To finish up our discussion on implementing online learning into your training and development mix we are going to end things off with content. I have yet to come across an organization that solely using eLearning for all training and education needs. At this point it is important to do an analysis of which content needs to now be transformed to online learning as opposed to the traditional in class and documented training. Some material is better suited for in class where as other content is better absorbed via eLearning.
To recap, the first step is to find an LMS/LCMS provider. Your options range from purchasing one to outsourcing. Next it’s time to start identifying your development/instructional design strategy – will this be done in house or outsourced? And finally as we close off this topic a strong environmental analysis will identify what subject matter should be delivered via eLearning or other methods.
Seeing as how its 2009 and eLearning exploded onto the scene somewhere around 1998, we cannot assume every organization has the infrastructure to support online learning methods. In fact some of you reading this work for organizations that do not use eLearning nor do they believe they should. However, with the recent economic shift and the budgetary cuts training departments have been faced with, cost cutting is a necessity. There are obvious financial benefits to online learning given the global nature of today’s workforce. Although this is clearly not the only value add. Online forms of learning avoid scheduling conflicts, are easily deployed to all employees and easily tracked, thanks to LMS and LCMS.
What is the starting point for including eLearning into the mix of things? I have recently started down this path with one of our clients who is interested in getting up to speed with eLearning. First and foremost, do you have an LMS? If the answer is no, then you need to start looking around. Keep in mind that installing your own LMS is a costly investment and not always the only option. LMS outsourcing is always a possibility and provides more than just cost savings. If you partner with a vendor you get their expertise and a helping hand to walk you through the process.
To elaborate on my post last week in regards to some L&D issues I wanted to further discuss what I dubbed as “the learner analysis”. Since my experience in the world of corporate education I have come to learn the various learning strategies. How does one decide whether instructor led training is the right form of content delivery versus on line learning or a blended approach? Simply, it is vital to understand your audience before deciding how to educate them, something a customer touched on briefly.
A new and hot topic currently is the generational divide in the workplace. Methods have been introduced to manage the working relationships among each generation. From this, it is clear to see that each generation has their own preference to learning and training. The Gen Y’s expectation of on demand information acquisition would suggest that online learning would be effective.
Some smaller organizations or departments within large organizations tend to have their own generational groupings. This would be an important consideration for the training professionals to consider when forming their learning strategy. This is only one consideration, but understanding your learner prior to a gap analysis could prove extremely beneficial. Understanding the form of delivery can help shape the content that needs to be delivered.
Do you agree – audience first information gaps second?
Note: this post originally appeared on the site of our sister company B Wyze.
There seems to be a trend of late in the learning and training community towards trying to say less but make it more impactful to the learner. The use of Learning Nuggets is not overly new, but I have yet to see a really effective implementation that is sustainable and meaningful. How can we create a culture of learning that doesn’t require huge investments in time and effort? Learning Nuggets, if done well, can achieve this goal.
I’ve been in the corporate learning industries for more than 20 years. Never have I seen a more opportune time to use technology and innovation drive learning that generates immediate R.O.I.
It’s not difficult. Identify the what knowledge or skills are missing in your client base that drive the bulk of your pain by answering this question: If our clients only knew xxx our we could do yyy.
Focus on keeping the learning short and direct to the point.
1. Take advantage of rapid development tools to create the learning in a format acceptable to your organization.
For example, in every meeting I’ve been to recently our clients end up asking for a demonstration of our SHIFT learning development tool. It creates eLearning quickly and affordably that can be maintained and updated as needed. The outputs can be simple stand alone HTML courses or full SCORM compliant courses compatible with a corporate Learning Management System.
2. Launch the learning and get your internal network to drive people to it.
3. Track the results. (increased sales by x, or reduced time spent on y)
4. Modify the training as needed.
Last, publish the results, it never hurts to toot your own horn and you deserve it!
During a conversation I had with an L&D Manager of a large high end retail company a few interesting points were raised. Allow me to take a look a some of those points … I’ll take them one by one.
Where should learning sit in an organization?
Learning should sit with Organizational Development. The most important reason being that the learning strategy of an organization absolutely must be aligned with the goals of the organization. Common sense? Wrong! This is often assumed but also where most problems arise. Ask yourself how many times you have worked in an organization where different departments act as competitors rather than colleagues. Is it possible a lack of alignment with corporate goals and learning goals could be causing this behaviour?
Ambiguity in the learning environment
The role of the learning professional is often faced with ambiguity and multiple changes on a daily basis. Does it help to have a PM frame of mind? Being process-driven tends to build frustration when working with changing content and timelines.
As an L&D Manager you source and manage your vendors. They should be a network rather than simply an outside resource. Thus, it is important to maintain long lasting relationships that are built on trust and partnership. Transparency and openness (from both parties) is crucial.
I have often heard learning professionals discuss the needs analysis of the training strategy, but rarely does one discuss a “learner analysis”. Who is your audience? How do they learn? What tools reach out to them best? With four generations in today’s workplace a thorough analysis of the learner is an absolute must.
Where do you stand on these topics? Leave a comment and let us know!
Engagement of the Learner is paramount. Finding techniques beyond multiple choice and drag and drop is a must to keep learners on their toes, creating sales training that allows the learner use what they learned.
