Step 2: Find the right eLearning provider

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  • eLearning
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1. Which tool fits my need?

Project management software, learning management system, social intranet, training program, talent management platform – tools tend to be a dime a dozen. That’s why it’s all the more important for you to know exactly which solution approach best suits your project.

To do this, define your strategy in advance, as described in the step Implement eLearning successfully. Which challenges should the selected tool make easier for you? Which processes should be mapped with the software? How do you want to reach your target groups? 

2. Choose the right (eLearning) software

In order to be able to select the right (eLearning) software, we now go in-depth further. Define your requirements in more detail based on your goals.

  • Who exactly uses the software? What does the working environment of your employees look like? Do you need content in different languages? What digital skills do your learners have? What should the participant management look like?

  • What features do you need? What are the minimum requirements and what else is “nice to have”? For example, how important are the topics of personalization or branding to you? What are your learning goals? Is the topic of accessibility relevant to your target group?

  • What is more important to you: as many functions as possible or a rather reduced and thus more user-friendly application (“Ease of use”)?

  • How future-proof does your eLearning platform need to be?

  • Which regulatory and security requirements do you have to take into account? What data protection measures are necessary?

  • What does the service have to look like? What can you achieve with your team by yourself, and where do you need experts to assist you? What should the response time be for your support?

  • Compare pricing models. How flexible does the design need to be here, for example, a problem-free expansion of the number of users?

Tip: Involve the works council in the process right from the start, for example to protect the data protection rights of your employees. This will ensure that no obstacles are placed in your way shortly before the contract is signed. If necessary, a works agreement must be drawn up. 

We have compiled an overview of popular and frequently requested product and security requirements for eLearning tools, which you can use as orientation for your personal requirements catalog:

Authoring system and learning scenarios

  1. WYSIWYG editor

  2. Modular course structure

  3. Learning content (e.g., images, audio files, videos, free online image database)

  4. PowerPoint conversion

  5. PDF upload

  6. External content (embedding of SCORM, HTML5, xAPI and LTI)

  7. Notifications and commenting functions

  8. Multilingual

  9. Cooperation and collaboration

  10. Badges (Gamification)

  11. Glossary

  12. Dates/Course Calendar

  13. Test, quiz and survey options with location, date and signature (e.g., Single Choice, Multiple Choice, True/False, Skala, Hotspot, Short answer, Question pool)

  14. Customized landing pages

Administration and security

  1. System integration (e.g., Social Intranet)

  2. Weighting of learning steps

  3. Certificates

  4. Branding in your corporate design

  5. Permissions and Member management

  6. Automated evaluation, reports and reporting

  7. Own Domain

  8. Single Sign-on

  9. Terms of use

  10. Server location

  11. Licensing model (SaaS)

  12. Certified security (ISO)

  13. Accessibility

  14. E-Commerce

  15. Support

Download PDF overview (Checklist eLearning tools) for your records here and define your own requirements catalog. 

3. What makes a good eLearning provider?

You can recognize a good eLearning provider by the fact that it fits your project. Since different providers have different focuses in their offering, it is important that you have defined your requirements precisely and are looking for the best possible match. If you want to offer eLearning in the EU, please pay special attention to the data protection and security-related aspects. In addition to the product requirements, the following points are also relevant:

  • Secure Hosting

  • Safety standards are met

  • Software as a Service (SaaS)

  • Future proof developments

  • Competent service and support

  • Transparent cost structure 

Why is secure hosting important? What security standards are considered a sign of quality?

In eLearning, you process a lot of data: Names and email addresses of participants, training results, activities in the LMS and much more. Recently, with the final entry into force of the GDPR in May 2018, the processing of personal data has come into focus. Since a lot of this data is created and processed in eLearning, it must also be specially protected.

If your eLearning provider uses servers located in the EU, you can be sure that the GDPR is respected. An additional certification, e.g., according to ISO 27001, both for servers, data centers and the eLearning provider itself, demonstrates compliance with further security standards – also regarding your password and encryption policies. 

Why is SaaS the new eLearning standard?

Cloud services are on everyone’s lips – starting with the smartphone that syncs data with the computer via the cloud or programs like Dropbox and Office 365. We have all become accustomed to our technical infrastructures doing a lot and these services continue to be easy to use. If you also want to make your eLearning available from anywhere and don’t want the hassle of manual security and feature updates, Software as a Service (SaaS) is the right choice for that.

With maintenance included, SaaS has long been established in the learning space. An LMS offers more reach for corporate learning while keeping up with the times. Here we have summarized the most important advantages of SaaS Learning Management Systems in a few key points:

  • Ready for use, without installation: Quick Start

  • Browser based

  • No help from IT is necessary

  • Changes are available live for everyone

  • Good usability, for trainers and learners

  • Updates and maintenance included

  • Demand-driven growth: scalability of user numbers and features 

How can I tell if an LMS is future-proof and what does the future look like?

There are a few points you should pay attention to when it comes to future-proofing an LMS. This starts with simple points, such as the fact that the LMS grows with you – the more courses and users you hire, the more activities you map in the LMS, the LMS should be ready for all of this, and the eLearning provider should be able to offer you a scalable solution: grow as you go!

Future-proof providers move with the times. This means that the platform is constantly evolving in line with market developments (like ‘profiling’ and ‘gamification’). At the same time, the infrastructure of the LMS remains intact and always up to date, even if the number of users increases significantly. 

Competent service and support

An important pillar is also good and timely support from your prospective eLearning provider. Is your desired provider available by phone and online? Does he advise you individually on your eLearning introduction? Does he offer support in course design and creation? Can they help with author training? Does it provide technical articles and other support materials?

A professional eLearning provider offers you an insightful look at his system with a free web demo. He guides you through the eLearning platform, shows you all the functions that are relevant to you and directly addresses your questions. 

Transparent cost structure

Finally, the costs also play an important role in the purchase decision. The costs of an eLearning platform consist of:

  • Consulting and agency fee of an external software vendor/consultant (if necessary)

  • Acquisition costs

  • Customization or setup assistance (if necessary)

  • Onboarding for managers, administrators, trainers (if necessary)

  • Ongoing costs (license fee)

  • Renewals, add-ons (if necessary)

Depending on the provider, only individual cost items are due, or possibly all costs are already covered by the monthly license fee. This also reflects the advantages of a SaaS solution, which covers all costs for setting up, maintaining, and further developing the platform in the license fee.

Annika Willers

Manager Internal Communication

Annika Willers

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