A portion of your audience should test any large-scale technical system before it is rolled out to the general population, whether it is an LMS or even a core of online courses. In regard to the LMS, user acceptance testing (UAT) should really occur on two planes: end users and “back end” users, such as the learning and development organization. Let’s look at how you can ensure that UAT occurs on both planes – and also some best practices for both.
One of the first sources for UAT information is your vendor. Set up a meeting with the vendor representative to find out how they would recommend testing the system. By the time you are ready for testing, your vendor should know your audiences, both internal and external, almost as well as you do. The vendor may be able to provide sample scripts, testing areas, and project plans. In addition, your vendor should be able to create a “copy” of your LMS to be used for testing, instead of using the live database. When you’ve obtained information and assistance from your vendor, take the time to develop and customize the UAT process even further. Remember that your time spent on the front end will probably save both time and money in the long run.
The key to UAT is that the testing audience should be able to follow LMS processes from beginning to end, report on success (or failure), and make suggestions for any last-minute changes. Let’s look at a potential UAT process for an LMS end user, who would be a training participant in your general population. The student should be able to locate his or her own record in the LMS, looking for correct employee data, such as name, position, or work location. The student should also be able to find a learning plan or career path that explains which courses he or she should take. You may also want the student to be able to find a learning plan or career path for a desired position, such as the next logical position for the person or even a promotion.
Next, the student should be able to locate a course and then find a class, either online, classroom, or both. The student should be able to register for a class – and then take it immediately if it is an online offering. If the class is a classroom offering, the student should be able to register, find the class location and time, and then go to the class when it is offered. If this is the case for your LMS, you will probably need to make the UAT period long enough to include a couple of weeks’ worth of classes. After the student takes the course, he or she should be able to again locate the record, find a grade or record of attendance, and make sure that credit has been posted on the learning plan or transcript.
On the back end, an LMS administrator should be able to find records of online courses immediately. This includes locating a grade as well as credit on the student’s transcript or learning plan. For classroom courses, an instructor should be able to record attendance and grades, and then make sure that all grades go to the appropriate transcripts.
Another aspect of UAT should be your reporting and data mining function. You or your LMS administrator should be able to run all reports that were part of the original LMS package, and then cross check the information in the reports to what exists in class and student records. An additional step for the reporting function is to pass the reports to their audience, such as an executive, and have that person review the reports. The report end user should be able to locate information easily, draw relevant conclusions about the data, and ask questions regarding the data. If this doesn’t happen, the reporting may not be complete or it may not be arranged in the most user-efficient manner.
The best way to create an efficient UAT process is to create scripts and feedback forms for the testers. To do this, think through LMS processes, as we’ve done here, and then create a written script. Have users follow the script, add their feedback, and make any suggestions for change that could occur either before the rollout or later on.
After the UAT process, you are ready to roll out. But a full-scale LMS rollout includes marketing, training, and technology, which we will examine in our final discussion on LMS implementation.
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