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Learning Management System (LMS) Hierarchies

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By David Boggs, CEO of SyberWorks

This article discusses things to consider, when developing a learning management system (LMS) hierarchy that makes sense for your company's business environment.

What is a hierarchy? Why use one?

Many businesses use different departments, organizations, locations, or other structures to distribute and organize their personnel. And when fitting their users into a learning management system, they'll want to use corresponding hierarchy information, to allow the system to manage how it distributes reports and other training information. For example, a franchised business may use a location-based hierarchy, with one section for corporate-owned stores and another for private franchises. Or a global business may want to manage, and report on, user training by country, city, facility, and department.

Based on user positions in a hierarchy, learning-management-system reports can show certifications achieved by country (at a higher level in the hierarchy) or department (at a lower level in the hierarchy). In the same way, hierarchy-based reports could list transcript results by franchisee or store.

Each hierarchy level can also have an administrator for that level: by store, by department, by function, and so on. Administrators at each hierarchy level and location can receive permission to enter, edit, deactivate, and otherwise manage users within their level and location.

Similarly, reports for each hierarchy level can be generated by users with “reporter” roles in their levels, as well as by higher administrators. For example, to determine who still needs to finish training, store managers can generate reports of how many people passed, failed, or did not finish courses over a selected period of time. These reports could also show who achieved what grades, to help store managers see who still needs to recertify in required skills. Such reports also allow administrators higher in the hierarchy than store managers to see how well the store managers are handling their training responsibilities.

Who's got the rights?

Another item that must be decided prior to implementing a learning management systems hierarchy is which operational rights you want to grant at each hierarchy level. You may allow only system administrators to enter new user profiles into the LMS. Or you may let only site administrators edit user profiles, assign job roles, and authorize users to take courses.

You also may want to allow some managers at the lowest hierarchy levels (and at levels above them) to run certain reports, but not to administer users in their levels. Instead of making these managers “level administrators,” you could make them “level reporters.” In a typical hierarchy, “level reporters” are associated with specific locations and users in the hierarchy, and can only run reports for these locations and users. Their access to administrative functions is restricted.

Remember that learning management systems hierarchy is a way of organizing and managing the training of your people. It requires some thought. The business rules that you establish for your LMS hierarchy must mirror your organization's framework and your e-Learning program's goals and objectives. For this reason, there are many different ways to organize, implement, and manage organizational training, including by online “campuses,” training facilities, classes, user “monitoring groups,” and required job roles, competencies, and learning events. We will address these other groupings in subsequent articles.

About the Author:

Dave Boggs is the founder and CEO of SyberWorks, Inc (www.syberworks.com). He has been involved with computer-based and web-based training for more than twelve years. Before founding SyberWorks, Dave was the VP of Sales and Business Development for Relational Courseware. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from Union College in Schenectady, NY, and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL.

The Boggs e-Learning Chronicle Blog & The Online Training Content Journal

Dave Boggs writes two web blogs: the Boggs e-Learning Chronicle RSS feed about Trends, Observations, and Information in e-Learning, which reports on trends, provides observations, and information about e-Learning and web-based training; and the Online Training Content Journal RSS feed about Trends, Observations, and Information in e-Learning which looks at best practices, techniques, and trends in online training development and e-Learning instructional design..

SyberWorks, Inc.
411 Waverley Oaks Road
Building 3, Suite 319
Waltham, MA 02452

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