Marionettes vs. Automata
Marionettes have existed in most cultures from our earliest recorded history. Archeologists have found string puppets from the ancient Greeks and Romans and they’re mentioned in the writings of Aristotle and Plato. A skillful operator can make a marionette move and dance and seemingly come to life.
In the 18th century, clock makers cut the strings when they began creating clever puppets without strings - automata. These clockwork wonders could preform intricate maneuvers such as the movement of the planets, singing birds, or playing chess. The automata were able to do these amazing things without intervention. A plan was built into the machines which would then faithfully execute a procedure without the intervention of an operator, other than to turn a crank and set it in motion.
Classic Learning Management Systems operate very much like the marionette. While LMSs promise easy to use features, a common complaint from LMS administrators is the amount of time spent actually using the features. There are lots of moving parts. Required training must be assigned where appropriate. Compliance must be monitored and non-compliant learners must be engaged. Reports must be prepared and periodically delivered to key stakeholders. When a learner’s needs change, old training might need to be dropped while new training is added. All of these changes require an LMS administrator to intervene, pull the strings and make it all happen.
At Accord, we believe that the learning management system should automate as many daily tasks as possible. While our features are easy to use manually when needed, one of the most unique aspects of the Accord LMS is it's automation tools. To support "hands off" administration, we’ve built an automated training management system that allows training managers to develop a training plan, articulate the rules and parameters within the LMS, and then let it take care of things.
Five core features which support hands off LMS administration are Filtered Reports, Automated Report Delivery, Distributed Administration, Learning Roles and Rules Based Assignment. This article will take a quick look at the benefits of each feature. For more information, please contact one of our solution specialists for an in depth demonstration.
1. Filtered Reports
Many LMSs require a separate report definition for each stakeholder. For example, you might need a report on training compliance filtered for each of your six regional sales directors. Instead of configuring six reports, with Accord’s filtered reports, one report can be opened by or delivered to any LMS admin the organization and be automatically filtered for the targeted recipient. In our training compliance example, the same report would be filtered for each of the six regional sales directors using only the team members from their individual regions. If the same report is viewed by the VP of sales, she would be presented data that includes all six regions easily sorted and grouped according to each region, or any other preferences.
As you can imagine, this filtered report concept saves considerable time creating the reports, but that isn’t the only benefit. If a change needs to be made to the report, that change is applied consistently across all presentations of the report without the need to update six individual reports. While this saves maintenance time, it also provides greater reliability by reducing the opportunity for human error.
2. Automated Report Delivery
All report configurations can be saved as a definition for later reuse. Report definitions can also include a distribution schedule. Administrators can create as many scheduled report deliveries as they want. Perhaps your supervisors need the report in Excel format every Monday at 9:00am before their staff meetings, but your CEO just wants a month end PDF report to review. No problem. The same report can be automatically scheduled to who and when and what format they’re needed.
3. LMS Admin Types and Distributed Administration
The traditional LMS supports a few LMS Admin types such as Team, Learner, Content and Reports with hard coded feature permissions. Accord LMS works fine with the traditional top down administration model and provides default LMS Admin types such as these. However, as organizations grow and their training needs become more complex, the Accord LMS offers another approach - complete LMS Admin type customization based on Features, Learning Roles, Learning Content and Teams. The fact is, local departmental supervisors are often in the perfect position to oversee their Team’s training. Distributed Administration allows for full or partial administrative capacity within specific Teams. For example, a support supervisor can be granted the ability to create custom reports, assign training, review compliance, create new training records, manage classroom rosters, and more… or less. Accord can be configured to provide as much or as little permission to local administrators without those admins having any visibility or access to learners outside of their specific Team(s). In larger enterprises, this capability can dramatically reduce labor for the top level administrators while providing more effective local administration.
4. Learning Roles
Learning Roles are an efficient way to link specific courses to specific Learners. For example: all new hires are required to complete three online courses, two video presentations, and a classroom orientation. We can create a Learning Role called New Hire Training and then enroll each of these Learning Elements.
New hires can be assigned the New Hire Training role and automatically gain access to the specific Learning Elements. If the Learning Elements enrolled to the Role are changed, the updates will be immediately presented to all of the Learners assigned to the Role.
Learning Roles are more than just a collection of Learning Elements. They also contain parameters which control how and when the training can be accessed. Let’s say a Learner needs to take a Driver Safety refresher one year after their hire date and then every two years on their anniversary. We can create a role called Driver Safety Refresher and then enroll the Driver Safety courses with instructions on when to present initially and then recurring in follow on years.
Learning Roles allow the Training Director to articulate their entire training plan in a way that the LMS can use. Once learning roles are created, it’s a simple matter of assigning roles to specific learners to make sure that they can access the right training at the right time. By themselves, Learning Roles save time and help enforce consistent compliance with the organization’s training plans.
5. Role Membership Rules
Role Membership Rules automate the assignment and removal of Learning Roles based on each Learner’s Profile. Because the Accord LMS supports custom profile fields, virtually anything maintained in your system can be used to control training assignment. Job Title, Hire Date, Department, Purchased Product, Management Level, or eye color could all be used to create an individualized Training Plan for each learner. Updates to a Learner's profile, would immediately effect their assigned Learning Roles and associated Learning Content.
For example, let’s say that John is automatically entered into the Accord LMS directly from his organization’s HR system using Accord's integrated API. As he advances in the company, Learning Content can be automatically assigned to him based on his profile data.
When he is initially hired, John is assigned the New Hire Training Role based on his Hire Date. The training starts on his first day he is hired and ends after 60 days. Automatic emails are sent out reminding John to complete any unfinished Learning Elements.
Role Membership Rule for New Hire Training
Customer Service Representative
The HR system updates his employee title to Customer Service Representative. This assigns the Customer Service Learning Role and all associated Learning Content. If the training is updated with new courses, they will be automatically presented to John through his Customer Service Learning Role. John, along with all employees hired over 60 days is required to complete Annual Compliance courses every year on his anniversary so he is assigned the Annual Compliance Learning Role.
Customer Service Supervisor
When John is promoted to Customer Service Supervisor he’ll automatically find new Leadership Courses available to him.
Eventually, John moves to the sales department. When his job title changes to Sales Supervisor his Customer Support training is removed and the Sales Training Learning Role is added. John keeps his Leadership Courses and Annual Compliance.
Changes in the HR employee record automatically trigger the training updates as laid out by the training plan via the Role Rules without any manual intervention. This saves time, money and reduces errors.
LMS Automation Conclusion
Marionettes are great for entertainment, but you don’t want to constantly pull the strings of your LMS to keep up with the demands of your organization’s changing training requirements. Create and articulate a coherent training plan and the Accord LMS will be able to manage it for you.
To see a demonstration of the Accord LMS at work, reach out to a Solution Specialist. They can show you how to automate your training LMS activity.