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The Future of the LMS

The Future of the LMS

The Future of the LMS

The Future of the LMS – Where Are We Going?

Throughout the course of history, some very brilliant minds have endeavored the obscure task of forecasting the future of technology. As we embark hundreds of years down the road from some of these grand musings and green field possibilities, it is important to look back and evaluate what we as humans have actually accomplished. Most of these science fiction professionals have taken various swings and unfortunately missed the mark horribly. With the exception of some authors who were able to write so brilliantly that they were able to shape the future, just through the power of their influence. I do not claim to be that influential (or for that matter brilliant), so I will abstain from a grand speculation as to where the industry will be in 2116; instead, I will look at the not so distant horizon. We currently live in a time where almost anything is possible. If you shop around the internet, you can have a hover board in your possession by no later than two days from now, in some locations, it can be in your hands in under 30 minutes and it could have even been delivered by a drone. Cars are beginning to drive themselves, and augmented reality and viable virtual reality is beginning to make its way into our lives. The future is bright and full of potential technical advancement, included somewhere within that progression is a small segment for Learning Management Systems and how they are already trending towards something completely different.

In the Learning and Development world training has migrated from solely instructional and self-taught. To completely accessible without time requirement, electronic, as well as mobile learning platforms. The LMS is vital in organizing these different types of learnings, as well as shaping the way in which you interact with training and development content.

What’s New with the LMS?

The LMS market over the last 10 years has seen an incredible uptick in innovations. From the way in which materials and content are written, all the way to the manner in which they are being hosted. A shift has occurred seemingly overnight in the way we learn on the job. The following are some of the reasons why coupled with exploratory prose as to where these endeavors could take us in the very near future:

Social Learning  

In the not so distant past, the concept of social learning was but a dream in the eyes of LMS providers. A simple question of “How can we get our department to motivate one another? As well as find a way to get our entire workforce to have a similar knowledge base? Without huddling everyone up in a room and taking away more time from our organizational directive.” As such the LMS evolved, giving employees the opportunity to work together on modules, evaluate courses they are taking, and directly interact with each other in learning options. These are all a huge step forward, but, we have only begun to delve into the possibilities of social learning. Companies are now starting to realize the interrelations of social media platforms and the ability to carry over some of the training and development to after hours, as well as using public badging as a reward, allowing for employees to proudly display some of their accomplishments externally. Live documents have made an appearance in some realms allowing for people to not only share an assignment, but make changes on the same verbiage from across the world, while interacting, providing positive feedback, and communicating department intentions across a variety of mediums. Included in these mediums are the most profound areas of immediate future development; including live video communications of recent lessons learned, and Twitter-like company hosted microblogs allowing for instant collaboration on experienced issues and a uniform platform to encounter future issues of that type.   

Gamification

The concept of “funifying” learnings is here and an integral part of a modern learning approach. Walking the floor at an ATD conference is a real eye opener as to what the current market possibilities are. That being said, the platforms in which these games are being built are constantly evolving, giving designers better graphical capabilities, smoother operations, and in general more robust offerings. Gamifying learnings is an incredibly unique approach that demands the attention of a user when executed appropriately, the learning output can be on par with just about any other manner of knowledge transfer in existence.   

E-Learnings  

E-learnings are here, and they have been here a while. It seems that even agency based Marketing firms are jumping on the developmental platform, and that is a very good thing. Content is king, good content can be the make or break foundation of a great Learning and Development program. Gone are the ways of sending your employees off to week long boot camps, instead blended learning environments are becoming the norm. E-learnings have transitioned quite well into our daily lives. Exhibiting themselves as simply as short videos explaining a single rudimentary function, to enthralling multimedia expressions of complex business theory exercises. But, where can they go from here? E-learnings at this moment of time are one of the most exciting aspects of the Learning Industry. College courses have been developed in practical application and people in the space, in general, are buzzing with all the possible innovations they can come up with, constantly looking around the corner at what their next possible media for delivery could be and how that will affect the learner. Some recent ideas that are currently exciting developers are the inclusion of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality environments. Making the Learner feel like they are completely immersed in the learning environment. Knowledge is everywhere and the future of how we obtain it is quite bright.   

Mobile Content

Mobile eLearning content is possibly some of the most under-utilized in the field. M-Learning is here and getting better every day. For the business professional on the go, spending 100+ days on the road, there is now the ability to stay up to date on product changes and advancements that have never existed before. Learnings are being built for a variety of platforms, and with the inclusion of tablets and smartphones, we can truly begin to get more out of our workforce in segments of downtime. As smartphones and tablets constantly evolve, the abilities of the content can as well, causing for a bright future of smarter on-the-go instructional design, and app creation which can make apps as quickly as the educational program at your organization requires.

Microlearning

Along with M-learning comes the potential for the newcomer on this list. Microlearning is a relatively new practice with enormous potential. Reducing long form learnings to hammer the same message across again and again, down to a segment less than five minutes, is not only practical but a highly efficient usage of LMS technology. As the art of creating microlearnings becomes more and more defined, so does the potential for advancement of this concept within the learning industry. Imagine a course of a single large eLearning, supplemented by a succession of a few well-crafted and poignant microlearning exercises on an employee’s phone as they are embarking on a long cab ride away from a trade show. Microlearnings are already more accessible than previous iterations of learning due to their brief nature, and could be a real game-changer when it comes to aiding in the timely completion of course materials.

Analytics

From the beginning of the LMS industry, it has always been important to monitor the success of Training and Development campaigns. This has sort of culminated in programs calculating their ROI based on program certifications and sticking with those figures over time. However, as the industry and technology advanced so did the methodology and availability of great data. The ability exists now to measure every facet of a user’s learning experience, a conglomeration of the sum of the learning program, and the effectiveness of each and every component of the program. From a statistical perspective, we have more information now than we know what to do with. Program managers pick their favorite metrics and apply them to their weekly updates and for the most part, we in the industry are missing out on the incredible potential in this field of metrics. In the near future, a “Money Ball” –esque revolution will completely change the manner of which we approach training. Easier to understand filters and practical algorithms will invigorate program leads and allow for a new measure of program, course, class, and single learning component effectiveness, leading to a general shift towards stronger organizational based metrics.  

In summary, the immediate future of the Learning Management Systems industry is full of innovation. With a potential to completely change the way in which our organizations learn, it is best to keep your ear to the ground to figure out what is coming. So, it is imperative you join us as we continue to explore upcoming market trends and possible new technological breakthroughs here at the Gyrus blog.

The Concept of Microlearning

The Concept of Microlearning

The Concept of Microlearning

The Concept of Microlearning

At Gyrus, we believe it is our duty to identify, discuss, and communicate our thoughts on upcoming industry trends. Today, we will evaluate microlearning and the potential it carries in reference to bolstering a learning program. To start the microlearning discussion we must first define what it is. Microlearning is a brief (less than 5 minute) learning component with a focus on a very particular learning object (specifically a skill, behavior, or compliance piece). This could be applicable to topics that do not need the granularity of a full course, or can be used as a supplement to learning exercises throughout a student’s learning within an organization. The concept of Microlearning is not that new. However, with the migration of learnings to more accessible on the go mobile learning (mLearning) platforms such as phones and tablets, their need becomes a bit more noticeable.

Picture if you will an eLearning that takes an hour of your employees’ time. Users have to watch it, then they have to answer some questions, then they have to click a couple things. But the topic of the learning is something exceedingly simple that is only being conveyed to the user for a compliance issue. In the business world the old adage “Time is money” still rings true through today. Now, imagine you can achieve the same certification results in under 5 minutes, using a learning that is not only engaging but entirely focused. The shorter learning will not only be better for the organization as a whole, but it will also allow for a higher completion percentage and adheres to our multi-focused daily life. Where our multitasking is so engrained in a workflow that we cannot allow more than 5 minutes on any given task before needing to refocus on a bigger picture.

Wait, it appeals to shortened attention spans and works great with our hustling staff who is constantly on the go? Why aren’t we doing this already? What’s the catch? Microlearning is not designed to be the end all be all form of learning that people may wish for it to be. It has been slowly established and vetted as a credible offering, with some adverse perceptions causing for a slow adoption. It is, however, a means to augment your current offerings, as well as further the reach of content which may be underutilized or unnecessarily complex. Because they’re so brief, microlearnings are quick to make, implement, and can be a real game changer for your training courses if implemented correctly.

So how can we ensure great microlearnings?

In order to address the need for a microlearning, refer to the following: As referenced throughout this post, one must evaluate the learning needs they wish to address with the microlearning. Is it something that lacks the complexity to warrant an entire eLearning? Can a student master the content in a single sitting? Are you yourself as an instructional designer capable of ripping out the fluff and unnecessary components in order to optimize the microlearning?

Microlearnings need to be concise in order to be effective. The moment the content becomes tainted with alternative concepts or distractions from the general topic, the effectiveness deteriorates sort of like a sidebar conversation you would have with one of your co-workers without the benefit of an immediate follow-up communication to serve as a reminder. As such, microlearnings must also be repeatable. When you implement a microlearning into your learning environment, ensure that the user is required to take it in an acceptable window that will focus them on the skills, compliance, or potential behavior that you are attempting to introduce.

In order to capitalize on the short attention span of your learners, the content must be created in a platform that will be accessible for mLearning. You may have the greatest microlearning in the world, but if it is required to solely be taken on a laptop or desktop, it will quickly be muddled in a sea of tabs and alternative work related processes.

How do I know if my microlearnings are working?

Because they’re so short and the topics are so specific, this would be a great time to survey a small portion of your user base. Those familiar with the previous cumbersome courses will beam a ray of positivity to the training. You will also most noticeably recognize a higher completion rate over a shorter period of time because it is a lot easier to make time for something as brief as a microlearning. As the formation of a microlearning is so new and a relatively inexact science, be sure to enlist feedback on how to possibly make the learnings more potent. As well as ways to convey a clearer message on the chosen subjects you are planning to implement.

If you are already implementing microlearnings in your course curriculum and training, be sure to reach out and tell us how they’re doing. We’d love to hear from you on your success stories, and ways in which we can further promote this interesting new(ish) concept. Also, any feedback on our social media pages would be much appreciated, as to whether you would wish us to further explore this exciting topic.

