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Denis Grankin Head of Sales Department
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How to create Online Learning Management System from scratch? [2019 Updated]

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LMS development from scratch

The elearning industry is on a stable rise with around 9-10% of annual growth and currently generates more than $50 billion in revenues each year. It is no surprise that companies are eager to deploy online learning platforms either to make money or utilize them internally to train employees. However, according to the Brandon Hall Group, most of the companies currently using LMS solutions are quite dissatisfied with services they get both in terms of functionality and the value that these systems deliver. As far as many are contemplating change making and integrating a custom and highly adaptive LMS seems to be a reasonable move.

There are many ways to onboard and train your employees. Organizing offline seminars and workshops, delivering lengthy classroom-based training is not always the best way for most employees to learn or improve skills. All that can lead to taking off the job, losing some opportunities or using their time unproductively. Therefore, one of the most effective ways to train employees is to use an online learning platform or LMS (learning management system) that contains a series of courses prepared by experienced personnel. There is a wide range of online learning platforms, and choosing the best one is undoubtedly overwhelming.

What’s the idea?


Once the major DDI Development expertise is delivering e-learning solutions, we often receive requests to develop customizable learning management systems for various business needs. It’s no secret that there is a vast number of ready LMS solutions available on the market and designed to serve all types of businesses.

However, as a prudent executive in the logistics company, you have a vested interest in making the most of each new employee you hire. That’s why developing an online learning management solution that includes training and onboarding programs helping new employees quickly integrate with the rest of the staff is a must. Otherwise, you may start to see a decrease in employee retention that harnesses the company name.

DDI Development has developed a concept of online e-learning system for the logistics company that includes all the necessary elements for efficient and successful employees training such as the possibility to share different file types, track the learning progress, grade the assigned tasks, interact with all the participants and mentors as well, communicate with virtual assistant, support all types of media and the mentees have access to the e-learning course on different devices, etc. 

We have tried to implement a custom solution that maximized efficiency when it came to introducing employees to your corporate culture and training them as well. LMS platform had to contain the following tools:

  • Provide onboarding and training programs to build a corporate culture, improve employees’ qualification.
  • Track the learning progress and grade the assigned tasks and tests, deliver certification.
  • Deliver virtual on-line consultations.
  • Interact with all the participants and mentors in real time.
  • Encourage competition with gamification techniques.
  • Personalize the learning path with a chatbot - virtual assistant.
  • Supports all types of media and offer access to different devices.

Are you interested? Let’s delve into details below!

User Roles


Here we are going to define roles that give certain privileges to the user and grant access to platform features and functionality. There are three user levels within the learning management system for the logistics company: Mentee, Mentor and Administrator. Let’s dive into details below:

  • Mentees are most users in courses with basic permissions in the learning management system able to view training material and are unable to manage the functionality.
  • Mentors can create courses, view enrollments, mark attendance, upload and manage training material, view course reports, and manage course layout.
  • Administrator is able to manage every aspect of the platform. They will have visibility to all apps, features, and settings.

Project structure and technologies


Here you can find the structure of the project and see the technologies used for development:

structure of online learning management system development

Mentee Dashboard


mentee dashboard

To login in the learning management system as a Mentee, you should choose a Mentee account type, insert your username and password into the login form. Also, you can sign in with Google. And welcome to your learning platform!

mentee login into LMS platform

After you sign in, you can see a list of courses available, choose the ones you want to join. Developed LMS provides the following courses:

dashboard

  • On-boarding programme (company history, values, culture, team)
  • Health and safety (first aid, fire safety awareness, sexual harassment, data security)
  • Job-specific courses (Logistics management, Supply chain management, Supply Chain Analytics, Supply Chain Principles, Business operations management.)
  • Marketing (SEO, SMM, Google Analytics, Google Adwords, etc.)

Discussions, webinars and conferences

Sharing views on specific topics previously learned is a good practice. That’s why facilitating discussions can not only help mentees learn from one another but also help them understand and retain the materials better. Discussions feature allows mentees to chat, ask questions, leave comments and add a deeper dimension to the course they’re studying.

discussions

They can start the conversation, or can reflect on the course material that boosts participation. Also, mentees can attend webinars and web conferences. Webinars are those that mentees attend online via videoconferencing and divided into sessions. To take these webinars, mentees will access the video conference directly from their account so their progress can be tracked. Also, they may be asked to attend one or multiple session dates in order to complete the course. This provides context for the information mentees want to retain and also gives them a chance to interact with experienced instructors and leaders in the logistics sector in real time. Mentees are also able to connect to the webinar session and display live broadcasting. It's no secret that webinars are useful when engaging learners (mentees) and creating ongoing value.

webinars

Webinars include how-to videos or best practices that showcase training in the field of logistics. This sort of training can be done online, broadcasted live and in real-time, and mentees can give immediate feedback in question through real-time comments.

