When you're looking for a new Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), (or Learning Management System (LMS) as it is also known), it is often hard to know where to start the process. That's why we've created a guide to help you plan ahead and to make sure you get the product that's most suited to you.
Work out your needs
If you’re thinking of changing your VLE (or purchasing one for the first time), the most important thing you need to do is create a list of your requirements. Who will be using this platform? Which devices will they be accessing it from, and how often? Do you want an open source or closed source platform, i.e. will you need future design developments and add-ons? How important is mobile compatibility? Will the LMS or VLE integrate with other software and external add-ons? What is your budget?
By knowing the answers to these questions, you can ask suppliers whether their product can deliver to your specific needs, meaning you're more likely to get a VLE tailored to your needs.
Do some research
You may not know the answers to some or all the above questions (and they're by no means an extensive list), so doing some research yourself will be helpful. This can be done by asking your users to fill out a survey, or by tracking and analysing any data from your current VLE.
You can then take a look at the current market and shortlist the most promising offerings. You should also ask around for recommendations from others, go to events where users and suppliers of VLEs may be, and always be sure you’re looking at VLEs whose functionality matches your requirements.
Things to look for in a VLE
There are several indicators of a good VLE. Here are just a few questions you should consider when measuring up the VLE suppliers.
- Do they provide good service support? If the system goes down, are they there to support you 24/7?
- Is the company reputable? Do they have a decent list of customers?
- Are you getting a tailored LMS or is it a universal product?
- Do they have good 'up-time'?
- Is it easier for you to have a local supplier? For example, having a UK supplier for a UK customer will mean you are more likely to receive face-to-face updates and possible customer review sessions.
- How much storage room do they offer?
- Do they give reports on activity?
- How difficult will the process of changing over to a new VLE be? Is it a smooth operation or can you expect a long and painful implementation?
- Does this LMS support integrations?
- Do they offer regular system updates?
Once you’ve found some potential suppliers, get in touch and ask for a free trial or demo. Rate your shortlist against your requirements (is it easy to use? Is it compatible with all the integrations you need?) This evaluation will allow you to narrow down your VLE search to the best possible provider.
Get in touch
Let the winning provider know and negotiate a price, as well as deciding on a deployment date and things like the level of support necessary for your organisation.
Looking for a new virtual learning environment doesn't have to be a chore, as long as you're prepared and know what to look for in a VLE.
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