Successful E-Learning – A Roadmap

Successful E-Learning – A Roadmap

Successful E-Learning – A Roadmap

Successful E-Learning – A Roadmap

As we become increasingly dependent on our technology, it only makes sense that it teach us as well. Elearnings as a whole are very attractive, as they offer an inexpensive alternative to classroom training. However, their effectiveness is often debated in the educational software community, as not all eLearnings are made with the same attention to detail. When evaluating the effectiveness of eLearnings it is vital that we keep in mind exactly what we are trying to accomplish; then craft exceedingly mindful learning experiences to ensure the highest possible return on our investment.

When building eLearnings it is necessary to consult people who teach and record their methodologies in making sure a message maintains its pertinence over time. Understanding the foundation of what makes the instructional design so effective, can go a long way in transitioning some of your organizational learnings over to a digital medium. The benefit of starting from a long time instruction-led situation is that these same instructors know your target demographic, what works for them, and what seems to get swept under the rug. Allowing an invaluable insight in developing content that may not just be convenient via technology, but possibly even more effective if properly educated.

Learning Styles

With new media comes challenges. One of the first challenges that presents itself is truly understanding your users learning styles. People learn in different ways, and in an eLearning, the human element is removed causing the need for content to be taught in a variety ways in one sitting. Imagine undergoing a narrative where the topic of interest was only defined by its dictionary definition over and over again. Then, by comparison, that same definition is described in detail, portrayed with a depiction and a layer of organizational relevance is also applied. The meaning of this one term is now obtainable via most learning types; if not just written in a way that is indeed more impactful to your learning base.

Professional Drive

But you cannot just stop there. Learning types only go so far, whereas a comprehension of adult learners and how people need to be catered towards in order to optimize learning, will go a long way in determining the effectiveness of what you are developing. Intrinsically, eLearnings are perfectly suited towards adults and their drive towards learning on their own accord. ELearnings offer the flexibility to start a training whenever a student would like, as well as awards the opportunity to pace the information in which one is digesting. Beyond that, in the organizational environment, effective learnings must be applicable to daily life and reflect experiences that could be faced every day on the job. Also, please try not to make them boring. Try not to overdo it, but do not be afraid to use splashes of color, integrated music, modern conversational language/dialogue, humorous components, and narrative. These touches will only increase the drive to accomplish the entirety of the learning exercise, as well as aid in

Interactive

I like to refer to this as the Sesame Street Rule. When creating eLearnings it is best to keep into consideration the engagement of the users throughout the whole process. In educational youth broadcasting series, this can be achieved through a “call” process. This call process is most recognizable in situations where a character will stare directly at the camera and say, “Today, the letter of the day is “L”, can you think of any words that begin with this letter?” Though, this may not work in the same manner in the adult world; by including elements that require the learner to choose a proper pathway or answer, or even an element to make the user click on a certain portion of the content to continue the learning, will further aid in course completion, and the users’ ability to continue their brain activity throughout the entire process.

Adaptability

In order to take advantage of the full flexibility of eLearnings, you will need to make them available in a variety of different offerings. Build them out completely, adhering with the offerings of your LMS. If your users are on the go, eLearnings must be made accessible for mobile platforms. If there is an opportunity to aid the teachings with text, then, by all means, include it as an option. Elearnings as a package can be one of your greatest allies in the world of professional development. Make sure that you explore the full extent of their possibilities in the environment in which they are being developed.

In conclusion, eLearnings possess an outstanding potential for your organization for growth. If executed properly, a great eLearning can not only improve your workforce, but it can allow for more flexibility in learning, free from time constraints and with the addition with various forms of technology. If used properly and in conjunction with Instructor-led training, eLearnings could very well mark the difference between your employees’ abilities and that of your competition. Please join me as I continue to explore the requirements of this field, as well as the potential of this marketplace.

How We Learn - Capitalize On Knowing

How We Learn – Capitalize On Knowing

How We Learn - Capitalize On Knowing

How We Learn – Capitalize On Knowing

Before I start, it is best to issue a few disclaimers:

  1. I am not a neuroscientist; this blog post is not written with appropriate scientific method.
  2. This post is written based on my personal understanding and could reflect deficiencies experienced in my own personal learning process.


To begin we should evaluate what a younger version of myself experienced in the learning process. As a child, picking up certain ideas and applying them just sort of came naturally to me. Whereas other ideas were best suited for the minds of my friends. But why? I used to think it was based on my ability to learn. Teachers used my IQ to recommend me for advanced courses, and such avenues awarded me the ability to attempt learning more difficult topics. But even then, I often felt my mind drifting off in class, doodled on notes, or encountered moments where I was not motivated enough to attempt to process the course content. Our learning instruction we receive from youth into early adulthood is fairly regimented; teachers are taught how to convey information to students, and for the most part, they engage in the same methodology across their efforts. Do the one-size fits all approach not work? The answer is:  it’s complicated. People learn at different paces and best with very different methodologies. Some people are able to see something once, and commit that piece of knowledge into their memory for the rest of their lives. While, others must spend days scrutinizing a tidbit of information to determine its worth, write the virtual book, and shelf it in the library stacks in their mind. The best instructors and course developers are able to evaluate how their student’s learn and cater their offerings to get the best out of the situation.

Scientists have embarked on the challenge of truly determining how we learn. This research may one day, reshape the conceptualization of the Learning Management System. The whole process is fascinating, and worthy of a quick Google search if you’re so inclined. However, for this post, my purpose is to let you know different ways in which people can learn and currently do. If you fall asleep on your book or learning materials, it turns out a magnet doesn’t fall out of your head and absorb the metallic printed material on the page. Also, the practice may aid in the process, but memorizing definitions for a quiz is most likely not going to yield long-term results. So, what are good practices we can instill in our corporate learning environments that will ensure the highest level of safety, the greatest output, and best compliance to corporate guidelines?

There are five major types of learning styles. People are said to either be an auditory (learn through hearing, can recollect a majority of information presented to them in lecture), visual (learn through seeing or reading, can recollect a majority of information presented to them in written/ presented form), tactile or kinesthetic (learn through hand’s on training, this is how a process is done from start to finish), global (big picture first – attribute detail when needed) or Analytic learners (Detailed oriented, like hearing or seeing as much information as possible in reference to processes or content). I personally am a bit of a hybrid, I start as a global learner and apply an analytical style of learning when I find topics that interest me. But I’m also very adept to visual learning. If I read or see something, then there is a good chance I will be able to recall important factors of what was presented. Knowing this has aided me immensely in my quest for knowledge. Knowing what style your employees are can yield unexpected positive outcomes in your business process. So how do we cater to these five major types of learning styles?

Know they exist

  • Be open to the idea that even in the corporate world, people are not going to be completely onboard with your style of learning.
  • Do not be afraid to survey your department: People know how they like to learn. If John in Marketing learns best via Instructor-Lead training, and Suzy in Document Control works best in an impersonal self-instructed pathway. It is best to accommodate their needs.
  • Work with individuals who need more personal attention. As the sum of knowledge in your department can one day be the difference in universal sales across channels, to observing breaks in the chain.

Use various forms of media

  • YouTube videos are easy, and often times, there is a great video available in relation to what you would like to instruct about.
  • E-Learnings can quickly instruct and measure user issues with content, and let you know what further actions may be necessary.
  • Images are a great way to reinforce verbalized and written processes.
  • Consider Instructor lead training to add the human effect of seeing learning styles first hand.

Convey teachings in a manner that doesn’t sound like a dictionary definition

  • Use language that relates to the user. Why do I care about 55 oranges and 16 coconuts?
  • Be able to write what you want the user to learn in a plain language. Testing on the definition of a compliance article does not ensure that the user understands that article of compliance.
  • Use gamification to incentivize users. Learning differences in some ways can be overcome via a great deal of effort. If users obtain results from appeasing their competitive streak, then, by all means, this should be incorporated in your learning designs.

Join me as I continue to tackle the realm of learning and best relate these processes and suggestions to the industry. Knowing how we learn, can only support our abilities to better serve our employees, clients, and stakeholders.

Guideline For Finding Your Organization’s Ideal LMS

Guideline For Finding Your Organization's Ideal LMS

Have your cake and eat it too, a guideline for finding your organization's ideal LMS.

A post written by Meghayu Advaryu

Want to deploy and maintain the e-learnings that you have spent so much time and effort to develop? Do you want to be able to create quality actionable e-learnings? Then you’re in the market for a Learning Management System (LMS). LMS’s are an essential tool for all e-learning professionals.

Choosing a Learning Management System is no easy task. To do so, one must identify the needs of their organization and which features are necessary. If you are the one doing the evaluation of those needs, we recommend creating a team and discussing individual needs on a per department basis to ensure the best possible fit. Confused about which LMS to choose for your project?  Then take a deep breath and exhale a sigh of relief! Allow us to offer you some helpful tips that will surely point you in the right direction for selecting the perfect LMS for your project.

 

Determine your objectives in advance

Be sure to methodically ask yourself this set of questions before choosing an LMS: What are your development objectives?  What skill sets are required?  What sort of content are the learners expecting? Answering these questions will help you shape the correct direction for your organization to meet all of its learning and development needs. Most importantly keep the need of the audience in mind throughout the selection process. To accomplish this all you need to do is perform a little internal research. An analysis through an in-depth survey accompanied by a few short one-on-one interviews with the projected user base and decision makers within the organization can aid tremendously. In this search for information, it is vital to focus on the objectives you want to achieve by the e-learning courses or training. Outside of these answers, there is one more thing that you will definitely need to know. Any guesses?  How about, will it work within your pre-existent learning environment? Always check the technical specifications available for a new LMS and its ability to address the goals of your learner needs.

 

Make a list of key features you need

There is a veritable ocean full of features to choose from. In order to not get “lost at sea,” you must pick the features your organization needs. It might be quite difficult to choose the most pertinent features available because there are so many features; narrowing the list down can cause a hell of a lot of confusion. Identifying features you need is the most important step in choosing an LMS, as it will allow you to shortlist the solutions that will create the most effective e-learning course for your audience. Let’s look at an example for better understanding. If you are catering to learners who are busy on-the-go professionals then opting for an LMS that supports mobile is ideal.

 

 

Consider the technical limitations

When you choose a new LMS you need to know how the new learning system will be integrated with your current software. Will there be issues to integrate divergent systems or different types of systems? Other than different software, it is very important to know how your learners will access the content. Will a majority of the content be viewed via mobile? Tablet? Or PC? How well does the new LMS support these platforms? Do your research, if your learners are tech savvy and accustomed to utilizing these features or are constantly attached to their mobile devices, these environments will need to be accommodated. This factor will determine nature of e-learning activities as well as the level of multimedia integration.

