Category Archives: Product News

You’re invited to a LearningSource wine and cheese evening in Sydney and Melbourne!

Wine and cheese - blog

Join us for a special wine and cheese evening to learn more about LearningSource and meet the founder and CEO, John Mitchell. Our new Business Development Manager, Karl Stemp, is presenting the Melbourne event.

We will be sharing drinks and nibbles, then running through a quick overview and demo of the solution, finishing up with a chance for you to meet and network with other like-minded individuals.

Wine and cheese evening

Sydney @ Cliftons, Level 13, 60 Margaret Street, Sydney

  • Tuesday, 13 May 2014 5:30 PM – Register
  • Tuesday, 3 June 2014 5:30 PM - Register

Melbourne @ Cliftons, 440 Collins St, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia

  • Thursday, 22 May 2014 5:30 PM – Register

Drinks and nibbles will be available from 5:00 PM.

All presentations begin at 6:00 PM.

We hope to see you there!

 

Create efficiencies and improve customer experience through a purpose-built system

Universities are choosing to implement purpose-built systems to manage their executive/professional development programmes and events. With a system specifically designed to manage short courses, custom courses, and events, they have been able to reduce administration and offer a better website registration experience for clients.

System requirements

The logistical requirements and website registration requirements for managing full time courses (e.g. degree courses) are very different than those for short courses and events as illustrated in the diagram below.

System requirements diagram

Student Management Systems (SMS) are primarily focused on record management and are not optimised for high-volume, transactional based activity. While some SMS can be adapted and customised to include the functionality, the cost and effort can be prohibitive.  Furthermore, while the end result of the custom development may deliver the basic functional requirements (e.g. can accept website registrations for short courses), the customer experience usually falls well short of what is delivered using a purpose built solution (e.g. Outlook appointments, reminders, venue location maps, flexible invoicing options, etc).

Executive development courses and services are generally targeted at the corporate market whereas full time enrolment courses (e.g. degree level) are targeted at students. By using separate systems, universities are able to easily segment the records so rather than mixing student records with corporate contacts and clients, the databases are kept separate.

Website development

Using a purpose built system also makes it easier and quicker to create a dynamic and interactive website.  Rather than developing a site from scratch, with the right purpose built solution the core website pages are pre-built, such as course pages, a course calendar, course search, and course catalogue.  A web designer just needs to apply a theme over the top. If custom pages or enhancements are required, the web designer is potentially able to access a purpose built API and add additional add-ons.

Private / custom courses

Private courses are a key part of most university executive/professional development programmes.  Course content is tailored to the client’s requirements and delivered on the date and at the location requested.  The logistics of running a private course are therefore very different to a full-time or short course.  The system used to manage these types of courses needs to be easy-to-use and manage activities such as booking presenters, venues, and catering. It also needs to help manage client communication and invoicing.

System integration

Running a separate system for short courses and events doesn’t necessarily mean the system shouldn’t be integrated with other university systems. There may in fact be a benefit to pass certain information between a University’s SMS, CRM, and other business applications.

Auckland University Executive Development

Screenshot of The University of Auckland’s Executive Development website

On and off campus events

Universities often run a full programme of events, on and off campus.  Requirements for running these events are very similar to short courses; both require a simple online registration and payment process with automated communication.

By using the same system used for managing short courses, universities are able to leverage any website integration and back office system integration (e.g. accounting system).  Their administration staff also benefits, as they only need to learn and use one system.

Download full article:  Create efficiencies and improve customer experience through a purpose built system (PDF 292 kb)

 

Our New Calendar Feature

We recently launched the new calendar feature within LearningSource. Calendars are a critical tool within all organisations. We have created a calendar tab within the main navigation of LearningSource to ensure that users have rapid access to their schedule.

In creating our calendar functionality, we have looked specifically at the features users need thinking about ways to offer deep functionality and ease of use.

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LearningSource Calendars allow the user to select between day, week and month view, all on the fly. We have also integrated a great search function to avoid the long process of skipping through time periods in order to find a particular event.

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With LearningSource we are continually striving to bring <or offer> the functionality that training organisations most need, but at the same time avoid cluttering their desktop with unnecessary complexity – our approach towards calendaring shows our focus on simplicity and depth – we hope you enjoy using it!

Coming up we are looking to introduce functionality that will enable organisations to filter calendars by venue, room, presenter and course – watch this space!

