Absorb LMS Blog

Absorb LMS is an award winning, HTML5-based, SCORM-conformant learning management system (LMS) that’s powerful yet easy to use.
Absorb LMS Blog

We’re Happy to Give Others the Last Word on Absorb LMS

Donna GernhaelderSure, this is the Absorb LMS blog and, naturally, we spend a lot of time telling you why we think Absorb is a great LMS. It’s hard not to be bias!

By all means please consider what we have to say about Absorb to help separate it from the many other LMS solutions vying for your attention. But don’t just take our word for it – listen closely to what others are saying about Absorb. Chances are, you may find their input convincing and reassuring.

A quick Google search on Absorb LMS uncovers lots of informed comments and opinions on Absorb from clients, prospects, consultants and industry analysts. Absorb is enjoying record awareness levels and new client implementations in part driven from increasing endorsements and referrals from a growing base of Absorb champions. The word is out! (It’s no wonder we’re attracting regular visits to our website these days from many competitors and prospects alike.)

Here is just a sampling of independent Absorb references:

“My assessment – I like Absorb and their LMS — powerful, global and easy with an experienced professional services team to back it up. They are a good candidate for pure extended enterprise or combo employee/external LMS initiatives.”

Talented Learning

“We have used Absorb for several of our clients now, and after using open-source LMS solutions in the past, are really impressed with the forethought put into creating this platform. Each update enhances the offering.”

−Newhall Klein

“Absorb LMS has a good balance between just-enough functionality and ease of use. Keeps delivery costs low. Through a competitive bid analysis, we found Absorb to be about 25% of the cost of other leading systems like Cornerstone, Saba and Sum Total.”

−G2 Crowd

“Blatant Media’s clients have reported their solutions to be reliable, flexible, and easy to use. A strong focus on product design, functionality and client support was integral in Blatant Media receiving a Brandon Hall Group Smartchoice® certification.”

−Brandon Hall Group

“I actually heard about [Absorb] through a colleague…When I talked to her she had mentioned that you guys were quickly becoming the new favorite and that CornerStone and SumTotal were becoming yesterday’s news ;) I looked you up and saw the reviews”


We’re not shy about declaring that we believe we have the best LMS out there. It’s easy to be confident when others back up your claims and echo your efforts, and we appreciate every comment.

The Absorb LMS Mercury Module: Content Management System or Marketing Machine?

Don Landry, Business Development Manager, Blatant MediaOver the past four years or so, the number of clients using Absorb to deliver courses for sale, or to train external learners as a value add for clients has grown dramatically. As the world of online training grows, many organizations and entrepreneurs are recognizing the opportunity that the internet provides to reach the masses with training offerings spanning every imaginable industry or topic.

This is still an industry in its infancy, and will no doubt evolve rapidly from its current state. One of the natural progressions will be to use the same system that delivers the purchased training to gather information from the audience and use that information to add value to the total offering or advertise additional training available.

Once a customer logs in to take their course, we have their full attention, which is rare these days. Why not take advantage and shamelessly promote your additional products and offerings

Mercury is a miner of marketing gold. Wonder what your audience thinks about a topic? Ask them in a targeted quick poll or survey. Used properly, it can allow a business to immediately capitalize on that information. Even better, all Mercury features allow you to distribute material based on any combination of their geographic location, industry, job title, or any other piece of information you may have gathered, so if it appears in front of someone, it is likely of interest to them.

The Mercury module turns the large piece of real estate on the main dashboard into a dynamic marketing mechanism capable of promoting additional courses or products you have for sale, upcoming seminars you are hosting, sharing brief, flattering messages about your company, announcing product launches, and so on.

News Stories

Share information beyond course material with news stories and press releases. You are proud of your product offering and services and you have so much you can tell people about them, but how? While your audience may share that interest, it is unlikely that interest is shared across the breadth of info you have to convey.

The quickest way to have people ignore your press releases and news stories is to put too many in front of them. Because Mercury news stories can be targeted to the individual, again based on whatever filters you choose, you can put what is likely of interest directly in their lap and not rely on them to sort through a pile of irrelevant articles. This drastically increases the likelihood of them actually reading your message.


