There are several ways that users can be enrolled into learning content within the LMS. If the preferred method is having learners enroll themselves, this can be achieved with self-enrollment enabled in the course-level availability settings. Those that fall within the availability rules for self enrollment will see the learning content in the catalog, and ready for enrollment.
Of course, admins can opt to allow only specific users the permission to enroll in certain course content, making it invisible to any other learners accessing the catalog. Rules, and refinements to those rules can target users with specific names, email addresses, locations, and nearly any other data found in the user’s profile. There is virtually no limit to how specific availability rules can be, allowing admins to target many learners, or potentially just one out of thousands. This puts learners in the driver seat, and allows them to make decisions on what they want to enroll in, and learn about next. It’s a great option for self-starters, and those who are trying to keep their points up in Leaderboards where enabled.
On the other hand, if you want an automated process to have learners enrolled into course content immediately after being added to the portal, this can be achieved by automatic enrollment. This method doesn’t rely on learners going into the catalog and enrolling themselves, and admins can set up availability rules like those used for self enrollment, that have learners enrolled after the course settings have been saved. This can be a good workflow for mandatory courses new employees are required to take. Whatever your use case is, automatic enrollment provides a simple method for admins to have learners enrolled based on their profile information. The LMS considers these rules every time a new user is added, or their profile information is updated, so you can be sure that users are enrolled, and kept up-to-date as necessary without adding unnecessary workload on your admins.
If your organization has opted to use e-commerce, this can be used in conjunction with self-enrollment availability rules. Course content can be made available for purchase only to existing users. This is useful for those who are looking to limit what learners have access to the purchasable content. Course content can also be made available publicly for users to purchase as well. Enabling this option overrides the self-enrollment rules, and allows anyone to buy your course content. This is a great way to increase sales of your content, and make it easier for potential learners to find new courses. Of course, this is only possible if you have chosen to allow users to view your portal’s course catalog without being logged in. Making the course available for purchase to the public will be overridden by this option, but can be easily managed by a system admin in the E-Commerce Settings found in Portal Settings.
As an additional step to provide admins additional oversight on a course’s enrollments, admins can choose to have a specific user approve enrollments for each course. Depending on your use case, this may be necessary for a complicated set of availability rules, or information that cannot be determined by the LMS alone. Approval can be completed by the course editor, supervisor, administrator, or someone hand-picked by the admin. Regardless of who is chosen here, they will be able to approve each enrollment prior to the learner gaining access to the content. This provides a manual method to see if the learner meets the requirements necessary to access the learning content. To ensure that the process reduces work for admins, Absorb does still provide the option to enable approval request emails under the Messages tab in course settings. This will automatically inform the chosen user that they have a pending enrollment, and will also send a notification to the learner once they have been successfully enrolled, if approved. Learners gain immediate access to the content at this point, so the admin again, does not have to do any further steps to their workflow.
If self-serve enrollment isn’t an option for your specific use case using the above-mentioned options, admins still can manually enroll users into course content. This can be completed on a user-by-user basis, or by completing a mass enrollment. While this adds some additional work, the workflow itself is simple, and can be achieved with minimal effort. Depending on the number of admins managing users and courses, there is some room for administrative error, and has the potential of creating a large work load.
Overall, availability rules for self- and automatic enrollment can be refined in such a way that it is easy to target specific users in your organization at a granular level. Whether you want them enrolling on their own, being automatically registered for a course, or choosing to offer the course for purchase, there are many ways to get your content to your learners on time. How your organization requires this to be rolled out will be the primary influence on admin workload and enrollment numbers.
Like the option for self enrollment, enrollment keys can provide learners a way to register for one or more courses, ILC’s, curricula, or course bundles. The benefit of using them for admins is the ability to track uses, which can be used in identifying if an advertising campaign has been successful. New users taking advantage of an enrollment key can be assigned to a specific department. They also alleviate the need to have admins manually enter in profile information for each user. Instead, admins can determine in advance what standard and custom fields users will need to fill out to access the learning content. Once registered, they will be enrolled, and ready to take their training.