 

Get feedback

Ask your instructors and facilitators their honest feedback about your current training strategy. Ask them if they think there are new features they wish to investigate or if there are any new tools or materials they may find beneficial to ease their jobs and make training more pertinent to your employees. The purpose of this feedback is that they are the ones who help learners take full advantage of the overall organizational strategy. The cherry on top of the cake will be if they know their ideas and opinions are valued entering into a new LMS environment, they will feel more invested in the selected system.

 

Consider future project scopes

As an organization, it is imperative to forecast for the future of your operations. So why not lend the same consideration towards your LMS? Your system might be wonderful today, but what about tomorrow? Be sure to obtain a clear sense of how your Learning Management System will adapt to current as well as upcoming needs during live demos and trial runs. Ideally, you want to choose an LMS that is going to offer you the features and functionality you need now and in the future. Knowing that your system is easy to maintain and update over time, can save you a lot of heartache as the demands of your department shift.

 

Observe a demo

In modern business, we are afforded the ability to check and double check before selecting a product or service. Almost all LMS vendors will provide a demo or trial period for testing their product before your purchase. Do not hesitate to ask for a live demonstration or trial period that will allow you to see your potential LMS in action. Demos are very beneficial as you will be able to see which features are really worth your time and which are unnecessary or cumbersome in their environment. A trial will help you measure many factors like flexibility, customization, growth and usability! An LMS is one of the most significant investments in terms of potential outcome for your company, so it's always wise to have a test drive!

 

These tips will surely aid in your quest for the perfect LMS; one that is right for your learning and development and creating an ideal user experience.

 

Elearning vs Classroom Training – Let’s Understand Their Pros and Cons

Elearning vs Classroom TrainingElearning is the new and inexpensive alternative to classroom training, which is becoming more popular and preferred method among organizations.

However, the debate on the effectiveness of eLearning compared to classroom training is often a subject of interest among learning and training professionals. Some prefer the real-time interaction with an instructor while others like the flexibility brought by eLearning. Both eLearning and classroom training methods share common attributes, however, eLearning is proving to be a more cost-effective and flexible method for organizations.

Let’s understand the pros and cons of both eLearning and classroom training:

Learning Context:

One of the main differences between eLearning and classroom training is that classroom training allows learners to actively interact, engage with instructors and other fellow learners. The instructor can move the learners around, group them in different ways in order to provide the most effective learning experience. In an eLearning environment, learners mostly work in isolation and are required to be self- driven. Virtual classroom training, video training, and other similar elements are being used to bring the human element in the world of eLearning, however, it still may not bring the feel and the benefits of being with a live instructor in the same room.

Cost Difference:

Another major difference is the cost effectiveness of eLearning and classroom training. It is estimated that organizations save about 50% to 70% on training when they introduce eLearning over instructor-led training due to reduced travel costs and non-requirement of logistics. Classroom training requires the presence of an instructor each and every time the course is supposed to be delivered, whereas once eLearning is developed, it can be used multiple times without any additional cost.

Availability and Flexibility:

Elearning can be accessible to the employees 24/7. Employees across the globe can take an eLearning course at their own pace, preferred time and even place. On the other side, classroom training is only available at a fixed time and day. One instructor can manage only one location and a limited number of employees at one point of time.

Reporting and Monitoring:

This is one aspect where eLearning easily surpasses the benefits of classroom training. The tracking of learners’ progress in a classroom training setting is usually done manually and often gives inaccurate results. On the other hand, eLearning courses are mostly delivered on the Learning Management Systems (LMS), which allows tracking and monitoring of learners’ progress, usage, and other parameters automatically in an efficient manner.

Content and Delivery Consistency:

Each instructor comes with his/her own style of training and content delivery and hence consistency can be a concern with classroom content. With eLearning, the course content and delivery is exactly the same each time. With eLearning, you can ensure standardized process and consistency in the delivery of content, which is difficult to attain in classroom training even if the same instructor delivers the training at different locations and with different groups.

Gamification vs Game-Based eLearning: Do You know the Difference?

Gamification vs game-based learning

Gamification is fast emerging as an effective and exciting technique to engage with learners in the corporate training world. However, the term gamification is often mixed up with another term known as game-based learning.  A lot of industry professionals use these terms interchangeably without realizing how different they are in terms of their meanings and functions.

Gamification is not a game and does not imply that learners will be playing video games and learn through it. Gamification is the technique of using game elements and mechanics in the learning environment. Let’s take a very simple example to understand how it exactly engages the learning audience. Most car racing games start with a beginner level and unless you earn a particular number of points, you do not get to see the game features and functions available at an expert or champion level. The moment you reach to an expert level, your profile gets an “Expert level” badge and a whole new set of elite cars, game functions, etc. are unlocked for you. You love to see the expert badge on your profile, as it gives you a feeling of accomplishment and pushes you to be more competitive.

 Now, let’s imagine getting a five-star badge when you complete a particular eLearning course in the first attempt. The learning course remains the same, but the five-star badge adds fun, excitement, motivation, and competitiveness to an otherwise usual eLearning course. In addition, you just got to know that anyone who has more than three five-star badges in a particular training program will be eligible for a special acknowledgment certificate from the training department. When these elements are added to the learning environment, it is known as gamified learning. Game elements such as achievement badges, leaderboards, point systems, level progressions, etc. are incorporated to attract learners and keep them motivated in their own learning process.

Studies reflect that gamified learning are very effective in increasing the levels of interaction and motivation in learning and ultimately leads to an increase in recall and retention.

On the other side, game-based learning is a type of gameplay that has set learning outcomes. In a game-based eLearning strategy, the content is designed to fit into the confines of the game. There can be a story based game or a character led game where the characters and stories are inspired by the real user’s personality, situation and training requirement.

Also, it is much easier and less expensive to introduce gamification in learning than to create game-based learning. Another major difference is that while gamification can be applied to most learning needs, it is quite complex to create game-based learning for requirements such as compliance training, risk management training, etc.

Both gamification and game-based learning are very popular trends in the current corporate learning environment and they both offer a completely new perspective on learning methods and tools. However, it is important for organizations to know the distinction between them to be able to select the best approach that fits their learning requirements and budget.

Online Learning Trends That You Can’t Ignore

 

Online Learning Trends

Rapid advances in technology and modern workforce needs are transforming the way, workforce learning & training is delivered and training courses are created. Today’s tech-savvy, social and mobile learners are no longer interested in traditional classroom training and demand learning techniques that blends best with their current working style and outlook.

Let us look at top online learning trends that organization must incorporate in their learning programs.

Mobile learning

Mobile Learning enables you to present smaller sized, interactive online learning to your employees without restricting them to a particular time or a place. Employees with busy schedules or the ones who are always on-move have the luxury to access training resources at any time, from any place. Smaller sized content also enables them to absorb and retain the training courses in a better way. According to a survey by eMarketer, 59.3 percent of the U.S. population used a smartphone in 2015 and a total of 1.42 billion smartphones were sold worldwide. Almost two-thirds of Americans are predicted to own a smartphone by 2017, more than a threefold increase since 2010.  It is also estimated that the mobile learning industry alone will grow to over $37 billion by 2020.

Creative and Digestible Learning Modules

Extensive training courses and lengthy durations don’t comply with learners’ short attention span as well as their availability and often disconnects them from the entire learning process. Creative content is required to enable new and refreshed learning experience to employees. A report by the Rapid Learning institute emphasized that the majority of learners prefer short- e-learning courses, something that their organization is still trying to focus. Usage of videos, podcasts, micro-blogs, diagrams, images, questions, and quizzes not only helps in increasing the participation and completion rate of training courses but also engages the learners in a better way.  For example, people are more attentive to an image over a large block of text as it is easier to understand and digest the information presented in a visual manner.  Organizations can also introduce real life examples or real life scenarios for problem solving, encouraging employees’ to think and reflect their learning right away.

Data Analytics

Analytics tools help an organization to know about their learners and how they are digesting the information. One can evaluate training effectiveness, learner’s preferences, and usage patterns through analysis and visualizing software, Tin Can and other analytics tools. Such insights help organizations to create their training courses in a personalized and targeted way. One can evaluate the reasons behind a highly effective training course and vice versa and use such findings to create future training strategies and content. Data analytics also enable organizations to provide customized training programs to a group or a set of employees, who might be showing similar learning behavior or patterns.

Gamification

Who does not like to play games? Entertainment Software Association states that 155 million Americans regularly play video games and the average game player is 35 years old. This is why gamification in e-Learning is fast emerging as an effective technique to engage learners. Through gamification, you can include games or activities that allow learners to compete with other learners, overcome hurdles, and earn points, badges or rewards for their efforts. It increases their engagement during a learning program and also brings a sense of accomplishment or reward, encouraging employees to do better.  Companies who are already using gamification based learning programs have reported high levels of success.  In a research study by PEW Research, 53% of respondents stated – by 2020 gamification will be widely adopted by most industries, the communications scene, and most of all education.

While online learning will continue to evolve and change, organizations looking for long -term success must focus on these trends. There will be a constant focus on new and innovative ways to connect with learners through social, informal and creative methods transforming the way learning is delivered and perceived.

Debunking Misconceptions about Video Learning

There are more than bilv learning picturelion users (almost one-third of all people on the Internet) on YouTube, who spend extensive hours watching YouTube videos for entertainment as well as for education on a daily basis. Videos have become fully integrated into our lives and studies show that the average viewer retains 95% of a message when they watch it, as opposed to a mere 10% retention rate when they are reading it. This is why organizations are trying to integrate video learning in to their training and development practices. Video provides a unique and exciting medium to reach and engage with learning audiences that no other medium can provide. However, organizations often struggle to evaluate this new medium properly and a lot of them have refrained themselves from using video learning because of the misconceptions around it.

Through this blog, we will try to clarify some of the most common misconceptions around video learning:

Video is Expensive: The cost of producing a video has gone down drastically over the recent years. There are plenty of low-cost tools, software available that organizations can use themselves for video creation without involving an external agency or experts. Short-video editing tools like Vine, iMovie are very easy to use and they are either free or have a very affordable pricing model. One can even find video making application on mobile devices for creating a short and engaging video. Organizations have already been using videos for onboarding, product training and with the availability of new tools and techniques, they can also use it in their formal training programs without worrying about the cost.