Virtual personal assistant - a chatbot

Being a virtual personal assistant available at every step of learning path, it interacts with the mentee just like a live person in the form of messaging, engages the mentee in realistic practice conversations, helps the mentee to complete the course step-by-step and perform the tasks better. Also, it helps mentors by lowering the burden when explaining the same things over and over to different learners and answering the questions raised by students on a daily basis, checking their homework regularly, identifying spelling and grammatical mistakes precisely, assigning projects and keeping track of mentees’ progress and achievements. With the chatbot, the learning process is more personalized, productive and adaptive. Sounds impressive, right?

LMS chatbot

Also, you can see a course roadmap, a sequence of well-structured learning activities that teach specific skills. Essentially, this is a way to map out training, making the learning process smoother and understandable. That’s why to achieve the best possible results from the employee training, mentees follow a strategic, well thought out training roadmap. A training roadmap ensures that your learning course is always guiding mentees to the desired learning outcome.

Virtual online consultation

Online consultations are highly effective to help mentees with challenges they may face when learning. Thanks to technology, there are ways for mentees to reach their mentor and ask questions virtually. With an online consultation, mentees can get the following:

virtual consultations

  • Get a quicker response, rather than waiting for a consultation in person.
  • Do not have to wait for the next available appointment.
  • Get the same level of consultation and necessary activities or explanations as if it would be a face-to-face consultation.
  • Increase their levels of engagement and confidence to perform tasks better.
  • Having access to a comfortable space where even the most self-conscious or shy mentee can have a voice by asking questions or sharing thoughts and ideas.

Calendar

Dates of events, webinars, conferences, assignments, tests fly around constantly, filling up mentees schedules even before the week begins. That’s why, calendars provide many benefits for our life - whether it is an academic or personal one. Having that in mind, we have embedded this feature into the LMS solution for the logistics company. It allows mentees to schedule time on important activities such as conferences, webinars, tests, etc. allowing them to complete those that are a priority or have deadlines. They can use the calendar as a tool to help them get done what is needed and stay on task.

calendar

Progress

The right reporting has a significant impact on an organization, fundamentally changing the way mentees perform their tasks. Are your corporate mentees actually completing the online training modules and activities? Are they progressing according to plan? How many courses did mentee complete? These are all questions that can be answered by reports extracted from the developed learning management system. Let’s dive into details!

LMS reports

  • Mentee’s progress and completion rate learning management system reports allow you to monitor individual performance so that you can intervene when necessary.
  • Mentees can see how long it takes for them to complete each online training module or activity.
  • Mentees see their test results, activity timeline and how many points they got.
  • Keeps track of certificate completions to ensure that every mentee is up to code.

Mentor Dashboard


mentor dashboard

To login in the learning management system as a Mentor, you should choose a Mentor account type, insert your username and password into the login form. Also, there is an ability to sign in with Google. And welcome to your learning platform!

mentor login into learning management platform

In the learning platform, the mentor can manage the content of a course through a single page. Mentor has the ability to upload the training materials, edit content, provide forums and social tools, share links, and enable all of the features that you deem necessary for the course.

Mentor can do the following in terms of the course Content:

course content

  • Add content: means a mentor can upload materials that allow mentees to upload and download these materials.
  • Reoder content: means that a mentor is entitled to change the course program that automatically updates on the roadmap and notifies mentees as well.
  • Edit course info: means a mentor is entitled to edit information of the course.
  • View as a Mentee: means that a mentor can view content as a Mentee.
  • Add event: means that a mentor can add webinar, conference or schedule an virtual online conference for mentees assigned to the course.
  • Share: means that a mentor can share a link with mentees assigned to the course.
  • Mobile app compatibility: means that a site can be viewed and used on a mobile device.

Mentor can do the following in terms of the course Rules:

course rules

  • All units must be completed
  • Certain units must be completed
  • A percentage of units must be completed
  • Test passed

Mentor can manage Files - add training materials for the users - video, texts, lectures, images - and manage them.

manage files

Mentor can view all of the users (mentees) enrolled in the courses that he/she is instructing. To do so, access the user’s page. This page will show you a list of all of the mentees who are enrolled into the logistics or something else course. Each mentee’s item will have the account status (active or inactive), name, email, account type, actions.

manage users

Administrator Dashboard


admin dashboard

To login in the learning management system as an Administrator, you should choose an Administrator account type, insert your username and password into the login form. Also, you can sign in with Google. And welcome to the learning platform!

admin login

Using several tools available in the platform, Administrator can organize, manage, monitor and report all of the course activities. Once you’ve logged in, you will see the Administrator home page that includes the following:

admin dashboard

  • Courses
  • Users
  • Groups
  • Categories
  • User types
  • Reports
  • Import/Export
  • Notifications
  • Events
  • Settings

Let’s discover the most interesting feature - Reports. In the learning management system, Administrator can quickly and easily check course progress and statistics by accessing and managing reports. Reports are the following:

  • Course reports
  • User reports
  • Branch reports
  • Group reports
  • Test reports
  • Survey reports

user reports

When the User Reports tab is selected, you will see a list of all of the users enrolled in the system. If you click on the username in the user’s row, you will be redirected to the user’s summary report for the course.

Now let’s take a closer look at User reports. Once you’ve chosen the user (mentee), you will see a number of statistics at the top of his/her page:

  • active users
  • logged in users
  • assigned courses
  • completed courses

admin reports

Also, you can see Course, Certification and Timeline statistics displaying a graph and a timeline for the user’s course accesses.