Custom Reports

We are aware that different types of training providers have different requirements when it comes to the reports they generate for their organisation – while our standard reports cover the majority of areas, there are always specific reports that people have a need for. For this reason, LearningSource allows training providers to create and save reports according to their needs – there are two specific ways we do this, firstly through the creation of custom reports, and secondly by editing default settings for an existing report.

Creating a new report takes only a few steps – users select a report they want to create a favourite from and then, using our report options, customise the report and save it as a “Favourite”, in the same way an existing favourite report can be deleted when it is no longer required.

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Changing default settings is a little different in that, rather than creating a new report within the report menu, it simply changes the default way in which a report is displayed. To change the default options, click “More options” within the report window and when you’ve finished customising simply click “Save as default” – Voila the default display settings for the report have been amended.

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We have more detailed steps about how to perform these tasks over on our online help page, click here for instructions on creating a new favourite and click here for changing the default settings for a report.

New features!

We have been flat tack over recent months focusing our efforts and resources on developing some major new features along with pushing out our regular enhancements.  We are excited to finally get a chance to document these.  Here is a list of the big items;

  • Private course feature.  Ability to create and manage a private (in-company) course.   Read online helpView screenshotKey new feature
  • Registration importer.  Ability to import registrations for a course from a spreadsheet, including the ability to update existing registration details (e.g. course attendance and grades after a course has run) and import historical registrations. Read online help, View screenshots
  • Organisation importer 1.  Ability to import organisations from a spreadsheet, including the ability to update existing organisation details, and to link an organisation with a Key Contact, a Parent Organisation, and an Account Manager. Read online help, View screenshots
  • Faster platform and no page refresh required for new releases.  We have implemented some new changes to the underlining platform that offer both performance improvements and also remove the need for you to refresh your browser each time we upgrade your platform to clear old content.
  • Company network integration (IP Based Security) 1.  Ability to secure your course portal (website) for internal staff so they do not require a username/password.  Read online help.
  • Registration section.  Ability to view list of registrations, search registrations, and mark attendance for multiple registrations at once.  View screenshots.
  • New venue interface.  New venue home tab design (cleaner layout, toolbar, and notes list) and edit form.  View screenshots.
  • Course website display settings.  Ability to hide a course from website lists (upcoming courses, catalogue, homepage lists), but still make it available to people who know the private URL.  Read online help.
  • Tools for managing venues and rooms. Read online help.
  • Course completion report.  Allows you to view the course completion status and attendance record of a group of individuals for a specific course. Read online help.

View a full list of new features within our online help.

We would like to take the opportunity to thank all of the current users who continually provide feedback and recommendations which ultimately lead to these new features and enhancements.  If you haven’t already, feel free to add suggestions or vote on other existing suggestions on our user voice site or just drop us an email with your ideas.

LearningSource Importer — Smooth transition

One of the cool features we have recently introduced, and one that at first glance is simple but in fact is rather complex, is our contact importer.

Think for a minute of an organisation moving onto LearningSource. They may well have several thousand contact addresses and details in their system – which they’re keen to migrate over to LearningSource. This could be customer database or an employee staff database.  Changing from one system to another should not necessitate double entry of data – with our new importer users can focus on getting benefit out of LearningSource, rather than entering information into it.

The contact importer is our solution – it allows users to import their existing databases directly into LearningSource.

However, it’s going to come as no surprise that a simple import is problematic – duplicated email addresses, badly formatted data and complex relationship within organisations all make a simple import a real pain.

Which is where we come in. We’ve thought about the way users will interact with the importer and come up with some solutions to the more common problems with this sort of function:

  • First, the importer automatically cleans the data. It checks for duplicate addresses and the format of content as the data is imported.
  • Secondly, the importer matches a contact with an existing organisations if one is specified.  Where a record includes an organisation that is not already in the database, a new organisation will be created.
  • Our importer allows the format of data to be flexible, for example a basic import can just be first and last name and email address.

Like we said – a simple task like a contact import introduces significant complexity to users – we’re trying hard to ensure that, wherever possible, users are shielded from the complexities.

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Easy what to update presenters details

Another great use of the importer is that it can be used to update a number of existing contacts, all form within a spreadsheet.  For example, if you wanted to update a number of presenter’s contact details you would;

  • Select Contacts from the main menu.
  • Select the Presenters tab.
  • Click the Export… link on the right of the list. Window will appear.
  • Select  Contact Information (CSV) and press Export.  A file containing all the presenters details will be downloaded into a spreadsheet.
  • Edit each presenter’s details in the spreadsheet.
  • When you have finished updating the details, use the Contact Importer to import the file back into LearningSource to update the existing records.

