How your WordPress website can be extended to provide LMS functionality
Wherever possible we use WordPress because it allows us to extended a website to perform a myriad of functions. For those looking to offer some form of online training, upgrading your WordPress CMS to a Learning Management System (LMS) would enable you to extend your e-learning provision and reporting capability. In addition, because it’s WordPress this can be incorporated into a web design from the outset, or installed and configured at a later date. In this way, your e-learning capability can grow with your company when your operating model, staff numbers or budget allow.
By way of introduction, the LMS can contain the following features:
- Lesson & Course creation – you can easily create an unlimited number of courses and sub-lessons with custom descriptions and images.
- Control Access – it’s possible to grant access to your courses and lessons according to a predefined schedule. Once this has been defined you can leave it to run – set it and forget it.
- Material upload – you can upload videos or e-learning files to complement your course material, which only registered students can view.
- User upload – students can upload assignments, which you can then easily manage and approve for each lesson.
- Control progress – you can set course and lesson pre-requisites to control the order in which students access material. Students can then track their progress using the progress bar or their profile.
- Run reports – you can run reports on your students’ activity by leveraging the power of the Tin-Can API integration (more on this to follow).
- Automatic/Manual registration – either sign-up users manually, or record and manage all of the students who have registered for courses on your LMS.
- Communicate with your students – use the e-mail feature to notify registered students of important information.
- Quiz Creation – create a quiz and set a passing score to test students understanding of previously delivered training.
- Set time constraints – set a timer for your lessons so that students cannot mark it complete until the timer reaches zero, or limit and track the amount of time spent on any quiz.
Enhanced Quiz options
The quizzes or tests can be as simple or as complex as you wish. They can include:
- Award up to 15-levels and certificates based on points
- Assign a unique number of points to each question of your quiz
- Reduce the ability to cheat by displaying questions randomly
- Display answers randomly on a per question basis
- Set the limit of quiz attempts at any number, from one to unlimited
- Create a list of questions and randomly display a specific section
- Show one question at a time, or display all of them at once
- Allow users to skip questions and come back at a later point
- Let users review their answers at the end of the quiz
- Show or hide a feedback message after each question.
Tin Can API & SCORM
In the past, any legitimate LMS adhered to the Shareable Content Object Reference Model known as SCORM – a collection of standards and specifications for web-based learning. SCORM recorded when someone took an e-learning course and recorded quiz results. If you created an e-learning course using software such as Adobe Captivate or Articulate, you could publish SCORM and upload the course to an LMS. Latterly, one of the main problems with SCORM is that the last major update was in 2004.
Tin-Can API is the next evolution of the unwieldy and rigid SCORM specification. Tin-Can records learning in the form of “Action Statements”. For example: Matt passed MTB maintenance 101, or Jackie read Whittle’s Gait Analysis. These statements are sent to what is called a Learning Record Store (LRS).
What is an LRS?
Put simply, an LRS is a place to store learning records. The data stored in an LRS can be accessed by LMSs, reporting tools, or other LRSs and can even be stored as individual learning records and/or entire transcripts. In this way, the data within the LRS attached to your LMS, can be used to compile reports based upon the LMS reporting suite, or exported to create bespoke reports
An LRS can also share data with other LRSs – in this way learners and data can be transferred from one organisation to another. Statements can also be sent to multiple LRSs. For example, “I want to record my students training in My Companies LRS as well as My Client’s LRS.”
The power of the Tin Can API and an LMS
The Tin Can API frees your data from the confines of your self-conatined LMS enabling you to not only create, monitor and evaluate your teaching, but share it more effectively with your clients. You could even take the use of the Tin Can API a step further use it to collect data about the wide range of experiences a person has (online and offline).
The creators of the Tin Can API go as far to state:
The Tin Can API is capable of achieving the holy grail sought by training departments everywhere by correlating job performance data with training data to assess training effectiveness and much more
In summary, this article has been written in order to provide you with the information you need when considering how you could extend your capability in terms of e-learning delivery, monitoring and reporting. In addition, an LMS is a powerful tool when coupled with the Tin Can API enabling you to share the information gathered through a variety of learning activities with your clients. Should this be an option you wish to explore, then we would be happy to discuss this with you further.