Making your Implementation Execution as Successful as Hamilton: An American Musical

Making your Implementation Execution as Successful as Hamilton: An American Musical

Making your Implementation Execution as Successful as Hamilton: An American Musical

Blog #2 Customer Service Excellence during Implementation

In my last article I shared how providing good customer service should never be your goal. Instead, a company should focus on fostering a culture of excellence. Excellent customer service flows naturally from a corporate commitment to excellence in all areas. Over the course of the next few blogs I am going to talk about how excellence shines through in varies customer service settings.

Let’s start at the beginning of a customer service relationship, with Implementation.

Implementation is a lot like staging the Broadway musical Hamilton. There is the cast, the crew, the audience, the musicians- people by the hundreds, not to mention all the costumes, props and stage sets. Everyone and everything must work together to transform these many moving parts into a seamless performance. The keys to a flawless implementation are the same as the keys to successfully staging a Broadway hit: commitment and communication.

Commitment Essentials: You will want to secure

  1. Corporate Commitments
  2. Team Commitments
  3. Individual Commitments

It’s all about being all-in.

Lin-Manuel Miranda spent several years writing the script and lyrics for his Tony award winning production Hamilton. He was all-in. His cast is all-in. His crew is all-in. Even a great play will fall flat if everyone involved in its production is not all-in. When one company decides it can best achieve its goals through the implementation of the product of another company’s you have corporate commitment. That commitment must filter down to the implementation teams.

Teams need clear goals and to be held accountable for meeting those goals. On the set of Hamilton the lighting team and the costume team both understand how they contribute to the overall success of the production. They understand the vision of the writer, director and producer. In the same way, each team in an implementation must understand their own role and how that role fits in with the overall plan. Just as the show can’t go on if any one of the teams decide to sit the night out, the implementation can fall apart if each team isn’t completely committed to propelling the project forward by fulfilling their role.

The same is even truer for the individuals, whether they are the actors and musicians or the technicians and trainers. Each individual must be committed to fulfilling their role with excellence. They must know their lines or roles thoroughly and they must understand how their actions impact the project as a whole. Committed individuals join together to form committed teams that advance the vision of their leader, whether their leader is Lin-Manuel Miranda or a CEO.

When everyone is fully committed, or “all-in,” you can work on the other key to success, communication, to keep everyone “all-together.”

Communication Essentials: You will want to decide

  1. Who to Communicate With
  2. How to Structure Your Communication
  3. How to Track the Process through Communication

It’s all about keeping everyone on “all-together.”

The bigger the project, whether a hit Broadway show like Hamilton, with more than 200 people involved, or a complex implementation, the more critical excellence in communication is. Be sure everyone who needs to be in the loop is- and no one who should not or need not be- is kept out of the loop. Who you don’t talk to is as critical as who you do talk to. If you want to ensure that your emails are actually opened and read by the recipients, keep your communications as short and direct as possible. There is a fine line between giving enough information and overloading people with details, so remember who you are communicating with and what their “need to know” level is. The information you share with the ERP tech team will be more detailed and very different from the information you will need to share with the HR training team. Be sure to establish early on who will be included on the various communication threads.

During the show, Hamilton’s sets and props glide on and off stage with seeming ease because their route has been carefully structured. In an implementation you can improve the flow of information by using a similar structure for each email in each communication thread. Don’t let your readers get lost in the abundance of words in a long email. When you have a great deal of information to share, bullet points are your friend. The exercise of structuring your details into bullet points will also help you to distill your thoughts into salient points of action. Your goal is to be complete without being complicated. And remember, communication is a two-way street. Reply to every email you receive, even if it is only to say, “I got it!”

Stage managers keep everyone on track during a show. They are the behind the scenes organizers who make everything that happens on stage look seamless. Your implementation can also benefit from having a “stage manager” or point person for both the service provider and the client. These are the people who will coordinate all communication to ensure that every step of the way is coordinated, planned, tracked and documented. These are the people who will hold everyone accountable.

Whether staging a Broadway smash like Hamilton or coordinating a corporate implementation, you need to get everyone all-in and all-together. To foster that, you will need to communicate clearly and appropriately to the right people. Once you have selected your point people, defined your communication threads and structured your communication plan with a team that is all-in, you have set the stage for a successful implementation.

The Ultimate Benefit of Learning Management Systems

The Ultimate Benefit of Learning Management Systems

The Ultimate Benefit of Learning Management Systems

The Benefits of a Learning Management System (LMS) are quite wide and can contain everything from basic functionality to cool recently implemented features. For the sake of this post, I will evaluate the barebones of the LMS and relay the immediate finding of what these systems are not only capable of but what they will eventually do for your organization.

One Stop Location

LMS are not only for E-learning activities! When establishing an appropriate blended learning strategy and increasing departmental efficiency, the LMS should be the first place you look. Learning Management Systems have the unique ability to act as an actionable content repository, in which you can assign learning object status to a wide arrangement of file types, host Instructor-led Training (ILT) offerings, and quickly reference all the available learnings accessible to your organization. Then quiz, test, and survey about any type of learning a user may encounter within the system. By aligning all of this functionality into one place an LMS is truly a powerful offering for any organization. Ultimately reducing time spent in content production by avoidance of unnecessary redundancy, and through the accessibility of vastly approachable materials.  

Ease of Access

A properly configured LMS can be reached from anywhere in the world, allowing for a large commitment in utilization. Modern day LMS, also often fully support Mobile functionalities, allowing the user to select their preferred platform when accessing their learnings. The LMS has made it so that learning is no longer confined to computer labs within organizations. People can get up to date with their processes directly from their desk, on the road at a trade show or while on a sales trip, or remotely from radio offices and branches users; regardless of scenario users can now obtain and action upon their learnings. All that is required is a device, a browser, sign-on credentials and a domain.

Analytics and Reporting

New and more innovative reporting capabilities are constantly evolving within the marketplace due to industry perceived best practices. An LMS gives you the capability to monitor and evaluate all of the actions conducted within the system, who has undergone what training? Who needs additional learning? What learning plan can be assigned to close an overall gap within roles within particular organizations? These are all questions that can be answered clearly, concisely, and immediately within an LMS platform. This takes the guesswork out of learning efficiency within an organization and places the knowledge required in order to promote a strong learning program directly in the hands of program administrators and trainers directly.

Platform for Change

An LMS is a virtual playground for learning and development personnel. I say this with respect to the marketplace in itself and how LMS are shaped in the anticipation of supporting future market trends. A modern day LMS needs to have the foresight to accommodate innovative new features such as gamification (in all of its potential forms), social learning, and file types as they become more and more regulated going forward. With this in mind, most changes within a learning environment originate directly at the LMS level and will continue to occur here as it is the most flexible component of the learning mix.

Conclusion

There are many benefits of Learning Management Systems, these listed, are core components of a standard LMSs functionality. By evaluating what a system is capable of doing for us at its most basic level, we can begin to assess additional functionalities beyond the core. Join us as we further consider these additional benefits week in and week out here at the Gyrus Blog. As always, thank you for joining us here at the Gyrus Blog, be sure to subscribe at the top right-hand corner of this page (Bottom if you are viewing this via a mobile platform), in order to get this fresh content distributed directly to your email inbox as it is posted.

Learning and Development: The Presidential Debate Edition

Learning and Development: The Presidential Debate edition

Learning and Development: The Presidential Debate Edition

Disclaimer: I shall start this post by stating that the internal views of this article are that of the blogger himself and not Gyrus Systems as an entity. However, with that in mind; some things are sacred, and I will not be announcing any sort of partisanship or opinion as to who won the recent debate within the context of this post. If voting habits are inferred, either your sleuthing capabilities are very strong, or the answer was found elsewhere (outside the scope of this document).

Blog Commencement

The first Presidential Debate of 2016 occurred this week, and people on both sides are fired up about it. Both parties are claiming victory and neither are backing down, and the viewers all have a lot to say. As one of those viewers and the blogger who prides himself on relevance and a cohesive storyline (especially in day to day & professional happenings), I sought out to discover a link between the events of what transpired on Debate night with a particular facet of the learning industry. After much deliberation and preparation of a well-crafted message, I finally landed on a variety of topics, which will be delivered in a persuasive tone as if produced in a debate forum. In order to properly write this blog post, I will be writing in accordance with the rules of the first Presidential Debate. I flipped a coin to determine whether or not I should even write this post, and then another to determine which of my two monitors I would be focused on for the duration of this blog post. I will be discussing a total of six topics, each of which I will only allow myself 15 minutes to write. The first two topics will focus on the direction of the “Learning Management Systems Industry (LMS).” The next two topics will be on “Successful Implementation of an LMS.” The final two topics will be focused on “Securing your LMS with emphasis on data security and establishing proper permissions.” With this in mind, and my trusty laptop timer working as a moderator, I will now begin.

