3 Questions to Ask Before Buying an LMS

Think you’ve got a handle on your search for a learning management system (LMS)?

According to a Forrester study, more than 50% of LMS implementations either fail or cost much more than originally planned. That is a pretty sobering statistic if you’re looking for an LMS, but it doesn’t have to be that bad.3 questions buying lms

Just ask Sharon McGee. She successfully implemented the perfect LMS for her flight school, Flamingo Air Academy. “We found a really simple, relatively inexpensive program that we now actually use.”

How did she do it? By asking every LMS vendor on her list the following three important questions:

Question 1: How is my material delivered?

Sharon recommends you ask yourself, “How do you want your particular material to be delivered? Do you want it to be delivered through PowerPoint presentations; do you want it to be delivered through videos?”

Flamingo Air Academy uses a combination of PowerPoint presentations, videos and external hyperlinks to deliver material to their students.

“There’s an enormous amount of information out there on FAA websites that you want to be able to send your students to. Well, if [the vendor] can’t do any of that, then that limits the amount of material that you’re actually going to be able to provide to your students.”

Know what your content delivery needs are and check that vendors can meet those needs.

Question 2: How can I evaluate my students?

Evaluating and grading students is at the heart of an LMS. Unfortunately, vendor limitations can occasionally doom your efforts from the start.

Says Sharon, “Sometimes it’s like, ‘Oh, well, you can only ask true false questions on a test, or you can only do multiple choice questions.’ “

For Sharon and her company that wasn’t enough. By asking vendors to describe in detail what their software allowed for evaluating students she was able to eliminate options that were a bad fit for her needs.

Ask yourself how you want to be able to test and evaluate your students. Does your course require written examples with manual grading, or will you be fine with an online quiz that tests a student’s knowledge?

Question 3: How can I verify my students’ actions?

Using an LMS has great advantages over traditional classrooms and can extend the reach of your material globally, but the absence of face-to-face communication can also present its own challenges.

High among these is the difficulty of verifying that students are who they say they are, and that they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing.

Sharon’s concern about verification was valid and important. “We’re a flight school, and our long distance learning program is through our dispatch course, so when our students do the long distance learning we have to be able to validate to the FAA every single thing that we do. So the better your ability to verify what it is they’re learning, the more valuable your particular learning system is going to be.”

Ask the vendor questions like:

  • “What safeguards are in place to ensure my students are doing what they need to be doing?”
  • “How do you verify identity?”
  • “Can you tell when a student logs on, when they log off, and how long they spend on a particular subject?”

You need to be able to prove to whatever oversight organization you have to deal with, that the students are actually doing the material.

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Tips to enhance your deliverability in Yahoo Mail Boxes!

The mission of all ISPs including Yahoo Mail is to deliver messages that users want to receive, and filter out messages they don’t want. The simplest way to ensure that your marketing messages are delivered is to avoid looking like a spammer!

Send email only to those that want it

  • Use and honor an opt-in method of subscription for your mailing list, where subscribers actively verify their intent to receive your mailings.
  • Honor the frequency of the list’s intent.
  • Honor unsubscribe requests quickly.

Be CAN-SPAM compliantYahoo mail

Regardless of where in the world you’re sending your mail, make sure that you adhere to the requirements stipulated by the CAN-SPAM Act.

Use email authentication such as DKIM

  • Sign all your email to help Yahoo identify forgeries and distinguish yourself spammers.
  • See DKIM.org for information about DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM)

Consistently manage your lists

  • Monitor hard and soft bounces as well as inactive recipients. Persistent emails to these addresses are a surefire way to get your connections deferred.

To avoid message blockages

  • Look closely at any SMTP Reply Codes yahoo mail servers are returning and ensure you’re addressing the problem:
  • Don’t retry 5xx messages which are permanent errors (example – HTTP Error 504 – Gateway Timeout)
  • Retry 4xx messages which are temporary errors (example – 404 page not found )

Refresh your list periodically.

  • Consider removing or sending a reconfirmation email to inactive subscribers.
  • Sending mail to users who are not reading them, or who mark them as “spam,” will hurt your delivery metrics and reputation.

Enroll in Yahoo feedback loop.

If you are signing your emails with DKIM or Domain Keys, Yahoo’s Complaint Feedback Loop program can help you track and manage your spam complaint rates. iCubes is maintaining these records for all our clients…hence no headache for you 🙂

Segregate your mail streams by IP address and/or domain.

  • Segmenting your mail stream that delivers marketing mails from another that sends transactional messages makes it easier for Yahoo Mail to assign each mail stream a reputation.

Check your email content.

