a complete list before you starting adding users to your learning system. This small, but important step will save you time and headaches.

Well-Defined Groups

Once you have your list and have added people to Mindflash, the next step is to create well-defined groups and put the right people in the right groups. You do not want to assign courses to individual people except on rare occasions. You want to assign a course to a group or groups one time to cover everyone (or almost everyone) who needs to take a course. Well-defined groups will save you hours and hours by allowing you to assign courses to entire groups of people, instead of individually.

To define your groups, ask yourself a few questions. Do you develop training for the customer service department? Sales? For Managers? Will managers get a different version of the training from front-line training of the same topic? Is your training content tailored for different groups of people? Answers to these questions will help you decide how to group people. Once you have defined your groups, you can create these groups in Mindflash and assign people to those groups.

Clear and Frequent Communication

There is hardly an organization in the world that could not be better at communicating with employees. Another element of staying organized in a large scale e-learning effort is to communicate clearly and often. Good communications can seem overwhelming, but Mindflash has eased the load.

Mindflash allows you to automate three important types of communications that your audience needs to receive: invitations to courses, reminders that courses need to be completed and when, and emails indicating that learners have completed training. These messages can and should be customized in Mindflash, so your employees receive messages that look familiar, are written in the language of your company culture, and signed by a familiar person in the organization.

Reminder emails are especially important, because by automating reminders, you will need to do less manual reminding when deadlines approach.

Tracking Completion

Another vital element of staying organized is keeping track of who has and has not completed a training course. This is especially important for required training, like annual compliance training. Few things are more stressful for a learning professional than responding to requests from executives wanting to know who has and has not completed required training and what the learning team is doing to get people to complete the training during those last few days before the deadline.

One way to make this a bit less stressful is to set automated reminders that I mentioned above. Another way is to set up automated reports in Mindflash on a proactive basis. My favorite type of report to run is a “Not-Completed” report. This report only shows people who have not completed the training. The way I see it, the only thing I care about is whether someone has not completed it. This allows me to focus on getting people through a course before a deadline.

You can run this type of report in Mindflash by exporting filtered data and only showing users who are in two statuses: “Invited” and “In Progress.” It is a lot easier to follow up with people, if you only have the list of people who have not completed the training.

Help Learners Help Themselves

Of course, badgering people to finish training can be a nightmare because it sometimes feels like no one is listening to you. Anything you can do to get people to know what they need to complete and when will free you up for more important things. Using automated reminders is one way to relieve the pressure. Another way is to teach your audience how to view their own training records, so they know how to determine what they have to complete and by when.

On the Mindflash Trainee Dashboard, learners can view the list of courses they need to complete, by when they must complete them, and what courses they have already completed. Spend some time educating learners how to access the Trainee Dashboard and how to read it. The more your audience can do for themselves, the less you will need to do for them.

A Little Planning Goes A Long Way

With just a little bit of forethought and planning, your e-learning initiatives can be smooth for you and for your audience. Making sure your lists are complete and accurate, groups are set up properly, communication reminders are set, and the right reports are in place can help you stay organized during large scale e-learning efforts.

What do you do to stay organized during large e-learning launches? Share your experiences in the comments below.

Bill Cushard, authorblogger, and learning experience (LX) designer, is a human performance technologist (HPT) with extensive, in-the-trenches experience building learning organizations in start-up and hyper-growth organizations like E*TRADE, the Knowland Group, and Allonhill. You can follow him on Twitter or on Google+.