Disclaimer 2: There is a high likelihood that much like the debate itself, I will go over my self-allotted time limit. At such occurrence, I will most likely disregard the timer and continue with my prose. This is the inherent advantage of being both the participant and the moderator.

Topic 1: Current State of the LMS

There were a lot of weird aspects of this first debate, for one, the debate marked the first time that a spouse of one of the candidates had themselves been a former President. Secondly, the other candidate has never officially held a public office. Regardless, the pomp and circumstance of these two candidates are unlike anything we have ever seen before. People from all over the world were focused in on the United States and what was going on for the entirety of the 90-minute session (plus additional time)…

So, I have already used some of my time. I’ll have to scramble a bit. The LMS industry is currently enjoying a popularity, unlike anything it has ever experienced before. In no time before this have, we witnessed the demand and competitive landscape which we are currently faced with today. This projection is set to grow throughout at least the next two presidential terms, and I for one would like to help educate potential users on all of the great features of which they can be getting out of their learning environments. To start, the technology which we are appreciating now is far vaster than anything we could have imagined a mere 10 years ago. Systems are capable of not only organizing Instructor-Led Training (ILT), but they now house E-Learnings, Gamification, Mobile Learnings, and alternative learning objects. The ways in which people learn are being considered universally in the production of learnings and how users interact. This is leading to new manners of participation, such as learning, the introduction of microlearning modules, and self-guided instruction.

Topic 2: Where is the LMS Industry Going?

In this moment of time, we as an industry are shifting focus, from ways to effectively deliver the highest quality training, towards a new vantage altogether. This being, how do we engage users? What can we do to make our training and development offerings exciting? This new overall perspective is helping create innovation through feature rich aspects of product design. Gamification is a real thing now, you can play games that teach you everything you need to know, effectively measure said games and embed them directly within your learning platform. That being said, these are new processes, and though they are already effective, there is a great room for improvement. Over the next few years, we will continue to see the introduction of more features within the space, leading to greater organizational buy-in a re-conceptualization on the entire learning process. As LMS adapt to these new features, they will need to continue improving on what is already there, SCORM content is at an all-time high, and ILT offerings are by no means a legacy form of teaching.  

Topic 3: Implementation – An off the cuff walkthrough

Implementations are getting easier and easier. The LMS systems you rely on are getting smarter, and the people who perform these have a much better idea of the rules and requirements of your organization. In general, the implementation process is a lot less of a headache than it once was. If you are worried about the integration of components into your LMS, think about the real process required to get you up and running, and start prepping the components that input into your learning program to conform to the required needs of what you are looking to institute. There are still times when long-cycle implementations are normal, however, now… more often than not a real structured plan can be provided to your organization, which adheres to all the required facets you require in the system. Instead of struggling to get your program off and running. Establish the time commitment your organization needs to ready your data for the impending change, collect together your SCORM files and exterior learning objects, extract a first round export of your company’s HRIS, and by all means identify all the components in any legacy LMS software you may be using. The more detailed you are able to be, the more likely you are to be happy with the overall experience.

Topic 4: Successful Implementation – How to be Happy With your LMS

The optimal LMS is the one that takes the least resistance to implementing. As stated previously, the less pain your LMS causes you during the implementation, and the more components that you can verify, get to, and action upon are at your disposal, the higher the likelihood of system satisfaction. Listen to the tips and strategies of your provided implementation expert, as there is a clear and definitive path of least resistance. If a component is holding back the final product from getting set-up you may experience push-back from organizational members who are afraid you may be in too deep. By listening to implementation experts, and extracting the files required to power your program, you can start to sit back and enjoy, as well as investigate some of the finer features which may or may not have been in the full scope of this project.

Topic 5: Setting Proper Permissions within your LMS

Just what exactly should people be able to do within my LMS? “Managers need to see all of their classes, related classes that are taught inter-department, grades of students in certain classes, as well as have access to a few very specific reports in my system. Whereas students in my system need the ability to check themselves into a certain style of an available learning object, a personal report on their activities within the system, as well as a social profile to manage their interaction with peers.” Knowing that these types of things going into your product implementation will go a long way towards crafting an environment where you truly enjoy the capabilities of your application. If you are constantly creating new roles and permissions, and slowly severing emotional ties with the interaction, odds are you will begin losing the user-adoption which you strive so hard to achieve. Establish an LMS team to evaluate all the parameters you would like to assign roles in the system and focus on the LMS offerings that are able to adhere to your stringent guideline.

Topic 6: Cloud-Based LMS and the Security it needs

How secure is your LMS environment? In cloud-based platforms, it is very important to be able to trust the security of your data. Your learning management systems are a wealth of knowledge for external parties, as such it is best to view the safeguards in place to secure the system in the event of any type of external exposure. In order to verify the status of your systems security, there are a few steps you will need to take to identify exactly what they are looking for. Firstly, don’t be afraid to ask the LMS company who you are partnering with to divulge the security measures in place for their hosted environment. Secondly, look up the industry recommended specifications for this practice. Where is the hosted solution physically located? What are the physical security features of the server location? How is it cooled? Powered? And what are the technological security features in place? What is the disaster recovery plan? And what is their documented up-time? These pieces of information can give you the valuable peace of mind that is required to fully trust the system you are about to put in place.

Conclusion

Just like in the Presidential Debate, in the LMS Industry, you will have to make a choice. So, now that you have heard all of my persuasive and rehearsed arguments, just how do you know what LMS to select? The choice is not easy, and it is completely up to your discerning tastes and abilities to match your specific needs with what is being offered.

When selecting a Learning Management System, we like to offer the following advice. Go with what makes you happy, but make sure you consider the following aspects: Select a developer with a Long Standing Company and well-documented history of Innovation. Refer to their track record for outstanding customer service. Do not select the LMS of an organization that demonstrates an unwillingness to adapt to new technologies and accommodate to the needs of their users. In the eyes of the LMS developers,’ the user come first and everything is built experientially around that point. Select what works best for your specific situation and do not be afraid to customize an offering to suit your specific organizational needs.

We hope you have enjoyed this blogger’s unique take on the first Presidential election. Be sure to tune in as we here at Gyrus Systems continue to investigate current events, the state of the learning and development industry, and what type of cool innovations are just on the horizon. Don’t forget to sign-up for our blog subscription on the top right corner of this page, where an automated email is sent to you with information on new posts, up to the minute that they’re released.

How to Persuade your Boss to Invest in an LMS

How to Persuade your Boss to Invest in an LMS

How to Persuade your Boss to Invest in an LMS

How to Persuade your Boss to Invest in an LMS

Your learning program has been managing itself for years, or at least that’s what your boss thinks. But you know the dark secret that is lurking barely below the surface. You spend a ridiculous amount of time organizing and determining methods of learning dispersal among personnel within your organization. You are so swamped with the follow-up work that your other responsibilities are more and more stressful. So, with your business growing and your sanity going further and further by the wayside, how do you convince your boss that there is a better way? We are here to help. Like in most buyer scenarios, the best way to relay the importance of the investment is in a fiscally responsible manner. With a clear roadmap on effectively moving your organization to the finish line.

A Learning Management System Means…

More Time

Let’s face it. Learning programs are resource intensive. In order to properly organize a blended learning environment without a learning management system, a great deal of time needs to be dedicated. The great thing about an LMS is that the bulk of the work is done up front. All the employees are loaded into the system, and new ones can be auto-imported via a connection with your HRIS. This means that once you have gotten past the implementation your program will basically run itself, giving you time for implementing new courses, analyzing the effectiveness of the programs you have in place, and thinking up methods to improve organizational learning as a whole. The cost of the learning management system aside, an LMS is basically like hiring a full-time planner for your learning program. The organization of an LMS also frees up time for your instructors, allowing them to deliver learnings on a more impactful scale and the tools to verify session availability in reference to other teachings within the organization. Further alleviating redundancy and scheduling conflicts.  

A Verifiable Educated Workforce

Sure, your staff is undergoing your training, and it seems to be working. But, wouldn’t you like to be able to show your boss directly how effective it is? These reports are just a click away! See who has taken what course, how well those individuals have done within those courses and areas in which your employees will need to improve to positively benefit the business.  No more excuses. Everything is laid out in front of you learners. Your personnel will be able to call upon their learnings whenever they need, as well as relaunch past training to obtain a stronger understanding of portrayed concepts. Employees can also observe gaps they need to overcome in order to obtain the greatest benefit from their personal training and development.  

A Structured Delivery Method

All of your learnings via one portal. Imagine scheduling instructor-led training from the same location that you provide your employees a running stream of e-Learnings. How are you ensuring that your employees are taking the courses now? How are you reminding them to finish coursework that is outstanding? Are you even sure that everyone is taking all your learning offerings? With an LMS, you can automate your reminder system, you can look at untaken curriculum all from one screen and quickly identify holes in the curriculum. A learning management system is a tool you need to overcome issues you are currently experiencing within your learning program.

