Have you ever been in this situation? Last Monday, a new employee started with the company. My colleague who usually conducts the first-day onboarding was out of town, so I was filling in for him. The morning goes by great. The new employee onboards in our payroll system, which, consequently, doubles as our learning management system (LMS). I hop into the LMS administration portal to assign her the new hire courses, but she is not there. I wait for a few minutes, but still does not show up. Finally, I call our vendor and find out the LMS cloud provider is having trouble. Any new users in our system will not show up until the LMS system is working properly. My usually stress-free Monday suddenly changes.
I’m sure I am not the only person to be the victim of an LMS system glitch. While we would like to believe that everything will work exactly how it is supposed to work, that is not always the case. Hard drives die. Systems fail. Power outages occur.
In my former life, I traveled around the country providing trainings for various groups. I requested these training venues to have certain computer and A/V setups. Sometimes these requests were not honored. I prepared ahead of time.
When it comes to SaaS and cloud-based LMSs, we often do not have a backup plan if something fails. Here are three ways to failsafe your core training:
1. Build a repository of your SCORM and TINCAN files. This is so simple, yet can be daunting is a company has more than one content or instructional developers. I suggest this as an industry best practice. At my current company, we use a shared network drive with backups for every course we have created in our LMS.
Having a repository of SCORM courses can serve as a quick backup plan. You can easily unpack the ZIP file and access the web-based launcher (often named story.html) if the LMS fails. In my recent scenario, this is exactly what I did. While I was not able to get an accurate time for course completion, I was able to document the new employee’s score for the core curriculum. Being able to access these backup ZIP files helped save the day.
2. Curate print-out or PDF archives of the learning content. This is something I learned when I worked for a nonprofit and needed to document my activities. Having a PDF copy of the LMS can be invaluable, especially if you may have to use it to conduct the training off the printouts. This is also a best practice for instructional design creation, as I find I like to printout and review/edit content by hand.
I also do this for any presentation that I am going to give. I have been saved many times from technological failures by having print-outs of PDFs of my learning content. It is also useful to do this when you are conducting hybrid training, as you can write notes or comments on your printouts.
3. Design a CD of your core curriculum courses. Instructional design programs like Articulate provide the publishing capabilities for CD creation. While CDs are nearly obsolete, most Windows-based computers have a CDROM disk drive. And, of course, this medium and it being ubiquitous will pay for itself if your computer or network drive crashes. The other, more millennial way of doing this is to have a USB drive with the complete course content.
“I love it when a plan comes together” – Hannibal Smith, The A-Team
Having a plan before a technological failure is the key for success. You can rest easier if you have one or two guaranteed failsafe methods. Of course, you also want to ensure you have the learning objectives and other course components documented elsewhere. It is great to have a backup of your content someplace, but it will not be as useful if you do not know which course trains which subjects/objectives.
What about you? Do you use another method to failsafe your core curriculum?