In the 15 years I’ve been working with customers, I’ve never met anyone who was delighted at the thought of going through a course migration. Especially when you’re just starting out, it can feel like you’re at the bottom of a mountain with no end in sight. I can certainly sympathize. The concerns many institutions have about losing their work and the potential for disruption are understandable. But there are some simple things you can do to get organized, and set yourself up for a successful course migration.
In the past, I’ve gone over how to assemble the right team, how to pick the best course migration strategy, and how to ensure yourself a successful implementation. In this blog, I’m going to dive in a little deeper to give you the best practices you should be following when performing a course migration.
Here are the steps I follow to make sure a course migration is a success.
1. Plan it
The first thing you need to do is decide how you want to transition your courses. Then you can build a plan to identify timelines, risks, and resource requirements. For a more detailed explanation of how to choose the best approach, check out this helpful post.
Here are some important questions to ask:
- Should you transition all courses?
- Which courses should be migrated first?
- How should you handle faculty requests?
- Should all course masters and development courses be transitioned?
- Should you tackle the smallest courses first?
2. Export it
The next step is to figure out a plan-of-action for how you want to export courses from your legacy LMS. Considerations could include everything from documenting who has current admin access in the new platform, to deciding if you should rename the courses you have already migrated for better tracking.
Here’s what you need to think about:
- How often will you perform exports and how many courses per batch?
- How will you identify and track completed courses?
- Should you lock out courses in your legacy platform to prevent further changes?
- Should you assign access now or wait until after validation?
- Should you allow departments to make changes to admin access levels for courses and tools?
3. Import it
When it comes to importing courses, bulk and automation tools are your friends. Bulk tools will allow you to fully automate the conversion of your course packages, along with the import of the converted packages into your new LMS platform.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Start off by setting your automated process to run nightly.
- During periods of high conversion needs, increase this schedule to multiple runs per day.
- Keep in mind, the automated process might require uploading legacy course packages into a specific location (such as an SFTP server/folder).
- Check with your LMS vendor to determine the maximum number of courses you can covert each nightly run.
4. Review it
Managing first impressions is key to ensuring positive adoption during your implementation, which is why the review process is so critical. This is why I recommend you do not assign this initial review to your instructors. Instead, have your curriculum developers or your LMS support team conduct the first review. If you find yourself limited by timelines and resources, you may decide to have your faculty complete the initial reviews. In this case, it’s important to set their expectations and to provide sufficient support and training to ensure they are successful.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Address any content issues, such as invalid characters or text encoding issues.
- Clean up existing discussion posts within each course.
- Review assessments to ensure they are attached to appropriate items in the gradebook.
- Manually migrate your custom content.
- Document any and all issues you come across.
5. Validate it
Once each course has been reviewed, it is ready to be passed on to the course owner, instructional designer, or subject matter expert (SME). These folks are responsible for validating and completing any improvements to ensure the course is ready for your new LMS. This is the primary practice which differentiates a course conversion from a course migration.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Set clear expectations for your team of what areas need to be validated.
- Provide your team documentation outlining any known migration gaps and issues.
- Make a checklist to track what courses have been validated and updated.
- Build a process and set deadlines for which courses should be looked at first.
- Create a workflow to collect feedback to improve your ongoing validation processes.
These five simple steps will help you achieve your end goal of successfully offering courses in your new LMS, but the process doesn’t stop there. Remember to continue to maintain and improve your courses based on student feedback and effective pedagogical practices.
Keep in mind, no migration experience is flawless. Personally, I find it helpful to learn from others who have gone through a similar experience. So I’d also recommend watching this webinar: “Choosing and Implementing a New LMS: Lessons Learned from St. Petersburg College,” in which this university discusses how they implemented over 2400 courses!
You will learn:
- Best practices for a system migration.
- The factors that can affect the timeline for a successful implementation.
- The resources you will need for a smooth transition.
- Lessons learned during the one year migration and training process.
Watch How They Did It