At VMware, technical education holds great importance to us. Our goal is to establish a pathway for outstanding young IT engineers who have expertise in areas such as data center virtualization, network virtualization, end-user computing, cloud management, automation and security. We aim to guide them toward obtaining VMware technology certification, which can facilitate their career development at businesses all over the world.
That’s why we founded the VMware IT Academy, which is now working with more than 105,000 students from 1,500 academic institutions in more than 70 countries. We’ve always wanted to ensure we provide the best environment for them to learn online so they can gain skills quickly and achieve the certifications they need.
However, in the past, continuous improvement was a challenge. We didn’t have a good way to track students’ activity online, so it was difficult to analyze where they were struggling and how we could make our courses easier to consume. And we could only report on enrollment at a very high level, so it was difficult to work out who was taking which courses and why.
Fundamentally, the problem wasn’t the technology—we already had great platforms from D2L Brightspace. The trouble was that configuring the learning management system wasn’t our core skill set. I was spending about five hours a week on system administration; that took time away from my real job, which is managing the program at a strategic level. And we were still only getting a fraction of the value that Brightspace can deliver.
That all changed when D2L introduced us to Natasha, our new learning administration manager. Working with her has been a delight. During our early days, we only communicated once a week, but our partnership has grown so much that we now sync up daily. We focus on proactively identifying improvement opportunities to further enhance the platform and student experiences while using Brightspace.
There’s a very clear difference between before we adopted our LAM and after. Things have improved exponentially, and my day-to-day experience feels a hundred times easier, more productive and more effective. Everything we do in the system is properly planned and based on a data-driven strategy. And there’s a night-and-day difference in the level of insight we get into our courses.
For example, our LAM has helped us combine Brightspace features such as surveys and intelligent agents to gather feedback from our students and instructors in a much smarter way. We can automatically track each user’s attributes—such as their role, status and login frequency—so we can see who our most and least engaged users are. We can then automatically send surveys to specific groups to understand their experience and identify new ways to make our courses more interactive and easier to consume.
The results have been fantastic: Today, we have around 105,000 students; it’s humbling to think that the work we do has directly impacted the lives and careers of so many people.
On a personal note, Brightspace has been enormously positive for my professional development. When I started working with D2L, I was early in my career. Now, after four years of being a Brightspace user and an advocate, D2L has recognized me as an innovative learning leader and a D2L Champion. D2L has been an instrumental part of my job, and I can’t imagine where I would be if it wasn’t for this partnership.
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