Merging Organisation Records

One of the difficulties when using software is in the event that multiple records get created. Let’s say for example one user creates “Cliftons” and enrols some of their people on courses. Next week another operator creates “Cliftons Ltd” as part of a new enrolment.

We now have the annoying (and problematic) situations of two organisations, with two sets of employees, two sets of contact information and two sets of historical records – not ideal!

LearningSource has introduced  solution to this problem – our new merge function not only merges the information from each record, such as the phone number and address details, it also merges all associated notes, orders, and contacts from each record.

So, how do you use it? It is really easy, just by following these steps;

  • In LearningSource, select Contacts from the main menu.
  • Select the Organisations tab.
  • In the search on the right, enter the name of the duplicate record.
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    The results will appear in the list.
  • Tick the two items in the list and press Merge.  The Merge Records window will appear.
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  • For each field, LearningSource will use data from either record if content is available.   Where both records contain data for the same field, select the record you would like to use.
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  • Press Merge Records

It really as simple as that. We have even gone one step further however and built a special view on the organisation list to view Duplicate Organisations.

Developments like this are a direct result of customer suggestions – we are always keen to hear more ideas for things we can do to make your life easier inside a training organisation – feel free to comment on this below.

Email Reminders

We are all about making life easier for training and event providers, letting them forget about routine tasks so they can better focus on the important parts of their businesses. A big body of work for us is lumped under the heading “scheduled task manager”. This is a series of product developments that will manage all time stamped events. We are going to be launching a number of new features in the weeks ahead – things like SMS reminders, follow up emails and overdue payment reminders.

To allow providers to utilise our first step in this process, email reminder, all you have to do is select the ‘Send reminders’ option in the course wizard, or for existing courses the options is within the Communication menu on the Details tab.

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Watch out for more developments like this coming soon – all in our continuing aim to make life easier for our customers!

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Electronic Calendar Appointments – Keeping You On Time, Every Time

As life and business get busier, more and more people are relying on their digital calendars to make sure they keep to their schedule – there are many different calendaring applications from Google, Microsoft and others but luckily for you and us, most of them support the standard format for calendar entries, iCal.

Using this format we have recently introduced functionality whereby a file is attached to course instruction emails.  This file is an iCal appointment and this means users can have the appointment appear directly in their calendar application of choice, be it Microsoft Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple Entourage, or any other program that supports iCal appointments.

As a standard feature, the calendar appointments include a reminder 24 hours before the course start.  A really useful feature is that if the course owner changes details of a course, such as the date, location, or room, LearningSource will give them the option to send email updates to all involved.  These emails will also include a calendar appointment update.  When recipients open and accept the change the original appointment will be updated with the new information.

We have got full instructions about this functionality on our support page and below are some images showing how this works. The great thing about this is that these reminders will also show on mobile phones that have calendar integration, meaning those missed appointments will be (notwithstanding car breakdowns and domestic incidents) a thing of the past.

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LearningSource Reports, Even More Visibility

Before we started developing our reporting engine, we had a key goal in mind and that was to make reporting simple and easy to use.  We wanted to make it easy to run the sort of reports customers need on a regular basis at the click of a button, but to also provide the flexibility to customise certain reports to access specific information.

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During the past month we have focused a significant part of our development on building a fully featured reporting engine.  Now we have engine in place we can deliver new reports rapidly.

One of our goals was that we wanted to make the layout and the presentation of information on reports clean and easy to read.  A report heading, a simple description of what the report is presenting, a clear list of any filters applied, the date the report was run etc…. The idea is that you should be able to pick up any printed report and know exactly what is been presented.

We are now offering our reports in a number of formats – Onscreen, Printable, PDF, Excel, and CSV, to provide for all of these various use cases. The best way to see what we have done is just check it out for yourself on our demo site but to give you a taste, below are the reports we are currently supporting:

  • Registrations List: List of all registrations received within a given period.
  • Orders Paid: List of all orders and credit notes marked as paid
  • Course Calendar: List of each individual course sessions scheduled to be delivered within a period.
  • Course List: List of courses starting within a period.
  • Course Registrants: List of individuals enrolled on a course.
  • Attendance Register: A form to record attendance for each session of a course.

This is just the start – watch this space!