Better Compliance Practice

An LMS provides the resources for appropriate audit trails. We all know that non-compliance with industry regulations costs serious money. So why not ensure your output is in accordance with the demands of the strict regulations that are imposed on your learning and development program? When it comes time to produce documentation on the number of compliance certifications various departments have undergone, you should not have to scramble for the information. Safeguard your learning program with an adaptable LMS today.  

Growth of Savings

Increased productivity from your HR personnel and general users within the system. As well as better quality control of the learnings you are providing. No more troublesome fines and penalties stemming from the inability to report safety learnings in a timely and verifiable manner. Reduce the lost time in redundant training sessions and validate the effectiveness of the programs your learning program undergoes. You may find that learnings which you have spent a good deal of money creating are less beneficial than an in-house offering that has been going around the office place for years.  

You shouldn’t have to do this all on your own, call your Gyrus Systems representative today. We’ll gladly make the business case for why your organization should opt into an LMS today. Save time, be more productive and reap the benefits of a greater learning environment. We can help you evaluate shortcomings in your current training environment, and clearly outline the savings you will enjoy from effectively implementing a Learning Management System. Be sure to join us as we further investigate the LMS marketplace and make suggestions from time to time for making your professional life easier.

Guide to Successful LMS Implementation

Guide to Successful LMS Implementation

Guide to Successful LMS Implementation

A few months ago we explored How to Successfully Implement Your LMS, today we provide a general infographic in order to provide an understanding of the process at a glance. The Implementation process does not have to be frustrating, and we here at Gyrus do all that we can to help our clients in any manner we can. Be sure to join us for our continuing pursuit of knowledge in the learning and development front. The following is intended to aid users in their quest for a clean implementation. 

Guide to Successful LMS Implementation

Text of Infographic:

Guide to Successful LMS Implementation

  1. Tune your Product, Process, and Content
    Set the interaction parameters within your environment, how do you want it to look with attention to branding and reports? Have you taken the steps to prepare your content for the impending migration?
  2. Define Organizational Roles and Permissions
    Take this time to identify system users and define their roles and permissions. In this step, you can identify key stakeholders required to test the system.
  3. Test Your System in a Secure Environment
    By setting up a test environment, users can identify issues from migrating data from a legacy system, which can be corrected and enhanced prior to the Organization’s Go-Live date.
  4. Record User Feedback
    What are your employees saying about the LMS system? Is it functioning as the organization requires? What steps need to be taken to close the gap?
  5. Perform Final Tune-up
    Correct any entry issues and utilize stakeholder feedback in order to determine any necessary changes prior to product launch.
  6. Launch your LMS Platform
    After your system has been filled with organizational data, branded, tested, tested again, and the stakeholders have been trained. You are ready to Go-Live!

References:

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Contact:

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Why we need Learning Management Systems

Why we need Learning Management Systems

Why we need Learning Management Systems

Why We Need Learning Management Systems

Have you found yourself fighting your way through the learning and development market without a guide? Blindfolded, and marching straight into certain and immediate danger? All the content in the world cannot save you from the harsh reality that an LMS is designed to mitigate. As to not shroud this document with bias, I have taken the liberty of pulling the dictionary.com definition of a Learning Management System, which appears below:

noun

  1. A software application used to organize and distribute e-learning materials, assignments, and assessments; track and calculate grades; and facilitate communication among students and teachers.

Abbreviation: LMS.

 

Get Organized

That definition alone should help you get on the right track in relation to what your organization needs. However, we’ll take this time to outline the systems and their importance, in a manner that represents something more than simply what it is. We will start with the following scenario, “I have all of these learnings from a content provider, but… Using them is getting more and more difficult based on our growing staff. What do I do?” At first you may be able to gather a captive audience to abide by the growing wishes of your organization, but eventually you will most likely hit a road block. Perhaps you are even a very developed company that has somehow managed to integrate education solutions into your corporate culture. Be that as it may, nothing can compare to a well-established LMS in regards to the immediate impact of organizing learnings within your environment. Imagine a world where your marketing department has to take eLearnings that teach them about quality design practices, branding strategies, and how to type blog posts that could actually engage users. When at the same exact time, the same system could also be used by your Research and Development team to learn production best practices, lab safety etiquette, and how to explain product features to that same marketing department! Well, I am merely typing that such a world exists, and just by reading this blog, you are a step closer to understanding how to relay the importance of an LMS to people on your staff who believe your one off elearnings and office calendar trainings are more than enough to meet your company needs.

Analytics and Metrics

A Learning Management System does something that your boss has been asking you to do, ever since you had the bright idea to begin training your employees. It answers the age old question that has been tossed around board rooms since the beginning of time. That question being, “does this initiative actually work?” You may learn that a training you have been giving for years has been confusing your employees so much, that they’re taking the wrong information in the field. You may receive employee feedback stating that a certain training seminar is entirely too long and is impacting work output on a consistent basis. Another possibility is a course you were considering eliminating, could perhaps be a shining star that has done such a wonderful job training your employees, that a majority of your staff use the course materials as a reference book on a consistent basis. No more guessing at the effectiveness of content, receive live feedback about the quality of your organization’s learnings. Then take those learnings and track and implement across the entirety of an organization. See what employees are taking which courses when. Find out which courses your employees are avoiding, and utilize a built in notification system to alert them of truancy. In an LMS system, the world is unbounded; quite literally. So much so that if you are part of a large organization with international representation, there are even translation tools and modules at your disposal to create a more impactful training and development program.

Be sure to go back to your boss’s ultimate question. This program indeed works, and now, I can find ways to make it work better. An LMS allows you to calculate return on investment, evaluate how the system is working and adjust learning measures to match organizational needs. But it doesn’t just stop there, it can help you identify issues that are plaguing your workforce, instill positive behaviors, and influence the perception your HR department. Taking a novel concept in which people are social learning and spinning it to include all the possible resources at the organization’s disposal; all while making you look like a modern day superhero.

Certifications

Besides organization and justifiable analytics, you gain something else immensely important. Accountability, gone are the ways of the inexperienced employee, trainings are just a few clicks away, and certifications can go a long way in establishing a credible employee base. E-Learnings and trainings, can prove compliance and bolster the work rate of the individuals within your department. It can also ward off potential negligence claims and protect you from an external audit on the abilities of your people.

Ease of Use

No more, timely, one at a time onboarding, with duplicate and incorrect information in a spreadsheet. Import all your HRIS data into one system, merge all of your SCORM learnings into one easy to use and actionable list, define the parameters of learnings based solely on the department you want them to be defined to. LMSs can do that!

Resource Management

“We book everything in our company calendar. We don’t need that.” All of this can be done in a single platform, you can track the learning from the time it’s scheduled, to the people who participate, to the certifications they were able to achieve. In a blended learning environment, resource management is the key to truly getting your learning and development efforts on track.  

Learning management systems are the key your organization may be lacking. There is no better resource in existence, in order for a workforce to capitalize on learning objectives. With all the advancements in learning technology, it only seems fitting that you are aware of a product not only capable of handling new applications, but has been designed with the future in mind all along. Thanks for reading and please join me as I continue my expedition into the heart of the Learning Management Systems industry.

References

"learning management system". Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 3 Aug. 2016. <Dictionary.comhttp://www.dictionary.com/browse/learning-management-system>.

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.

Academic vs. Corporate LMS – Where the Lines Blur

Academic vs. Corporate LMS – Where the Lines Blur

Academic vs. Corporate LMS – Where the Lines Blur

Academic vs. Corporate LMS – Where the Lines Blur

In the vastness that is the LMS market, there are two clear market segments; referring of course to the Academic and Corporate Learning Management Systems. Though these two approaches may be very different, it appears as if everyday solutions are providing a means to bring them closer than many would care to believe. In principle, these two types of systems offer the same foundation for their intended organization. This groundwork includes the ability to house, execute, and reward learning in either environment. Beyond this basic foundation, we quickly encounter immediate differences, and in order to understand where these two separate entities are beginning to merge, we must first take a brief moment to understand the severity of these variances.

The manner in which education is perceived varies uniquely between these two platforms. This is most identifiable in how the LMS presents itself and how the learnings are organized in each environment. In an Academic LMS, a learning path is defined by a variety of options that do not exist in the corporate realm. Collegiately, this could be a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing, with intense emphasis on prerequisites and the specific output of grades. In the employee training realm, these learnings are typically grouped by position, department, region, and a variety of other factors. The goal output of educational LMS are forming a foundation of understanding on a chosen path of learning, whereas employee training is strictly ROI (Return on Investment).  

Organizational Definitions

In these two separate methods of LMS, some of the terms are the same, but are alarmingly different in implied meaning. Here we will take a quick look at critical vocabulary for each system type, and apply a written definition to further comprehend these differences.

Educational Terms

Syllabus: Overall course outline, with an overview of what is expected and links to corresponding materials.

Courses: We can define a course as an overall themed learning, with a set duration of weeks, comprised of many classes.

