Monday, September 27, 2010

Help wanted - virtualize me!

Due to an unfortunate confluence of events it looks like I won't be able to make it to WOLCE this year. Fact is, I wasn't intending to go. I was a little disappointed by it last year, and now that Learning Technologies has Learning & Skills to run alongside, I really couldn't see the point in going. Not to say that it is bad, only for my needs right now, WOLCE isn't really right.

However, at my company we've been experiencing a spot of trouble with our software systems and it's quite likely that WOLCE is the sort of place that someone with a solution might show up. Unfortunately, at short notice I'm not really able to make it either day that the show is running, so if you are going, take a look at our needs and if you spot someone selling anything like this, ask them to get in touch with me via learningrocks.co.uk or @danroddy on Twitter.

Our need
My employer runs residential training courses at our training centre, and on-site training if clients have enough of a need. We need to be able to plan and schedule face-to-face courses, sell them, share data with partner organisations and reconcile everything with our finance team. We also need to be able to store learner data so that we can answer their queries in the months and years after they attend - some of our courses ensure that they are able to get on registers for certified personnel so our training is important to them - they just sometimes misplace the certificates...

It would be cool too, but not vital, if there was the option to tie up to an LMS (we run Moodle) and if the student record system was capable of tracking other training types, like vocational courses. If it were capable of managing resources like rooms and hardware, then we would be scrabbling for a chequebook. And we'll offer the hand in marriage of any unmarried member of the team if it also can run a conference venue.

In short, we are looking for a student management information system for short course providers, with all the trimmings. The emphasis has to be on supporting face-to-face training.

But we can compromise.

There are only two products that seem to match our need*. CourseBooker, which pretty much does what it says on the tin, but which we abandoned a few years ago, and a newish product called onCourse, which looks very exciting, but which doesn't have a UK supplier just yet. Any attempt to search online for this kind of thing unfortunately seems to hit every keyword for an LMS, no matter how you try to cut it, and frankly I'm skeptical of LMSs' ability to do what we are after - they are nearly always elearning first, anything else as an add on (since the developers can't make much from it).

So, if you are at WOLCE, or frankly just reading about this and think you know of a suitable product, PLEASE let me or them know and try to get in touch. I'll buy you a beer at the Learning Techologies after party** in 2011...

* There is also the product that we have, but just because we have it, it doesn't follow that it matches our needs. Seriously, we used to be public sector and the procurement mess on the current system shows how far we've come in some ways***
** First I need to get invited. Or arrange it. Let's say the pub across the road from Olympia, about 5pm on the Tuesday? Brilliant, see you there.
*** Not very.
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