by: Rich Lewis, Training Specialist
What good is an LMS platform if you don’t know how to use it? Both Moodle™ and Totara Learn are powerful LMS platforms that can do amazing things out of the box. More importantly though, both are also highly customizable and can be configured to meet just about any educational need. Of course, with great power and configurability comes a certain degree of complexity. That’s where I, along with my colleagues in Remote-Learner’s Client Services group, come in!
We oversee Learning Spaces, Remote-Learner’s client information portal. Learning Spaces offers focused, concept-based training modules that can each often be completed in about 15 minutes. Learning Spaces also provides documentation modules, best practice examples, a support forum, virtual office hours, weekly webinars and other resources, but for the moment let’s just focus on the training modules. Our library of modules is easily searchable, and we also offer predefined learning pathways to guide new site administrators or course developers along the road to mastering their LMS platform.
There are two great things about being a part of the Learning Spaces team here at Remote-Learner: The first is that I get to immerse myself in the new features presented by every major release of our supported LMS platforms. The second is that I get the satisfaction of helping our clients learn how to maximize their LMS platform.
To that end. you may have heard that Remote-Learner just released Totara Learn 12 to our clients. As such, it’s been an exciting, albeit busy couple of months preparing Learning Spaces to support the launch! That got me thinking that our readers might appreciate some insight into how we keep up with the continual improvements made to Moodle™ and Totara Learn.
When we become aware that a new version of one of our supported LMS platforms is on the horizon, we start by keeping an eye out for feature communications and product roadmaps from Moodle HQ and Totara. While these sneak-peeks are never official until the final product is released, it lets us begin to evaluate the impacts to our existing training modules so we can get a sense of the scope of the updates.
The real fun begins once the official core code of the new version is released! As our clients are aware, there is a window of time required between Moodle HQ orTotara releasing a new version of their LMS and Remote-Learner making that version available for our clients. The reason for that is because we need to make sure that the value-add plugins we provide our clients – such as the Altitude theme, the RL Toolkit suite, Data Hub, and many others – function properly within the new version of the LMS. In the meantime, the Learning Spaces team gets to work to make sure our training modules accurately reflect the new and updated features of the platform in a way that is easily comprehensible.
For us, it all starts with the release notes. While perhaps not the most engaging read of the season, the release notes for a new LMS version provide the official details of all changes and additions to the platform.
We then cross-reference the release notes with our library of existing training modules in Learning Spaces. This lets us understand the scope of the updates that will be necessary for our training modules, as well as plan for the construction of new training modules to address new features.
Finally, assignments are made and the team gets busy. Personally, my first step is to jump into our test environment for the new version of the LMS and try out what has changed. Given the size of the update, this can sometimes be challenging based on the release notes alone. When in doubt, I’ll even dig into the provider’s development tracker to learn more about the change. Once I feel like I have a grasp of what’s new, I then pull up our existing training module and examine not only the text content, but our screenshots, animated GIFs, and videos tutorials to note all required updates. Of course, if the feature is completely new, then I’ll start building the new training from the ground up.
Bear in mind that this is all done with a single goal in mind: to make sure that the training we produce is high quality, thorough, and easily understandable. You see, most of our team has a background in education. We have taught in the classroom, online, and often both. As such, we appreciate the need to consider the training content we produce from the perspective of the learner (a.k.a. you!), and we understand the pedagogy for effective online training . As such, the design our training modules is intentional so that we can provide you the information you need to take full advantage of your ever-evolving LMS platform, while respecting your time!
That brings us to where we are as you read this. Learning Spaces has been updated to coincide with the release of Totara Learn 12. All impacted training modules have been updated and new training modules have been created as necessary. Our Site Administrator and Course Developer training pathways have been updated to include those updated modules. All of this is available to Learning Spaces subscribers simply by logging in and either searching for a desired topic, or selecting either the Training or Recommended Pathways links on the main page of the site.
Another LMS release cycle has been completed, and I’m already looking forward to the next!