February 5, 2013
How to Use a Learning Management System to Solve the I-Didn't-Get-the-Memo Problem
Somewhere among the hundreds or perhaps thousands of e-mails in your inbox, somewhere in the skyscraper-high piles of paper on the corner of your desk, is something really really important. This might be an urgent policy or procedural change. If you work in emergency response, healthcare, security, transportation, among many other industries, people's safety may be compromised if you don't get and act on this information. E-mail has been and continues to be the primary communication media in the workplace. Consequently, many organizations turn to e-mail for such updates. They'll send out an e-mail blast with the words `IMPORTANT' or `URGENT' in the title to the people who need to be informed. Perhaps the sender will click the little checkboxes in their mail client for delivery and read notifications to be returned, but, if you've sent the notice to more than just a few recipients, manually tracking who has opened the e-mail is a headache. A learning management system (LMS) can provide an effective way to monitor who has viewed such important information and who may need a follow-up telephone call. Here's how: 1. Create a `course' that contains the critical information embedded as a PDF document. PDF is a nice file format for something like this because it will display on many different devices, including iPads and other tablets, phones, etc. 2. Create the e-mail that will be sent when people are enrolled in the course as well as the reminder e-mail. Make sure these e-mails communicate the urgency of this information. If you can set the frequency of the reminder e-mails, don't be shy about nagging the individual daily. 3. Enroll the individuals who should get this important update into this `course.' The system will send out the enrolment e-mail and depending on your LMS, a message to the learner's LMS dashboard. Learning management systems typically provide feedback to learners on their progress. For the learner, this is like crossing an item off their TO-DO list, which provides happy feelings of accomplishment. 4. Track who has accessed the document using your LMS's reporting features. In the example below, British singer/songwriter Laura Marling and ex Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page have accessed the important update. The others have not. The purpose of tracking who has accessed such important information isn't to lay blame. There are many extremely valid reasons why people may not have read important updates: spam filters, off the Internet grid due to travel or meetings, illness, etc. The real purpose of tracking access is to identify who may require a secondary attempt through means other than e-mail, perhaps a phone call.