In many eLearning setups it is necessary to pace your learners progress through the provided content. Presenting all of your content up front can make navigation difficult for the learner. On the other hand, manually enrolling your users in new courses as they progress would be overwhelming for your administrators. Fortunately, Absorb LMS offers several different ways to automatically introduce pacing through your content.
To begin, likely the most obvious choice would be to take advantage of chapter functionality in your online courses. The SYLLABUS tab, found when adding or editing a course, allows you to organize your lessons into chapters. This can be used strategically with the ALL LESSONS, IN ORDER BY CHAPTER option found in the above MUST COMPLETE section. When selecting this option, all but the first chapter will be displayed but inaccessible to a learner that has just been enrolled in the course. As the learner completes chapters, subsequent chapters will be unlocked.
Curricula offer the most versatile means of providing a structured learning path through your courses. Simply put, courses are to a curriculum what lessons are to a course. A curriculum arranges a series of individual courses into a structured learning path, and is going to provide high-level reporting on your learners' progress through a series of courses. Just as a course has chapters which can be configured to pace your learners, curricula offer COURSE GROUPS, configured in the COURSES tab when editing a curriculum. Similar to your course chapters, access to these course groups can be paced by enabling the PACE PROGRESS toggle, which will force completion of each group before starting the next one.
Another interesting feature can be found in course groups' individual completion requirements. You can configure the to require completion of all courses in the group, or only a certain number of them. This is an interesting way to provide an elective approach to your courses: learners can choose different paths through your course groups in order to unlock the next one. It is even possible to make entire course groups optional by setting their requirements to 0 courses, which can be great for extra-curricular learning.
While the above 2 options are great ways to present all of your content in one place, there are other times where you may actually want to offer your content a la carte. Setting a prerequisite, configured in any course type's AVAILABILITY tab, are a great way to restrict access to a course until it has been established that the learner possesses everything they'll need to begin the course. COMPLETED COURSES, VALID CERTIFICATES, or VALID COMPETENCIES can all be used as a prerequisite for a course. Each prerequisite can contain multiple items, and completion requirements, similar to the curricula course groups mentioned previously, can once again provide an elective approach to how your learners choose to complete their prerequisite.
The ALLOW ENROLLMENT toggle also provides an additional option that will allow you to determine whether or not learners can self-enroll in the course from the catalog. When disabled, users will not be able to enroll in the course but will instead be presented with a list of the prerequisite they need to achieve. If enabled, users can enroll in the course but will not be able to access its lessons until the prerequisite is met.
Please Note: If a course has a prerequisite set up and is added to a curriculum, the prerequisite will be ignored. Curricula only follow the learning path as set out by the courses added to the syllabus, and the prerequisite as set up at the curriculum level.
Similar to A prerequisite, post-enrollment is another way to offer your courses a la carte while retaining some level of control over your users' access to the course. A post-enrollment, found in the COMPLETION tab for online courses, ILC courses, or curricula*, will automatically enroll users in a follow-up course a certain number of days after the learner is either enrolled, completes, or fails the course (you are editing).
*Post-enrollment is not available for completion of course bundles
Prerequisites vs. Post-Enrollment
Prerequisites and post-enrollment often achieve similar results, but go about it on opposite ends of an enrollment. The determining factor in your choice to use pre-requisites or post-enrollments will usually have to do with the method of enrollment you would like to offer for the courses you are limiting access to.
Pre-requisites are useful if you intend to offer your courses via self-enrollment or purchase in a catalog; learners will still have the ability to enroll themselves, but only once they have met the required prerequisite.
Alternatively, post-enrollment is useful if you would prefer not to offer your courses in the catalog, or do not want to rely on the user manually enrolling themselves in the course. Self-enrollment can be bypassed entirely by automatically enrolling the user in the limited access course once they have been enrolled in, or completed, the preliminary course. Post-enrollment also offers interesting options for failure of a course, allowing you to post-enroll users in different courses depending on whether or not they passed the preliminary course.