The Accord LMS has a wide range of features which allow for a higher degree of customization than you'll find in most learning management system software. Trying to take in the entirety of Accord’s various functionalities can be overwhelming for some. Fortunately, you don’t need to take in everything to enjoy a solid understanding of the system.
We will simplify things in this article by showing you three core areas, that when mastered, will allow LMS Administrators to take complete control of their training programs. Throughout the article you will also find some best practice suggestions to help you get the most out of your LMS. Please bear in mind that the flexibility inherent in the Accord LMS may suggest a better approach to fit a number of unique requirements, but the suggestions in this article are a very good place to start.
Accord - The 30,000 Foot View
The Accord LMS uses three important concepts to help manage an organization’s learning. This article will touch briefly on each of them. Understanding the basic functionality of the Catalog, Roles and Teams will greatly reduce the learning curve required to implement your specific training plan and put you well on your way to being an Accord LMS expert.
The Learning Catalog is where content is assembled into courses and learning paths. The content that will be delivered to Learners is stored in this Catalog. It is worth noting that individual Learners will only have access to any content which LMS Administrators have authorized. Different Learners can have personalized course lists based on their assigned Learning Roles and Team Memberships. The Catalog contains two unique types of information.
Folders are containers in which you place learning content. Folders have different properties which behave differently depending upon their chosen use. The Accord LMS offers several different folder types which allows admins to create their own custom folder types when needed. Standard Folder types include Organizational Folders, Learning Paths, Courses and Chapters. Folders are hierarchical storage structures and can contain other folders. E.g. a Learning Path will generally contain several courses and a given course can have several chapters. Folders are used to roll up the scoring of multiple Learning Elements and track completion of assignments at a higher level of granularity as compared to individual Learning Elements.
Learning Elements (LE) contain the actual content that the Learners will consume as part of their training. An LE can contain almost any web content. For example, an LE can be a SCORM file, Quiz, Web Link, Video, PDF file, PowerPoint presentation, etc. Different LE types offer different properties based on the type of content presented. For example, a video offers the opportunity to base completion on expected duration of the video and a SCORM can track utilization from the SCO file itself.
Learning Roles are responsible for creating a personalized experience for each Learner in the system. Roles can assign content, provide access to electives, grant membership in social learning forums and even control aspects of the Learner’s user interface. For example, Announcements can be displayed to specific users and web pages can be presented or hidden, based on a user's Role Membership. E.g. an announcement directed to departmental supervisors might not be shown to anyone who isn’t assigned a Departmental Supervisor Role.
In most cases, Learning Roles are the best way to assign content. Roles are the simplest way to automate your assignments while ensuring consistent assignments to appropriate Learners. It is considered a best practice to assign content at the Folder level, though Learning Elements can be assigned directly. It is generally not recommended to assign the same content to a Learner using different Roles. Different roles might have different and potentially conflicting parameters governing how the Courses and Learning Elements will be assigned.
Teams are a mechanism for creating groups of Learners. These groupings of users are useful for providing reporting and local administration. A Team structure can be patterned after an organizational chart or based upon groups of customers and/or partners for systems providing external (extended enterprise) type training.
Teams are hierarchical in nature. All Team members will be members of their Team and any Teams directly above them within the Hierarchy. A member of the San Diego Sales Team would also be a member of the Western Region and All Members Teams. An LMS Admin will, by default, have access to all of their Child Teams. For example, an Admin of the Western Region Team would have access to the San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco Teams but would not have access to the Chicago team. This default behavior can be overridden when desired in order to prevent specific admins from having privileges for various Child Teams within their hierarchy.
Teams vs. Roles
Teams and Roles have a lot in common. Both Teams and Roles have designed automation which can decide membership based on Learner Profile Details. Roles can also assign membership based on Team membership. Both Teams and Roles can be used as a mechanism to group learners together and both can be used to assign discussion forums.
The key difference between Teams and Roles are the administrative functions. Teams can have individual users designated as administrators. These administrators can be limited to Learners, Roles and content associated with their specific team. Teams are also the primary mechanism for automated reporting. A single report can be created and sent to administrators from different teams. Administrators from each Team will receive a report which contains only information for any Learners who are members of Teams which they've been granted permission to supervise.
When to Use a Role or a Team
It is best to use Teams to create learner groups based on your business structure. It is common practice to create Teams which match the corporate organization structure in corporate training models. A franchise model might create Teams for each franchisee. An external B2B training model might create Teams representing each customer. The key element to understand, is that these are logical groupings of Learners who might have individual supervisors who oversee their training requirements which may need to be especially segregated within the system.
It is generally not a best practice to assign people to Teams based solely on their training requirements. This is where Learning Roles come in to play. Learning Roles are the preferred method for assigning training content. With Roles you can assign content and provide specific dates for tracking and messaging. For example, you can control when the content is assigned, due dates, expiration dates or even renewal dates. Training can be removed from an individual by removing them from a Role, and may be removed from all Learners by expiring the entire Role.
Corporate Training – a sample use case
A given corporation is providing training to all it's employees. Each employee is assigned to a Team which represents their department. A supervisor is assigned to each Team. The supervisor receives automated reports on their Team’s training progress and can make ad-hoc training assignments to their team as necessary.
Learning Roles are used to assign training across departmental lines. New hire training is automatically assigned to all Learners based on hire dates. Supervisors in every department are periodically assigned leadership training. Sales Associates and support personnel are assigned new product training as necessary. Compliance courses are assigned to appropriate personnel with a required due date which can be monitored by Team supervisors.
How to Assign Roles and Teams
There are several methods to assign membership to appropriate Teams and Learning Roles. Each method has its own advantages and administrators should work with their Accord Solutions Engineer to decide which approach bests meets their unique needs.
Bulk Learner Import
The most direct approach is to assign them directly when importing the Learners into the Accord LMS. Bulk Learner Import allows the system to import Teams, Learning Roles and Team Access Codes from an external system, such as an HRIS. This approach requires the external system to have information about the learning management system software to include it in the Bulk Import file. When using a bulk import file, it is important to include a process which checks the file for duplicate user accounts, hidden or illegal characters and commas inside the data fields.
Both Learning Roles and Teams offer a rules-based system that can base membership on User Profile data. This method can assign Roles or Teams based on information such as Job Title, start date, department or any other data provided to the learning management system software.
Team Access Codes
TACs are a special code that can be created for individual Teams. When applied, an Access Code can add or drop individuals from the Team and optionally assign or remove an admin type for the user within this Team. Learning Roles can also be added, deleted, expired or refreshed when using the code. Codes can have unlimited use or they can be limited based on date or specific numbers of uses. Membership Automation is usually the easiest way to assign content but TACs can be a very flexible and useful tool in some cases.
Despite a vast array of specific types of functionality, the Accord LMS can be simplified to three simple concepts. Learning Elements containing content are stored in Folders which compose the Learning Catalog. Users are assigned to Teams for administrative oversight and reporting. Learning Roles connect Learners in the Teams with the content in the catalog. Of course, this just scratches the surface of the Accord LMS functionality and flexibility, but at it's heart it really is that simple.
If you would like to learn about these topics in greater detail, please visit the Accord Academy or contact the Accord Support department. To discuss your training needs, receive a full demonstration of the Accord LMS, or receive a free evaluation site, contact the Accord Sales Team.