Coupons and freebies have been used to boost sales since the dawn of trade. Everyone loves getting something for nothing. Use the Contest feature to entice your audience to take an extra bundle of courses that come with a chance to win prizes or rewards. How many of us have purchased that extra giant pack of paper towels to get 10 bonus Air Miles?

By increasing the level of engagement with your audience, you increase the likelihood that they will return. Each time they do, you have an opportunity to sell them something new.

Want to find out more? Watch this video overview of the Absorb LMS Mercury Module:
Absorb LMS – Mercury Module from Absorb LMS on Vimeo.

One Reason Why More than 30 Per Cent of Organizations Really Hate Their Learning Management System

Richard Nantel, Vice President, Enterprise Learning Solutions, Blatant Media | Absorb LMSSelecting the right learning management system (LMS) can be a daunting task. There are hundreds of systems available. Making matters worse, you wouldn’t sound like too much of a conspiracy nut to suggest that all LMS vendors get together at the corner pub every Friday night to figure out how to make it even harder for buyers to compare their products and pricing.

“John, how about you charge per course enrollment and Mary, you charge per bandwidth used but don’t make the price changes linear, make them logarithmic, OK?”

Given the level of difficulty in selecting a learning management system, many organizations look for shortcuts, the most common of which is to simply buy the system used by one or more of their closest competitors or others in their industry.

If that giant import/export conglomerate, Vandelay Industries, is using QuickyLurn LMS, then you’d be nuts to select any other system for your own import/export business! After all, Vandelay’s billion dollar annual revenues would have been more than enough to fund the most exhaustive LMS search, ever.

George Costanza, Vandelay Industies

Well, Vandelay Industries may have done its due diligence in selecting a LMS, or:

  • Perhaps someone at Vandelay was so overwhelmed with the scope of the project that a dart was thrown at a board containing the names of well-known systems. Or;
  • The LMS selected just happened to be where the secret lover of the head of the technology selection committee worked (say no more!) Or;
  • Vandelay actually picked the system they needed years ago but their needs have changed, and they are now unhappily using that same LMS because they are locked into an agreement with an expensive exit clause

Regrettably, organizations that select a competitor’s LMS too often ignore that their  learning strategy significantly impacts their LMS requirements. Your organization may be in the same industry but you may approach workplace learning differently:

  • You may make heavy use of self-paced, video-based learning content whereas Vandelay may focus on classroom-based training
  • You may wish to support external learners such as clients or partners whereas Vandelay may use the system only for employees
  • You may wish to support mobile learning whereas Vandelay is stuck with a lot of old content that doesn’t work on phones or tablets
  • Etc.

This copycat problem is particularly evident in higher education, where colleges and universities are perpetually in a state of abandoning their LMS for four or five competing systems, only to return to their first choice a dozen years later, beginning the cycle once more. We could call this dance the Moodle-Blackboard-Desire2Learn-eCollege-Sakai quickstep.

My mother used to say “just because your friend Patrick jumped into the cold lake with his clothes on doesn’t mean you had to as well.”

In writing this post, I considered referring to this copycat behavior as lemming-like but it turns out that even lemmings are smart enough to know that copying other lemmings is a bad idea. (See misconceptions about lemmings, Wikipedia.)

Lemmings and my mother provide valuable advice to organizations selecting a learning management system: don’t select a system because your competitor or other organizations in your industry use that software. Do your homework. Find a system that matches your requirements.

So, you complete a course and then what happens? Time-based enrollments in Absorb LMS.

Dan Medakovic
Dan Medakovic VP Learning Solutions

The subject of time-based enrollments has come up in client discussions quite often lately, so I thought I’d write about it here.

Here are some examples of what clients are asking for:

  • A week after a learner enrolls in a course, we want to automatically enroll them in another course, and then another one week later, and so on…


  • If the learner enrolls in  Webinar x, we want to auto-enroll them in a free sample course, 1 day later, and include a thank-you note in the email


  • If a learner fails a course, we need to auto-enroll them in some remedial training

You can easily come up with more of these types of scenarios, and they all speak to using time-based enrollment triggers. The good news is, we can easily do all of this using Post-Enrollment Triggers in Absorb.