How distribution is managed will need to be considered prior to using this method. Each enrollment key is assigned a unique alpha-numeric string that learners will need to enter into the LMS. This can be an easy to read word, or a complex string depending on how you need to distribute it. This can be accomplished by including it in a blog post or otherwise making it publicly available on a website, using an email campaign to target specific people, used on printed material, or even by word of mouth.
Enrollment for ILCs
If you are managing the enrollment for instructor led courses - also referred to as ILCs - most of what we have reviewed still applies, but there are some additional considerations.
First, automatic enrollment is not available for ILCs at the course level. However, ILCs can be added to curricula, and curricula still provide a means of allowing automatic enrollment. The only caveat in making use of this functionality is that learners will still need to select a session to enroll in for each ILC that has been added to a curriculum with automatic enrollment. If this is not desirable, admins will need to manually select ILC sessions on behalf of learners manually.
Second, there is the need to set an additional set of self-enrollment criteria at the session level for ILCs. This allows admins to offer different sessions of the same course to different training audiences. One common application of this is to restrict self-enrollment to sessions within the user’s own city, state or province. Because there are two sets of a self-enrollment criteria and a scheduling consideration, it is important to keep in mind that for a user to see an ILC in their catalog, they must meet the course level self-enrollment criteria. Further to this, they must also meet the self-enrollment criteria for at least one future session of that ILC, in which they’re eligible to enroll in as determined by the self-enrollment rules at the session level.
There are three date-specific options that can ultimately affect a learner’s access to course content. Keep in mind when setting any three of these options that learner accounts will retain the settings of each once they have been enrolled in the course. Only learners that have been newly enrolled in a course after the dates have been updated in the course’s settings will be affected. Any existing enrollments will need to have the dates updated by accessing each user individually to update them. If this would make for too great of a workload, admins can alternatively un-enroll existing users and enroll them again for the new dates to take effect. Any course progress for these users will be lost, so be sure that you are prepared to update user progress manually, or have learners take the course content again.
The first date-specific option we’ll cover is the Access Date option. It limits learners to being able to open courses until the date specified has come to pass. This option is good for organizations that want to roll out new training for something like a new product release, but cannot have learners take it until a specified date.
The expiration date is the second date-specific option, and is self-explanatory. Once the learner has passed the set expiration date, they will no longer have the ability to open the course or its contents. This will revoke the permission granted to those enrolled in the course from continuing to view or use the content within it. This is particularly useful for learners that are access time-sensitive training that is no longer applicable after a certain date. Another use case is where a learner has only purchased a course for a set period of time.
The third, and final, date-specific option is the due date. The primary differentiator between the expiry and due date is that the latter will still allow learners to access the course content after the date has come to pass. Instead of having no access whatsoever, learners will instead be notified with a message from the LMS that their course is past due. This setting is ideal for admins who want to set a sense of urgency over the completion of a course, but still allow learners to complete the course before completely revoking access to it.
Used in conjunction with self enrollment, prerequisites can prevent learners from accessing or enrolling a course. Aside from using availability rules based on a leaner’s profile information, prerequisites can another layer of requirements based on a leaner’s accomplishments within the LMS.
The three requirement types available for prerequisites are completed courses, valid certificates, and competencies. Only one type can be used at a time, so keep this in mind when opting to use prerequisites alongside enrollment rules. Further to these options, admins can opt to give learners the ability to enroll in a course but not access it if they do not have the appropriate prerequisites. Alternatively, they can instead be prevented from enrolling into the course altogether if they do not have the appropriate prerequisites. Depending on whether the course has an expiration date, it may be preferable to not allow enrollment so that they are provided with ample time to complete any other necessary course work or training first.
The Completed Courses option will look at the transcript for each learner attempting to enroll, and ensure that they have fully completed the required number of courses as determined by the admin. Valid Certificates works the same way, but rather than looking for course completion in the learner’s transcript, it reviews that the correct certificates have been earned.
Finally, competencies offer similar functionality, but admins cannot set a desired number to be completed. Instead, each competency selected must be found in the learner’s transcript to successfully meet the criteria.
Prerequisites are a great way to offset your availability rules, and ensure that only the right learners are gaining access to specific content in your portal.