Too Much Bandwidth Consumption: Bandwidth consumption is another major concern for organizations when it comes to video learning. However, in reality average broadband connection speed at most organizations is much higher than that required to stream a typical high resolution video. In fact, Learning Management Systems (LMS) are using technology to ensure the video content delivery and performance is mapped with real-time available bandwidth. You can also compress the videos, so that users can easily download them, even with a slow Internet connection. As an organization, you can easily assess your internet and bandwidth requirements for video learning and in most cases you will already have an appropriate infrastructure, which is overlooked easily.

Engagement with Learners’ is limited: While video learning can be slightly passive, learners’ engagement is highly dependent on the duration of the video course and the way in which the content has been presented. It is advisable to make short and compelling videos, where learners are not expected to learn too much at a single time. Videos create an exciting and fun learning experience for learners and a good video will be more engaging for learners than a typical instructor-led session. You can add humor, background music, real life examples or even display learners’ present situation and challenges through a character and similar creative elements are a sure way to make an engaging video. Even if you are using a YouTube or any other external video, you can always add your own twist with the help of video editing software and make it more relevant and appealing for your target audience.

The Power of E-learning

E-Learning has seen an accelerated growth in the last decade, and the growth will continue to take place for the foreseeable future. An increasing number of individuals, corporations, and educational institutions are turning to e-Learning as they recognize its effectiveness and convenience.

Let us show you some interesting facts and statistics that we have gathered from various research reports and findings.

The power of E learning

 

Informal vs. Formal Learning: Creating a Blend!

Informal vs formal learningThe corporate training world often questions and evaluates the concept of incorporating informal learning. The question always arises whether informal learning can be added to the formal learning and if so, how both can be combined together.   

Informal learning is the unofficial, unscheduled, and unplanned way to learn and gain knowledge, whereas formal learning is delivered in a systematic, intentional way with a reporting and evaluation process. While formal learning will continue to be fundamental to professional development, organizations can embrace informal learning practices to enhance their learning and training programs.

Let’s look at below tips through, which you can incorporate informal learning in to your formal learning and development programs:

  • Provide a knowledge management tool/platform for employees to share their learning after they attend a formal training/learning program.
  • Encourage employees to write down tips, answers to frequently asked questions after a training course, which can be shared with fellow learners.
  • Arrange for informal workshops or meetings where subject matter experts (SMEs) can share their expertise with co-workers.
  • Establish a Mentor or buddy program for employees to learn and discuss development ideas, goals with a high performer coach.
  • Encourage employees to learn together about topics that interest them, such as latest technology or methods in their discipline. Organize regular sessions where they can share their knowledge with a wider audience.     
  • Create a platform for cross functional teams to come and share ideas, create solutions. Most organizations have a “Friday Fun” concept. Why not introduce something like Share & learn Wednesday or meet & learn Wednesday to nurture a learning culture across the organization.
  • Encourage employees to recommend content to other learners through organizations’ intranet portal or other social streams.

Employees are more relaxed and eager in an informal learning setting and they readily commit to learning a new skill without worrying about exams or evaluations. However, the accuracy of learning material as well as the learners’ understanding cannot be assessed in an informal learning setting.  Also, organizations can deliver single information or knowledge resource to a large number of employees at the same time through formal learning methods, tools; informal learning for large groups is not constructive. Formal learning can also be monitored and reported and brings credibility to the organization. Hence, it is not impossible to replace formal learning with informal learning, however, it can surely add more value and engagement to formal learning practices.  Organizations need to thoroughly understand their learning objectives, challenges, target audience in order to create a balanced learning environment for their employees.

The Future of eLearning and Immersive Learning Environments

future smallElearning continues to rapidly evolve as technologies such as gamification, immersive learning environments (ILEs), MOOCS, mobile learning and other modern training delivery methods penetrate the marketplace.  It’s truly fascinating to see this evolution spawned by farsighted individuals and companies.

ILE's are particularly riveting because they are fast becoming a reality.

What are immersive learning environments?  One might think an ILE is how astronauts prepare for spaceflights using the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory.  To over-simplify, NASA maintains a huge “swimming” pool into which they place precise duplicates of satellites and space stations.  Astronauts don their spacesuits, immerse themselves into the pool and practice their space mission over and over.  They relearn even the simplest of tasks, like turning a wrench, underwater, to simulate the harsh low-gravity and airless environment of space.  NASA invests in this training for the same reasons other organizations invest in training: to improve worker safety by reducing accidents, and to reduce costs by creating a well-skilled workforce.

The NASA learning environment is indeed immersive, but it’s real, not virtual.  ILEs are different than the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory because the learner's training experience is not real at all, it's totally virtual.

Early generation ILEs are available today, but as it matures I imagine integration with other technologies such as virtual reality hardware (goggles, gloves, & other devices), robotics, and web-enabled devices will create a synergy that blurs the line between training and reality.  Think of the classic science fiction novel “Ender’s Game,” written by Orson Scott Card in 1985 where the main character wins a simulated virtual wargame but later is shocked to discover it was real.  The author had tremendous foresight by illustrating the successful integration of technologies where the virtual is indistinguishable from the real.

In the future the training experience will be so immersive it will be hard for learners to tell the difference between virtual training and reality.  Job performance will increase because the training will have not only made student’s brain learn, but also, through virtual-mechanical devices, trained their body to learn via muscle memory.  Integrating web-connected robots controlled by ILE-trained operators to tackle the most difficult and dangerous jobs will improve safety even more.

Incorporating ILE’s into eLearning and using it to train the workforce is truly a disruptive technology.  Just like landing on the Moon forever changed the world, ILE’s will forever change workforce development resulting in huge improvements in workplace safety, employee satisfaction, and regulatory cost reduction.

For the past 28 years Gyrus Systems has continuously improved its Learning Management System product to always deliver the latest concepts in eLearning to its customers.  We are excited about the new ILE’s and how they will be leveraged to educate tomorrow’s workforce.

Mobile Solution for Employees on the Move

MobileAim iPhone photoToday’s ever-busy employees don’t always have time in the office to access their eLearning on a desktop and that is why Gyrus Systems created MobileAim, the mobile application companion for GyrusAim.  MobileAim is a fully responsive, on-the-go mobile app that includes individual development plans, eLearning, assessments, enrollments, and management tools.  The app is compatible with Android and Apple devices and is available on both the Google Play and Apple App stores for free for GyrusAim customers. Now with MobileAim students can access eLearning wherever and whenever they want.

According to a recent Gallup poll, 70% of employees are not engaged at work, but when they are, they’re more than 20% more productive and nearly 90% less likely to leave the company.  A mobile eLearning app provides information immediately, allowing an employee to take advantage of down time outside of the office to continue their training.  As employees start to use the flexibility of an app they are able to structure their work in a way that works best for them, which will make them a happier, more engaged and productive employee.

There are two main features that make MobileAim so important to employees working on expanding their training.  The first, Individual Development Plans, the second, My Assessments.

The Individual Development Plans, or IDP, allow students to connect to their completed and open requirements in a streamlined manner removing the confusion and frustration that can be caused by complicated, multiple screens of data.  IDP enables students to launch and manage their own training, on their own time.

My Assessments gives the student the ability to reach their assigned assessments and tests from anywhere.  Once assessments are completed the results are sent to GyrusAim and the student receives their scores almost immediately.

MobileAim is a fantastic addition to GyrusAim for any student who wishes to further their eLearning from any location. The app can launch eLearning from your mobile device, free from any office network connection. It offers the flexibility to work on your own schedule, now instead of having to set aside time to work on eLearning from the office you can work it into your day no matter where you are.  With MobileAim, eLearning is always in the palm of your hand.

To learn more about MobileAim and GyrusAim please visit our website.

The Hidden Cost of Open Source LMS

The availability of free software has increased over the years with the development and release of programming kits for apps and software, community and support forums, and freemium software that offers limited use for free, but requires paying to get all software features unlocked.

The LMS market is no exception.

Open source learning management systems have become increasingly popular, and on paper they always sound good.  They’re free: how can you beat that price?  The term free is usually a misnomer; there is almost always a cost associated with using open source LMSs.

Let’s take the following example: you’re an HR director for a small firm, and want to update your legacy LMS on a shoestring budget.  You search the internet for free LMS and click on the first search result for an open source product that looks good.  You view the demo and are amazed. This looks perfect! And it’s free!

“Learning management software this good should cost twice as much!” you cackle to yourself.  Excitedly, you grab the first IT tech who wanders past your door and make her watch the demo.  “This looks good,” she says, “but we’ll need to purchase another server to support this, we might need to hire somebody to rewrite the open source code for our business needs, and, hey, who’s going to be managing this project? How long will this project take? Who do we go to for troubleshooting?”

After a slight pause, punctuated with the dulcet chirps of crickets somewhere nearby, you realize that there’s slightly more to an open source LMS than just downloading and launching it.

Hardware, coding, project management, and support personnel are all needed to keep an open source product up and running.  These technical requirements sometimes aren’t clearly spelled out, but a total lifecycle cost of an LMS should be at the forefront of your mind when you start the selection process to make sure that a free LMS solution doesn’t cost more than the commercial off the shelf solution.

Getting that E-learning Course to Work When SCORM isn’t the Problem

If you’re reading this then we probably have something in common…we both know what SCORM is for. But just in case this term is new to you, let’s get start by getting that definition out of the way.

SCORM is an e-learning standard. It is the reason you can get your e-learning course from one vendor and still launch and track it from the  to be integrated with one another – to “talk” to each other.

That makes SCORM very important.

 It’s great when everything is working right. Students are successfully launching, consuming and completing courses and all of that activity is correctly recorded in the LMS . But it’s not so great when something goes wrong. And, sometimes the reason is because there is a problem with the SCORM set up. When your SCORM package isn’t tracking right, your vendors can help you test the SCORM to see if there is a problem. But what if there isn’t.

What if SCORM isn’t the problem?

You’re not out of luck. There are several other things you can check out. These things also play a key role in making your content work right. Let’s review some of the more common culprits which can give you a SCORM content headache.