There are three types of Post Enrollment Triggers in Absorb LMS. These are set on the Completion Tab of an ILC or Online course in Edit view.

A course can have more than one Post Enrollment Trigger.

For example:

 1. Upon ENROLLMENT. You can have a learner immediately enrolled in one or more courses, curricula or bundles upon ENROLLMENT in a Course. If you want, you can add in a delay (in days). In this case, the learner will immediately be enrolled in a second course, called “ecommerce free test course”. This a great way to give someone acess to a free module of a related course, for marketing purposes.

Post Enrollment - Enroll

2. Upon COMPLETION. You can have a learner immediately enrolled in one or more courses, curricula or bundles upon COMPLETION of Course 1. If you want, you can add a delay (in days). This is a good alternative to using the Curriculum feature in Absorb, and reduces the number of courses in which the learner is initially enrolled. It’s also great if you want to force the learner to take breaks in between courses. In the example below, the learner will receive an enrollment confirmation email for the course “Customer Service Summary”, 7 days after they complete Course 1. The course will then appear in their My Courses list.

post enrollmemt trigger COPMLETE


3. Upon FAILURE. You can have a learner immediately enrolled in one or more courses, curricula or bundles upon FAILURE of Course 1. If you want, you can add a delay (in days). This is great for remedial training. In this example, the learner will be enrolled in a remedial course “Customer Service 101″, 2 days after thay fail Course 1.

post enrollmemt trigger FAIL

In cases where you want to maintain and display a single page layout (and workflow) for multiple courses, we still recommend the Curriculum feature.

Using Post Enrollment Triggers across multiple courses, you can push a learner through a path. By customizing the Enrollment Notification that the learner receives, you can control the messaging and user experience each time they are enrolled in something new.

Time based enrollment triggers are easy, give you lots of options and will simplify your life as an administrator.


You CAN always get what you need: Tips for writing a great LMS RFI/RFP

Dan Profile Pic 124 x 124  As Mick Jagger famously sang, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you get what you need!”. I sometimes wonder if he worked in  software sales (okay, not really), but  this expression could be 100% applicable to the process of procuring or selling software.

As a “Top 20″ LMS vendor, we regularly receive RFI and RFP invitations from all kinds of organizations.
While we welcome the opportunities provided, the process of answering what should be a simple Yes or No question can often be quite frustrating.

There are three reasons for this:

1. Companies can be too prescriptive with their requirements definitions.

2. Companies combine multiple requirements into a single Yes/No question.

3. Companies do not provide the vendor with an opportunity to recommend better options.

Let’s explore these problems using a single, typical, example:

Quite often in an RFI/RFP we will see a requirement like this:

The system allows external users to request an account, and for administrators to create an account, and then enroll them in their required training according to the company they work for, or the product that they have purchased.

Answer “Yes/No” and either “Custom/Out-of-the-Box”

The problem with this is that someone (with potentially limited LMS exposure) has envisioned an LMS workflow that they think is best for their use case. Rather than describing the story, they’ve actually provided a specific solution that the  vendor either either supports or does not support.  As a vendor, this paints us into a corner. For one, we need to support all aspects of the statement in order to say “Yes”. More importantly, we may have a much better solution (like Enrollment Keys) that could save the client loads of time and frustration, automate the process, and provide a better user experience, but to say so would mean answering”No” and then not complying with the requirement as stated. As a vendor, if this was a mandatory requirement, you’d be out of the running. As a customer, you may end up missing out on some of the best solutions in the market.

The better way to do this is to describe your story or use case without referring software features. For example:
Our company has been experiencing huge growth, and the current method for training new customers (live onsite) on our products is no longer scalable, timely, or cost-effective. We have converted our courses into a SCORM e-learning format and would like to use this as a way to scale-up our ability to train larger numbers of customers, and also to shorten the time it takes to get them trained from the time they purchase the product. All customer contact information and product purchase history are stored in our Salesforce.com CRM. 

Please describe the methods you support to create learner accounts, so that they can then be enrolled in the approprate training based upon their company and product(s) purchase history.

