This is the third installment in a series of four posts where we share our experience of changing Learning Management Systems (“LMSs”) including from decision-making to the post-launch process. In this edition we’ll cover preparing for migrating both content and learner information.

Managing information is the key to a successful migration. No matter how you named the different levels of your training content (units, modules, lessons, topics, elements, etc.), the structure behind your training design can easily be represented as a matrix. We strongly recommend you organize and manage your content as a database that at least includes:

  1. Naming conventions: The name of your smallest unit (piece of content, lesson, topic, learning element) using the same title your learners will see. If, for example, your smallest unit is a video, include the name of that video that your learners see.
  2. File path/Storage location: The file path of your smallest unit that is saved in your internal archives needs to be identified in your database. In our example, you should use the original video’s name and path saved on your computer, on-premise server or in the cloud service you use.
  3. Version control: Make sure you specify the version of the smallest unit  you are using when you migrate. The amount of information you will handle is significant, and you need to make sure you are using the latest version of content.
  4. Embed codes: Include the embed link and embed code of your content. In our example, the source of your videos may not be your original file but a video hosted on platform like Vimeo or YouTube. Even if you are migrating using playlists or if your new provider offers to help you move the content, you will need a map of where to find all the information you need. 

During migration, there area at least three types of challenges. The first type of challenge is technical; for example, during the migration of a playlist of videos, you see that your videos do not have the correct dimensions and will need to update them manually. Having the embed code in your matrix or database saves time.  

The second type of challenge is related to the fact that you will notice many gaps and areas for improvement in your content during migration. It is a unique quality assurance opportunity, but to be effective, you need the ability to control what content you are changing and how those minor changes can affect the general structure of your course. Make sure you (or your colleagues) log changes in your matrix including changes such as merging or reordering units.

The third type of challenge might be understood as a “language” challenge. Each platform names the different levels of content differently. It is going to take a while for team members to get used to it; however, beyond the names, you might find that your new LMS has a different quantity of levels.

With respect to the third challenge, it is usually possible to adapt your content to a new structure. Even if you have fewer levels, the solution might be to connect content differently, play with the prerequisites or merge different types of content (for example, the smallest unit is not just a video anymore but a combination of a video and a text or a video and an assessment that are part of the same learning objective). Consider how these changes will help you to reduce friction from the learners’ perspective.

The fourth and final post in this case study is related to timing the launch of your new LMS and that is what is next; however you might also be interested in our previous posts in this series: Do I need a different LMS? and Selecting an Alternative LMS.