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Introduction

Thank you for reading this, but are you really here because you’re avoiding your email?

Already scrolling down this page to scan for key words or find a graphic that tells the story without actually reading the story?

You’re not alone.

Email

As a VTA Administrator, you are probably blasting out a ton of emails daily; filling inboxes across the organization with enrollment and requirement information.

Those emails can often lead to more questions and people tend to ignore or delete emails they receive, but don’t understand, because that’s easy.

Communication is a constant battle. No matter how much time you take crafting a VTA Email Template, it’s always a struggle to get the words right, create a “story” that flows and makes sense to the reader and also includes the details to help their comprehension.

I just received a VTA email. What is it telling me??They need to know:

  1. The email is legitimate.
  2. Why they are getting the note.
  3. What they are expected to do.
  4. How to get that done.
  5. Where to go with questions.

To address #5 above, it’s common to see “Got questions? Contact person1@company.com.”

But part of the reason people find it easier to just ignore or delete an email is that they may not even know what question to ask.

Another option is to simply forward you the entire email and say, “What’s this?”, “this is not for me” or “can you…?” and then make a confusing request that you then have to reply asking for details.

Even when you have all the right pieces in your email, people may still have questions.

Easy ButtonWhat if you could provide a method for them to submit a detailed request, or question, about a received VTA email that is just as easy as ignoring or deleting it?

This artice will cover adding an “easy button” link to your VTA Email Templates that will launch a new email with the details you need to quickly respond.

You might say, “I already do that,” and that may be true, but probably not like this.

Email Token

The Email Template I will create will include a link using the same VTA Email Tokens found in the email received from VTA and, yes, those tokens can be included in either the Subject or Body of the message.

Sample Scenario

Let’s look at a common scenario where this approach can come in handy.

Getting notified to unlock a test

When students have exceeded the allowed test attempts without successfully passing the test in VTA Learner (“locking” their test), you can have VTA send the “*VTA Test Attempts Exceeded” Email Template (or any Email Template you may have created using the “Test Attempts Exceeded” Note Type).
It will send a note to their Supervisor notifying them that the test is locked and they need more attempts to pass.

Below is a modified version of the “Test Attempts Exceeded” Note Type message, including:

  • First Name token (see {{FirstName}} replaced with “Marc”)
  • Last Name token (see {{LastName}} replaced with “Letendre”)
  • Test Template Name (see {{TestTemplate}} replaced with “_Sample Test”).
  • An “easy button” link (“contact your system administrator”).

VTA Email sent to Supervisors

When the “easy button” link is clicked, it will:

  1. Start an email To a specified Email address (or several).
  2. Populate the Message Subject and/or Body with either a statement, VTA Email Token or both.

So if a Supervisor is new, or unaware that they must request the “unlock” action from you, or anyone else, the “easy button” link will start a new message to that email address and include everything the VTA Backoffice User needs to unlock the correct test for the person.

In the message that was launched via the “contact your system administrator” link (see image below):

  • The Subject includes all the information you need to unlock a test for someone without even opening the email – saving you clicks and reading time.
  • The Subject and Body parameters of the message include the same VTA Email Tokens that populated the original email.
  • The Body includes the {{Department}} (“Corporate”) token, available for “Test Attempts Exceeded” Note Type, even though it was not included in the original VTA Email received by the supervisor.

Email launched from VTA Email link that starts an Email to the VTA Administrator.

Note: The new email cannot use symbols in the email Subject or HTML formatting in the message Body, so keep it simple.

Building Your “Easy Button” Link

Here’s what the HTML for the “You should contact your system administrator to get their test unlocked.” part of the Email Template looks like:

HTML of the link in a VTA Email that starts a new Email to the VTA Administrator.
To Subject Body VTA Email Tokens

Changes to Meet Your Needs

Tomailto of HTML link
Switch the email address to be the email address this message should go to in your organization.
Need to send the emails to a series of email addresses?
Add all email addresses in the “mailto” parameter, seperated by a comma, without spaces, like this:
mailto:marcl@risc-inc.com,johnd@risc-inc.com,janed@risc-inc.com
Need to CC the emails to a series of email addresses?
Add the following parameter after the “mailto” parameter:
&cc=email1@example.com,email2@example.com,email3@example.com
Need to BCC the emails to one or more email addresses?
Add the following parameter after the “cc” parameter (if one exists) or after the “mailto” parameter:
&bcc=email4@example.com,email5@example.com,email6@example.com


SubjectSubject of HTML link
Change to a Subject that meets your needs.
Remember: The new email cannot use symbols in the email Subject.


Body of HTML link.

Update the tokens and message to be sent.

You can use any Email Tokens available for the Email Template’s Note Type.

For example, the “Test Attempts Exceeded” Note Type can include:

  • {{FirstName}} – Student’s First Name (used in the example above)
  • {{LastName}} – Student’s Last Name (used in the example above)
  • {{Department}} – Student’s Department
  • {{WorkArea}} – Student’s Work Area
  • {{LearnerID}} – Student’s Learner Logon ID
  • {{TestTemplate}} – The Test Template Name (used in the example above)

Remember: The new email cannot use symbols (including dashes) or HTML formatting in the message Body.


Some Additional Uses

Here are 5 other VTA-related “easy button” ideas:

  1. Supervisors requesting a change of who reports to them (i.e., a “Report Change Request” button).
  2. Students requesting a change in enrollment when online changes are no longer allowed (i.e., a “Cancel Request” button).
  3. “Welcome to VTA Learner” notices sent to new users (i.e., a “Need Help in Learner?” button).
  4. Instructors asking for a schedule assignment change (i.e., a “Schedule Change Request” button).
  5. Students wanting to ask Administrators to look into their “My Plan” assignments (i.e., a “Requirement Challenge” button).

Note: This is not a complete list of scenarios.

Every organization is different, so you will have to determine when and where to use this type of link.

Some Additional Notes

1) When using Email Tokens, do not include a token that could be repeated in the message.

  • For example, on an Exception notice, there may be more than one Course or Due Date listed, so you cannot include any of the “Exception” fields.

2) You can include anything in the “Student Field” list because…

The Student is mostly included once in emails, mostly

  • An example of where you cannot use the “Student Field” list is the “Survey” Note Type when used for “Student Assignment” Team Management Notices. Because several Students may be listed in the email, do not include the Student fields; only 1 Student would be included in your new email.

3) You can include more than one link; one for each type of question they may have.

  • For example, in an Exception notice, you can include a “Requirement Challenge” button for people to ask Administrators to look into their “My Plan” assignments AND a “Report Change Request” button for Supervisors to request a change of who reports to them.

Conclusion

Adding an “easy button” link to your VTA Email Templates is… well, easy. Getting them to read your emails? That’s a topic for another day.
Need help creating your first “easy button”? Have your main VTA Administrator submit a request to VTA Support.

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Marc Letendre
eLearning professional with over 20 years experience positively impacting corporate productivity through skillful management of staff development programs and implementation of RISC LMS solutions. Marc attained an M.S. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Springfield College in 2005 and is reputable for working with groups to identify issues and create tools, processes or training solutions to achieve and exceed measurable objectives.
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