Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Loving and Letting Go of Your LMS

In my teaching days I was of the belief that there wasn't anything that couldn't be taught using a good analogy or metahpor (roaming or even rambling usually in my case).  This theory was that if you could put something as complex as physics (yes, I know but you can't always judge a book by its cover) into something as ordinary as everyday life for a teenager then it really isn't difficult.  I've carried my firm belief in anological (that surely must be a real word, but my spell checker says 'no') learning (can I coin that phrase, I like it and I'm going to write a subsequent blog on it).  What this means is that I'm always on the lookout for anything that makes this business a little easier to understand - and if it's at all humerous then all the merrier (that's kind of obvious).
Finally getting to the point, I was walking the dog on this fine Anzac afternoon when a number of things occurred to me.  Firstly, that Milo was a daft name to call your black dog, but secondly and more importantly there comes a time in a young dog's life when you have to give him some freedom and see what he does with it.  Now Milo is a 6-month old Bitsa (no, that's not a breed recognised by the Kennel Club but you know what I mean and if you're from the UK you'd probably call him a Heinz).  He's a good dog but he's kinda daft and follows his nose sometimes to the extent that other dogs and kids are pretty much impossible to resist.  That means letting him off the leash can be a trial and error thing; usually really good, sometimes not so.  I've been training and working with him to the point now I can let him go and I'm 90% confident he'll come flying back with a gentle call and a rustle of the bag of treats as necessary.  This I think is a good analogy of implementing an LMS (sorry if your LMS is a dog; change to Totara).
Milo the Bitsa
So with an LMS you face the same challenges as buying a puppy.  Picking the right one at the right price (we bought ours from the SPCA of course - that's the Open Source of the dog world!) is just the start, then there's the bedding in process, the training, the culture shock, the control issues etc.  In both cases if you get it wrong there's normally plenty of pain and suffering not to mention an excess of poo in the wrong places.  Selecting an LMS is about finding the right fit for you; one that doesn't leap up at you aggresively, shy away or won't play with any of the other stakeholders.  Your dog is a lifelong (at least theirs) partner and as I've said previously 'choose your partner carefully'.  But this whole life thing is a bit slow so I'll speed it up for the sake of this blog and focus on the adolescent puppy years; for our purposes that's around 6 months in.
Obviously over the last six months there was going to be some change and there's one thing that is always true about changing anything in any system or group; change is always easier when people understand exactly what it is, what it isn't and are actually involved in some communication (damn it, just given away all that consultancy black magic for free).  So everybody should know all there is to know about your LMS and the way it works now, but hold on because adolescence is here now and that changes everything!  This means firstly you must understand how things are going to change for your puppy and that in order to grow your puppy now needs more than just you to raise it - unless you want it always to remain in a puppy state.  You can have your puppy beautifully trained when working just with you, but what about with others or when there are distractions?

Here's a few tips to help you:
Familiarise your puppy
Without others involved at this stage you're going to find that your puppy acts differently with different people and has unpredictable behaviour based upon their approach.  Easiest away round this is to subject it to different people and set out the expectations for others and the beast itself.

Don't stop communicating
Your work is only just beginning.  Get out there and spread the word so that people know what's coming.  Walk with him everyday and get anyone else you can to talk about and even walk with you or for you.

 Celebrate any and every success

Don't focus on what goes wrong, and don't sweat the little stuff (from the wisest woman I know) just make sure when something happens that is right everyone knows about it :)

Get the right accessories
Think about what compliments the puppy and what areas can benefit too.  If you can find something that both will win out of (those glorious win-win situations) then you're going to find your teenager is so much easier to control and be loved.

Let it go.