The above use case allows a vendor to provide multiple options and also to recommend the best of those options. You can still have your selection committee rank or score responses to get to a short list, and you can use your preferred options to define script-driven demos. This avoids a huge potential problem if getting what you want, but not what you need. Some of you may be familiar with the old “Tree Swing” software development cartoon that illustrates what can happen when you think you’ve been clear in what you want.

tree_swing_development_requirements In the end, a use-case or story-driven approach will get you what you need. In general, clients that follow this approach are often delighted to find that the vendors have come up with solutions that they never envisioned or even thought possible.

For some tips on creating story-driven software requirements, check out the book User Stories Applied by Mike Cohn (recommended by a prospective client who submitted the best RFI I’ve ever had the pleasure of responding to).

Upgrading your current platoform, or getting your first LMS, provides a tremendous opporunity to improve your processes, save time, increase user satisfaction, save money, train more people, etc. Make sure you are giving the enthusiastic people in the industry the best possible opportunity to showcase their knowldge and experience. You will have a much better change of getting what you need!

Happy shopping!


How to Reduce Your Course Development Costs By 90+ Per Cent

Richard Nantel, Vice President, Enterprise Learning Solutions, Blatant Media | Absorb LMSLearners today are presented with a wealth of choices and opportunities for learning. They can turn to Blogs, wikis, social networks, video sites, etc. to find learning content. The problem, though, is that it can be difficult to find high quality, informative learning content among a massive sea of choices.

How much stuff is out there?

YouTube Statistics
YouTube Statistics

Research indicates that the time, effort, and cost to create e-learning courses using authoring tools is exorbitant. This often quoted ASTD article states that it typically takes 127 to 184 hours (16 to 23 days) to create, using authoring tools, one hour of self-paced online learning containing moderate interactivity.

A solution

An effective solution to the problem of learning content overload and pressure on course developers to create courses quickly and cheaply is to leverage the workplace learning management system (LMS) as an on-ramp to the world’s best learning content.

Traditionally, instructional designers and course developers create courses using third party authoring tools and import these into the LMS to deliver to learners and track their progress. Comparatively, the course assembly tools built into some learning management systems (LMS) allow you to quickly create courses that contain:

  • Instructional videos from the most popular sites including YouTube, Vimeo, TED.com, etc.
  • Articles from Wikipedia and other online encyclopedia
  • Blog posts from such reputable sources as Harvard Business Review
  • Slideshare and Prezi presentations
  • Free online courses
  • External discussion forums in the form of Facebook or LinkedIn groups, Reddit discussions, etc
  • Etc.

Although the source files for the content types listed above are located outside of the LMS, the system can still track the learner’s progress through the courses. Learner activity reports can then be generated, shared, exported, and e-mailed to instructors, administrators, managers, and others.

Absorb LMS course created with content from Wikipedia, Youtube, and Slideshare
Absorb LMS course created with content from Wikipedia, YouTube, and Slideshare

Cost savings

Based on the estimate that a traditional e-learning course takes 16 to 23 days to create, and assuming a conservative annual salary of $65,000 for an instructional/designer/course developer, and 250 work days per year, a simple one-hour page-turning type course using a traditional authoring tool would cost $4160 to $5980 to create.

Comparatively, a course of a similar duration featuring, say…

  • An existing YouTube video
  • A quiz
  • A PDF document
  • A existing Prezi presentation
  • A final exam

…takes less than two days to create at a cost of $520, including the time to find and vet content, create assessments, and assemble/test the course. This translates into cost savings of $3640 to $5460 over a traditionally-authoring course. Given that most organizations provide dozens of courses to learners, the cost savings translate into tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

Higher learner engagement

Also, courses leveraging existing Web content (videos, Blogs, presentations, etc.) produce learning events that are potentially more engaging to learners than boring page-turning courses. (After all, learners hang out on such sites outside of work.) This translates into significantly higher level of course completion and increased learning.

Organizations will always need to create some courses in-house. But for a multitude of topics, cost savings and increased learning can be obtained by leveraging existing Web-based content in their learning management system.

