As far as online learning is concerned, a well-integrated learning platform is indispensable. Your operations would be unmanageable in this day and age without a central system that connects the tools you need to administer, automate, document, track, report, and deliver your online courses. It’s more than a repository for records and items shared among teachers, facilitators, and learners.
New and unforeseen operational needs arise all the time – your competitor’s advancements notwithstanding – so it is prudent to maximise your learning management system’s capacity for integration with external software. Strive to make it as adaptable as the times are unpredictable.
In this post, we share four key system integrations you should consider adding to your e-learning platform. They evolve the ways in which your online courses or blended learning programs are managed and delivered, and improve the learning experience.
1. Video conferencing tools
Your LMS must be able to support the range of collaboration tools for all your conferencing needs. Teleconferences between staff members, and instructors and learners; the challenges you meet in different settings such as instructor-led and autonomic training; and webinars, to name a few – they each require varying considerations.
The software should be user-friendly and cater to users’ needs intuitively, e.g. by providing a chat feature with a “hand raising” option for those who wish to contribute to the conference without interrupting the discussion at hand. Integrate your LMS with a tool that offers you a video recording facility; you and your students will be able to keep the recorded videos as a reference. This integration enables learners to move seamlessly between course content and video calls, accommodating the unique demands of asynchronous and blended learning.
You may have heard of some of these tools, e.g. Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Webinar.ru, WebEx, and BigBlueButton. Study them sufficiently so as to weigh them against possible technical limitations on both sides. If you want to find out how to start online teaching via Zoom, we have you covered here.
2. Single sign-on (SSO)
SSO is an authentication system that allows you to log in to several related online software with a single ID. Users will not have to create and recall multiple credentials, write them down on a precarious piece of paper, or perpetually reset their usernames and passwords. The utility of this small detail cannot be overstated; it improves user experience significantly.
The other advantage that SSO integration offers is the opportunity to centralise access management, and thus implement uniform security policies for your training portal and across your digital platforms.
💡 If your learners already have a user account with your service, you can use single sign-on to provision and authenticate their OpenLearning accounts without requiring a second login.
3. Experience API (xAPI)
An API, which stands for application programming interface, is a type of code that facilitates the transmission of data between one software and another. The xAPI is the same, except that it’s made specifically for collecting data on a person’s online and offline experiences. The data is taken from different technologies but recorded in a consistent format.
xAPI is preferable to Shareable Content Object Reference Model, better known as SCORM. The latter tracks only total time spent on the learning content, scores, course completion status, and at most, location.
With xAPI integration we get a bigger picture; an eye on the other ways in which we learn. The informal, offline, real-life ways. For example, it allows us to assess the learner’s progress while they’re on the job. The data that is gleaned from it is assessed in the context of a learning activity, and this in turn gives us a good idea of how we can better serve the unique needs of each learner.
💡 Your learning record store (LRS) can receive xAPI statements from OpenLearning.
4. Automation tools
Consider using an automation tool like Zapier. It’s like a trusty digital personal assistant. It automates workflows involving thousands of web applications and services, such as Zendesk, Slack, Google Forms, Salesforce, Zoom, and any social media app you happen to use. A simple example of workflow is, say, releasing a customised standard Tweet every time you publish an article. Or receiving notifications on multiple platforms whenever a student has submitted an assignment.
You can easily create the commands for workflows on Zapier’s web interface. You need neither code nor expert to integrate it for you.
A command is called a “zap” and it consists of two things: a trigger and an action. To use the examples above, the triggers are article publication and assignment submission, and the Tweet and notifications are the actions. You can customise zaps extensively and create multiple zap steps. Your content management will never be the same again.
💡 You can create zaps to email you about course updates e.g. when a new learner enrols, visits a page, or completes your course.
Getting the right tools for your online learning programme doesn’t have to be complicated. A good starting point is to remember that “integration” is key. A network of integrated systems optimises efficiency for individuals, teams, and departments to collaborate, and this has a direct impact on the learner’s experience. You will reap the results of the time and effort you invest in building a solid learning management system.
If you seek further guidance on online teaching and training, get in touch with us or encourage your team to enrol in the free courses below: