By Evan James Griffin, Manager, Training and Development, OrangeSoda Inc.
It’s hard to ignore the influence of technology in our lives. It has changed the way we shop, travel, and communicate, affecting literally everything we do. Its power also recently has changed the world of training, resulting in a booming $50 billion industry. This is no surprise to those who understand one of the greatest training challenges: scalability.
Technology-based training and e-learning enable companies to scale and create consistent digital trainings to be performed by their best trainers. These e-learning modules make it easy for employees to watch, interact with, and test their skills without leaving their desk. Companies everywhere want to take advantage of these modules, but most companies, especially smaller ones, find that building a learning management system (LMS) is too expensive.
OrangeSoda, a small search engine marketing firm, was one of these companies that felt an external LMS solutions would be too expensive. Since 2006, it has nearly doubled in size and has hundreds of partners selling its solutions across the United States. With this rapid growth, the company had to make adjustments to the delivery and scalability of its training programs while maintaining low overhead. OrangeSoda accomplished this by developing several LMSs. Two associates built each LMS in-house. These two individuals were able to effectively build six LMSs with video, tracking, and grades for little more than the cost of labor. Here, step by step, is how to develop your own LMS for free.
Moodle: The first step in creating an affordable LMS is to download the LMS software to an open or existing domain. The preferred open-source software for an LMS is Moodle. Moodle sites are free, easy to download, and have several forums to assist you in the customization of the site’s appearance. Moodle enables site admins to scale trainings to thousands of students or employees through quizzes, SCORM packages, assignments, and more. To download your free Moodle site, visit: www.moodle.com.
PPT: After downloading your Moodle site, you must prepare the content of your trainings. PowerPoint provides an easy way to enhance your training through visuals aids. When using PPT for training purposes within the LMS, build the slides with bullets and images. Try not to add excessive text to the slides because you will have a video recording synced up with the PPT where you explain the content of each slide. Keep animations simple and not overly distracting.
Video: Recording the video trainings is one of the most difficult parts of the LMS process. Use your PPTs as a guide as you record yourself performing a video training. For our recording, we stood in front of a whiteboard and filmed with a Sony HD Handy Cam. The trick when creating these videos is to be as natural as possible. It’s easy to turn on your weatherman voice when you see yourself in front of a camera, but the quality of the video will be much better if you relax and be yourself.
ISpring: iSpring was our only expense when creating the LMS; however, ISpring has a free watermarked version of its software. We purchased our software for $300, but the watermarked version will work fine in most cases. iSpring is an e-learning presentation software that syncs video with PPTs and converts them into Flash files. These files are easily zipped and uploaded to Moodle. Through ISpring, you also have the option of creating tests and quizzes that are tracked through Moodle’s admin panel.
After installing your Moodle site and creating your training content, you are ready to upload your material to Moodle and create user profiles. Be patient as you learn how to use Moodle and other e-learning tools, for this simple formula can jumpstart and legitimize your business’s training program in no time. For a more detailed account of building a Moodle LMS, visit the Website built by the OrangeSoda trainers themselves: www.imadeamoodle.com
Evan James Griffin has been involved in training for 10 years and has trained for OrangeSoda for three years. He studied Communications at BYU and has performed trainings for several Fortune 500 companies. For information, contact him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org phone: 801.602.4485.