Your team is all set with selecting a learning management system (LMS). But have you planned how to support it, your learners, and your CE/CME department stakeholders? Identifying an capable LMS Administrator is crucial to supporting your LMS. The LMS administrator will be the product owner and can make or break the system rollout.
To try and define the characteristics of a successful LMS administrator, we asked two seasoned CE/CME LMS veterans what skills and characteristics are most valuable.
Leadership takes multiple forms: from leading a team to collaborating with others, the LMS administrator must be able to get multiple stakeholders to agree and work together.
Laura Nelsen, Senior Education Manager at National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP), manages a team of three and is responsible for all of NAPNAP’s professional education initiatives.
“We have a Senior Education Manager, an Education Specialist and an Events and Logistics Specialist. We work collaboratively. It is challenging because we’re all trying to meet the needs of our learners and make sure they have a positive experience.”
When on the hunt for an LMS administrator, look for candidates who exhibit leadership. Ask them for examples of when they had developed or facilitated a multi-department team that supported their organization or customers.
In smaller organizations, there may only be one person managing the LMS. In this case you should look for someone who is comfortable making decisions without a team’s support. For the past 13 years, Kristin Hasson, LMS Administrator at National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) has been NCCN’s entire LMS team. Each year Hasson manages about 210 programs that issue around 25,000 credits. In addition to LMS administration Kristin plays a pivotal role in planning and implementing programs.
“I facilitate getting the program from the initial planning stage through implementation. I make sure that everybody is doing what they need in order to move the projects along,” said Hasson.
For a role like Hasson’s, consider an individual’s ability to make decisions independently and facilitate team members who are not direct reports.
2. Multitasking abilities
Because an LMS administrator manages multiple projects at once, finding someone capable of multitasking will be vital. Hasson suggests finding “someone who can multitask, because you will have activities at different levels of completion at all times and you really have to be able to manage that.”
Nelsen agreed and added, “an LMS Administrator must be detail-oriented.”
When interviewing an LMS administrator, ask for examples that demonstrate an ability to successfully juggle multiple projects.
3. Adult education and LMS experience
Both Hasson and Nelsen refer to their background with adult education and technology as having prepared them for their current roles.
“Experience with adult learning and instructional design and a knowledge of online or distance education programs and LMSs is something that helps,” Nelsen said.
Hasson drove this point home when advising that the LMS administrator should be “somebody who’s not going be intimidated by the system and who’s going to be able to go in there and figure out things.”
4. Effective communicator
Supporting technology requires the ability to communicate. Whether it is translating technical jargon, collaborating with subject-matter experts or updating customers, find someone who can exchange information effectively.
“You’re talking to users who are coming at you with all different levels of experience and technical abilities.” The LMS administrator may also need to communicate with faculty, peers in the department, and leadership when making a business case to allocate budget, said Hasson. “It’s somebody who really needs to be able to communicate with people at all levels of the organization,” she said.
5. Customer service skills
Another invaluable skill of an LMS administrator is customer service. Nelsen suggests that the person “should be well-versed in issue or conflict resolution, and certainly have a customer service orientation because we’re talking to members all day long.”
Narrow down good candidates by having them walk through typical customer service scenarios that an LMS administrator will face. Then evaluate how the candidate would handle them.
Once your LMS administrator is hired, both Hasson and Nelsen recommend building in time for them to survey your learners and carve out time for LMS feature exploration. This will benefit both your organization and your learners because it allows time for innovation and mastery of the LMS features. That mastery will, in turn, increase the possibilities for new product offerings and revenue.
Finally, once hired and in their role, use qualitative and quantitative methods for gauging success. Survey your members’ about their user experience, and also look at the number of certificates awarded and the number of returning learners coming back to your LMS over time.