  • Videos require a player (often “Flash”) to run. Over time, the player on your computer may have become outdated. Make sure yours is up to date.
  • The computer itself may be causing the difficulty. The easiest way to check this is to try launching the course from another computer.
  • The availability of bandwidth can never be ignored. Remember that this is a moving target. The speed with which your course is delivered to you is “subject to change”. These changes can be as simple as the time of day, moving to a different location, or other web applications “stealing” your bandwidth.
  • The course itself is a big factor. There are many variables affecting how a course will (or will not) run for you. Some contain video – others do not. Some are a very large electronic file – others are smaller. Some are SCORM version 1.2, others are SCORM 2004 or AICC. These and other factors can make a big difference on whether or not the course will run for you.


It can be frustrating when a course content stubbornly refuses to work as expected. Not being sure what to check can only add to the frustration. Try these basic “tests” to run down the problem. Even if it turns out to be something else, at least you can quickly eliminate these “usual suspects” and move more swiftly to the correct resolution.

Questions to Keep in Mind When Purchasing eLearning Content for an LMS

Many guides on buying eLearning content talk about the quality of the content, the experience of the developer, the number of courses the developer has available for purchase, references, and etc.  These are all very important topics that cannot afford avoidance, however there are some other questions that are important to keep in mind when purchasing content.  Reviewing these questions could help to save you from making a costly mistake.

  1. Pricing

    • Are you purchasing on a per user basis?
    • Are you purchasing unlimited use?
    • Are you purchasing attempts?  This probably does not occur very often, however it is important to confirm that each attempt from the same user does not count against your user licensing.
    • Are their options available for bundling course topics and reducing cost?
    • Does the price of content use in an LMS differ from the price of use in the provider’s delivery system?  Confirm you are purchasing content to reside within your LMS, it may be more expensive, but you have the added benefit of all training records in one location.
  2. Demo

    • Does the provider give a demo on the content you are requesting?
    • Does the provider give access to demo content to test functionality in your LMS?
    • Will there be a dedicated support person to troubleshoot potential issues in your LMS?
    • Ask for the option to view an eLearning course start to finish so you may judge the quality.
  3. Completion / Assessments

    • Is there a final assessment on the eLearning?
    • Are their ‘check-point’ assessments within the eLearning?
    • Can percent completion be factored into the pass/fail decision? This means that a viewer has to watch a percentage of the total content in order to pass the eLearning – they will not be able to skip ahead and take all the assessments.
    • Is there an ability to customize completion / assessment pass/fail scores?
  4. Extras

    • Does the content come with job aids?
    • Does the content allow for submitting feedback?
    • How and where does the content utilize bookmarks? Example: If the content is closed in the middle of a video, when reopened, will it start at the beginning of the video or where you left off?  Does the user have to physically click the save button to bookmark?
    • Are their help texts provided within the content?
    • Does it come in multiple languages?
    • Ask how often the content is refreshed (if you are purchasing content that requires refresher courses)?
    • Are there any accessibility options?
    • Ask about SCORM (1.2 or 2004), AICC, and xAPI (if applicable) conformance.
    • Does the content provider offer personalized certificates at completion?

e-Learning Best Practice: How to Make Sure Your System Works

e-Learning Best Practices, and why they can fail from the very start . . .

There are a lot of things that need to go right for your web based content to be successful. Some of them are easy to see. Like when a learner launches a course and the video refuses to play. Others are harder to see. Like when the internet connection that learner is using gets bogged down and the course never shows up.

Of all of the things that need to go right (or can go wrong), it may seem like some of them are more critical than others, but this is not the case. Like the weakest link of a chain, you can get 90% of your content system right….and lose out in the end. And to the learner the cause of the failure doesn’t matter. Regardless of the cause, the end result is still the same. A frustrated learner. To the learner, only one thing matters. When she launches the course it either works or it does not.

If it does not work, well then….Game over.

To get a handle on what can go right or wrong, think of your  as an ordinary garden hose. On one end is a spigot which is delivering water to the input side of the hose. Then there is the hose itself which transports the water all the way along its fifty foot length. And finally there is the nozzle, or output side which delivers the water on target. One part starts the water, one transfers it, and one delivers it. Every part plays an essential role in achieving but a single outcome; delivering life giving water to your garden.

Choke off the water supply, drill holes in the hose, or use a rusty old nozzle and you’ve got a problem. No water. And, from the standpoint of the Gardner it doesn’t matter why no water is coming out. It only matters that nothing is happening. The only thing that will make it right is when you see that constant stream of cool clear water.

In web based training, your job is to keep the WBT streaming; to ensure the learner gets her WBT course.

Start – Transfer – Deliver

And if she doesn’t get it, to quickly find which part is the problem and fix it. And the only way to do that is to move heaven and earth to ensure that each part of your WBT eco-system is functioning as needed to get the job done.

So let’s break it down into its parts and go over what you can do to build and maintain a bullet proof infrastructure.

Keeping with the water hose analogy, let’s begin with the spigot side where the flow of water begins. This content start point is the course itself and the computer server environment that hosts it.

The course itself can be created in any quality content authoring tool capable of publishing SCORM and/or AICC compliant content. But there are a few key things to look for and test to make certain the course works.

First is the file size of the course itself. This is the number you see when you look (in Windows Explorer for example) at the zip file after you have published your course. The size of your course is going to affect everything downstream because it tells you just how much “water” you are trying to pipe down the hose! In fact, most LMS’s have a maximum file restrictor built in. If the file size of your zip file is 200 megabytes and your LMS has a restriction at 150 megabytes…well as you can see, plans will have to be made.

Second is the type of video or audio files used in the course. If your course has animation, movies, or audio, it is important to know what was used to create it. Is, for example, your animation produced in Flash or Shockwave? This can make a big difference if your learners don’t have the right software installed to view the course or if the LMS is set to accept the other kind of file.

Third is the server environment hosting your courses. You want to be sure you have the horsepower and set up you need. Speak frankly with your network administrator about your content needs. Discuss how many courses you will have, their file size, and the kinds of audio/video files they will contain. Go over how they will be backed up and how often they will be updated or replaced. Plan for how many learners will be consuming the courses, how many concurrently, and where, when, and at what time of day they will consume them.

A successful SCORM/AICC experience starts at the beginning. With the courses themselves and how they are hosted on a server to be available for your learners. Just like a clogged or broken water spigot, if the course doesn’t get a good start, all of the fixes made “downstream” will do little good. Be certain to carefully plan and execute this first essential component of a successful WBT Content system.

Next time: “The Hose”, getting e-learning from A to B!

Skills gap or not; why can’t we agree? (Part two)

This is the second of two posts discussing the roots of the issue and a new strategy to address this stubborn problem.  In part one, we talked about the roots of the skills gap and the extent to which executives understand the magnitude of the problem and the significant impacts it can have if unresolved.  We noted research that indicates that up to 80% of learning is ‘scrap’ or wasted, and how the ineffectiveness of traditional training methods leads executives to look for workers with existing skill sets rather than train a capable prospective employee whose skills have not kept up with the market.

Bridging the Gap

Vado calls the efforts of executives searching for improved learning and development strategies and tactics as ‘Bridging the Gap’ and right now this bridging is going pretty slow; of companies surveyed, 94% seek to speed up the application of learning back into the workplace but only 23% feel they achieve this.

Vado’s strategy is simple but not simplistic;

  • Identify pertinent information
  • Break it down into small pieces
  • Deliver to employees “one bite at a time”, and
  • Employ 5 Development Best Practices

Think differently about training

Consider for a moment the difference between Training and Development, which is essentially ‘Push vs. Pull’; Companies PUSH training and Employees PULL development.  Here’s what Vado found:

Make it relevant

Alignment between the development offerings and an increase in personal performance must be demonstrated to the learner as well as alignment between the development offerings and organizational objects.  Employees don’t want to waste time either, more importantly it can harm morale. They also want to be valuable to the organization.  If you make it relevant, they will own it.

Make it accessible

Learners today want to access training when they need it and complete it at their own pace.

‘Chunked’ Learning

Vado believes in the idea of ‘Chunked Learning’, presented by Dr. George A. Miller, the author of “The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two”.  The idea is to break down information into bite-sized pieces because too much information presented at one time leads to information overload.

This is supported by two recent articles in CLO Magazine; Malcom Poulin’s ‘In Learning, Size Matters’ which advocates for ‘microlearning’ strategies, and Bite-Sized Strategy, by Sebastian Bailey, in which he speaks to the idea of ‘miniaturization’ which is the distilling of a learning experience into smaller, more easily consumed packages, or shorter with immediate practical application.

Effectiveness of video in training

Vado presented research that highlights the importance of video in training.  Utilizing videos in training increases learning lift in the following areas: overall learning, 200%; absorption, 40%; retention, 38%; persuasion, 43%; and impact 67%.

Incorporate the basic rules of retention

We remember 10% of what we read, 20% of what we hear, 30% what we see, 50% of what we see and hear, 70% of what you say and write, and 90% WHAT YOU DO.

Development Best Practices

1. Aligned to organizational objectives

2. Self-paced and learner focused

3. Embed learning into workflow

4. Granular, bite sized, ‘chunked’ learning

5. Multimedia approach (video, graphics, audio, text)

So the question then becomes not ‘if’ we will train (and waste 80% of what we spend on it) but ‘HOW’ we should train.  Gyrus Systems believes Vado is on the right track and you can employ these same strategies in your own operation to improve your development and talent management efforts.

 

Benefits of Skills-Centric Learning Management Systems (LMS)

EMPLOYEE BENEFITS
Employees benefit by a skills management system because they’re provided with:
• A better understanding of quality proficiency related to their jobs
• A clear view of what skills and skill gaps they currently have
• A learning and development plan that takes into account their job-based skills requirements
• A record of their learning and development achievements
• Recognition of their skills and opportunities to use them in other assignments in the organization

MANAGEMENT BENEFITS
Through skills management, managers are presented with:
• A clear picture of the skill requirements of their employees
• An understanding of their employees’ skills strengths and weaknesses
• An informed basis for career development planning discussions
• Ability to develop prescriptive learning and development plans
• A facility to identify subject matter experts for assignment-based work

EXECUTIVE BENEFITS
Executives need to know that their organization has the skills to fulfill business strategy. A well-implemented skill and learning management system provides:
• A view of the capability of the organization
• Proof that the organization is meeting regulatory requirements
• Learning and development plans that are aligned with business strategy

Skills gap or not; why can’t we agree?

Some say it’s a myth; others, it’s a fact.  Who’s right?  They both are and training is both the obstacle and the answer.

It’s one of the more oft-heard discussions in businesses, statehouses, universities and technical schools and business groups–why is it so hard to find good employees with so many ‘structurally’ unemployed?  But some argue that it’s a myth.  Why is business and industry so schizophrenic about the issue?

