Geeks Are Welcome!

Tips for recruiting the right learning platform administrator.

Have you raised a teenager? Although I haven’t, I know through keen observation that learning platforms can resemble pouty, angsty adolescents. Your learning technology just needs some bright blue hair, and it would be all set for high school.

Learning platform administrators are some of my favorite people. They are incredibly special and long-suffering—kind of like the nuns of the IT world. Ensuring you have effective administrators in place from the get-go, and supporting your admin team’s training, are important steps you can take to elevate your learning platform’s success.

The term administrator can be used in many different ways in relation to learning technology. An administrator can be anyone from a “super” administrator who controls the platform and is responsible for overseeing other administrators, to a lower-level administrator who runs data reports and performs analysis. You may have several levels of administrators, or just one super administrator if you are a small company. You should decide early on in your implementation how many administrator levels you will need. Consult with your vendor and talk to your internal stakeholders before making this decision.

Desirable Traits

While you ponder your options, here are some traits to look for in administrator candidates:

  • Strong understanding of Murphy’s Law. “If it can go wrong, it will go wrong.” The more complex the learning platform, the more opportunities there are for creative problems to arise. Your admins need to have a sense of humor.
  • Customer service prowess. In the beginning, your admins will hear the same technical support question at least five times a day. They must be good-natured about providing answers. Your administrators are a critical part of helping employees get comfortable with the platform. They are the face of your learning technology.
  • Multitasking ability. Speaking of questions, your admins need to be able to answer them while executing a broad range of tasks. Follow-through on tasks is important. Without thorough, regular maintenance, your platform is going to slowly melt into a puddle of slime.
  • Technical knowledge. Administrators are “catch-all” people, meaning they are expected to know everything about everything in their platform. If they don’t know it, they need to be willing to learn it with a minimum of encouragement and hand-holding.
  • Discretion. This is especially necessary for higher-level admins. They’re going to be seeing user data, possibly even personal addresses and employment information. Either be sure your platform does not include this information or be sure your admins are trustworthy. 
  • Communication talents. Also known as “technical telepathy,” this means being able to evaluate the people asking you questions, discern what they are truly looking for, and provide them with answers they can follow given their level of technical knowledge. It doesn’t sound easy. And it’s not as easy as it sounds.

A Few More Tips

Can you think of additional characteristics you want to see in your learning platform administrator? Write them into the job description. Also, write down the names of three to five people in your organization who:

  1. May make good administrators
  2. Would be available to perform the role

If there is no one who is appropriate, write down the names of some people who have personal attributes that are close to what you would want in an administrator. Use these people as “templates” when you are ready to recruit your administrator team.

Good luck! And if you love learning technology and would like to geek out with me in person, I’m presenting at Training’s TechLearn 2020 in October.

Katrina Marie Baker is a learning technology author and speaker, and Adobe’s Talent Development Partner in charge of learning platforms.