Getting Started with Absorb 5

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Thanks for choosing Absorb LMS! The following guide outlines some important setup items you should consider when configuring your LMS portal for the first time. While not everything is covered here, we have included a number of the essentials! There are many more features that you may want to consider based on your organization’s needs. You can check out additional resources on support.absorblms.com for detailed guides, knowledge base articles, announcements, and more. We recommend following our Announcements page to be kept up-to-date on important happenings with Absorb.

Portal Settings

Majority of your system-wide settings will be found in Portal Settings which you can get to via the user profile icon in the top right hand corner of the admin user interface (UI). Below are a number of items you’ll want to consider updating, along with a description.

  • Under the Info tab, you’ll find a variety of contact details. Here you’ll want to update your LMS Name, Company Name, and contact details as appropriate. This information will be automatically populated in any system messages sent to your users, so you may want to keep that in mind when entering information here. If you want to monitor all system emails, or have a copy saved for later reference, adding an email address to the BCC line will automatically blind carbon copy all emails sent out to all users. Depending on your system usage, this may yield a high rate of emails if you have a large user count and active learner base. Using a separate email address here, specifically for this purpose may may be desirable.
  • Within the Users tab you have four toggles in which you can choose to enable, or keep disabled. If you require a certain amount of security or procedure around new users, this is where you will decide to enforce that functionality.
  • Absorb only has three required User Profile fields which are Username, First Name, and Last Name. The rest can be made optional, hidden, read only, or required if desired. Your choices here will be reflected in the registration form upon user sign up. Similarly, you can add additional Custom Fields which can add to the standard, built in fields provided by Absorb. They follow similar visibility options, but give you the added flexibility to let users and/or admins to enter additional information that might be highly specific to your organization.
  • If you intend on asking your users to evaluate courses, updating the Default Evaluation questions may be helpful to you. It allows you to draw on more customized questions which get pulled into your course evaluations. Of course, you can always customize them further at the course level.
  • The Defaults tab will be important to review as there are a number of settings that will affect usability for both admins and users. You can choose your default certificate awarded for course completion, language options, report date formats, as well as a few other options. You will likely be using reporting extensively, so choosing how you want them to appear here now, will have you starting on the right foot.

Setup

The Setup tab, which appears as the gear icon on the lower left of the admin UI, is where you’ll find some more options and customization for portal-wide settings.

  • Choosing to open Files will bring up a modal window for your File Manager. If you have any resources that will be used extensively throughout your portal, you may want to upload them here to start so that you are ready to go later.
  • Each Message Template is available in multiple languages, and for a wide variety of notification reasons. You’ll want to ensure you customize the content of these templates to suit your needs, and preference in tone and terminology. You can choose to disable any of them as you like, or have a copy of each message delivered to a user’s supervisor and/or administrators. Please note that you do have the option of overriding these options at the course level if so needed.
  • For additional customization when it comes to portal terminology, you can review and change terms within Translations. Much like Message Templates, there are multiple languages for each. This will affect how things are labelled within Absorb for a more bespoke experience.
  • If you have users that tend to ask the same questions frequently regarding courses, or other topics, FAQs is a tool you may want to utilize. You can set up as many FAQs as you want here to act as a resource for your users, and decrease workload for your admins.
  • While you wont have any to start, Generated Reports is a place you can come back to in order to view any reports you’ve previously generated. This page is a convenient placeholder for any report you began to generate, but had to move on to work on something else. Rather than generate the report a second time, you can come back here to download it.

Users

The Users tab, which appears as the double profile icon, is where you will be able to manage most everything related to users, and their organization. You may want to load your users into Absorb to get going right away, however there are some settings you may want to take into consideration before doing so. 