Is your business equipped with robust LMS solution?


If you are new to the realm of e-learning or are making the switch to training your employees, the learning management system is a great solution you should keep in mind. That’s why take advantage of the features and functionality, and read reviews from others who have had experience with the tool or create successful e-learning courses.

Top 3 e-learning platforms you can use for LMS development


Today, there are 3 major types of the LMS software on the market: proprietary, partly free and open source. The most popular representatives of each type are Blackboard, Canvas and Open edX, respectively. We will describe all of their benefits and flaws below.

Blackboard is a proprietary LMS platform that has been on the market since 1999. It is distributed under a license and you are able to use the features and modules provided out of the box. On the one hand, this LMS has the most stable and reliable paid technical support, huge and well-organized documentation and is proven to be a good choice for small-to-medium businesses.

On the other hand, Blackboard requires a lot of supplementary software in order to provide full functionality, which results in high monthly expenses. Customization options are also limited.

LMS development

As you can see, Blackboard might suit companies that have stable business practices, don’t require frequent changes or deep customization, and can afford a decent monthly subscription. Canvas by Instructure positions itself as a “learning management system with features you will actually use”. Their point is that many LMS provide tons of features the users don’t even know about, let alone use. On the contrary, Canvas provides a simple and intuitively understandable set of functions and features, only the ones you will absolutely need. This is supposed to improve the adoption rates and the overall user experience.

However, the cost of deep customization and the lack of specific functionality often results in students and authors dropping Canvas for good.

Read also: Best elearning designs

Open edX is a free open source learning management system built on Python and structured around the xBlock ideology. Courses are constructed from xBlocks that are small separate sections, each containing a complete unit of information. They can be combined with each other in any sequence. Open edX Studio is a powerful course constructor, which contains all the xBlocks currently available, which allows for composing and deploying new courses in mere hours. The major problem with Open edX relates to the technical issues that constantly appear when installing and managing the software. Partly due to this reason, the potential behind it hasn’t yet been realized to the full extent.

However, Open edX can be the most easily customizable solution, which can suit all your needs after correct adjustment.

Should you make custom LMS?


As you can see, all of these e-learning platforms have their flaws and benefits. This leads to another popular solution, you may hire engineers to create an elearning product from scratch (such as Notesmaster we have developed) as it can solve a lot of issues. For example, you can include all the features you need, while avoiding paying for the functionality you will never use.

Thus said, if you want to know how to build a software platform from scratch, you should know what useful modules can be added to your online elearning platform. Here is the list of the modules you can benefit from:

  • Virtual studio helps to visualize the outcome of physical or chemical experiments, which is essential for said disciplines, as it allows you to save budgets on purchasing the consumables.
  • A telegram bot can be added to course content in order to split it to easily comprehended nodes. Studying each node is coupled with bot interactions like push notifications on course updates and other events, suggestions for new material, notifications on new replies in student collaboration dialogues, grading reports, etc.
  • Micro courses contain concentrated knowledge on a certain specific problem and can be completed in less than 6 hours. This aids in the rapid training of employees with the new business practices or solving the issue at hand without getting too much information, most of which is currently unnecessary now.
  • Online classrooms working as a video conferences provide team collaboration and direct learning with a tutor.
  • Games and simulations contribute to the experiential learning by imitating the real-life problems. It also helps learners to stay engaged.
  • Utilizing xAPI will help to collect and analyze all bits of learning experiences across various sources not only within LMS but also in social media and videos.
  • Automatic proctoring systems help authors gather grading results and statistics, as well as analyzing students’ performance and adjusting the course content if needed.
  • Integrating quizzes to the course content and providing mid-course grading allows for better tracking of students’ progress.

Literally, any module can be built to meet specific requirements, provided you choose the right team to handle development and further customization. We, at DDI development company, utilize both PHP and Python based frameworks to build elearning software. And a lot of third-party applications that support any type of features you may need are also around to deeply customize a product without reinventing the wheel.

What should I know if I want a custom solution?


Prioritize. One of the core issues that companies usually stumble over is a complicated system having a broad range of unused features. They don’t quite contribute to the learning experiences but rather set a higher adoption threshold. Before outlining a tool set try to prioritize the core learning goals you’re planning to achieve.

Invest in cross-platform development. One of the leading reasons to use digital learning is the ability to access learning materials anytime from any device, especially mobile. Making desktop only software will restrict learners from the digital potential. So it’s reasonable to invest into mobile development services as well.

Leverage experiential learning. Most of the existing LMS simply replicate traditional educational techniques. Online classrooms, modules, tests, and case studies reduce costs compared to an old-fashioned classroom learning but they fail to employ new technology available. Games and simulations can introduce truly new experiences that are close to the real-life conditions.

Consider adaptivity. Off-the-shelf systems in most cases are too rigid to embrace rapid changes. Modern LMS should provide means to redesign the entire learning frameworks in order to meet the needs of the actively changing environment.

What are your experiences and difficulties with LMS? Please share and stay tuned.

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