Our process: finding the right platform for our online learning space

JRS Knowhow is busy building an online learning space. We will create courses about what our rights mean in reality. We will facilitate groups of colleagues learning together at work. We will also host freely available information about equalities and rights law. Our aim is to build an accessible, inclusive, engaging, and fun digital space.

We wanted to share our journey with you. To explain our process, in case you are also looking to find the right learning management system (LMS) for your online courses.

The challenge

There are hundreds of different LMS to choose between. There are also lots of different ways to present your courses to the world. You could:

  1. host it on an existing online learning platform, like the OU’s Open Learn Create,
  2. add extra learning management functionality to your existing website using a plugin,
  3. purchase the LMS software as a service (SaaS) and outsource the hosting to a third party provider,
  4. choose a platform and host it yourself,
  5. Or you could build your own online platform!

When you have chosen the right platform and web developer for you, calculating the full costs can be a challenge. Just because a solution is open source (when the source code is free), doesn’t mean it is free. Time will need to be costed to install and tweak a solution. There might be hidden set up fees. There might be scaling up costs for extra storage or extra learners in future. The costs of a platform or hosting might rise over time.

Our journey so far

We began our journey mapping out what a successful online space looks like. We mapped our learners, administrators and colleagues who will work with us to create courses. We mapped the existing digital ecosystem it needed to work within. We sought recommendations from trusted organisations we admired. We also mapped existing platforms, to check whether we are duplicating something that already exists.

Next, we wrote a specification, with a list of important factors for us. These included data protection, a commitment to web accessibility and ideally an open source software. We value providing multiple language translations. We also wanted to investigate the environmental impacts of hosting a new learning management system.

The longer list of platform options got whittled down to a shortlist. Then we asked for quotes and demonstrations. We trialled different platforms, and we asked multiple colleagues at JRS Knowhow for their opinions. We thought about considerations like learners’ privacy and the platform’s malleability to learners’ preferences. We even participated in a ‘user experience’ interview for new LMS still being developed.

The outcome

We chose Moodle for many reasons. Here are just a few. It is open source. It is a newly certified B-Corp which evidences its commitment to environmental sustainability. It has free plugins that help you review the accessibility of your content. The newest version of Moodle (4.0) aims to be more navigable for learners. It is highly customisable. It is well established and widely used. There is even an active and friendly Moodle group in Scotland called SMUG.

Next steps

Do you want to help us test our new LMS? We are looking to work with a group of people who will be compensated for their time. Contact us to find out more.

Stay tuned for a future blog about choosing a more accessible LMS and the launch of our new LMS!

    Your basket
    Your basket is emptyReturn to shop