Classes: a furtherance of courses, allowing for instruction and defined building block learning style.

Tests: Typically tests are defined as examinations administrated to segment class learnings or personal learnings. Occurring at pre-defined increments during a course, culminating in a final exam, to ensure measurability of overall learning.

Quizzes: Occur weekly/bi-weekly to reinforce class assignments and instruction.

Gradebook: In the education realm, grades are very important. They allow teachers and administration to measure a student’s amount of correctness, and an overall average of cumulative courses. Which creates an all-encompassing student profile on individuals for reporting purposes.

Corporate Terms

Calendar: In the company realm, syllabi are not required. The work comes first and foremost and the training follows to improve career activity and function. As such, it is more important that a workload can be traceable from an administrative perspective. This in turns shapes the methods behind courses.

Courses: In the business realm courses are no longer many week events (with significant exceptions based upon organization), instead they are one or two days, with a span of specified time, or a collection of e-learnings to be completed by a certain time.

Classes: Often used interchangeably with “course”, as course instances may only include one class.

Tests: eLearnings occasionally accompanied by one final certification exam.

Certifications: Instead of a grade book, employees are measured by their certification output. A certification puts you into compliance

Duration of Studies

I’ve hinted at this in my above definitions; semesters, as opposed to business’ quarterly scale is one very noticeable difference. In the business setting there is no real defined ending (people can work at an organization for a year, of stay there for 40). Whereas in the educational role, the time scope is very well defined 4 years for an undergraduate, 13 years for k-2, and depending on post-graduate studies there are defined rules of duration. For each setting, files must be kept on hand for if a student/user swaps an internal organization or role, or changes their course of study. In the educational LMS realm, there are clearly defined grade levels, which coincide with a full year of usage. In the business world, it may be contingent to re-take a course yearly. Courses mean different things. In business, a course could be a single 3-hour instruction with an evaluation at the end. Whereas in the educational world, a course refers to many instances of a class, and all of the materials that fall under its umbrella.

Teaching Focus

What are the students getting out of this? In the academic world, the goal is to lay a foundation of knowledge of which a student can access later in life/ later in their career. In the business world, the typical goal is to introduce new materials in a defined and regimented way, reinforce policies, and create a structured actionable methodology which can be repeated. How are they supported? Reinforced in the educational class setting via instructor, multiple assessments, and social interaction with peers. In the business realm, this is more of a self-exploratory study. Find your way to an answer, own that answer, and make it promote the business as a whole.    

Where the Similarities Begin

  1. Operation: Baseline operations, How the LMS works, what people are being tested on, and how they interact with the content. Both areas are trending towards each other as new advancements are proving to create a better uptick in appealing to the user’s independent motivation.

 

  1. Brand: Branding is always important. The practice of quality branding allows users to be familiar with their environment, as well as extend the reach of an organization’s marketing practices! Branding options are comparable regardless of what type of system you are encountering.

 

  1. Social: The addition of social platforms is becoming a trend in the business world. Currently, the usage of discussion boards and wikis are best suited in the academic field, but this is changing. Professors’ talk to their students, students discuss learning topics, then work with one another to produce materials. The possibilities are quite enticing when discussing the corporate learning community.  

 

  1. Hosting: With the ever-changing demands of users, hosting requirements have changed as well. With an influx of commuters and the tendency for corporations to fall into multiple time zones. It is becoming more and more practical to have a reliable connection to the content from anywhere the user may be.

 

  1. APIs: Though used less in the academic realm, the existence of pre-built APIs aid in the functionality of most academic systems. The ability to diversify program hooks could go a long way in reshaping the usefulness of academic systems in the very near future.

 

  1. Single Sign On: As more and more educational tools become available, the need for SSO will become more necessary in academic environments. Currently, this is a principle focus of the corporate community.
How to successfully implement your LMS

How To Successfully Implement Your LMS.

How to successfully implement your LMS

How to successfully implement your LMS.

Your organization has always wanted a Learning Management System. They previously opted for a system that just did not fit your organization’s needs, or they have never had an LMS and you have produced a few eLearnings here and there, but nothing has ever been regulated. You find the deeper you delve into training the messier it is becoming. At this point, you are desperate for some sanity, so you begin the daunting task of begging the higher-ups to award you a system that could very well change your life in this position. Time goes by and your desperate pleas are finally answered and you are awarded the green light. You are then tasked with finding the perfect LMS for your organization. After assembling a team and discussing all the things required in this new system, spending weeks combing through written materials and vetting vendor demos, then conducting final interviews, the wait is over. You have finally selected GyrusAim as the Learning Management System to carry out all of your corporation’s learning exercises. This is all well and good, and we are ecstatic to have you on board; but you may be thinking, “What do I do next?”

Organize an LMS team

Often times, these are the same people that helped you establish the system requirements in the first place. In this iteration of meetings you are identifying stakeholders and assigning project roles. Collect everyone together who will be providing courses on this new system and determine what they truly need. This team should consist of members from HR (Training department if you have one), IT and Management, to ensure the best possible outcome.

Determine what you want the LMS to do for you

You may feel like you accomplished most of this in your search for the right LMS. However, you have learned of new capabilities and new requirements after talking with the team, and you have suggested these new learnings very rapidly to a Gyrus representative. We are here to help, if you need aid in integrating a separate product or developing an API, we’re here for you, and will instruct you on appropriate measures during your administration training session.

Learn the LMS like the back of your hand

At Gyrus, as well as in most LMS organizations, we provide in-depth training for our administrators. You do not have to undertake this brand new product without full understanding. We’ll train you on the ins and outs, how to structure interoperability between your other resources, and how to go-live as quickly and effectively as possible. We also are here for you throughout the entire process, if something comes up and you have an immediate question, contact us and we will provide you with an answer. The more you know of the systems capabilities, the more you will be able to get out of the system and the more ROI you will be able to obtain.

Convert previous materials to SCORM packages for integration

Be sure to include all of your supplemental materials, not just the eLearnings. We want you to be able to get the most out of your LMS experience from day 1. This is a process you can either do yourself through a content authoring tool, or Gyrus can do this for you for an additional charge. The sooner the content is organized, the sooner you will be able to go live and begin to realize the full potential of your investment.

Load all of these completed materials into a test environment, then conduct rounds of testing

Now that you have all of these materials at the ready, it is time to place them in a testing environment. In this configuration, you will find the first instances of your imported employees, clients, and co-workers. Make sure access is granted to all of the members of the LMS team, as this will allow you to have many eyes on the system for verifying the user and record imports, validity of file types, and functionality of previous revisions of eLearnings. You can also optimize bulk email strategy, and assign privileges to users, who may be able to both train and be trained. It is vital to determine the correctness of this information as it will be the backbone to system functionality going forward.

Start producing new content

Once, your new LMS is showing verified data that you have approved. Your LMS provider will migrate you to a live environment. You can breathe a sigh of relief as your hard work has finally paid off, and you have the LMS of your dreams. Be sure to continue your relation with the vendors, write them holiday cards, and contact them whenever a question pops up. At this point, we recommend implementing the new training exercises you have been discussing for months and scheduling away, as your program will take off like it has never done before.  

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.

 

LMS Branding - Beyond the Logo

LMS Branding – Beyond the Logo

LMS Branding - Beyond the Logo

LMS Branding – Beyond the Logo

As a new marketing person, I have a unique opportunity to engage our users, potential clients, and cohorts in the industry. With this outlook, I have undertaken the task of trying to make the Gyrus name more entrenched in your everyday life. How does someone do that? Simple, by structuring and solely acting upon a living brand strategy. Currently, I’m undergoing the rebranding effort, you may notice little things here and there (including flashier images, more or fewer sales conscience verbiage in our writings, cooler product features, and more flawless logo integration). But there is so much more to this branding exercise. To Gyrus, not only do we want to provide you with the coolest and slickest option on the market, but it is also important for our product to feel like it is part of your living and breathing brand. Here’s how an LMS can accomplish that, beyond just the inclusion of your logo.

Colors

When you think of the largest brands in the world, you often subconsciously think of their logo or even their brand colors and how you associate with them. When you think of brands like Coca-Cola or Walmart, there is a clearly defined color palette that tends to circle around in your brain. The goal of an LMS is to ultimately serve your learning base with the best possible learning environment. A sub-goal of this functionality is to make the LMS as a whole feel like an everyday necessity that is part of the core offering of the organization. To do so, it may be important for your organization to stamp your brand colors on any portal that your internal employees, external clients, or stakeholders may get their hands on. If your brand colors are blue and green, it would be a little off-putting to see your logo on a portal that was only red or orange. What is your organizational requirement when it comes to this level of color in branding?