  • Test your emails’ visual look with image placeholders. Many users won’t see images in your email by default.
  • Link to domains, not IP addresses.
  • Use standard ports.
  • Don’t include HTML forms, JavaScript, & embedded objects (like flash or ActiveX).
  • Use Inline style sheets only
  • Using a static From: address helps users who have set up filters to route messages to a specific folder.
  • Using your domain consistently helps Yahoo and your recipients to distinguish your email from spam.

Publish reverse DNS (PTR) records for your sending IPs.

Yahoo is more likely to downgrade an IP’s sending reputation if:

  • There is no reverse DNS entry for your IP address.
  • Your mailing IP looks like a dynamically-assigned IP instead of a static mail server.

Use common-sense settings

Yahoo states, “While we have not published guidelines for the numbers of connections you can concurrently use, we ask that you treat our resources with respect.The more you take, the fewer there are for others, which may force us to defer your connections*.”

*Courtesy: Yahoo Post Master

Girl’s marriage – Still Parent’s Ultimate dream?

Worry begins, when a girl child is born in an Indian (orthodox) family. Most of them start harping on it when she reaches 21, about to complete her Graduation and are almost in great grief by the time she is 28+. In India, it is considered the parents’ “duty” to get their kids married off and complete their duties ASAP.

But everyone wants only one thing for their daughters: HAPPINESS. But do you know how India parents think their daughters would be happy? When they are secure in their family, how they will be secure? When they have enough money to fulfill their dreams. How will they get enough money? By marrying her to a guy who can earn enough of it for them.Indian-MARRIAGE-grils 

Because (and we all are told Indian women don’t think like that about equality) women are never expected to fulfill the role of breadwinner in the family. Even if she is professionally qualified she’s expected to marry, stop working, take care of their family and even start producing babies. The irony of this is that a lot of parents, upon discovering post-marriage that their daughters are not “secure and happy,” tell them that it is their fate and refuse to let them come back home, even tell them their husband’s home is only their home not his father’s home. (Sad but true 😦 )

These are some of the most common problems encountered:

  • As the girl ages, it gets increasingly difficult to find a nice groom for her. If they start the groom hunt early, apparently the chances of finding a nice boy is high!
  • Parents want to get done with the responsibility of getting their daughter married ASAP. They start having all sorts of fears including but not limited to ‘What will happen to you if our health fails?’
  • Children: A lot of people would want their daughters married soon so that they do not have any issues during child birth. This is definitely a simpler way to get your daughter married considering it would appeal more to her sense of logic. And if that doesn’t work, then you always have the famous death threat – “Marne se pehle tere bachhe ka chehra bas ek baar dekh lun!” (let me see your child’s face at least once before I die!). 😀
  • Marriage expenses: Marriages are a lavish affair in India even for societies which follow rather simple traditions. Things become even more difficult if you have a fairly long guest list. I had also heard about the several people start saving money for their daughter’s marriage from the next day of their birth also. In such a situation, several people who have jobs with a fixed tenure and do not have sufficient resources would want to ensure that their daughters are married before their retirement. Indian-girl-Marriage
  • The guy to whom their daughter gets married is going to keep her happy. For some reason the girl is perceived to be incapable of being happy on her own and someone has to make her happy.
  • The famous “log kya kahenge” (what will people say) attitude: Most people in India would justify marrying of their daughters because of this.  A late marriage would apparently create apprehensions in the minds of people (including prospective ‘ladkewalas’) who would, at the slightest hint, jump to a number of conclusions about the girl, including the following: (i) she was ditched by some guy she was dating for really long; (ii) she is not a family girl – She is too ambitious about her career; (iii) there might be some ‘kundli or grahya dosh’  (the stars weren’t appropriately aligned at the time of her birth), etc. Presumptions such as these exist everywhere, for no real reasons.
  • Not to forgot, the practice of dowry-giving is not only a problem in itself, but older brides are asked for more dowry.
  • As many have already pointed out: pressure from the society. Gossip about girls of marriageable age who are unmarried has no bounds. Rumors pop out of thin air. That reduces the girl’s value in the marriage market which is again bad news for parents.
  • Last but not the least and very similar to the previous point: relatives. Every decision for you is made by parents who consult these relatives a lot! The rubbish they feed them is more than enough to get parents worried.
  • Apart from all this, Indian families are usually excited about marriages in general. Everyone likes celebrations and new relationships being built (and the search for more children to be married off during such occasions). Not to mention, the gossip surrounding every single marriage ceremony.

This leads to many hastily arranged marriages, which can end with disastrous results.

What do you think,

  • As a girl child in family, do your parents insist you to get married?
  • Have you encountered any such event around you?
  • As parents, Do you also believe the Girl’s Marriage as ultimate dream of your life?

Please comment.