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How a Learning Management System (LMS) can become a Community Engagement System

Published on
February 18, 2023
Florencio Stiedemann
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After being in business more than seven years, we’re often surprised at how many organizations don’t already have a Learning Management System (LMS).

At one point, we were even worried that by 2021 everyone would already have an LMS and we would need to focus on helping people transition from one of the hundreds of systems that didn’t work for them.

What we’ve found is many people are unsure what a Learning Management System can do for them or the best ways to drive what they really want: better engagement within their organization, partners and their larger community they support.

And engagement goes far beyond loading and assigning courses.

Learning What’s Possible

YesLMS started with the goal of making learning more engaging and accessible for everyone. But our hope has always been to lead the way and show others what’s possible. But having accessibility as a “competitive advantage” is not our goal. We want everyone to invest more in accessibility.

And by accessibility, we mean more than compliance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

As remote work (or “telework”) has become an essential part of the “new normal,” many of the previous barriers to access have fallen away as new ones arise.

We’ve found that accessibility can be a doorway into a much broader world: not just one more inclusive of people with disabilities but more valuable to everyone.

A Community Engagement System?

For example, YesLMS leveraged our “accessibility first” philosophy to help expand our Learning Management System to support a wide variety of virtual conferences for organizations like CSAVR, The NET, NTACT:C and many others scheduled for the remainder of the year.

This shift in thinking and execution has transformed what our clients expect from a Learning Management System (LMS) - from compliance tracking of asynchronous, self-paced e-learning courses (yuck!) to creating fun, engaging and productive community engagement experiences that can go well beyond the boundaries of isolated conference sessions or training modules.

Even better, all of these organizations have seen their conference enrollments increase (in some cases, DOUBLE) as these technologies have made attendance accessible to people who would have been excluded in the past due to the costs and physical challenges of travel.

Accessible Technology Is A Good Place To Start

And technology continues to advance to create more accessible experiences. For example, videoconferencing systems like Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet have live captioning features that improve the experience for users who are blind or low vision. Zoom now offers an option for users to pin an ASL interpreter’s video next to a speaker’s and Google Meet even has live translation in French, German, Portuguese (Brazil) and Spanish (Spain and Latin America). These types of innovation are potential game changers in creating a more accessible world.

Other initiatives seek to go beyond specific technology features such as the GAAD Foundation, a nonprofit that aims to create “a platform through which product managers, engineers and designers can connect with people with disabilities to discuss how they use tech to inform their own processes.”

But having features in an application is not the same as making those features known to designers and developers in a content-rich system like a Learning Management System.

At YesLMS, we leverage accessibility standards and best practices, lessons from universal design for learning (UDL) and lots of feedback from clients and potential clients.

For example, the YesLMS platform has accessible fonts and layouts, contrast options and multi-language options (English, Spanish, French, and Brazilian-Portuguese) throughout the entire system, not just for “end users.” That means everyone including designers, trainers / teachers / facilitators and administrators have the same support as students / participants.

Our intuitive design means everyone can create and contribute - not just instructional designers with advanced degrees.

It also means you and your team can focus on creating engaging experiences that blend live, recorded and self-paced elements (including surveys, quizzes and assignments) that go far beyond what you might have expected from a Learning Management System in the past.

woman in wheelchair with laptop
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