Selecting An Easy To Customize LMS Just Makes Sense

DonnaGernhaelder-2014Choosing the right learning management system that will best serve the needs of your organization and users can be a daunting task. It is inevitable that your training and learning requirements with constantly evolve, so selecting a solution that can be easily customized to suit your needs is a no-brainer.

Customization gives you the ability to modify your LMS to perform specific functions and organize your information according to your unique requirements. Make sure your chosen solution not only supports the features you need, but also provides intuitive administrative options that allow you to tweak how you use the system.

With its modern interface and responsive design, it couldn’t be easier to customize Absorb LMS. Many custom settings are easy to turn on/off with just a few clicks, while others control automated processes specifically designed to reduce time-consuming manual administration and save you time.

As an example, user management features in Absorb LMS provide robust customization options to control:

  • Granting or restricting user access
  • Defining user roles and permissions
  • Adding and maintaining custom user fields
  • Designing user registration tools
  • Organizing users into groups

Watch blatant^’s Client Advocate, Ryan McAllister, as he highlights the powerful customization options available for user management in Absorb LMS:

Tips for Creating Effective Video Training on a Budget

Dan MedakovicLet’s face it, most companies don’t have hundreds of thousands (or even tens of thousands) of dollars available in their courseware development budgets, but they still have a need to create effective training content for their employees, customers or channel partners.

High-end interactive e-learning content development can get expensive, and pushing out static PDFs or PowerPoints is a great way to make you the least-popular department in the entire company, a pariah at the annual company picnic.

The good news is that it is now easier and cheaper than ever to create engaging video content. If you plan carefully, you can even do this using a smartphone or inexpensive HD Video camera, and some consumer video editing software. 

Here are some pre-production tips:

Create a script with a SME (Subject Matter Expert). You need to make sure that your learning objectives are covered and that the information is accurate.

When it comes to casting for the video, use someone who is articulate and has great energy. If your SME is great on camera, then even better, it will add credibility.

Script it into short, logical clips. This will help immensly during editing and uploading into the LMS.

Incorporate humour when appropriate. Your viewers will appreciate this greatly. If you are simply not funny, or if you think you may be crossing the line with a sensitive issue, then don’t do it.

Scout your locations to check for excessive noise and lighting conditions. It’s almost impossible to get rid of background noise later on, and having good lighting makes a huge difference in the perceived quaity of the final video. Natural light always works best for low budget videos, so shoot near a window if possible, or under the shade of a tree, for example. Full sun can cause glare, over-exposure and too much contrast so indirect natural light is best. Early morning or early evening natural lighting is always the nicest (the golden hour).

Shooting Tips:

If you’re using an HD smartphone, make sure it’s in landscape mode (or “sideways” in layman’s terms). That sounds really obvious but it’s easy to forget if you don’t shoot a lot of video with your phone.

Shoot close-up when someone is talking (From shoulders to the top of their head). This is more engaging for the viewer and also will get you much better audio quality.

Listen for background noise. If you can, purchase and use a clip-on (lavalier or lapel microphone). You can get basic ones for under $50 from Best Buy and higher quality ones at your camera store. You can hide the cord under their shirt and clip the mic on near their collar.

Always use a tripod (you can get them for phones too). Shaky camera work is not cool. If you don’t have a tripod, then rest the side or bottom of your camera or phone up against a wall or on a table for stability.

Don’t be afraid to shoot mulitple takes until you get it right. You can always erase and shoot again (and again) if you start running low on space.

Take a few still photos of the scene. You may want to use these later in editing.

Popcorn and Movie Tickets

Editing tips:

Try to create a dynamic pace. You can do this by inserting still images to reinforce a point, cutting away to close-ups of the subject that is being discussed, and using music in the background. Just make sure the music is not drowning out the dialogue.

Be sure to use royalty-free (legal) music and licensed stock images in your videos. You don’t want to get into trouble down the road for copyright infringement.

Output your videos as shorter lessons (5-10 minutes max). These can be sequenced and grouped into Chapters in Absorb. This makes it easier for the learner to complete the course in “chunks”, may reduce potential issues when streaming video over cellular networks and also allows you to insert quizzes and/or tasks and assignments in between lessons.

