Grand (digital) Designs: Building our new Digital Pattern Library CMS training

As we roll out our Digital Pattern Library (DPL) templates to more and more department websites, we’ve also needed to update our CMS training so that everyone using these templates is up to date with best practice. We took this opportunity to redevelop how the training is presented, and consider how we can make our training materials even more effective.

Laying the groundwork

The first step was to gather feedback on our existing training offering by sending a feedback form to everyone who completed CMS training. Using this data, I could see recurring themes. One that came through particularly strongly was for a visual experience with more video guides, integrated seamlessly into the training.

This gave us a solid start in choosing the platform for the new training. I considered a number of options, but ultimately decided to use Xerte, a dedicated e-learning platform that is already used at the University and supported by the Programme Design and Learning Technology team. As well as supporting embedded videos, Xerte allows for the creation of distinct modules that feel more like the traditional ‘online learning’ experience than our current self-led training.

Structural improvements

Once decided on the platform, we needed to make it accessible to users. We decided to improve our reporting abilities, user management and user experience, we would host it the University’s Learning Management System (LMS). This means that the training can be logged on users’ official training record and we can see completion rates.

Starting the build

Users told us they were happy with the structure of the training, which gave me a good starting point, and I researched different approaches to training to make sure we had the best fit. A key finding was the concept of ‘chunking’: breaking larger concepts into their smaller component parts and building those skills up individually before bringing them together at the end.

This method aligned with our positive user feedback, which showed a preference for practical tasks to be dispersed throughout the training rather than all at the end. I ‘chunked’ up the training into distinct thematic sections and sprinkled a few quiz questions throughout the training modules to help users consolidate knowledge of key concepts. 

Each section ends with a practical exercise to complete in the CMS before moving onto the next concept, so users can put their new knowledge into practice straight away.

Hanging new wallpaper

As this training development coincided with the introduction of our new University brand, we used these training modules to design and launch a new theme for Xerte available for use by everyone at the University. Read my previous post for more insight into this design process.

Adding an extension

Alongside all this, I also developed a brand new training module, ‘Creating content for the web’, which is now offered to all users as part of our standard CMS training package.

The new training has been in action for several months now and we’ve been getting lots of positive feedback from users, as well as constructive comments for improvements. We’ll now use these to build on what we offer to ensure that we’re offering comprehensive, effective training that complements our package of support for existing users.

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