Every day at New Leaders, we work to ensure all students, especially underestimated and underserved students, get the quality education they deserve. We achieve this by providing leadership development courses for school and district leaders that give them the tools and knowledge they need to create truly equitable, supportive and open learning environments.
Many of our learners are already working demanding jobs, so we aim to provide maximum flexibility in all our courses—and offering resources online plays a huge part in achieving this. Like many other institutions, we switched to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, and this experience showed us that our existing learning management solution (LMS) didn’t offer the user-friendliness, flexibility or interactivity that we desired.
We decided to look for another option. After vetting multiple vendors, we chose D2L Brightspace. However, while selecting the solution proved to be relatively straightforward, the task of implementation and providing ongoing support to our employees during the transition was a bit more complex.
Taking a playful approach
We were keen to get our course designers, instructors, and admin staff involved in the deployment of Brightspace from day one—and we tried to make this as fun as possible. For instance, whenever I held a team call about the new Learning Management System, I would wear sunglasses and remind my colleagues that the future is “Bright-space.” Eventually, all our instructors joined in and wore sunglasses themselves to our meetings. This really helped inject some fun into the whole process.
We ran regular quizzes, too, and designed them so that all the answers would begin with the letters “B” and “S” in order to reflect Brightspace. Our team really enjoyed these sessions and it helped keep the new LMS in their minds.
Inspiring employee engagement
Just before we were ready to go live with Brightspace, we invited all our employees to play with the platform for 20 minutes in Brightspace sandboxes. Observing their behavior and getting their feedback gave us confidence that we had created an intuitive system that meets everyone’s needs. Encouraging our users to play and try things out also made the first engagement with the new LMS much more enjoyable for everyone.
Providing the right support
As with any new technology, some of our employees needed additional support to help them get up and running. To facilitate this, we created a dedicated training course for our program directors called “Getting Started with Brightspace,” which covered everything our staff needed to know to use the solution confidently, accurately and effectively.
We supplemented this training with regular office hours from our tech department, and employees could book a training session whenever they wanted to discuss any issues or questions on a one-to-one basis.
Training the trainers
We employ over 150 people at New Leaders, so it wasn’t possible for us to train everyone at once. Instead, we took a federated approach. First, we trained 40 program directors with the “Getting to Know Brightspace” course. Then we trained their teams using their course materials, helping them become the experts for their program participants. Working in this way helped us provide everyone with a point of contact if they had issues, starting with the program director and then moving all the way up to our tech department.
Because training is a process and people tend to forget some details over time, we also created a support page in Brightspace, with material on how to address common pain points, implementation guides and other resources. To make sure everyone can find this support page easily, we put a link to it at the top of every module. By helping people self-serve in this way, we’ve reduced the number of support tickets received by our tech department and helped our users become more confident Brightspace users.
The value of positivity
Staying positive about our LMS transformation was by far the best way to help everyone adapt to the change proactively. This approach seems to have worked, too. Over 99% of the feedback we have received about Brightspace has been positive. So, I strongly encourage any other organizations going through an LMS migration to bring some positivity to the process—it really makes all the difference.
Director of Learning, Experience and Design, New Leaders
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