Interface Design for LMS Educational Platforms

February 23, 2014In Experience, Interface4 Minutes

More companies and organizations are using online platforms and LMS (Learning Management Systems) to educate and train their teams, customers and partners. While the quality of the content is definitely an important part of providing a great education, educational platforms still need to be built so that the interface design is intuitive and the content is organized in an easily consumable manner. Doing this will result in improved learning, increased retention and decreased need for support.

At our firm we often collaborate with organizations by helping them make sense on their LMS. These kinds of projects are often challenging but very much fun. LMS platforms are typically complex and offer a lot of different ways for integration. Throughout the years we worked on variety of third party LMS, custom made and open source LMS platforms. Here is an article we wrote based on our research and experiences.

Person on phone navigating user interface design

Learning management systems are commonly used in companies but also for a niche markets by individuals that are leaders in the specific industry. It is used for anything from registering and managing schedules/classes, teaching essential skills, to delivering regular updates in a wide variety of formats. Companies often use these platforms to train their employees, create a unified platform for communication/collaboration, and specific subject training and courses.

However, there is a lot of research that shows there are many factors that limit the learning potential. For instance, certain educational platforms limit communication between the teachers and the students not by choice but rather by design. If there is a situation where the student needs instant communication, the student will find that getting in touch will be difficult. Integrating social media accounts could easily solve the problem and make educators more accessible.

Companies trying to educate their employees using learning management systems may come across problems as well. An employee will progress at a faster rate if the platform is interactive rather than static. For example, an employee that can connect to a trainer or a live screen sharing session will get a deeper understanding of what needs to be done.

Sometimes the problem lies in the interface design. The interface in many learning platforms is confusing and unorganized. Trying to learn how to use the platform is usually a challenge in of itself. In this case, the frustration and confusion will set the pace for the educational experience, which can be a big deterrent to the learning process.

Sometimes the platform may be straightforward but the way that the content is organized may be boring. In this case, the interface needs to work with the content to be engaging, valuable and meaningful. You can think of it like a powerpoint presentation. Just because it’s easy to follow doesn’t mean the design or the content will be impactful.

All in all, great UX/UI design is critical for deeper and impactful learning. Assuming that a straightforward platform will get the job done is a big mistake. While it may seem like an unnecessary expense, getting a platform properly designed is a smart investment. It will result in less required hands-on training, decreased need for support and better results for both students and employees.

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