Fonts

As a company, we have started thinking about this. To some people, the font used in correspondence is the most important aspect of brand communication. Should I serif or not? When should I? Is it ever appropriate to use Comic Sans MS? To others, they may just be satisfied with whatever output their word kicks out as a default. If you’re the latter of those options, you’ll be surprised to learn that a growing trend in organizations, is to mandate font types across all branded communications. If your organization is constantly using Helvetica or Calibri, then an email comes across using Times New Roman or Arial, you would be sure to take notice as something would feel a little bit off in the manner in which things were being relayed to you. The same thing could potentially go in an LMS environment, could this feature be interesting to you as a prospective user?

Pictures

A picture is worth a thousand words. The picture might be worth a few more if it is a celebrity endorsing your product. Your organization has paid for these images, and as a result, you want to use them. At Gyrus, we are looking at creative ways to further your brand reach within your LMS without hindering the quality and speed of your system as a whole. Whether it be the inclusion of images in conventional locations or on output there are definitely visible methods of further relaying brand reach and make the environment friendlier to your usage base.

Organizational Language

How does your organization refer to learning objects? Are eLearnings really just “online stuff you need to know”? Are your employees really just “Dudes and Dudettes”? Are nachos really just crunchy triangles with toppings on them? Your LMS should reflect your brand language and how you refer to well, stuff. At Gyrus, we believe this has been an important aspect of your brand message for a long time, and will continue to allow you the flexibility to make our product sound like it is part your offering.  

These are not the only components of potential branding capabilities of an LMS. Please continue to join me as I further investigate brand strategy in this unique marketplace.    

Surprisingly Cool Things You Can Do with an LMS

Surprisingly Cool Things You Can Do with an LMS

Surprisingly Cool Things You Can Do with an LMS

Not all Learning Management Systems are created equally. In fact, you would be hard pressed to identify matching features across the entirety of the industry. So instead of "Surprisingly Cool Things You Can Do with an LMS" this article may be more aptly titled, "Things You Did Not Know GyrusAim Could Do for You". However, it is best to gaze upon this list with the intent to evaluate your current LMS, as it too may have some of these capabilities hidden within its standard operating features.

Resource Management

The number one item on our cool stuff list is Resource Management. Having the cooperative capabilities to schedule an instructor on a localized calendar has unmeasurable benefits. Scheduling that same instructor, the classroom, the projector he/she is using, a laser pointer and a shared laptop… priceless. One of the smarter features of an intuitive LMS is being able to fully manage all aspects of the learnings; this includes considerations for conflict management and making sure administrators are not double or triple booking training resources within their organization. This practice also aids in the ability to reschedule due to unforeseen circumstances, as well as to track user metrics within the allotted scheduled times.  

Custom APIs

The second cool thing we find that is typically overlooked is the ability to develop custom APIs. What is an API? According to Beal (2016), an “Application program interface (API) is a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications. An API specifies how software components should interact.” If your organization has developers on board with some time to spare, and you as a training organizer has requirements for interactivity between common programs, an API could be developed to ease inoperability between software components. This could be as simple as integration with your HRIS to as foreign as merging the capabilities of two separate Learning Management Systems.  

Assessment Creation Tool

You are definitely reading that correctly. The ability to generate content directly into the LMS not only exists but is being highlighted on this blog post. Gone are the ways of the past and the need to call your LMS provider every time you need a new bit of content development. If your organization demands an immediate change, an external time component in unnecessary, and the inevitable reception of a bill to reflect that proposed demand can be completely averted. In today’s marketplace organizations need to be able to address their own needs, without cost prohibitive circumstances surrounding their LMS.

Granular Control

When we say granular control at Gyrus Systems, we mean granular control. With 258 permissions currently available in GyrusAim and the ability to define new user roles within the program with just a click of the mouse. Undoubtedly other LMS providers also share at least a portion of these restrictions. Administrators are often unaware of what they are capable of divulging to their users within these settings. Perhaps, there is a view that would add exponential user value or one that would allow for a subroutine to be performed by another role in your department, making your work life infinitely easier.

Title 21 CFR Part 11

Unless it is an organizational requirement, you may not be aware of its availability. At Gyrus, we pride ourselves in being 21 CFR Part 11 compliant. If you are asking yourself what is 21 CFR Part 11, it is defined as, “Title 21 CFR Part 11 is the part of Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations that establishes the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations on electronic records and electronic signatures (ERES). Part 11, as it is commonly called, defines the criteria under which electronic records and electronic signatures are considered to be trustworthy, reliable and equivalent to paper records (Title 21 CFR Part 11 Section 11.1 (a))”  [Wikipedia]  GyrusAim has developed a feature for supporting compliance with Title 21 CFR Part 11. Though your LMS may not support this particular requirement for electronic signatures, there may be an alternative compliance component that can be utilized for security purposes within your current environment.

Thus concludes this segment of Surprisingly Cool Things You Can Do with an LMS. Please continue to join me as I investigate the LMS landscape and offer helpful tips whenever they may arise.  

 

References

Beal, Vangie. "What Is API – Application Program Interface? Webopedia Definition". Webopedia.com. N.p., 2016. Web. 14 June 2016.

"Title 21 CFR Part 11". Wikipedia. N.p., 2016. Web. 14 June 2016.

Six Things I Learned From Our Visitors Part II

Six Things I learned From Our Visitors Part II

Six Things I Learned From Our Visitors Part II

How to overcome challenges experienced by LMS users from ATD 2016

In my previous post “Six Things I Learned From Our Visitors” I delved shortly into the gloomy cloud of sadness that engulfs the perception of the entire LMS industry. In particular, I highlighted six statements of Industry professionals and paraphrased what that meant to problems they experienced with their LMS providers. Now is the time when I should mention that the users surveyed were not Gyrus Systems Users and that the easiest resolution would be to explore our most recent release of GyrusAim. But I digress, this post will explore manners in which people in these sorts of environments could make their lives a little easier.

Six Things I Learned From Our Visitors Part IIBelow are the issues portrayed and mitigation techniques:

 

Difficult to Formulate Content:

In less user-friendly systems it is important to design content with the implementation in mind. Focus on how the system parameters push you to corners, and bend the needs of the organization to fit the limitations of that system. Be careful not to lose sight of what is important and be vigilant in the pursuit of good content. Content is the most important resource for the development of individuals within your organization. Good content can be the difference between driving sales at your typical yearly rate and exceeding stakeholder expectations. 

Defining Course Requirements:

Before attempting to conquer individual course requirements, be sure to have a clear perspective on what those may be before attempting to merge into your system. Good housekeeping will go a long way into mitigating some of the heartburn experienced in system use. Some find it best to draft ideas on a good old fashioned notepad and enjoy going through the process of identifying the skills that need to be met, how to reinforce them, and who would best benefit from inclusion in a proposed course.
 

Limited and Tedious Reporting:

For this particular area, I struggled to find a practice that could best benefit the user. In LMS environments with poor reporting functionalities, there is no immediate bandage. However, it is possible to find the common denominator in what is required and what is being reported. There is always the workaround of internal auditing and pushing content to a more instructor-led training environment, by doing this you can introduce a human element capable of finding the missing pieces in departmental reporting generated from an outdated LMS.

Complex System Implementation:

There are companies that exist just to do this portion of an LMS migration; so it should go without saying, you are not alone. However, you can help this process by taking a deep dive into what you are attempting to enter into your LMS. Be sure to take a look at both transferrable content and the human resource component. Verify the output of your previous system is updated and free of duplicate entries, past employees, or expired content which may hinder future organizational development.

Poor Search Functionality:

Think of yourself as a meta-keyword guru. Though the system you are using may be difficult to use, this may be overcome with good maintenance practices at the entry level. Optimize the words you use to describe the course, in order to optimize the results you get from searching for that course. Do not be afraid to use google as a resource, look specifically for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques and if need be, resort to the ultimate reference of a thesaurus.

Managing My Users and Importing New Enrollees Is a Job in Itself:

Though in many environments this cannot be helped, it is best to develop a repeatable process for entry. Refer back to the advice for complex system implementation, as a data clean-up can prevent you from having to deal with the oppressive LMS environment which is becoming some time intensive.

Though all these methods may be suboptimal, there is something to be said about good process formation and cleanliness of the data entry. As a personal disclaimer, I tried my best not to make this into a sales piece. However, if these scenarios reflect experiences garnered in your current LMS environment, it may be wise to explore the potential of a new system as soon as possible/ schedule a demonstration of GyrusAim today. 

