Any good LMS will allow you to regularly view data to help ascertain how successful the site is. Totara LMS, for example, allows you to view reports to see course enrolment and completion, number of logins, and new users. This quantitate data tells you whether your users are adopting and engaging with the LMS and what content is popular, and while this data is great, it doesn’t tell you why your LMS is performing well (or not so well). You need to get qualitative data to answer that question.
The key to understanding the success of your LMS
Combined with the numbers, qualitative data will provide a comprehensive view into how the system is being used and also ideas for future development. To gather truly qualitative and useful data to discover what your users really think, you have to start talking to them and find ways to promote this conversation within and outside of your LMS.
4 ways to engage with your users
Provide an email address to get in contactProviding an email address or phone number is a quick and easy way to let your users know you’re there and are listening. If you have a Totara LMS this could be a simple Contact Us page or block providing contact details and strong calls to action to get in touch about their experiences – the good and bad.
Set up a SurveyA simple survey with general questions asking users to provide details about their experiences provides a more structured way to receive feedback. In Totara LMS the feedback activity allows you to create a survey which can be linked to from the homepage or main menu and responses can be exported into an excel format for easy analysis.
The Interaction Design Foundation have suggested some very good questions for general feedback. Ideally the survey should be short and quick to respond to – overwhelming users with too many questions may mean they ditch their feedback partway through. It’s also worth prompting if they are happy to be contacted, enabling you to follow up on feedback and take their responses to the next level.
Speak to the usersWhen you find willing participants, arrange a short call with them to discuss how they use the site and what the good and bad experiences have been. Asking a user to walk you through what they generally do on a regular visit to the site will quickly tell you what features get the most use.
You could also recruit a group of users to bounce around new ideas or to review new content and functionality.
The Long Game – Diary StudiesConducting user research over a period of time sounds daunting at first, but it offers one of the best ways to discover why and how the site supports users in the real world. To set up a diary study, you need a group of users who are happy to participate and a way to capture their feedback. In Totara LMS, this could be done by setting up a course with the weekly course format and an activity that enables user input (e.g. The assignment activity, feedback or quiz activity), and you could use the system to send reminder messages to complete the questionnaire.
Asking users to complete a short questionnaire weekly can give you insights into what areas of the site they visited that week and why visited that particular information. This will help create a clearer picture of general usage, whilst asking them to rate their experience will help to ascertain the emotional response to the site. This ongoing collection of data can be used alongside quantitative data to validate the user’s journey.
To summarise, whichever way you do it, engaging directly with users is worth it and will help you to understand how the LMS is being used in the real world, what is good and bad, and what can be improved.