There are many ways to communicate with users through Absorb rather than having to rely on alternative methods like email. We are going to take a look at five different methods of communicating to your Users through Absorb’s admin user interface. Specifically, this article will cover communication via course comments, the Users report, News Articles, Surveys, and Message Templates.
The first method we’ll look at here is course comments. Providing a forum for learners to discuss courses can be a great way to encourage an open dialog, allowing them to assist each other with any questions that may come along. The option to enable course comments can be found under the More tab at the course-level settings. You will need to ensure that this option is enabled in the course editor if you wish to provide your learners an area to discuss the course and it's contents. Any course that has this enabled, will give Users that are enrolled in it the ability to communicate with one another, and provide any thoughts or feedback on this course. These messages can be managed by an Admin through the Courses report, and making changes as necessary. Of course, Admins can always respond to learners through the comments to provide guidance and respond to feedback.
Users & Departments Report
Next we’ll have a look at messaging users and departments. This functionality can be accessed from two separate places in the LMS. The first place would be from the Users report. Selecting one or more users from the report will immediately provide admins the option of messaging them from the actions menu on the right. Once the page refreshes, the compose message interface presents the option to send the email with the To field pre-populated with the users you previously selected. Users can be removed and added here as needed, and admins further have the option to email a specific department or only users from within a department. Subject and body can be determined, and once happy with how everything is looking, clicking Send will deliver the message. The message will be delivered to each user's inbox in Absorb, along with receiving an email notification as well.
This same interface interface can also be accessed from the Departments report in the LMS. Again, if you click on the department you want to message, you can click here which will bring you to the same compose message interface as before. Using either option allows admins to easily, and quickly send a message to users. Recipients can be narrowed down based on filters available through the reports, allowing for easy targeting of a particular group of users.
News Articles can be found in the Mercury module of the LMS if you have opted for this optional add-on for your portal. Available to share through a tile on the dashboard, or through the News section of your portal, articles can be used to communicate with your users as well. While acting only as one-way communication, these articles can be styled through our built-in text editor and can also include an image and a thumbnail. Any type of information can be shared here from company events to timely updates regarding changes to course content. Under the Availability tab, you can then select which Users you would like this news made available to.
Like News Articles, Billboards are also visible from the dashboard but that's where the similarities end. Front and center on the dashboard, Billboards use a lot of real estate to feature images and videos. They're a great tool for raising awareness of any information you wish to pass along to your users as it's one of the first things they will see after logging in. Use them for advertising new courses that have been added to the catalog, or offer a sneak preview of those coming soon. Billboards, and their content, are at your organization's discretion.
Surveys in Absorb are similar to assessments in that they provide you with a way to collect responses from a learner. The key difference, however, is that there is no right or wrong answer with surveys. It also allows you to set up a specific form of communication to receive direct feedback from your learners. This can prove to be a great tool for admins and organizations looking to improve their learning content, and further understand their learner's needs.
The final option we'll cover in this article is communicating with users through Message Templates as found in their own report under Setup. In this report, you will see all of the standard message templates which are completely customizable, and come in an wide array of languages. The subject and body of your emails can be adjusted to your preference, with the option of adding images, or using HTML as well. The expandable bar found at the bottom of the Body field is where you will find buttons which will add a variable to your message when clicked. These variables will be replaced with the appropriate information from your portal’s data when being sent to your learners, or whoever else you have determined should receive the message. You can either drag-and-drop them where you want to see them, or place your cursor in the correct spot and single click. With this much customization, you can be sure you'll be able to say exactly what you need to while still following your organization's branding and languaging guidelines.
Message templates can also be turned on or off by using the toggles below the body of the message. Setting all of them to off will keep the message from going out, or you can enable them depending on your needs. These messages will be sent to the Users, Administrators, and/or supervisors directly via email in addition to being found in their messages area within the LMS. It’s important to note here that message templates can be overridden at the course level. So while these messages will go out system wide unless otherwise specified, you may have customized messages going out due to settings at the course level.
Absorb has plenty of ways to communicate directly with users, and provide areas for learners to discuss courses among themselves. With the ability to customize and maintain communications as needed, admins do not have to add any further steps to their workflow by removing themselves from the LMS to accomplish direct contact.