Some say that SharePoint is a jack of all trades, a limitless work tool. While it’s most commonly utilized for document management, it also reigns supreme when it comes to sharing and managing content, knowledge, and applications to empower teamwork, quickly find information, and seamlessly collaborate across the organization. Thus, it makes natural sense that a learning portal in SharePoint would work tremendously well for training.
A learning portal is essentially a gateway to all the courses, resources, and instruments that facilitate teaching and learning. It’s a place where you store all your documents, podcasts, videos, presentations, and so on.
Learning portals can also include applications that facilitate communication: Discussion forums, messaging services, email, calendars, and so on. In its simplest form, a learning portal can be a shop-front where your learners can discover or be assigned content.
As we just discussed, a learning portal is both a place to store content as well as provide the opportunity for discussion – both strong features of SharePoint.
Learning portals must be flexible. Large or diverse organizations need a learning portal that offers sufficient flexibility to customize the learning journey and customize the look and feel of the learning environment.
SharePoint is both scalable and flexible in that it is composed of web parts that can be manipulated as needed. Each department or team can create the features they need as well as choose the colors, fonts and logos desired.
Learning portals must make content ‘discoverable.’ Content in a learning portal must be quick and easy to find. SharePoint has advanced metadata and search features available.
Implement ratings to improve course content
It is important to know whether the material is helpful or not. In SharePoint, you can implement ratings and tags to get real-time feedback. What’s nice is that if a learner searches for information in SharePoint the material with the highest ratings come up in the search first. This ensures the most useful material is found easily. It also lets the instructor know what is working and what is not.
Learning Portals must enable community interaction. A learning portal should give ample opportunities to interact with other learners and teachers. SharePoint social is the perfect solution with discussion forums, blogs, sharing buttons and more.
The Class Site
Set up a class site based on SharePoint team sites. Features such as document libraries for course materials, shared calendars for lesson plans, discussions and announcements are all easy to create. In addition, you can integrate technology that allows students to complete class assignments online and mark them for grading or conduct quizzes all within the class site.
Learning portals must blend online and offline training. While online training is the norm these days, there still is a bit of classroom training to be had. In this case, you should provide routes in and out of the portal so learners can access information online while they are involved with face-to-face training.
For example, consider letting learners access the content online before they attend a scheduled mini master class or lunchtime huddle. By promoting these lunchtime huddles through the portal, you can bring online learners into an offline environment where they can discuss the content with a facilitator or expert.
LEARNING PORTAL VS. LMS
The terms learning portal and LMS are often interchanged but there is some very distinct differences.
A learning portal is an online hub of activities related to training and performance. It includes all of the ‘basic’ LMS feature sets, yet it is also a place to provide informal learning interactions such as forums, wikis and blogs that facilitate collaboration. Generally, a learning portal provides the opportunity to feel more engaged, find training modalities, interact with each other, find information and activities pertinent to them and their role and even contribute their own content. SharePoint is very much a learning portal.
An LMS is a bit different than a learning portal. It consists of more complex learning features that are SCORM compliant and provides the ability to deliver, track and report on training.
ShareKnowledge is a complete LMS with all the bells and whistles any elearning program will need – complex learning paths, reporting, compliance, events, integration and much more.
ShareKnowledge is also unique in that it is built on top of your SharePoint environment so you get all the benefits associated as well, such as the learning portal with social features and document management for training material. Keeping everything related to training under one roof simplifies the process improves efficiency, and not to mention cost savings.