  • While the Users report will give you an overview of your entire user database, you’ll want to set up your Roles and Departments first. Absorb has four standard roles, but you can create additional roles to be as particular as needed as to what your admins do, and do not, have access to. Creating your departments, and sub-departments, in advance will also give you the the ability to keep your users and admins cleanly organized. Determining the hierarchy here will also regulate which users are under an admin’s management. Beyond this, you can set availability rules dependent on what departments specific users live in. 
  • Another organization option you may choose to use within Absorb is Groups. While they do not have any type of hierarchy, it gives you the option of creating a secondary way of organizing your users. You can use Groups to send emails, enroll users, or share reports with admins, so you may want to set this up depending on your needs.
  • If you’re starting out with a blank slate, you can easily import users with a CSV file from the Users Report. The User Import option will walk you through the steps of adding users to your database and assign user fields - both standard and custom - according to the information you choose. When importing in bulk, it’s important to know that any automatic Message Templates that you have enabled - such as New User or Course Enrollment - will be triggered upon adding users into your portal. Be sure that you have customized your Message Templates within the Setup tab, and at the course level, prior to adding users.
  • The User report is also where you will be able to edit your users and assign roles on an individual-by-individual basis. The Account tab within the User editor will be where you can assign Instructor or Admin permissions. Every user is given Learner UI access, however this can be disabled if preferred. Be sure to review the User Management and Roles options. This can drastically change what users and portal content your admins have access to, and permission to alter.
  • Enrollment keys can be used in a number of ways, and while you will typically use them to have Users enrolled into course content, you may opt to use them as an invitation to Absorb. You can easily have users add themselves to your User database by giving them an Enrollment Key, which can save admins from having to do this work manually themselves.

Courses

The Courses tab, which appears as a computer window and pencil icon, is where all of your course content, resources, and organization of both come into play. While you can start adding content as soon as you wish, you may want to look at setting up your Question Banks, Venues, Global Resources, Competencies and Tags before adding your content.

  • The Courses report is where you can create Courses, Instructor Led Courses (ILCs), Curricula, and Course Bundles, as well as import any third party content you may have. You can organize this content by creating Categories and/or Tags which is in its own report in the Courses tab. Courses on their own can have multiple chapters and lessons, pulling as much content as required.
  • However, based on your needs, you can set up a specific learning path with Curricula, maintaining a particular order to how courses are consumed. As an alternative, you can also assign a number of courses at the same time with Course Bundles. These allow users to be enrolled in courses, but complete them in whatever order suits them.
  • ILCs are typically classes taken in person, or online, and have a number of options to make this fully customizable for admins. You may want to look at creating your Venues in advance of adding sessions to your ILCs to streamline the process, however you can always create them on the fly as well.
  • As mentioned before you can organize all of your content with Categories, however you can also make them more searchable by adding Tags. Tags can make finding specific content even easier, by assigning specific wording to your content.
  • Competencies can be set up in order to provide users with an alternative to credits or certificates as an award for completing course content. Any Competencies earned will be displayed in the User’s User Transcript alongside all of their other learning progress.
  • If you previously uploaded any widely used Resources through the File Manager in the Setup tab, Global Resources is where you can make them available. Anything added here can be made available to your entire User database, however you can always add availability rules to narrow it down to whoever the content is best suited for.
  • Question Banks are a handy tool if you plan on using the Absorb Assessment lesson option. Here you can create banks of questions which you can later pull into your courses, which can save a lot of tedious data entry. Question Banks can be pulled into multiple Assessment lessons, allowing you to pick and choose how many questions from each are used.
  • Once you have all of this added, you can utilize as much as you need in your Course setup. With all of these details already added, you can simply pull the Competencies and certificate for Completion, or add Tags to your General Course information.

Reports

The Reports tab, shown as the spreadsheet icon, is where you will get the majority of your reporting data from. While you can customize these reports as you work more and more with them, you can always set up some preferences to get started.

  • Within each and every report, you can customize the report columns by dragging and dropping them, adding addition columns, or removing them altogether. Adding Filters will narrow down the data shown, giving you highly granular control over what information is displayed. You can set these layouts as favourites by creating a new Saved Layout by clicking on the round spreadsheet icon. Once it’s saved, you can make it a favourite by clicking the star next to it. In doing so, this will be the default layout when you return to the page next time.
  • Another feature of Saved Layouts is being able to schedule them to be delivered to specified users via email. The scheduling feature is customizable, so you can opt for whatever frequency works best. If you need a hard copy, you can also print out the on-screen data. Keep in mind that only what is displayed on screen will be printed. If you have multiple pages, only the page you’re currently viewing will print. If you need to have all pages printed, it may be best to generate a report for download, and print it from your preferred program.
  • As mentioned before, you can also share your Saved Layouts by clicking on the round double profile icon on the report. You will get to decide here what groups will be able to view the same Saved Layout.
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