American Public University System (APUS) is one of the most respected academic providers to the US Military. With 237 active programs, the institution’s goal is to provide high quality higher education to our nation’s military and public service communities. APUS (www.apus.edu) had two key needs: transition LMS and a strategic uplift of courses.
To accomplish these updates for 1,750 courses within nine months (April-December 2020), APUS partnered with Learningmate to ensure high-quality, engaging, career-focused online programs for their students. In 2021 the courses are now in-use with learners.
Defining the Challenge
APUS and LearningMate collaborated to transition courses from Sakai to Brightspace LMS and provide uplifted content. The teams collaborated to put into place a program-specific proof of concept (POC) system to align their internal groups, starting with one course, confirming and moving forward with the rest of the related courses. This process enabled individual courses to move following the POC outside of a “block,” which provided significant assistance to the timeline needs.
We also had proactive discussions with the university and possible challenges, making the client aware of potential challenges and seeking clarification in twice-weekly meetings. Continuous training was held with the content and automation teams.
LearningMate assisted with the migration, validated the output, and ensured that the process had been successfully applied throughout the “Lift, Shift and Uplift” collaboration process.
APUS provided a vetted Course Migration Document and Brightspace import packages. LeanringMate worked with the university to confirm essential process materials, a sign-off checklist, and the new courses in the LMS, meeting APUS specifications and acceptance criteria.
The graphic below shows the phases of the large-scale project, which included bi-weekly collaboration meetings:
LearningMate worked closely with the APUS Academic & Instructional Technology on any anomalies observed after working on the Uplift of each course. For the work outlined below, there was an APUS Migration Conversion Document (AMCD) that provided detailed directions and examples of the work being described. LearningMate had reviewed and followed the AMCD as the basis for defining expectations.
LearningMate was responsible for checking and updating the components below in each course as part of the course migration:
- Course Introduction and Overview Module: Populating key course-wide onboarding information in a learner-friendly format.
- Discussions: Leading discussion directions, settings, content, and rubrics following our updated model.
- Assignments: Ensuring the content, rubrics, and settings are consistent, including a specialized introduction for all assignments and lessons.
- Course Content: Leading key course elements and readings, as well as transferring files and quality checks on images and URLs.
- Gradebooks: Ensuring consistency from the course to the grade book, adding in proper weights and terminology.
- Quizzes: Ensuring a randomized question pool and uniform settings, as well as a “Question Library” for all content and points.
- General: Ensuring the standard use of course components such as the banner, course info, announcements, and the calendar. We also worked to make all language LMS-agnostic to future proof the current work.
A dedicated team for the development and QA process ensured that the migrated courses in Brightspace met the APUS specifications and acceptance criteria. From Proof-of-Concept courses to team training and refresher sessions, the LearningMate and APUS teams collaborated closely throughout the entire project.
Utilizing centralized processes and materials was a vital part of the APUS project. LearningMate and APUS collaborated to create guideline documents and unify the respective teams while maintaining quality. Striving to reach close to a zero-defect stage with the help of a regular updating of these documents with learnings between LearningMate and APUS. The following areas of collaboration for quality assurance were key: Analysis of every comment logged by the client; Defect categorization and trend analysis; Regular conversation with the client to achieve error categorization alignment. Due to this planning, over 60 courses moved directly to the published state without modification.
Due to the volume and timeframe of the APUS and LearningMate collaboration, automation was necessary. Critical areas for automation included the following:
- QA of the broken links in the courses
- Chunking of HTML pages
- Creation of packages for the chunked HTML weblinks
- Moving announcements to the content area
- Fixing broken links to shared files
- Extracting the settings for Announcements/Discussions/Quizzes for the QA
The following chart share key efficiencies gained through automation for the APUS project:
Benefits to APUS
The LearningMate and APUS team collaborated closely for the uplift of over 1,750 courses. APUS team members commended the attention to quality, process, and structure, as well as the training materials shared with the University and the collaboration for best practices.
“With impossible deadlines of standing up the process to our final Increment, it has been a pleasure to go through this project with everyone who touched our courses,” shared Dr. Bob Smith, Manager, Instructional Design at APUS. “It really comes down to trust and talking out the issues. You did this for us. We hope to work with you all in the future. There were a million ways this project could not have worked. You made it work.”
Dr. Bob Smith, Manager, Instructional Design, APUS
Laurie Saunders, Course Operations Manager, Academic & Instructional Technology, APUS
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