Build an LMS that learners love – 10 tips

22 March 2021 by Catalyst

As an organisation that understands the power of effective workplace learning, you’re probably using a learning management system (LMS) to deliver digital content and ensure compliance. But used correctly, your LMS is capable of so much more.

How to harness the power of  your LMS

In this post, we outline 10 tips that explain how you can use your LMS to encourage social learning, boost employee engagement and unlock insights on employee learning preferences: 

Tip 1 – Add a creative touch to “tough” training material

“This course is critical for meeting compliance obligations this year. Please complete it promptly.” 

Does this announcement sound familiar? If it does, you know the end result: 

Blank stares from employees itching to swivel back to their screens; months later, most people are still due to complete whatever ‘critical’ training was announced. 
Labelling a piece of training as mandatory isn’t enough to motivate learners; especially if it’s a tough topic.

A creative way to work around this problem is to tweak the way that ‘challenging’ content is presented. If you have an unpopular PDF, for example, turn into a SCORM quiz or entertaining video guide. 

Tip 2 – Bend LMS plugins and extensions to business needs

Do you need to enable mobile learning on the go? Or customise your dashboards for better reporting? 

With an LMS like Totara Learn, you’re not forced to spend countless hours or chunks of capital developing your own solutions. Unlike a proprietary LMS, plugins and extensions are part of the package. So you can instantly plug in and trial new solutions without risking time and money. 

If you’re looking for a custom feature or functionality, check out Totara’s extensions library to see what solutions are already available.

Tip 3 – Keep an eye out on release notes for new features

Keep an eye on release notes and updates to quickly integrate new features, functionalities and improvements that will contribute to a better learning experience.

If you’re using Totara Learn, subscribe to the Totara Release Notes forum to get updates on all new versions and features.

Keep up to date with Totara Learn

Tip 4 – Watch expert-led webinars to get quick LMS wins

From designing effective learning programmes and training materials, to refining the learning experience and ensuring compliance, you’ve got a lot to do and limited time to do it. Why not save time by learning from other experts? 

In the Totara Community, you’ll find expert-led, easy to access live and prerecorded webinars to help you select, and quickly execute game-changing ideas to improve your LMS. 

Explore how Totara Learn helped Kmart Australia improve their Staff Induction Program


Tip 5 – Experiment (safely) with a dummy LMS site

Erasing your entire training catalogue in a single click is a scary thought, isn’t it? 

With a test site, you eliminate the fear of accidentally crippling your LMS while adding a new feature or ‘playing around’. Please note that creating a demo site will take time as you’ll have to load: 

    • Users
    • Courses
    • Progs
    • Certifications
    • Filler course content
    • Hierarchies
    • Completion data 

But it’s time well spent. Once created, a prepopulated demo site allows you to experiment and trial new features without potentially harming your actual training site. Admins will also be able to master new features and get feedback on ideas without facing irreversible repercussions.

Tip 6 – Leverage LMS gamification features to engage your learners

When Samsung wanted to create a world-class extended enterprise training platform for retail and operator staff, they used Totara Learn to make learning more engaging. 

Use badges to engage your learners

As well as implementing an adaptive design, their new learning platform made extensive use of Open Badges to recognise and reward learners for completing training, passing quizzes and updating their profiles. 

Learning can be exciting and engaging or it can feel like a forced, tick-box formality. Want to make your learning experience closer to the former? Then take full advantage of the gamification features in your LMS. 

Tip 7 – Empower ‘power users’ to motivate learners

While not always possible, peer-to-peer learning can be more engaging than formalised training. Within your LMS, you can use this to improve your training programmes – especially for unenthusiastic learners. 

For example, if you notice that you have both power users and less engaged users in a department, give power users the freedom to create content such as customised quizzes, PDFs and prizes. 

This will engage less enthusiastic learners and help motivated employees retain what they learn through teaching it.

Tip 8 – Understand learner preferences with insightful reports

Which training materials are popular in your LMS? Where is learner engagement dropping and how can it be improved?  

To level up the training delivered by your LMS, these are key questions you’ll have to consider. With Totara Learn, you can use audience targeting and reporting to get detailed answers. 

You can capture data from both past and present learners by limiting your reports to active users with the dynamic audience rule. Using the report content filter, you can also exclude all suspended and deleted users from your report. These features will help you generate valuable insights into how your employees learn. 

Tip 9 – Draw inspiration from experts in your industry

Case studies, webinars and learner data will inspire powerful ideas that you can use to improve your LMS. But what if you could interact with and learn from other organisations that have learners, challenges and solutions that are similar to yours? In the Totara Community, you can.

Within the Totara Community, you’ll find organisations in a variety of sectors  – including healthcare, retail, government, energy, technology and more – discussing and sharing solutions to sector-specific challenges. 

The Totara Community discusses sector-specific challenges

Each sector has special resources, newsfeeds and optional subscriptions to help you stay on top of current learning challenges in your industry.

Tip 10 – Tell users about training and help documents

A good LMS (alongside other core functionalities) provides access to engagement-boosting features like Open Badges, rewards and progress reports. If you’re using an open source LMS like Totara, you’ll receive regular updates with new features and improvements to your existing system. 
To make the most out of these updates, point your admins/users to training and documentation for existing and new functionalities. While this sounds like a simple step, it’s an important one because:
    1 Learners are more likely to take advantage of a feature if they know about it and feel confident enough to use it. 
    2 Resisting change is instinctive. Who wants more work? Pointing to help and training documents encourages both admins and users to overcome this knee-jerk reaction. 
If you’re looking for resources to point admins/learners to, the Totara Academy and Help Portal will provide technical how-to-guides on using different features, improving your LMS and optimising the learner experience. 

Looking for expertise to support  your LMS? Catalyst is a Totara Platinum Partner