Content Migration Nightmare – Proper planning to avoid miss steps in course migration.
In the early stages of evaluation and planning process of going into a new platform, educational institutions make very less worry about the migration as they have developed the content in the first place and assumptions are it will be easier to migrate once the target platform is decided and master templates have designed on the new platform and accepted by all team members. Everyone will consider the worst case scenario is to assign the migration to the owners of courses which has to be done manually by the age old cut and paste approach as a final option.
Many institutions have twice the number of courses in sleepy mode than the active mode. This really happens when there is any structural changes needed, to make the course lite in version or offer any special new ways and shorter duration in summer or due to demand from students in different majors, as for a course with a slightly different version of the content. In the end there are 2 to 3 versions of the course content even though only one version in currently offered. The migration needs to be done for all the courses or else will lose the knowledge and start reinventing the wheel again when those courses which are sleeping needed to be woken up in the future.
What in end happens is that there will be tremendous effort done by a centralized team and they give up and distribute the work load to individual owners. Then comes the issue of incomplete manual migration and where it left off from the central team. To make things worst, you will see partial migration only feasible as many of the legacy data like the quizzes or grades or classroom discussions etc will not be migrated to the target platform.
To get a feel of the problems experienced, let us discuss the main items to be considered before a platform migration.
1. Never overestimate an error free manual migration if the courses are 10 times the Instructional Designers (ID) available on site to conduct manual migration.
Many times the ID staff may be minimal in institution and the course designers are always busy with work and find it less interesting and will not think much when they do a manual cut and paste support for the migration. When your mind is not creative to do anything but copy and paste, you will have errors and omissions which are expected. On the contrary, if there is a new course structure designed and developed, the migration can be easily made an interesting exercise wherein the old structure and mistakes and whatever you learned from these mistakes will be corrected once for all in the new platform.
2. Assessment is very critical.
Quiz and other homework or presentation submitted in past classes and keeping track of the progress of the course in usefulness to students is very important and need to be migrated with the platform if possible. Otherwise there will be a lot of starting trouble when the instructor start the new course and find no support for assessment at that point.
3. Changes in platform architecture and content presentation.
Many times LMS platforms may not have one-to-one match between the legacy platform and the new platform. Stake holders need to work out a way how to map the content to the new platform which can be accomplished by doing a pilot migration and the team involved identify the strategies for placement of the content items.
4. Time, Control and Cost.
Everyone underestimate the need to have a centralized program management and project management of individual course migration. In fact the migration of each course is like a project which needs a project manager and there is a need to ensure the course is fully converted and QA check is done before it is to be released for classroom. The IT staff will need confirmation so that the migration program management is completed successfully.
Cost: Nobody looks at the cost when the work is done manually. Many times the ID staff or others hired for part time effort may have less knowledge of the process and end up with a half baked product and actual cost needs to be evaluated based on the labor hours lost and whether there is quality output received by these efforts.
5. Speed of Conversion and Accuracy.
Migrating contents manually needs a lot of energy and time to be spend on that and prone to content accuracy problems due to subjective nature of the work and dependency on the knowledge of resources who is doing the manual conversion. Considerable time difference can be observed in manual progress and there is a high possibility of losing key content components. Automated solutions give much faster and accurate content transfer and save the time on validating the migrated contents.
6. Appending common course content.
As course migration is a time where institution is taking a deeper look at existing courses, this also provides them with the opportunities for modification or adding new content into their existing courses.
Automated migration process having tools which will aid in adding common contents in addition to contents which are coming from the source platform enables efficient content appending process. Sometimes there is a need to add common content to a particular page or all the pages and these requirements can be achieved using the tool sets available for automated migration process.
7. Testing the migrated contents.
Now that you’ve mapped, migrated/transformed the content to course into the new platform, final step is testing and course clean-up. Testing or verifying the migrated content is painstaking process as there is a high chance of missing the contents from the source. The verification will be consuming more time as there will be more cycles of fixing issues and verifying again. An efficient and well defined QA process is a must for a successful course migration.