In its own schizoid way a recent Inc.com article captures this in one piece.  The search engine lead-in asks, ‘Why the skills gap does not exist’ and the article by Cait Murphy, “Is There Really a Skills Gap?” posits there isn’t a skills gap, but then goes on to document successful strategies to address………skill gaps.

The subtitle states it succinctly, “10 million unemployed. Yet employers’ No. 1 problem is finding the right talent”.  A simple Google search provides 4.9 Million results, so ‘Houston, we DO have a problem’.

The reality is, for companies that have a successful development program that is integrated into their operation, skill gaps don’t exist.  And for companies that rely on a more outdated approach, such as waiting on government, technical schools and industry groups to develop successful workforce development programs and generate graduates, skill gaps DO exist.

The foundations of the skills gap       

There are numerous reasons that have been offered as to why the situation exists; the depth and breadth of the Great Recession left millions of mostly older workers out of work for extended periods while technology and businesses advanced; Boomers are retiring at an increasing rate as retirement funds recover; a long-term emphasis on college educations instead of trades; China and India industrial complexes competing for workers; and the proliferation of underwater mortgages that have reduced the ability of workers to relocate.

So why do employers not want to take able-bodied workers, young or old, and train them?  In a recent webinar hosted by Gyrus, Partners Cindy Pascale and Kim Egan of Vado Inc., a courseware developer out of Minneapolis, made a compelling case for their courseware, but in the process hit the nail on the head.  In the balance of this piece we will look at some of the underlying reasons why training is an obstacle in this season, and in a follow up piece we will summarize the major concepts in Vado’s strategy which you can put in place in your own organization.  If you want to ‘fast forward’ you may view the webinar and slide show on Gyrus Systems website.

Executives recognize the problem

Some stats Vado presented indicate that executives realize that training to fill skill gaps is critical:

  • Six of the Top Ten CEO concerns are related to training and development;
  • 46% of executives are concerned their workforce does not have the skills needed in the next 1 to 2 years

They recognize the impact

If they don’t fix the Skill Gap:

  • 66% anticipate a loss of business to competitors
  • 64% face a loss of revenue
  • 53% will face a delay in product development
  • 59% face eroding customer satisfaction

Training is a waste of money

So why do Executives leave positions unfilled looking for the perfect hire instead of training able-bodied unemployed who have a proven record of learning?  The answer is in the idea of ‘Scrap Learning’.  Scrap Learning was defined by Berk in 2008 as “learning which is successfully delivered but not applied by the learner to their job or the measurable amount of learning that is lost after training.” According to Dr. Robert Brinkerhoff (Knowledge Advisors Symposium, Washington, D.C., 2010), 50% to 80% of all learning development is scrap learning.  In other words, it’s wasted.  Consider that in 2012 Total Learning Investment was $60,000,000,000, this means that in 2012 ‘Scrap’ was $48,000,000,000 and only $12,000,000,000 was retained!

We’ve all been there: go to a conference or mandatory training, get great ideas for improving skills and therefore productivity and value to the company (who graciously paid for it), and then come back to the grind and the pile and put the notes, the notebooks, etc. into a desk drawer, never again to see the light of day.

So in an uncertain economy bumping along at 1-2% GDP, Congressional gridlock, an exponential increase in government regulations and global instability, is it any wonder that CEO’s are reluctant to invest in an effort that is 80% waste?  Can you blame them? So what’s the answer?

Break the mold 

Vado has done just that, and by understanding the underlying principles and concepts, L&D professionals can have a measurable impact on the skills gap in their company and put people back to work.

(This is the first of two posts discussing the roots of the issue and a new strategy to address this stubborn problem.  We will review their strategy in next week’s follow-on article, ‘Bridging the Gap’.  For the webinar recording and .PDF of the slide deck, visit Gyrus Systems.

What is Skill-Centric Approach?

GyrusAim utilizes a skills-centric approach. This provides organizations with a common language to describe skills in the organization and enables an agile workforce by using skills as the common currency of the business. This approach also helps integrate talent management processes.

Many organizations use disparate language across functions to describe the same skill. This leads to inefficiency—a lost opportunity to share and leverage crucial skills information across the organization. On the other hand, by defining skills consistently, skill mapping systems serve as the glue that helps bind these functions together. For example, by using the same language to define a skill in a job profile created by the recruitment and selection function of the organization, the learning and development department is able to compare the cost of developing a current employee against the cost of hiring someone who already has the required skills.

This approach to skill centricity also allows organizations to:
• Improve recruitment by providing a consistent skills specification for each job and facilitating skill-based assessment
• Consistently manage employee performance by comparing people against known skills for each role and providing a common language for assessment
• Support career planning by facilitating assessment for future roles,identifying skill gaps and learning requirements for future roles and using skill-based jobs to identify future roles for each employee
• Enhance the value of the learning & development function by ensuring that learning and development programs are aligned to business requirements and increasing the effectiveness of  an LMS
• Improve leadership development by defining skills and competencies that are aligned with business strategy

Why Skills Management?

Successful implementation of a skills management within your Learning Management System (LMS) helps organizations to:
A) Execute business strategy by developing skills that support business objectives,
B) Stay competitive by developing and retaining a well-skilled workforce,
C) Reduce costs by identifying real training needs and reducing contractor spend and recruitment costs,
D) Maximize workforce ROI by developing and utilizing employee skills effectively,
E) Mitigate operational risks by identifying skill gaps and shortages and reducing the risk of non-compliance,
F) Develop intellectual capital by developing the capability of the organization, and
G) Retain employees by identifying and facilitating employee development and improving utilization

Public Safety Training: How Well Do You Train for Emergencies?

As we all know, natural disasters, terrorism threats and other public emergencies cannot be predicted. Therefore, it’s important that individuals in the public safety industry are well trained and prepared to respond to just about any occurrence. Poor training in the public safety industry could result in a slow response to incidents, and could even affect someone’s life.

A learning management system (LMS) can make the process of delivering information to several responders easier and quicker. An LMS can not only help responders receive the pertinent information on the situation, but also helps them determine what tools and resources are needed to respond.

GyrusAim is a web-based, enterprise learning management system that provides a centralized system for training, managing, accessing, refreshing and sharing real-time, authoritative information regarding the location, credentials and status of assets. It also addresses police, fire, urban search and rescue and 911 tracking for Public Safety Training.

GyrusAim’s automated scheduled, registration and performance assessments make it easy to use and quick to update, so you have more time to respond to the situations at hand. The software also manages qualifications, certifications and expirations while allowing administrators to manage resources/equipment, records/transcripts and competency as a whole.

 

The Boundaries of Learning: Does Your LMS Cater to International Learners?

Learning has no boundaries. This does not only mean that it has no knowledge boundaries—meaning we never truly stop learning—but this also applies to physical boundaries. Learning in the workplace occurs everywhere, in every department, and in every location. Since the learning process can be so widespread, it’s critical that you’re learning management system is able to accommodate for this kind of international learning (we will call it distance learning).

Distance learning refers to the delivery of education to learners who are not physically present in a traditional learning environment, where learners and the information source are often separated by time and/or distance.* Distance learning is not a new concept, however the ability to educate learners in various locations has been made increasingly easier thanks to technology. An LMS can also open up the opportunity to build a relationship with learners in your organization that are far away in distance.

If your organization has learners across the globe, you’ll want to make sure you can deliver training to these learners as well as those who are in your home country.  One major benefit you’ll want to make sure your learning management system includes is a multilingual capability. Can the software be easily translated into the learner’s native or preferred language? The more translation languages available, the better you will be able to accommodate for learners during training. A web-based product can also makes learning more convenient for your learners because they will be able to access the software virtually anytime from any location (which accommodates for different time zones).

Customer support is critical for international learners. Does your software vendor consider that some of your learners may be in different locations and different time zones? It’s important that these learners get the support that they need as often as the other learners in the organization. A vendor that provides multiple channels of support, such as live chat, phone, email, and/or support tickets is available to respond to all of your learners when necessary.

An LMS like GyrusAim is an ideal solution for international companies because of its ability to deliver to any learner, regardless of where they are located. It is scalable software that is great for companies who are looking to build a global presence in the future. If you’re looking to grow your organization’s global presence in the future (or improve your current relationship with your global learners), look for an learning management system that can grow with you toward success.

 

* Information provided by Wikipedia

Do you have control over your own career path?

When advancing in your career and participating in workforce learning programs, it’s important to take a step back and ask yourself: Am I in control?

Today’s workplace environments call for workers to take a more active role in their career path. Having control over your own learning and development allows you to set personal goals and see what needs to be done to get where you want to be. I repeat: it is up to you to get involved and define your career path, not your HR department or boss. Surely you’ll need some help along the way, such as what courses to take to prepare for future positions or what certifications are necessary to remain compliant, but in the end your future in the organization is in your hands.

A worker’s active role in their own T&D can benefit the organization too—less time and effort is spent on the process if these programs are designed to be self-directed. Employees today are becoming more dedicated and future-driven, with a strong desire to excel in their organizations (one of the only positive things resulting from today’s constantly changing job market). The employee’s active role also allows company management to measure the ROI of their training tools, such as their learning management system. Many of these platforms offer reporting to help measure efforts.

That’s why it’s important for your company to choose the right software. A learning management system such as GyrusAim not only allows users to track accomplishments, run reports, and manage expired licenses, but it also provides a very useful tool for users: the Individual Development Plan (IDP). This provides a ‘roadmap’ for the user’s career path so that they can clearly see what courses, skills, certifications, and so on have been completed (or still need to be obtained). GyrusAim is also flexible, scalable, and can be accessed at the user’s convenience. There is a direct connection between a company’s LMS platform and the performance of the employees, so the software vendor that you choose is extremely important for your organization.

In today’s time, employees are driven. They are self-motivated and have a desire to excel. If we combine this desire to excel with the desire to learn, we can make use of tools, such as GyrusAim, for the training and development of employees. The burning question still remains: Who has control of your career path? The answer should be you.

MOOCs are Revolutionizing Where, When, and Who is Learning

One of the latest buzzwords in the eLearning industry lately is MOOCs, or massive open online courses. You may be wondering why these are so revolutionary since online learning, or eLearning, is not a new concept. But MOOCs are a different breed of education. They are much bigger than current online courses, they use different technologies, and they usually feature some big-name professors that are celebrities in the education world. All you need is a computer and web access.

