Customize Your Learner’s experience
Most LMS Solutions provide basic white label LMS functionality. In other words, you can pretty much count on the ability to add your logo and change the color scheme to match your corporate design guide. The Accord LMS goes far beyond logos and colors by providing features that will help you offer a truly unique environment for your learners. Some of these features are the result of built-in Accord LMS technology while other customizations are available through the included DNN content management system.
This is the first of a series of articles that will point you towards available customization opportunities for your white label LMS with Accord. We’ll be addressing the following topics:
- Customizing Your Home Page – Modifying on page content, Menu Items, and view permissions
- Tokens – Personalizing Certificates, notifications and HTML content
- Curated Content – Giving your learners a personalized learning experience
Please note; be sure to make a copy of any page before making any changes. These advanced techniques are not necessarily included with Accord’s standard support. If you would like to implement any of these ideas which may be beyond your technical experience, please contact Accord Sales for an estimate. If you have not yet implemented your Accord LMS, please discuss any customizations with your implementation manager. Some modifications can be included in the standard implementation process.
Figure 1 (below) is an example of the Accord LMS default Home Page from a learner’s perspective. Notice that there are seven items on the top menu. The Calendar and Announcements are at the top of the page and there are large buttons to help guide the learner towards important features.
figure 1 - Default Layout
Alternative Layout 1
Figure 2 shows a homepage designed by a client. The Main Menu has been reduced to present the fewest possible options to their learners and the Catalog page has been renamed. An image rotator is prominently featured for all users, showing inspiring images of their service area. Announcements show short summaries and the calendar feature utilizes the entire width of the page near the bottom.
figure 2 - Alternative layout
Alternative Layout 2
Figure 3 features an extra menu item (Special Offer), 3 large buttons focusing the learner on three core learner tasks, a full width calendar module and prominent announcements in the form of a blog roll at the bottom of the page.
figure 3 - Alternative layout
For more examples of customized Accord LMS home pages, please see our previous blog post What is a Customizable LMS.
Anatomy of the Homepage
The inclusion of the DNN Content Management System allows for customization of the Accord environment in a manner similar to that of configuring other CMS websites. Familiarity with DNN or another CMS such as WordPress, is helpful when configuring the Accord LMS’s web page layout.
To make any modifications to the Accord Home page, the administrator must understand how the default home page is configured. Each DNN page, including the Home page, is separated into 'panes'. Panes are areas within a DNN page that can accomodate modules. When you add an item to a page, you choose which pane it will go into. The pane, in turn, determines how much page width is assigned to the item and where it will appear in relation to other items on the page. View DNN Panes for a quick overview of how panes work on the Accord LMS home page.
The following exploration will look at each pane used on the default homepage and briefly discusses some available configuration options.
figure 4 - Accord LMS Default Panes and Modules
The page header is not a pane on the page itself but rather a section that is shared across every page on the site. The logo can be changed from within the DNN Site Settings interface but this section should not be directly modified. The Logo and colors are set during the initial implementation, so the header is usually only modified by DNN web developers as part of a major site customization.
The main menu, also not a pane on the page, is one of the easiest features to configure. Administrators can hide pages from the menu, add new pages to the menu, change the order of the menu items and create/modify items on sub menus. Menus can be further customized based on Learning Roles assigned to users. As an example, the site may have menu items linking to a custom page that is only visible to certain customers.
Image Slider and Welcome Text
This is technically two panes on the home page. The first pane is an HTML module which spans the entire width of the browser window and the second pane is the image rotator module which occupies the middle of the page’s width.
Both modules have permission settings that only allow Unauthenticated Users and Portal Admins to view content (see figure 5). This means that visitors to the site will see certain images and an accompanying welcome message until they log in. After logging in, they will be assigned to the Registered Users Role and will no longer have permissions to see the content. The HTML module with the welcome message and the Image slider will become hidden.
figure 5 - Module Permission Settings
4. Login / Register links
This is another HTML Module within a DNN Pane. Similar to the slider and the welcome message described above, these links are only visible to visitors who have not yet logged in. Once a user has logged into the system, there is no longer a need to register or log in.
5. Learner Module / Calendar
The Calendar is designed to show users important training events within a selected time period. If there are any courses with past due dates, upcoming due dates or Instructor Led Training sessions within the selected date range, they will appear in the list to the right of the calendar. Learners can click directly on an event to access the Learning Element on their 'My Courses' page. Options for the calendar can be set by an administrator from the configuration tab under the calendar section.
The calendar can appear in a different position on the home page, placed on a different page or be hidden altogether.
Announcements are a powerful feature that allow LMS admins to send out articles and announcements to specific groups of users based on their specific Learner Roles or Teams. There are many options available within the Announcements Module itself. For this initial overview of the home page, it will be enough to understand that the module can be moved into a pane that allows for more horizontal space. The vertical height can be controlled, summary text can be displayed and the title can be edited.
figure 6 - Announcements in a full-width pane
7, 8, and 9. Easy Access Buttons
These three panes each contain two HTML Modules. Each HTML Module contains the code for one of the Easy Access Buttons. Making changes to this part of the page is not recommended for anyone without HTML experience. If you would like to rearrange or remove these buttons, please contact Accord Support.
The next blog article in this series will focus on page management. We'll demonstrate how to make changes to the menu, set permissions on Pages and Modules, add pages to your Accord LMS portal, and add HTML modules to your pages. Don't forget to check out our guide for customizing your learning management system's design!
For more information about the Accord LMS, please contact Accord Sales for access to the Accord Academy. If you are not yet an Accord Client, we would be happy to discuss your learning management plans and offer a free trial of the Accord LMS.