When setting naming conventions in a LMS, the little things are the big things.


Having very recently worked on a Learning Management System (LMS) configuration, getting the naming conventions right for ID codes, Title and Description fields was a painstaking process.  Truth be told, I spent hours in angst over how the naming convention could help system admins with their internal free text search, how items would show up in menus for admins and how we could best prepare such free-text fields for data migration ahead of go-live.  But I was largely forgetting one very important group of people: the Users.


Now I’m using a newly installed LMS (Canvas) at Sydney University for my Masters.  I really like it so far, but one thing that is a bit annoying as a User is actually caused by the naming conventions:  I can’t see the name of the course.  Case in point:

LMS Tile.png

…and when I stop to think about it, it is such a fundamental and simple thing for a user to know which course a tile in a LMS represents.  So simple, it would seem probably too simple to bother recording during a journey-mapping session to design the UX up-front.  So simple, you would assume it would be handled by out-of-the-box LMS software.  So simple, you could be forgiven for having a stock/unrelated banner image on the tile.    But no, no and no.


There are several potential answers to this problem:

Customise:  In other words, reprogram the core software.  Probably not going to happen if the LMS is now deployed, and unlikely it would have happened once budget was set and the Project underway.

Configure:  Select which fields to appear on the user view, if the core build allows.  At least one of those fields in the tile is an admin code.  Do the users really need to see it?

Naming Convention:  If you know that one of the fields lets the User know what the year, semester and course code is, just make another field be the course name, even in an abbreviated format.  Naming conventions are really a Governance Model thing, and such an approach could be enshrined in the LMS admin guides and protocols.

Use the image:  How about having text within the picture, listing the course name, instead of a random image?  The picture commands the bulk of real estate within the tile.


It is probably a bit cheeky of me to critique like this two days into my studies, but in isolation it really highlighted to me the mistakes I had been making around the naming conventions for the LMS at my work.  Building a LMS is gruelling and I often got so immersed in it, I missed the things that mattered like a User knowing what course they were choosing.  For balance too, I just completed the “Consent Matters” learning module within Canvas:  I found the user experience for completing it as a learning pathway much better than that of a bog-standard eLearn.  For a topic as important as sexual consent, good UX like that will help in showing that the University is actually taking it seriously.


Update as at 14 March!

So I found out today the answer to the problem on the Canvas tile: you can name the top field whatever you want to.  Awesome!  See below:

Name edit

This even flows through to the notification emails I get as a student.  Every day, I am loving Canvas more and more.

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