One feature of these courses is the flexibility students have. While higher education courses normally involve lengthy lectures, MOOC courses usually offer shorter lectures that allow the student time to react, reflect, and–if necessary, practice–before continuing to the next lecture.

Because these courses are free, they are accessible by many more users. Instructors are able to reach much wider audiences and students do not necessarily have to be able to afford a college degree to take courses or access an education. Want to take a class at Stanford University? Unless you’ve got the money, this would be seemingly impossible—until now. Universities are even beginning to take advantage of this new innovation. Students are taking lectures online, and having discussions and exercises in class—the learning is done beforehand and the “hands on” experience is left for the face-to-face learning experience.

MOOCs could be great for students who have a preferable learning style. Some are more exercise heavy, while others are more lecture heavy (which style would likely depend on the course instructor). MOOCs are currently not producing much revenue, but this may soon change as more and more users climb on board. They are also not offering college credit, but this could change as well as universities begin to see the benefits of MOOCs. Two downfalls of this kind of learning experience is the lack of personalization or relationship between instructors and students as well as the possibility of cheating.

There is no longer a “textbook definition” of teaching or learning thanks to technology. There are limitless possibilities for MOOCs and the future of education alike, possibly leading to a more educated world.

 

Service, Knowledge, and Experience: How an LMS Can Help with training in banking and finance

The training in banking and finance industry revolves largely around three ideas: service, knowledge and expertise. It is these three factors that allow the companies to compete with other organizations in the industry and succeed. This also means that training is of equal importance, because without the proper training, and organization will lack in service (and even overall morale), knowledge (even the most experienced employees can become rusty over the years), and expertise (employees should be trained frequently to ensure they have the most up-to-date knowledge and expertise).

This industry also adopts new regulations and industry standards frequently, and it’s important to make sure that employees have this new information and meet the necessary standards. The status of today’s economy causes people to put their trust and confidence in financial institutions for the most useful information possible. Therefore, companies must have the best resources possible to serve their loyal customers. If you’re employees are striving, so will your business.

But you may be asking: How can I improve my employee’s service/knowledge/expertise? How can I ensure that my company meets industry requirements and standards? A Learning Management System is the answer, and is what will help lead you to continuous success. More specifically, GyrusAim can help provide learning materials to all users in order to develop competence as quickly as possible.

GyrusAim helps companies in the Banking and Finance industry keep employees up-to-date with current regulations and improve competency management using one centralized, Web-based system. The Web-based functionality allows for consistent training to take place at any time, depending on the convenience of the user and the company. Not only is GyrusAim effective, but it is also very secure (a significant benefit for these types of industries).

Last, but certainly not least, an LMS can help track compliance and certification. GyrusAim makes it easy for training administrators or Human Resource managers to track compliance and/or certification of SOX, corporate governance, risk management, policy and procedure management, and more.

 

Why Buy a Learning Management System (LMS)?

1.    Meeting minimum standards is not sufficient to maintain a competitive edge

2.    Increased, more severe penalties for non-compliance

3.    Need to track/monitor compliance at a significantly more detailed level

4.    Refresher courses due at different times based on employee’s history and role

5.    Different training required for different employees = complex matrix of courses & resources that constantly change due to turnover and organizational changes

6.    Manage cross-functional and cross-enterprise teams across the globe, providing goal alignment to team members and visibility on team effectiveness to senior management

7.    Reliable records that are always up-to-date and available for viewing

8.    Provide education to end customers, creating new revenue streams and improving customer loyalty

9.    Valuable tool to prove safety of a manufacturer, verification of policies/procedures and adherence to laws & regulations

10.  Reduce time-to-market to increase competitive edge

In summary, using a learning management system can help solve many organizational challenges!

Individual Development Plans (IDP) Are Here To Stay

Organizations are made up of individuals working towards a common goal.

Individuals within an organization may share common goals, but chances are, they have goals of their own.

That’s were individual development plans come in.

An individual development plan (IDP) can help employees:

  • Improve skills
  • Gain new experiences
  • Learn about emerging trends and technology
  • Explore unique training and development opportunities
  • Identify resources to keep their career fresh and exciting

An IDP which is a feature of the new Gyrus LMS, GyrusAim. can help employees:

  • Create a list of knowledge, skills, or abilities (KSAs) that they would like to acquire or improve
  • Correspond activities for each KSA to help develop in the areas listed  above
  • Identify specific resources for each activity (i.e.: classes, a mentor, a developmental assignment, etc.)

It is very simple…  employees that can create IDPs are happier and more productive than employees who don’t.

If you are interested in having a happy, motivated workforce, give your people the tools they need to create their own IDP. An LMS like GyrusAim can help.

To learn more about IDPs visit:

http://learning.hhs.gov/career/idps.html

Using technology to create a high performance learning organization

New technologies are a vital component of delivering high performance learning in a way that is cost-effective and that results in measurable improvements in workforce and business performance.
 
There is no shortage of compelling technology-based learning approaches today, from e-learning to web-based seminars to podcasting to simulations. The challenge most organizations face, however, is in incorporating those specific technologies within an integrated and holistic infrastructure, in a way that makes sense both economically and from the standpoint of learning effectiveness. That’s not an easy job.

A comprehensive high performance learning transformation recently executed by Gyrus Systems also included a transformation of the company’s technology infrastructure for learning. Its existing technology base was in a shape similar to many companies today: it was fragmented, with information distributed over hundreds of databases.  That situation raised distressing data integrity issues, and it also made it difficult to run centralized compliance reports or assess the value delivered from internal training. Managing any of the information centrally was time consuming and needed a great deal of manual support, so the learning infrastructure had also become very expensive.

The transformation path was to Use technology in the most effective way possible to provide exceptional learning experiences, track learning delivery and results, and provide the information needed to support effective decision making about how to steer the learning function in the long term.


Some of the key deliverables for the projects were:

1) Key requirements with metrics for success

2) Team formation

3) A comprehensive learning infrastructure – Gyrus's On Demand cloud

4) Product configuration based on key roles

5) Implementation

6) Training


The proper application of technology to Gyrus’s learning design and delivery capabilities has resulted in more timely and relevant support for the company’s different workforces across the industry. The training team can more effectively plan courses that meet business needs, in ways that also create compelling learning experiences for the company’s employees. Training delivered via e-learning or online seminars can be integrated into the holistic picture of career development and learning for the company. And executives can use reporting from the learning management system to make more informed decisions about helping employees work together toward the common goal of achieving high performance.

How to Keep Your Training Data Neat and Tidy Under Pressure


Neatness counts!

We’ve been told this since elementary school. Our teachers taught us the harsh lesson that sloppiness has consequences. That “A” grade you expected on your Theme that slipped to a “B minus“ because you paid insufficient attention to your grammar and margins.

But when we use computers we are often tempted to toss the quality and accuracy of our data to the back seat in order to get our jobs done faster. Most of us are under pressure to be both organized and quick – and these are not always compatible pressures!

So, we need to strike a balance between these twin towers of pressure. And we should begin by taking a look at what brings them about in the first place.

Organization and accuracy are critical to the administration of your training and to the information that results from the training you provide. The pressure to manage who needs training, make it available, and then see that it all takes place can be an enormous challenge. The fact that the situation “on the ground” is changing daily only adds to the complexity.

As training takes place, the reliability of the resulting data is largely dependent on the quality of your upfront training administration. Effort must be taken to build a logical and easily understandable training system that fits your many needs. Small errors and inconsistencies tend to grow exponentially creating potentially major discrepancies calling your quality of the data and the value of your reports into question.

Quickness is the way business is done today. While there may be some discretion allowed in deciding just how fast to go, the pressure to move swiftly is none the less unavoidable. Being quick and efficient is not a bad thing…until it results in a bad outcome. In the training industry, the temptation is often to employ shortcuts and workarounds just to “get the training done” faster and keep students moving through the training content.

Not too long ago, the small “liberties” we took so that we could keep things moving seemed reasonable because usually only Training Department personnel were aware of them and we knew how to interpret or “filter out” the non-standard data. But this isn’t true today. With the browser based Learning Management Systems in use now, everyone has access to the data and they don’t know what is real and what was used just to keep the training moving quickly.

So, just like school days, neatness is no longer an option and we must find ways to create and manage neat, reliable data while maintaining a fast pace. And there is only one way to accomplish this and it’s called –

Discipline

There are things you can do to address your twin pressures and still achieve the desired outcome. You can come up with your own things, but to get you started, here are some time tested examples which will if employed with discipline serve you well:
• Establish and enforce standardized data and policies. For example if you offer a course in CPR, it is not okay for a hurried Training Coordinator to create a new “First Aid” course because she can’t remember the name of the original course and is in hurry to get the class on the calendar and the students registered.
• Avoid workarounds. If you are not sure how to use your LMS to meet a particular need, take the time to check it out. There may be a good way. Check first with your Help Desk, vendor, and colleagues to make sure the best plan is put in place.
• Create and use a “test” environment. It’s easier to set up “dummy” users and training in your live database to try out new training initiatives and user workflows. But even if your other users never see the data, the fact remains that your reports are now tainted with irrelevant data. With only a small effort, a “mirror” site can usually be set up where you can experiment without damaging the integrity of your live data.
• Assume “all eyes”. In other words, plan your system usage with the understanding that at some point almost everyone will see at least some of the information inside. For example, you may choose to enter all part time employee names in lower case characters and full time employee names in upper case characters so you can tell them apart. But to others using the LMS this may be confusing and seem cluttered. A properly designed Learning Management System will provide flexible, logical tools to aid you in organizing your data so that with planning it is clear to all users.
• Audit your system. Periodically, take time to browse through your data to make sure the results are exactly what you expect. Run reports on your training and your people. Check on screen information and history.
• Nip it in the bud. When you do find anomalies in your data avoid the temptation to deal with them later. Chances are they will continue to grow and only be harder to find and fix. When you feel rushed, see it as an opportunity to put some standards in place first so that you can maintain a quicker pace later.

Using these techniques and others of your own will take a little more time up front. It is tempting to avoid doing them because there are so many other tasks which need your attention. But in the long run, they will actually save you time. Potentially a great deal of time because we all know that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

I’m sure your elementary school teacher taught you that.