My favourite video editing software (Pinnacle Studio) costs only $99 and offers a lot of professional features. It also includes a library of royalty-free music and a host of special effects.

The other great thing about video is that it plays well across various devices and platforms. We recommend that you publish your videos as MP4 files and then import them as Video Lessons into your Absorb Online course. 

Once you’ve added your video lessons to Absorb, you may want to insert Absorb Quizzes along the way, and perhaps a final Exam. You can adjust the weighting of each of the assessments as they apply to towards the learner’s final mark for the course.

You can also make the video files available for download by creating course-specific resources from the same source files.

Video is an effective learning tool and anyone can now make high-quality videos with a little planning and effort. Give it a try!

An Absorb course with video lesson, file upload assignment (task) and Quiz.
An Absorb course with video lesson, file upload assignment (task) and Quiz.

The Importance of the Learner Interface

More than just a pretty face…

Don Landry, Business Development Manager, Blatant MediaOur company motto is, “Make software that feels right”. A simple and somewhat vague message perhaps, but it has served us well, based on the feedback we consistently get from clients, potential clients, and industry pundits. The visionaries who guide the evolution of Absorb, founding partners Mike Eggermont and Mike Owens (“The Mikes” as the team calls them) have been kicking down the walls of convention in the LMS industry for 12 years now. One of the many examples of this outlier thinking is the multi-award winning Absorb learner interface.

The Mikes unique approach to how the learning audience interacts with the software is one of the key differentiators between Absorb and the rest of this overcrowded market. The aforementioned feedback invariably includes adjectives like clean, sleek, beautiful, and easy which as we’d hoped, feels right.

In most environments, there is a range of comfort with software in general. On the one hand, you have individuals who only occasionally use computers, and only when they have to. This type of user often has little or no patience, and the end goal must be placed directly in front of them, or at least not more than a couple of clicks away. On the other hand, you have a whole new generation who have grown up constantly plugged into technology. They have much more sophisticated tastes and can spot a dated interface immediately.

So how do you make an interface that “feels right”, accommodates all level of computer users, and yet offers a positive learning experience? The answer is in the old cliché; “less is more”.

Many other systems out there want to “wow” learners with all of the cool things they can do in the LMS. In order to showcase these features, they tend to cram them onto the landing page. The problem is, most learners don’t give a hoot about all of this stuff. I call it the 90 cubed rule; 90% of the time, 90% of the audience doesn’t touch 90% of those features. Learners are far less in love with your LMS than you are. They want to get their training done and get on with their day. All the superfluous bells and whistles get in the way of that. They end up serving only to overwhelm people and discourage learning. Absorb has stripped away the clutter to present learners with a welcoming environment.

I won’t use any examples, because each environment is unique, and what may be clutter in one learning program may be critical to another. The point is: cut to the chase. Put yourself in the shoes of your audience. What do they want/need out of the system? Once you isolate those requirements, get rid of the rest. The Absorb learner interface is highly customizable. Clients select the functionalities, in the form of “tiles” they need to support their learning strategy. In some cases as few as two or three tiles can accomplish this, as our client “Aftermath” configured their interface:

Absorb LMS: Learner Dashboard

Nobody likes an interface that is text heavy or crammed with info. Images and open spaces actually serve as a navigational tool and allow the eye to spot what is relevant.

Absorb brings more to the table than simply offering the advice of putting less in front of the audience. Workflow for your learners is as important as the tile selection. A great example of this is our “Resume” tile. This has been a fantastically popular addition to the interface. One of the biggest pain points for learners that we uncovered in our 12 years in the business is the situation where a person is searching for where they left off with their training. Online learning is typically self-paced, meaning people get to it when they have a spare moment. The problem is, those spare moments can often be days or weeks apart. The ingenious “Resume” tile takes the individual back to the launch page of the course they were last undertaking. This, coupled with Absorb’s clear tracking of progress through a course allows someone to return to the exact point where they left off within two clicks of arriving at the dashboard:

Absorb LMS: Armed Robbery

The space allotted does not allow me to go into more examples, but hopefully you get the idea; Absorb is not just pretty, it has loads of functionality built in to speed up navigation and put the focus on what is important. Your training.

