administratorAs an administrator, choosing an e-learning platform can be a tough decision.  There are probably a hundred or so factors when making an e-learning platform comparison.

And, in deciding which e-learning platform is best for your organization, the “best” platform can differ depending on the perspective of the person evaluating the system.  The learner would use a certain set of criteria, while an administrator would go through a different list in performing an e-learning platform comparison.

In this post we’re going to look at a few of the key factors that are important from the administrator’s view.

Ease of Administration

Nobody wants “yet another system” to administer.  And because of this, the e-learning platform should make the administrator’s job easier and not more difficult.  Though a feature rich e-learning platform is of course desirable, it is equally important that one can get started with the system with little or no help.

And, if help is needed, it should be available.  Does the e-learning platform have useful “how to videos”?  Is there a Support Forum?  How is the Customer Service?  Depending on the complexity of the system, the previous questions will be more or less important.  And, one should ask oneself these questions when deciding on which e-learning platform to use.

Data Reporting

databaseAnother important question to ask when making your e-learning platform comparison is about the system’s data reporting  capabilities.

In the corporate setting, for example, there is often the need for a fine-tuned reporting process.  Being able to see which trainees signed up for which courses, when they signed up for the courses, and whether they passed the courses should all be easily accessible data.  In addition, an administrator would probably need to see reports differentiated at both the trainee and course level.

For larger companies, there may be more of a desire to have access to the data itself.  This could mean limited access to the platform’s database so that they could perform their own database queries to get insight into the course data.  Or, this could mean more direct access to the data in the form of an .sql or .csv file.

Authentication & Security

Administrators should not overlook the authentication process or security considerations when performing an e-learning platform comparison.

In layman’s terms, authentication is the process of logging someone into the system.  The platform should have a clear process to both log into the system and have an easy-to-use password retrieval process set up.  Some e-learning platforms enable users to log in using a username/password that they already use when logging into the organization’s system.  And, in the corporate setting, it’s not uncommon for an e-learning platform to allow users to log in using their LinkedIn, Google+, or Facebook accounts.

securityIn terms of security, the more secure the better.  If the administrator choosing the company’s e-learning platform has a technical background, then he or she will be able to ask the necessary questions to get a sense as to how the potential vendor’s company stacks up.

If the administrator has no such background, then it would be prudent to have a member of the I.T. Department ask the potential vendor about some of the top security concerns:

  1. How often is the data backed up?
  2. Where is the data backed up?
  3. Are the passwords hashed or in plain text?
  4. Is the platform protected against CSRF?
  5. Is the site vulnerable to SQL Injection?

These are just a few of the security concerns.  And, if they sound like a foreign language to you, then it would be best to have a security professional talk with a potential vendor.

Customizability

Depending on the organization, the level of customization might be more or less important.  Typically, for a smaller organization that just wants to use the e-learning platform internally, not much customization will be required.  However, customization will be a priority for larger organizations, organizations that would like to use the platform to sell courses, and organizations that will use the platform to educate members outside of the organization.

brandCompanies who are interested in customization, will at the very least be interested in changing the look of the platform to match their brand.  Companies such as these will typically ask if they can change the platform’s logo, colors, and potentially the domain name which can be used to access the platform.

In addition, larger organizations may require customizable functionality or even a customizable interface.  Depending on the vendor and the application, each of these may be possible.

And, don’t be shy about talking to the vendor to see if your desired level of customizability is possible.  They of course want your business, and if they can, I imagine that they would do their best to make it happen.

Conclusion

The process for making an informed e-learning platform comparison involves figuring out what is important to the administrator of the system as well as what will be important to the learners and trainees using the system.  As an administrator, what do you think is most important in comparing e-learning platforms?  Feel free to use the comment form below to share your thoughts.

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