Why Content Can Make it Almost All the Way to the Learner – and Hit a Brick Wall


Let’s go back in time. Way back to the 1950’s and 60’s…. a simpler time. A time when the technology of media was basic and everything worked pretty much the same way. If you wanted to watch a television program your choices were three channels and one TV (yes, cathode ray tube) in the living room with an on/off switch and a rabbit ear antenna on the top.

Back then television was the new media; the hot cutting edge technology. And like any new technology how it worked was a mystery to the viewers. And when it didn’t work (which was often) – well that was a mystery too. But the technology was so basic that there were only two things the viewer could do to fix the TV when it didn’t work. The first thing to do was adjust that annoying rabbit ear antenna. And if that didn’t work, the next thing to do was to smack the top of the TV with your fist. 🙂

Fast forward.

Technology is a little more complex today. Viewers have myriad choices of what to watch and how to watch it – Youtube, streaming video, Skype, even old fashioned DVDs. They select from Laptop computers, cell phones, and I-pads to watch their selections. The options are literally unlimited.

And your course content is part of this large, rich mix. Somehow, through all of these choices and variables your content has to find its mark – your viewer.

In the first two installments of this series, we described the delivery of courses as working like a garden hose. The spigot gets the water started, the hose moves the water from point “A” to point “B”, and the nozzle sprays it on your lawn. Your course also has a start, middle, and end point and an interruption anywhere along the line can stop it in its tracks.

The three SCORM Content components are; where the content is stored (server), how it moves to the viewer (Internet or Intranet), and how it is viewed by the learner (computer or other device).

It may not be obvious that something is wrong when the course stream is interrupted at the beginning with the servers. But when a course doesn’t work on the viewer’s end, there can be only one obvious conclusion – no show!

But, as we have seen, there are so many technology variables at the viewer’s end that simply smacking the computer (or whatever) on the top is unlikely to solve the problem. But the show must go on. So we must take a thorough look at the show stoppers confronting our viewers so we can correct the problem. Here are the most common things that can stop SCORM Content cold at the viewer’s end:

  • If the viewer is sitting at the end of an Internet or Intranet pipeline fast enough to deliver the content, it is still important that the device he is using has the memory and processing “horsepower” needed to run it. Help Desk personnel are a good resource if you are unsure whether or not the viewer’s hardware is capable of running the content. But be aware that sometimes the learner uses more than one device. For example, he may begin the course at home and resume it on another computer in his office.
  • There are many popular brands of Internet browsers easily available. Many learners are in the habit of using more than one. For example a learner may use the Company required browser at the office and a different browser at home. Browser security settings can vary from one to another and may be the reason why a course will run for one learner but not for another.
  • Internet Security is indeed our friend, but it can be a perplexing one at times. The most common place a user comes across it is their pop-up blocker. Most users are comfortable with how to use them. But, if a learner has not been on any new websites for some time, it may have been a while since it last popped up. So, when he launches a new course, he may not notice the blocker.
  • And lastly – never under estimate the importance of learner experience and capability. Your learners are experiencing a constant barrage of new and rapidly evolving technologies. For those new to the experience, even launching a simple text only course can present a challenge. And even your seasoned veterans are challenged to keep up with constantly changing situations. The courses, devices, and technologies they used last week may very well change by next week.


So, the key to making sure your learners actually get to view the course is to understand what might possibly be blocking them. That way when it happens, you’ll recognize it. And you’ll be able to help them out.

Virtual Learning Organizations

If you expect your people to multitask, why don’t you expect your organization to multitask also? Why bind yourself to a single organization structure?

You constantly group people in many different ways: by product lines, by job functions, by geography, by projects, by job grades, and by customers for example. Your LMS should provide the same flexibility.

Use the concept of Virtual Learning Organizations (VLO) to slice and dice your training in any way that you see fit. Compare training in east with training in the west; identify problems with management training; focus on product training for the new line being introduced next quarter; and create skill requirements for members of a new project, thus enhancing the staff members’ individual development plans.

With VLOs, you are not bound to install-time decisions for extracting useful information from your LMS. Create VLOs on the fly, use them and destroy them without affecting any training activity; or create permanent VLOs for permanent and comparative reporting or skills management power.

With VLOs, specific organizational requirements can be cascaded throughout any organizational hierarchy and customized at any level.

GyrusAim, the LMS by Gyrus, provides unlimited VLOs. Within each VLO, you have an unlimited number of organization units. You have an unlimited number of organization levels so that you can make your organizations as granular or as broad as you want.

How Your E-learning can Disappear “Down the Tubes” – and Never be Seen Again

Do you remember that old song about the music going in one end of the trumpet and then going round and round ‘til it comes out here? Think of that song next time you take an online course.

Your online course content system is a lot like that trumpet. The course starts at one end – an LMS like GyrusAim for example, and then it goes round and round the Internet or your Intranet until it shows up on the learner’s screen. That can be a mighty long trip sometimes.

Just like in the song, each step needs to go right for your course content to work right. And the hardest part to see….is the part where your course goes “round and round”. Because that’s the Internet part and who’s ever actually seen the Internet? Your content just goes into one end of it and disappears until it eventually shows up at the other end.

So where does your course actually go? Another way to think of your content system is like a garden hose. The LMS is the spigot where the course starts and the learner’s computer is the nozzle where the course ends up. And in between is the Internet or “hose” which delivers your course from start to finish. If everything is working well, your content system performs as expected. But if the hose is kinked or has some holes drilled in it trouble is sure to follow.

If that happens your course isn’t going to work. But how can you diagnose the problem on something you can’t see? It’s easier to see the computer showing the course and the LMS starting it, but they might not be the cause of the problem.

True you cannot see it, but there are several important things you can check to see if there is an Internet problem.

The big factor for the Internet hose is bandwidth – that’s the amount of computer information your Internet connection can carry. Two major factors affect this. First is the amount of information to be transported and second is your course content system’s Internet (or Intranet) capacity to carry it. There are several things that can affect this.

Think of it as supply and demand.

The supply side is the capacity of your online course content system to deliver the course. In our analogy, this is represented by the hose itself. Find out if your learners will be using high speed connections such as cable modem or T-1. Your network administrator will know what options are available.

Demand means how much you’re trying to squeeze down the hose. The size of your course is an important factor. The larger the course, (measured in megabytes) the bigger the “hose” needed to carry it. A small course may be 5 megabytes and a large course may be 90 or even several hundred megabytes. Adding audio, video, and interaction can quickly swell the size of your course.

The other big demand factor is the number of learners taking the course simultaneously. There’s a big difference between 1 learner taking the course and 100 taking it at the same time.

Since you cannot see your course moving through the Internet “hose”, it’s necessary to test it in different scenarios in advance to make sure it can handle the load. To make sure that both “supply and demand” are balanced.

To do this test the course with different numbers of users at different times of day. If learners are going to access the course from various locations with different connection speeds, each location must be tested.

By putting your course through its paces before releasing it to your learners you can drastically reduce the chance of problems when it’s their turn to take the course.

Blended Learning

The days of learning being solely instructor led are gone forever. Today we have multiple sources of learning, even with the same content.

The best way to learn a particular piece of content depends on the time, the place, the learner, and the urgency. Blended Learning may be a video, an online course, or an instructor-led course. The key is to have the proper content available in the best form to suit the learner at that time. Course content has advanced to the use of multiple media within the same course. Courses now combine eLearning, video, instructor-led, and both hard and soft document learning objects leading to a complex matrix that must be assembled and managed.

Your LMS should handle all of this for you.

The core is a learning object. A learning object is the smallest information nugget and is designed to provide the learner with one skill at one level. A learning object never has multiple skills and never has multiple levels for one skill. A learning object has one medium, such as eLearning, instructor-led, and video. Courses then, are a collection of learning objects. A course on Microsoft Excel would contain several learning objects for Excel fundamentals, Excel pivot tables, and Excel macros for example. This then becomes the agenda for the Excel course.

Using learning objects inside of a course adds some interesting and useful options. For example, the GyrusAim learning management system allows for drop-ins to take a part of a course. Instead of making a learner sit through five learning objects as part of a course, he could attend only the learning object that applies to the skill that he needs to acquire. This reduces the burden on the learner, the instructor, and the work flow as the training lessens the worker’s time away from work.

A learning object can have a prerequisite. The prerequisite is not for a course or even another learning object however. The prerequisite for a learning object is a particular proficiency in a skill. A learning object is not concerned with how the learner acquired the skill, just that there is a certain expectation of what the skill proficiency of the learner is before attending the learning object. This makes the learning more effective, not just for the learner, but also for the other learners if it is an instructor-led learning object.

Build Conflict Management Training In Your Organization

Training magazine published an article by Margery Weinstein on Conquering Conflict. Being the contrarian that I am, let me present another side to this discussion.

Conflict management training does not mean “conflict avoidance”. Any organization that tries to eliminate conflict is robbing itself of creativity, free thinking, and even teamwork.Is it bad to have production and sales at odds with each other? If one is too dominate, you lose the balance between these two functions that is necessary for the company to have healthy growth. If production decides what to make, when to make it, and the quality, then sales is stuck with trying to sell whatever comes off the production line. If sales is selling whatever they can without regard to production considerations, then you lose the efficiency of operation that is necessary to make the sale profitable. You actually want these two functions to fight for and defend their own interests for the betterment of the organization.
Conflict or Harmony

This does not mean that we want conflict over harmony; the end result should be a more harmonious atmosphere because now you have two functions who have to listen to and understand the position of the other. But by simply removing the conflict between the two, you miss that important interaction.Look at some of the most successful organizations and you will see conflict is built-in. It provides the balance necessary to have the optimal outcome. A president without a congress to control the president’s actions would be a dictator. A congress with both Republicans and Democrats provides a give-and-take that makes our laws better, not worse. (You may disagree with me on that one, but work with me anyway.)In my own house, my wife and I disagree over how to raise the children. If either one of us had our way all the time, our children would be too strong in one area and too weak in another. So together we give and take to the betterment of our children. The disagreements become the right blend of constraints and freedoms for our children.In my own company, a key performance indicator (KPI) is accounts receivable as a measurement of recent sales. A high number indicates that we have high recent sales. So sometimes I ask my sales manager why our accounts receivable number is so low. Then I walk down the hall and ask my collections manager why the accounts receivable number is so high because that means we are not collecting payments. I want both of them pushing and pulling over that number for different reasons.Sure, conflicts should be avoided if they are detrimental to the success of the organizations. Successful companies however, understand the value of building conflict into an organization.

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