What else is important? Your branding and your culture. These are two things many organizations have invested heavily in. Absorb lets you tie those into your training to not only maintain a theme, but to reinforce them. Your images and your company vernacular can be clear and present throughout the interface. Maybe in your world, they aren’t a series of courses, they are an “Integrateducation” as our customer Dialog chose to call them:

Absorb LMS Dialog

In many cases, this is the face of your organization or at the very least, of your entire training program. In either event, you want an interface that lends credibility to your training.

Just because we preach “Less is More”, this isn’t to say you can’t add value to your audience by presenting them with more than just course material. The trick is, it must be of interest to the person navigating the interface. That is where Mercury comes in. Mercury takes advantage of the same powerful rule engine that Absorb uses to control enrollments and resource access, build reports and learning Groups and so on, to deliver peripheral content to an individual that is relevant to the individual.

The addition of our Mercury Module lets you manage contests to encourage quick course completion, targeted news stories, and polls and the extremely powerful scrolling billboards (below) allow you to slip in additional self-promotion focused on the person viewing the screen.

Absorb LMS Billboards

Let’s not forget where the learner is accessing their learning from can be a detriment if your LMS interface can’t accommodate the tiny real estate afforded by mobile devices. Simply shrinking down the interface, even a three-tiled configuration, is not the answer. The HTML 5 masters on our team have designed state-of-the-art responsive design into the Absorb interface meaning we don’t just resize your interface but the interface restructures from a horizontal to vertical layout to allow for thumb-friendly, north-south navigation. Brandon Hall and Deloitte Bersin both felt this innovation was award worthy and bequeathed their Advancement in Learning Technology prizes to Absorb in 2013.

A great admin toolset is important no doubt, and Absorb delivers there too. What often gets left behind however is the learner who, at the end of the day is the most important piece in all of this. Something to consider when selecting your LMS…

Weight Control Strategies for Learning and Development

Richard Nantel, Vice President, Enterprise Learning Solutions, Blatant Media | Absorb LMS

A friend of mine, an Oxford-educated mathematician, had a smart strategy to succeed in university. When two or more of her professors scheduled exams for the same week, she would immediately ask the instructors to clarify to what extent these exams would influence the final class grade. If the exam in one class was worth, say, 25 per cent of the final grade, and the exam in the other class was worth 50 per cent of the final grade, she would spend significantly more of her efforts studying for the second class.

This seems logical and self-evident.

And yet, I’m a bit ashamed to say, the relative weighting of exams was the last thing on my mind when I was a student. Presented with two exams, I’d either study equally for both or study much more for the subject I found more difficult, even if that subject’s exam was only worth 10 per cent of the final grade. Had I been as smart as my math-whiz friend, I would have largely ignored the 10 per cent exam and focused on the big fish. After all, if you can get 100 per cent on a preliminary exam worth 50 per cent of the final grade, you can pretty much ignore this subject going forward and sleep soundly knowing you’ll pass the course.

Assessments are an important part of learning and development strategies. Exams, of course, measure knowledge and retention and help establish whether a person is qualified to do a job or attain some type of accreditation.

Since we tend to overestimate our own knowledge of a subject, exams also provide an important feedback mechanism. An exam can be a wake-up call, telling us we aren’t the experts we think we are. Exams designed to provide this type of reality-check feedback really shouldn’t count for as much of the final mark as an exam designed to measure overall knowledge of the learning content.

Consequently, learning strategies can benefit from providing exams with different weightings. A course, for instance, might contain a preliminary exam worth 20 per cent of the final grade, and a final exam worth 80 per cent. Did you fail the first exam? Don’t despair! You can still pass the course if you stop goofing off and get a decent mark on the final exam.

To implement this type of strategy, look for assessment authoring tools or a learning management system that allow you to add weightings to exams:

Weighted exam in Absorb LMS
Weighted exam created with Absorb LMS

If you implement this strategy, be prepared to discover a few really smart students, like my math-whiz friend, who do poorly on the first exam and ace the second one.

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