LMS, learning management system, gyrus systems, gyrus, mobile, ease of use, interface, replacement, optimal learning environment,

Four Reasons to Replace Your Outdated LMS

Four Reasons to Replace Your Outdated LMS

 LMS, learning management system, gyrus systems, gyrus, mobile, ease of use, interface, replacement, optimal learning environment, integration, intuitive design, reporting, analytics

A Learning Management System (LMS) provides a strategic solution for planning, delivering, managing, and reporting on various learning/training events and activities within an organization. Organizations across industries depend on learning management systems for handling their day to day training activities, compliance training, eLearning, etc. Due to the importance of LMS, it may go without saying that an outdated or poorly featured system can hinder an entire organizational learning process.​

LMS' User Interface Is Non-Intuitive:

Are your users frustrated with the way their LMS interacts with them? Does your administrator need to refer to the systems training guide multiple times in order to perform or complete a simple task? No one likes to use cumbersome systems or websites; if these processes are too time intensive, they may never be fully completed (or at least completed with an abundance of shortcuts). If your LMS falls into the situation where users struggle to use the system, it may lead to clutter, inability to search for necessary courses or vast mistakes in content placement. It is important for your LMS to have a simple and viable interface so that users are able to complete their tasks with ease.

LMS Lacks Integration with Other Systems:

Most companies already have an HRIS (Human Resource Information System) or an HRMS (Human Resource Management System), if your LMS cannot integrate with them, your system could be riddled with issues such as information discrepancies, dual data entry, or incomplete user records.  LMS integration with HRIS is crucial for succession planning and promotion; having immediate employee information regarding skills, job, and training, current and automatically synced to the system can lead to a better functioning organization.

LMS is Non-Compatible with Mobile:

An LMS built only for desktop computers is a big no-no, especially in an era where it seems every person is glued to their smartphone. In fact, In the US, 91% of the population is connected to fast 3G/4G via smartphone, not capitalizing on that would be a mistake. Your users should have the ability to access their LMS from mobile devices, which will give them the flexibility to interact with their LMS on the go, and further the reach of your organization’s educational content. Mobile LMS is the most convenient method to reach busy professionals and keep them engaged in their learning process today.

LMS is Missing Valuable Reporting and Analytics:

Can your LMS tell you how many users completed a particular certification exam on their first attempt? Does it provide simple/understandable metrics to inform how your organization is progressing to achieve its talent development and compliance goals? The best part of using an LMS from an administrative perspective is access to real insights and analytics of your organization’s complete learning programs and processes. An LMS without robust reporting and analytics capabilities can be a complete disaster for your organization.

Six things I learned

ATD 2016 – Six Things I Learned From Our Visitors

Six Things I Learned

As a brand new and fresh face, I am anxious to learn all the ins and outs of the Learning Management Systems industry. So, it may come as no surprise while attending my first trade show with Gyrus Systems, I set out to accomplish just that. While nestled deep into booth 1129 I began my quest for knowledge by performing an informal poll with our visitors. Keeping it as simple as possible, I asked, “Are you happy with your current LMS?” and dependent on their almost certain response, “why not?” Their ranges of answers surprised me and went a long way in shaping my view of the Industry. Here are their most profound responses and the six things I learned:(paraphrased by me for effect):​Blue Bear Colorado Convention Center


Difficult to Formulate Content

“I spend longer getting the content configured properly in my current LMS than developing the content in the first place! ”

Defining Course Requirements

“Nightmare to define course requirements for individuals within the organization. My current platform is far too labor intensive.”

Limited and Tedious Reporting

“Reports are impossible to manage and take more work to meet compliance than anything else in my system. “

Complex System Implementation

“We opted into our contract a year and a half ago and are just now getting started, I don’t even know if it is easy to use yet. At this point, I’m just desperate to use something.”

Poor Search Functionality

“I have to use hashtags, money signs, and exclamation marks in various ways just to attempt to find things. There has got to be a better way!”

Managing My Users and Importing New Enrollees Is a Job in Itself

“I feel like I have to jump through fiery hoops into a vat of sharp objects, in order to onboard new users.”

With all this being said, I’d like to thank all the attendees and booth visitors for their honest and sincere responses. As well as issue a big thank you to those same people for making my first exhibition with Gyrus so memorable. Stay tuned as I explore these issues in further detail and offer ways for users to mitigate these feelings of LMS fatigue.

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.

Are You Attending ATD 2016?

atd2016-logo-374x176

Gyrus Systems Team is all set for ATD 2016!

We are eagerly looking forward to Association for Talent Development (ATD) 2016 International Conference & Exposition taking place on May 22-25 in Denver, Colorado. Our team will be present at booth #1129 to talk to you about your learning and training challenges and explain how our LMS – GyrusAim can help you overcome these.

You can connect with us in following ways:

Schedule a Live Demo:  Don’t miss a chance to get a live demo of GyrusAim from our team of experts. You will get to see the latest version of our award-winning LMS-GyrusAim. Make your appointment ASAP by sending an email to sales@Gyrus.com using the subject line “ATD 2016″. Out team will be all set and prepared beforehand to show you the demo at your preferred time and day.

Request for a Demo at the Booth Itself: We will be more than happy to accommodate your request if you have not been able to get your demo slot pre-booked.  Just visit us at booth #1129 and talk to our team about your training requirements and challenges.  We will show you what exactly GyrusAim can do for you.  

Drop Your Card at the Booth: We understand some of you might not be present on all four days and you may not manage everything you intend to do due to time constraints. Do not worry. If you are interested in hearing more from us or schedule a demo for a later date, just drop your card at the booth. Our team will get in touch with you right after the event ends.

You can also connect with us on our social media channels. Give us a mention on Twitter @GyrusSystems with #ATD2016 and we will connect with you right away.

21 CFR Part 11 FDA Compliance: What Your LMS should provide?

21 CFR Part 11 FDA Compliance- Electronic Record Electronic Signature

Organizations are finding new, faster ways to deliver real-time training, e-learning and are leaving behind instructor-led training practices. Learning Management Systems (LMS) are the key to deliver unified, effective and controlled training programs.

For food, pharmaceutical and clinical companies, LMS can also achieve 21 CFR Part 11 compliance. 21 CFR Part 11 establishes the standard by which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers electronic signatures, records, and handwritten signatures executed to electronic records to be trustworthy, reliable, and generally equivalent to paper records and handwritten signatures executed on paper.

These organizations face significant risks if found non-compliant. They may receive a Form 483(A list of observations made during the inspection that is communicated at the conclusion of the inspection), a Warning Letter, or even a consent decree impacting their time-to market, productions, brand reputation, etc.

Finding a LMS provider with basic features and capabilities is an easy task as long as you know your training requirements. However, selecting a provider that understands the FDA criteria for electronic records authenticity requires an in-depth study of provider’s capability and expertise.

Let’s look at some key features that you must avail through your LMS provider to ensure you are 21 CFR Part 11 compliant:

Data Access and User Authentication Process: A LMS should provide a robust user authentication through strong username and passwords, automatic password expiry and verified password recovery process. User accounts should not be shared, and one user id should apply to only one person. For Single Sign On (SSO) process API authentication should be enabled. It is important that the LMS provides a robust data access structure to control a user’s access and functions based on various parameters.  See if they have access control checks and form validations to ensure only valid data entry and the user is authorized to perform the action. The system should also ensure that only authorized individuals can electronically sign a record or alter a record.

Audit Trail Access: You need to evaluate how much manual work versus customized reports is available when you are looking for a particular data. For Example, if the audit trail is for a particular training course applicable to a particular location, can you filter the results easily? Also, find out what kinds of data points are required to be audited for each fields and whether there are workarounds if certain data points are not present.

Report Generation for Inspection: The LMS should have ability to generate accurate and complete copies of repots both in printable and electronic format for review and inspection purposes. See if these report can be customized based on particular search parameters. Quick and easy to access report allows organizations to be inspection-ready more effectively; it also allows them to appropriately limit the data you present to the FDA during an audit. The organizations also need to check if reports are configurable to ensure that they meet their future reporting requirements.

It is extremely important that organizations partner with a LMS vendor that have prior experience working with regulated companies. A right LMS helps pharmaceuticals and clinical organizations to automate and manage their training initiatives while conforming to regulatory requirements, including 21 CFR Part 11.

Buying a LMS? Acronyms You Must Know (Part 2)

LMS acronyms

In our last blog “Buying a LMS? Acronyms You Must Know (Part 1), we explained 15 acronyms related to Learning and Development Industry and we continue to explain the next set of acronyms through this blog.

EHRI -Enterprise Human Resources Integration: US federal government’s human resource system that gets integrated with any federally deployed LMS.

FISMA – Federal Information Security Management Act: An United States legislation comprehensive framework to protect government information, operations and assets in software systems including LMS.

HCM -Human Capital Management: An old term for talent management.

HRIS – Human Resource Information System: A software system that manages multiple human resource functions such as hiring, payroll, tracking employees’ attendance, etc.

HRMS- Human Resource Management System: A combination of systems and processes that connects human resource management and information technology through HR software.

ILT- Instructor Led Training: Any kind of training that occurs in a training room and can involve one or more instructors. Training is generally delivered through lectures, presentations, demonstrations, discussions, etc.

L&D -Learning & Development: A department in an organization that usually owns and manages learning requirements, learning software for employees.

LCMS- Learning Content Management System: A Software providing multi-user environment where authors, trainers, instructional designers, etc. can create, edit, store, reuse, manage, and deliver e-learning content.

