Public Relations Today

What Your LMS Procurement Checklist is Overlooking

Eli Jameson wrote this on Apr 6, 2016

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I’m feeling good.

In the last week I’ve connected with several schools who are just nailing their learning management system procurement. Why is that a reason to be in a good mood, you ask?

Listen, not everyone gets this right. For every school that has a thoughtful procurement checklist and an airtight vision for how their school is going to use new tech, there are three districts who ask if you can create quizzes in your platform before holding any high-level conversations about their school’s plan for edtech.

(It’s fine if you want a platform that houses quizzes….it’s just not a great idea to lead with that. There are bigger fish to fry when choosing an LMS.)

So, here I am, completely energized by the educators I’ve met with recently. I thought it would be a good opportunity to shout out what these schools are getting right. If you’re shopping for new edtech, specifically an LMS, listen up. This one’s for you.

Talk about where you want to go with edtech, not a list of features.

I’m trying to figure out how to express that anyone shopping for an LMS is going to have features in mind they need, or want, to have. There are going to be some dealbreakers. That’s fine, that’s the way it works.

But if your procurement checklist is only a list of features, you’re doing it wrong.

The best, most meaningful conversations I’ve had with schools shopping for an LMS start with a big picture exploration of where they want to go with technology. We talk about their classrooms and teachers, as well as their overall school culture and communication preferences. We think about goals for device usage and overall connectivity.

It’s after we’ve covered those things that we work backward and discuss the features that will realize their vision.

To focus an entire procurement process around a shortlist of features - likely created by a handful of vocal users - is how you appease a handful of vocal users, not your whole school.

To focus an entire procurement process around a shortlist of features - likely created by a handful of vocal users - is how you appease a handful of vocal users, not your whole school.

You’ve thought about adoption and training.

Schools that crush their LMS procurement think about adoption rate and onboarding while they’re shopping. Not after they’ve selected something.

Let me bounce off my last point about appeasing a few vocal users who lobby for specific features in a new LMS. In shopping for a learning management system, you’re looking for something that everyone is going to use. You're looking for something that is easily introduced to the entire population and has something to offer all users. That’s how you get a high adoption rate.

I’ve seen some schools do pilot programs to ensure platforms will sync with users. Others have done student surveys to get kids using the software before a decision is made, which I love.

What I don’t love is when you have two or three people who lobby hard for selecting a system (that will be used by the entire school) that caters to their very specific classroom preferences. In my experience, it’s frequently a handful of key features an educator says he or she can’t live without that drives the decision-making process in a direction that may or may not be right for the majority of users.

That’s when you see low adoption rates and a frustration-laden onboarding period.

Think about the relationship you’re forming with a company.

Finally, allow me to drop in the old customer service point here.

Any company worth their salt is going to have their eye on the future of LMS.

You’re shopping for a system that is going to connect your entire school community. That’s fantastic and exciting. I hope that as you send out RFPs and adjudicate different platforms you keep an eye on the companies you really want to have a relationship with.

The LMS market is evolving quickly. Any company worth their salt is going to have their eye on the future of LMS. They’ll be ready to not only help you get up to speed with their platform, but create strategies for using it meaningfully and adapt as edtech continues to grow and change. Look for someone who you can have an open, direct line of communication with who will support not just the admins at the top, but the entire school community.

Ensure that you’ll have a personal service rep. Have a conversation about support offered to all students, teachers, and admins using a system. Feel out how open the company is to soliciting feedback from you and learning from your experience using their tool. Service should be a major part of your checklist.

You’re not just procuring a sweet new learning platform. You’re procuring a team of edtech experts who should be by your side long after you’re up and running.

 

Keep your school on the same page.

Topics: Development, Teachers, Administrators, EdTechUpdate