Top 5 Mistakes When Selecting An Online Learning Platform

Supporting your organisation and employees through the set up and roll out of a successful learning platform is crucial for L&D functions at this stage.

With so many agile and remote workers and an ever-expanding global workforce, there has never been a more poignant time to invest in online learning – so how do you ensure that the learning platform you choose to support this is fit for purpose?

Here we discuss some of the most common mistakes that organisations make when selecting an eLearning platform or LXP and how to avoid ending up with a system that doesn’t work for you or your people.

1. Getting tied down and locked into an inflexible product

Most learning platform providers will only offer licenses or subscriptions on an annual basis, and a high number of these will be for a 2 or 3-year contract as a minimum.

There are benefits in signing up to an ongoing contract, as you will often find longer leases provide a bigger bang for your buck across the duration of the contract – and your procurement team are certainly going to be looking at the lifetime value of this purchase – but you need to ensure that the platform and the provider you go with are set up to support you both now and in the future.

You need to know that the number of users can be scaled up or scaled down as the organisation changes and grows, and you don’t want to find that this becomes a challenging process, which ultimately ends up costing you far more than you expected because you’re either exceeding or falling short of a set number of users.

Equally, you want a provider that is going to develop as your organisation develops. It’s great to find a learning platform that’s going to meet your needs now, but what about 3, 6, 12 months down the line?

Our learners and our organisations are evolving all the time, so you need to find a platform and a provider that will be adaptive to your requirements and be innovative and forward thinking in their own approach to L&D.

2. Failing to conduct a thorough user experience test

Lots of online learning platforms will look the part, seem responsive and intuitive in terms of design and will boast a whole host of fantastic features and benefits – particularly if their sales teams have anything to do with it – but it’s no use having a great looking system with an abundance of functionality if your learners and administrators can’t make any sense of it when they login.

Ask for a trial of the platform for at least 3 learners from different areas of the organisation, and ensure the team responsible for administrating and managing the system have all had ample opportunity to sign up, login, search for and access what they need.

Gain their feedback at the end of the trial period and ask them to rate how quickly and easily they were able to find and access what they were looking for. This will help you establish how quickly and effectively you’ll be able to roll this platform out to your employees – with minimal input from L&D or the provider.

3. Opting for a one-size-fits all approach

Some online learning platforms will only allow you to have access to certain types of learning material and will be limited in the way they can house and distribute your learning resources. Others will not allow you to build your course (By the way here is a process on how to market and sell online courses)

The days of “sheep-dip” training are long gone, and your learning platform should support you in creating, scheduling and sharing personalised learning journeys for all participants.

Ensure you investigate the different types of content that the platform can host, and assess how learners, their line managers and administrators can upload and structure these learning pathways, to ensure you are able to offer an engaging learning platform which supports individuals own needs as well as the wider organisational requirements.

4. Overlooking the importance of analytics and reporting

It’s all well and good having a fantastic learning platform that your employees rave about, but you’re going to struggle to provide ongoing reporting and accurate return on investment information if you can’t access the data behind engagement, participation and output in a meaningful and useful way.

Is the reporting just visually appealing or does it actually provide real insight into your learners at individual, team, departmental and organisational level?

If your L&D function have been integral to selecting your learning platform, then you are going to be expected to demonstrate the input, output and results of this – so make sure the reporting behind the system provides you with what you need, in an easy to access and easy to use format.

5. Underestimating the value of integrated API

As an existing L&D function from an established organisation, you’re bound to have other systems outside of your learning platform that you have been using to upload, store and access employee information.

So do you really want to have to mass download and reupload all of this data into your new eLearning platform? What if it’s not in the right format to simply transfer data from one spreadsheet to another?

Quite simply, this means an awful lot of additional time and resource spent getting the information you need in and out of both platforms – and is just a major hassle.

Ensure you look into online learning platforms that have integrated and fully documented API. The platforms and systems might not already be integrated with one another as an off-the-shelf solution, but a learning platform with API built in will ensure that you can get the two systems to talk to each other much more quickly and effectively than those without.

With quite a number of providers in the market, ensure you avoid these 5 common pitfalls when choosing your new learning platform – and save yourself a lot of expense, time and resource in the process.

Sean photo

Sean is the CEO of Skillshub. He’s a published author and has been featured on CNN, BBC and ITV as a leading authority in the learning and development industry. Sean is responsible for the vision and strategy at Skillshub, helping to ensure innovation within the company.

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Updated on: 26 June, 2020


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