LMS – Learning Management System: is a software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting and delivery of e-learning courses or training programs.

LRS- Learning Record Store: A data store system that stores learning records necessary for using the Experience API (xAPI) also known as the "Tin Can API.

MOC -Maintenance of Certification: A mandated annual certification or training course that professionals in certain fields must take to keep an active practicing license.

SaaS (LMS) – Software as a Service:  Learning Management Systems that only exists in the cloud where IT infrastructure requirement is minimal or not required at all.

SCORM Sharable Content Reference Model: is a set of technical standards for e-learning software products. It helps in determining how online learning content and LMS communicate with each other.

SSO -Single Sign On: A user authentication process that permits a user to enter one name and password in order to access multiple applications. For example, if an employee is logged in to a company’s computer network, he/she can also access their account in the LMS without another manual logging.

Tin Can: The experience API (XAPI) is a new communication standard allowing for the tracking of all types of learning experiences in the LMS.

Vilt – Virtual Instructor Led Training: refers to a training that is delivered in a virtual environment, or when instructor and learner are in separate locations.

Buying an LMS? Acronyms You Must Know (Part 1)

LMS acronyms

Every industry formulates its own jargon — words that have specific technical meaning, and it is difficult to know the meaning unless you are very familiar with that industry or have worked in the industry yourself.  Learning and Development industry is no different and the list of acronyms are never ending especially when you are talking to Learning Management System (LMS) Vendors.

Let us explain some of the most used acronyms that you should know, when you are planning to buy a LMS:

AD- Active Directory: A Microsoft's trademarked directory service, which is used by organizations to maintain a list of all employees, usernames, passwords, etc. and can be integrated with multiple software systems including LMS.

AI – Artificial Intelligence: A variety of techniques built in the LMS system that replicates the role of a human tutor/instructor, effectively guiding and coaching the learners through the content.

AICC- Aviation Industry Computer-Based Training Committee: A standard that facilitates proper communication between the course content and the learning management system.

API- Application Program Interface: A set of protocols or code that IT team uses to tie/integrate the LMS with other systems such as CRM, HRIS, HRMS, etc.

APP- Application: Downloadable program on mobile devices for providing certain LMS features and is mostly used for offline learning, micro-learning.

AVI – Audio Video Interleave: A multimedia container format introduced by Microsoft, which is not functional on most browsers, mobile devices, etc.

CBT -Computer Based Training: An old term for self-paced eLearning, where primarily a computer is used to for delivering training, monitoring learners’ progress, and assessment.

CE -Continuing Education: A term mainly used in US and Canada referring to post-secondary learning activities and programs. It is also known as adult education.

CEU -Continuing Education Unit: Credit awarded to professionals for successfully completing continuing education programs or courses.

CDN – Content Distribution Network: A technical solution that allows delivery of rich content to a LMS user from the local or closest server. It provides seamless and faster access of content to learners and it doesn’t matter how far they are from your origin server. 

CFR, CFR Part 11, 21 CFR Part 11– Code of Federal Regulations: US Federal Drug Administration regulations on electronic records, signatures, audit trails and password instructions for pharmaceutical, clinical/biomedical organizations’ software solutions including LMS.

CMI-5 -Computer Managed Instruction: The future standard for Learning Management System communication, which is being developed for interoperability, extensibility, and mobile support and can replace existing standards such as AICC or Scorm.

CMS Content Management System: An online software that allows organizations to build, edit and publish, content and can be integrated with a LMS to share content or user data.

CPD – Continuing Professional Development: Another word for Continuing Education (CE) where professionals are required to take courses on a regular basis to maintain license in certain industries.

EEL- Extended Enterprise Learning: A LMS training system that targets non-employees such as external distribution partners/resellers, franchises, service technicians, and customers, etc. through the same platform.

Six Tips to Help You Select the Right Learning Management System

Editor's Note: This blog was originally published in KM World in April 2016, and has been reproduced here with permission.

In the digital world, one can turn to a blog, Wikipedia, social media platforms, online knowledge forums, videos, etc. and get informed on just anything. The information available is abundant. You might think if there is a concrete need of a Learning Management System (LMS) versus letting the employees find and learn on their own. 

The second way sounds simple but unless you have just started your business or have a very small workforce, it is not going to be an effective method in the long run. Right from analyzing the skills required, sourcing the right learning material, checking its authenticity, easy access, to measurement and tracking, etc. will be a problem if you just let your employees learn on their own. Using a LMS is the only way through which, you can provide a systematic and centralized learning process for your employees. And, the first and most critical aspect of selecting a LMS is evaluating your own requirements and objectives.

Evaluate Your Need and Requirement: It is important to evaluate points such as total number of users expected, operations structure, learning and training objectives, current IT infrastructure and its limitations, system management, etc. Get as clear and specific as you can. For example, some of your workforce might be working at the client’s office and can’t access anything outside of the client system. How will the LMS work for them? You also must assess the present learning methodology or LMS from all perspectives in order to select the most effective LMS. Think whether the LMS will be used more for classroom training or e-learning and accordingly decide the kind of LMS that you require.

Assess LMS’ Features and Usability: There are multiple Learning Management Systems in the market, each providing a unique set of features and usability. While it is great to have a large number of features, it is more important to understand its usability for end-users. Don’t get fooled by a product demo where they claim to have maximum features. Some of it might not be useful to you at all but will make the system more complex and provide an unfriendly interface. The LMS should have a streamlined interface and work flow for the administrators as well for it to run successfully. Multiple features also tend to increase the maintenance costs. Your selection should be on the basis of key features and usability that you require rather than the features that they provide.

Focus on Scalability and Value: Think from a larger perspective when trying to find an ROI on your LMS. Imagine choosing a vendor for a particular department only to find the requirement to extend it to another department few months later but, only if the present LMS could have allowed you to add more users.  With the changing work environment and compliance requirement, your LMS should scale to meet the needs of larger and varied workforce as well as evolving training requirements.

Understand the LMS’s Support and Security: Your LMS will contain a lot of sensitive data and it is very important to have a robust and secured LMS. Analyze the security settings and keep your IT team in sync to help you identify the right security structure for your organizations’ need. For example, the LMS should provide settings in a way that one set of training or reading material can only be accessed by one level of employees in the legal department and not by anyone else. Also, evaluate the support that the LMS vendor is willing to provide. Will it come as a part of package or only in the deployment phase? Can your end-users contact them directly? 

Know Company’s History and Stability: LMS vendor landscape has seen a major consolidation in the past and is still an ongoing trend. In such scenarios, it is very vital to understand vendor’s history, their future outlook and stability factors. Everything right from your SLA’s, to support, product upgrades, pricing is going to be affected if your current vendor gets bought or merged by another company. You also need to analyze their product upgrades structure and how it gets aligned to the changing training needs. Research suggests that lack of products upgrades and inadequate vendor’s support were two major reasons for 66% of users to look for a new vendor in 2015.

Ask for a Trial Version: A trial version would provide you a real feel in to the interface, features and usability. You may also ask for a sandbox installation where you can explore the top LMS vendors that you have selected. Let a small team of end-users and administrators try it out and give you feedback. You can compare the feedback from all set of users for different products and see which one gets the maximum marks and do a better cost analysis too.

While these tips are most important when selecting the right LMS for your organization.  A bit of research and evaluation on vendor’s clientele, services, customer references can be few additional items to keep in mind.

 

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.

Buy an LMS

So You Want to Buy an LMS?

buying an lms smallOne of my job responsibilities is to take incoming sales calls. During these calls it’s important to gather information from prospects about their learning environment and training challenges. This first conversation is important because it allows Gyrus Systems to understand the prospect’s needs and determine if the GyrusAim Learning Management System (LMS) solution we offer is a good fit for their organization.

During these calls I typically ask a number of questions such as “Do you have a training program in place.” and “How many active users do you expect in the first year?”  This initial conversation lasts about thirty minutes and hopefully reveals many insights about their LMS requirements.  I mentioned “hopefully” because sometimes the person is not prepared to discuss these details, which makes it difficult or impossible to confirm whether GyrusAim is a suitable solution.  

With that in mind, and to better prepare those that are looking for an LMS, here’s a short list of questions you can expect from providers.  Preparing for the call focuses the discussion resulting in less wasted time and ultimately a more productive sales experience.

1. Why are you looking for an LMS?  (Some typical responses below.)
      “Our company is growing and we can’t manage our training anymore.”
      “Our current LMS is not adequate.”
      “Our current LMS is not affordable.”
2. What is your experience with an LMS?
3. What challenges do you need to solve with the new LMS?
4. Do you have a training program in place?
5. What are important features of the new LMS?
6. What types of learning do you provide? (Instructor-led, eLearning, Mobile, third-party)
7. Do you wish to host the software or use a Software-As-A-Service (SaaS) solution?
8. Do you need to integrate with other enterprise systems?
9. Do you need to migrate historical data from another source into the new LMS?
10. How many users will be using the LMS?
11. What is your budget?
12. When do you need to be live?