For one of my clients we created a final exam that required the learners, who were salespersons, to answer a series of questions regarding selling a home. We added the twist of putting a timer in the top corner of the screen with a picture of the customer from the scenarios. As the timer ticked down the customer’s facial expression became less tolerant as they took longer to answer to the question. They would interject comments to the learner, putting on additional pressure. The response to this was amazing. I had company veterans go through the course and say, “wow that final exam was tough, especially with the Customer getting upset at me for not having a timely response.”
Bring a little real world to the learning and it will go along way.
We are constantly striving to find innovative ways of engaging learners. Often Scenarios are designed to illustrate correct behaviour in a given situation. The problem is we cannot really tell if the learner is paying attention and grasping all of the subtle nuances to be successful.
By creating a “First Person” reinforcement activity, learners can practice what they learn in a safe and supportive manner. A few years ago I began to experiment with this technique. As technology has evolved we have become able to do some amazing things. In the past we would have to create a storyboard matrix and lay out the possible paths a learner could take during a conversation. Once these were identified, scripts for both the Learner and the person with whom they were interacting onscreen had to be created. The script for the onscreen person was recorded with an actor in character. The script of possible responses or questions was laid out on screen, giving the learner the opportunity to select a response or question from 4 possible ones at that moment.
The tricky part was recording the video with all the necessary outcomes that wouldn’t take the learner so far down a path they couldn’t recover. I remember in one situation we had to get the on screen character to get more and more upset with the learner during the course of the conversation. We had over 40 video clips she needed to record. By the end the actor told me that this was one of the most difficult shoots she had done, especially getting more and more upset, staying in character while keeping it feeling real. However the project, which was for a very large accounting firm in the US, got an overwhelmingly positive response, with learners scoring very high.
The feedback from this style of learning was fantastic. Companies were able to see immediate improvements due to the fact that the training was not static and the role playing that typically went on in the class was much more consistent and controlled to maximize the learning.
Results from this online learning experience were fully tracked and then sent back to the LMS when appropriate.
Where are we headed next? Avatars, “Second Life” style characters, Learning 2.0 online virtual mentors ….?
An increasing number of companies today find their HR or training departments having to do front line level 1 LMS support for their internal learning communities. A few questions come to mind:
- Are they prepared?
- Do they have the right resources?
- Do training coordinators have time to take password reset requests?
- Many of the large LMS offer expensive Level 1 call support, but when does it make sense to consider bringing in an outside company to help out?
- Most training groups will have a person available to answer questions, but this is not their specialty and they usually have other responsibilities.
In large organizations the IT department will often have to support users via the Help Desk. But IT personnel don’t usually know about training so questions have to be escalated to the training department anyway.
So when does it make sense to outsource LMS support? We know that there are peaks and valleys for call volumes, so often full-time staffing is the wrong answer, since it results in either not enough staffers to handle peak call times or excess staffers during low-volume times.
Moving to an outsource model to support your LMS by support specialists who understand Learning Management Systems and user needs simply makes sense.
At MindMuze, more and more of our clients are moving to this model of support. It can be done based upon a per-call cost or a fixed monthly rate depending on call volumes. At the end of the day, if you want to concentrate on creating great learning without using up time and resources for supporting your LMS then outsourcing support may be something to consider.
For those of us trying to stay on top of trends in the learning space, consider this: How can you re-purpose the tried, tested and true?
It’s easy for us to get caught up in the really big “2.0 what-a-do” of large scale project implementations, systems integrations and markup languages, but what happens to our brains when we see headway being made by a whiteboard?!
I know that in my head, the light goes on and the words tumble right out… “BUT OF COURSE!”
That was my reaction the first time I watched the Common Craft Show. This dynamic duo (husband and wife) were teaching me about some of the newest tools and trends in web 2.0 by using cut-outs, erasable markers and a whiteboard. Granted, the scripting was perfected and they knew of what they spoke… but seriously, paper cut-outs!?! It’s almost too perfect.
Believe it or not, the CC team didn’t arrive at this magic mix on the first try. Nope. They experimented and experimented some more… falling short a few times here and there. Until finally they decided that laying a whiteboard on the floor would work. And work it did. Now they do custom instructional videos for the likes of Google and Salesforce as well as other big name companies who’ve jumped on the bandwagon. But they haven’t forgotten the secret of the web and still provide a Common Craft branded version of their “101″ videos free to YouTube viewers.
And if you’re ever trying to explain social media to your own customers and want to license a video of theirs, you can. It’s cheap to do and you get the white labeled version.
So the next time you’re wondering about what instructional designs of the future might look like - consider remixing what’s right in front of you first. In many ways, this is the mashup mentality you’ll need to get good at in order to survive the social web revolution.
Writers House, a creative community of writers and thinkers that opened in the fall at Rutgers University, is pioneering new forms of writing for the tech-savvy generation.
This is just the latest in new learning best practices moving into prominent academic circles. This isn’t just an incorporation of the latest “2.0″ trends. To quote Richard Miller, chairman of the university’s English department, “Writers House seeks to foster the kind of complex thought that is believed to be missing in modern communications on social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, or on YouTube.”
It’s this writer’s opinion that a shift is seemingly happening once more in the leader-follower relationship between the corporate world and academia. Whereas historically academia was charged with research projects that dictated the next generation of best practices in the business world, the last decade marked a change of pace where businesses took to technology much faster than academia could test, evaluate and make recommendations.
Now it seems that academia is once again emerging as the thought leader we’ve always held it to be. While marketers and learning organizations scramble to get with the latest trends, academic projects are being built using the same tools, but with a definitive purpose - in this case providing a modern means to reading and writing. Inevitably this will lead to better learning.