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Learning Management System (LMS) Hierarchies

Jul 17, 2008
What is a hierarchy? Why use one?

Many businesses use different departments, organizations, locations, or other structures to distribute and organize their personnel. And when fitting their users into a learning management system, they'll want to use corresponding hierarchy information, to allow the system to manage how it distributes reports and other training information. For example, a franchised business may use a location-based hierarchy, with one section for corporate-owned stores and another for private franchises. Or a global business may want to manage, and report on, user training by country, city, facility, and department.

Based on user positions in a hierarchy, learning-management-system reports can show certifications achieved by country (at a higher level in the hierarchy) or department (at a lower level in the hierarchy). In the same way, hierarchy-based reports could list transcript results by franchisee or store.

Each hierarchy level can also have an administrator for that level: by store, by department, by function, and so on. Administrators at each hierarchy level and location can receive permission to enter, edit, deactivate, and otherwise manage users within their level and location.

Similarly, reports for each hierarchy level can be generated by users with "reporter" roles in their levels, as well as by higher administrators. For example, to determine who still needs to finish training, store managers can generate reports of how many people passed, failed, or did not finish courses over a selected period of time. These reports could also show who achieved what grades, to help store managers see who still needs to recertify in required skills. Such reports also allow administrators higher in the hierarchy than store managers to see how well the store managers are handling their training responsibilities.

Who's got the rights?

Another item that must be decided prior to implementing a learning management systems hierarchy is which operational rights you want to grant at each hierarchy level. You may allow only system administrators to enter new user profiles into the LMS. Or you may let only site administrators edit user profiles, assign job roles, and authorize users to take courses.

You also may want to allow some managers at the lowest hierarchy levels (and at levels above them) to run certain reports, but not to administer users in their levels. Instead of making these managers "level administrators," you could make them "level reporters." In a typical hierarchy, "level reporters" are associated with specific locations and users in the hierarchy, and can only run reports for these locations and users. Their access to administrative functions is restricted.

Remember that learning management systems hierarchy is a way of organizing and managing the training of your people. It requires some thought. The business rules that you establish for your LMS hierarchy must mirror your organization's framework and your e-Learning program's goals and objectives. For this reason, there are many different ways to organize, implement, and manage organizational training, including by online "campuses," training facilities, classes, user "monitoring groups," and required job roles, competencies, and learning events. We will address these other groupings in subsequent articles.
About the Author
Dave Boggs is the founder & CEO of SyberWorks(www.syberworks.com). He has been involved with web-based training for more than 12 years. Dave was the VP of Sales & Business Development for Relational Courseware. He has a BOS in Physics from Union College and a Masters from Northwestern University. Dave also writes two blogs in the e-Learning space.
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