Other questions may come up as you find the best solution for your organization. Questions such as quality of the vendor’s customer support, reference accounts, software release data, and merger & acquisition history may also provide insight.  The sales cycle may take weeks or months, but it lays the groundwork for the implementation and long-term success of the LMS, thus the time spent in this stage to plan and prepare is critical.  It will pay dividends later with better trained employees leading to fewer compliance issues and greater employee satisfaction with the LMS, results which are very desirable indeed.

Examples of LMS Use Case Scenarios

Last week we took a look and writing a Meaningful LMS Use Case Scenario.  This week we will try to outline some of the most basic scenarios to help you in brainstorming for your own organization.  Keep in mind that use cases need to fit your organization needs for an LMS.  For example, it wouldn’t be useful for you to use our use case on eLearning, if your organization has no intention of using eLearning for training.

We will take a look at some of the use cases by role.  These should give you a good idea of the items to be demonstrated during an LMS demo.  Use cases can also be organized by workflow.  Feel free to use the use cases below in your own demonstrations.  It’s important to note that any of the use cases provided can be combined or edited to fit the needs of your organization.

Student Role

  • Demonstrate the student’s ability to launch eLearning courses.  Show how they would be able to stop the course and resume at a later time.  Show how the student can track their progress through the course.
  • Demonstrate the student’s ability to find a class that is required of them and self-enroll.  Show how the student could cancel their enrollment if they needed to.
  • Show how a student would take an assessment in the LMS.  If the student were to pass the assessment, show how they can print a report of their score.  If the student were to fail the assessment, show how they could review their answers.
  • Explain how certifications can be used in your LMS.  Demonstrate how students would interact with certifications.
  • Display a student’s training transcript.  Show what options the student has for exporting the transcript.
  • Demonstrate how students can review upcoming training needs.  Show where students will see expiration dates on recurrent training or due dates on new training.
  • Show how students will be able to review their current enrollments.  Show any waitlist, hold, favorite, wish list, or other enrollment options for the student user.
  • Demonstrate how students will be able to upload documents to complement their training endeavors. 
  • Demonstrate how students can enter their own training records from conferences or external training attended outside the organization.

 

Manager Role

  • Demonstrate how managers can review their subordinates in the LMS.  Show what employee information they will have access to.
  • Demonstrate how a manager would enroll students in training.  Show how the manager would be able to see what each of his/her subordinates are currently enrolled in.
  • Display which reports can be run by managers.
  • Show how a manager would give an assessment to a subordinate.  Show how a manager would review subordinate assessment scores.
  • Demonstrate how a manager can review training requirements of subordinates.  Show how the manager would review expiration dates on recurrent training and due dates on upcoming training.
  • Demonstrate the approval process for managers.  Include in your demonstration:

     

    • Approving student’s self-reported training
    • Approving enrollment in a class
    • Approving certification enrollment
    • Approving enrollment in eLearning

 

Instructor / Trainer

  • Demonstrate how instructors can manage an instructor led training classroom.  Include scheduling classes, cancelling classes, changing class statuses, and completing classes.
  • Show how instructors will enroll employees into classes.  Show how instructors can review class enrollment statuses and limits.  Show how instructors will cancel student enrollment in classes if they need to.
  • Display which reports can be run by instructors.  Show how these reports can be exported and printed.  Show a sign-in sheet or class roster.
  • Demonstrate how instructors can add & edit locations, instructors, and other resources.  Show any resource management capabilities.  Show how instructors can change location of an instructor led training.  Demonstrate how to resolve resource allocation conflicts.
  • Show how instructors will track attendance in classes.
  • Demonstrate which types of evaluations are available for training.  Show how instructors can assign evaluations.
  • Demonstrate how to schedule webinars and mark attendance.
  • Show how an instructor can print certificates of completion for courses.
  • Show how an instructor would give an assessment to a student.  Show how a instructor would review the student’s assessment scores.

 

Training Administrator

  • Demonstrate how to create ILT courses and assign resources. 
  • Demonstrate the process to upload eLearning and assign requirements to students.  Demonstrate any conformance testing within the solution.
  • Show how a web page url can be turned into training content in the solution.
  • Show how a document can be uploaded and turned into training content in the solution.
  • Demonstrate adding an employee to the system.  Show all steps that must be performed to optimally setup a student for taking training.  Show all steps that must be performed to optimally setup a manager to manage subordinates in the training atmosphere. 
    Note:  Many systems will require more setup than just adding an employee to start taking training.  For example, GyrusAim allows you to assign training requirements by Job/Organization/Direct.  However, in order for all of these items to work, you must first setup the jobs and the organizations as well.  Make sure you understand everything required in the setup.  This step is often missed.
  • Demonstrate the level of control that training administrators have over the user interface of the solution.  Show what they can customize to fit the culture of their organization.
  • Show how training administrators can assign training requirements.
  • Demonstrate how certifications are defined and how they can be assigned.
  • Demonstrate how training administrators will be able to track training within the system.

     

    • Show current enrollment – Show any drilldown possibilities
    • Show annual reports on training hours – Show any drilldown possibilities
    • Show training ratings and feedback
    • Show needs analysis
  • Display reports that are available to the training administrator.

 

The Solution Itself

  • Demonstrate how the solution would notify a student that they were enrolled in a class.
  • Demonstrate how the solution would notify a student of a change in location or a class cancellation.
  • Demonstrate how the solution would notify a student of upcoming expiration dates on recurrent training.
  • Demonstrate how the solution would notify a student of training that is due.
  • Demonstrate the solutions error messages and system notification capabilities.
  • Demonstrate how supervisors of notified of pending approvals.
  • Demonstrate how the solution sends out system wide notifications.

Meaningful LMS Use Case Scenarios

For those who are unfamiliar with use case scenarios, they are simply the scenarios that users of your system would perform.  Put another way: This is a way for you to make a case for the usage scenarios of your potential LMS users.  It is pretty difficult to decide on an LMS provider if you haven't first decided how your employees will be using the LMS.  Use cases force the vendor to show how to perform certain tasks within their solution.  It is easy to check the ‘yes’ box on a feature requirement, but when they show you how to use the feature, you can decide if it satisfies your need or not.  According to Brandon Hall Group, “Good use case statements are specific about how the system will be used, and are not just a list of features, as illustrated in [the] example [below]” [1].

Brandon Hall Example of Good and Bad Use Case

It can get pretty hectic when you start to think about all the different possible scenarios that are available.  For example, let’s say that one of your scenarios is the ability for students to launch eLearning from the solution.  Do you want managers to be able to track progress? What types of information do you want the LMS to report on the eLearning?  Should the eLearning show up in the course catalog, or as s required training for the user?  Is the eLearning allowed for all employees, or do some employees require approval to launch the course?  Does the eLearning have a built in assessment, or is the solution responsible for assessing the employee’s knowledge?  The list of questions could go on and on with no discernible rhyme or reason. 

In order to organize your list of scenarios it helps to ask the question “Who will do What?”, and organize your answers into a table with the same headers.

 

Who

What

 

 

 

It’s up to you which section you start with, but I find it easier when working with clients to start on the Who side.  Now, GyrusAim has role based security, so this is the obvious place to start for our LMS.  Roles based security simply means that you create your own roles with our existing 250+ permissions, and you can create as many roles as you would like.  Therefore, think of the role name as the Who and the permissions as the What.  Below, I have added some typical responses for who uses an LMS.  I have added one more Who that is often missed in use case scenarios:  the solution itself (these are system automated actions).  Keep reading to find out more about these use cases.

Who

What

  • Student
  • Manager
  • Instructor
  • Training Administrator
  • The Solution Itself

 

 

Next, we need to start thinking about some of the things that we will do in an LMS.  This is a much longer list, and will be very specific to the needs of your organization.  We have provided an extensive list to get you started, but have by no means encompassed everything in an LMS.  When you start to get stuck in the What section, remember to ask yourself, “Who will do What?”.

Who

What

  • Student
  • Manager
  • Instructor
  • Training Administrator
  • The Solution Itself
  • Enroll In Class
  • Launch eLearning
  • Take Assessment
  • Enroll in Certification
  • Track Transcripts
  • Print Transcripts
  • Track Training Requirements
  • Expirations and Due Dates
  • View Enrollments
  • Self-Report Training
  • Apply for Certifications
  • Approve Training
  • Enroll Students in Training
  • Send Emails
  • Run Reports
  • Give Assessments
  • Schedule Classes
  • Manage Classes
  • Enroll Students in classes
  • Complete Classes
  • Modify Resources
  • Schedule Webinars
  • Run Reports
  • Create Courses
  • Upload eLearning
  • Create Content From a Web Link
  • Create Content by Uploading a Document
  • Create Webinar
  • Add Students
  • Manage Organization Structure
  • Manage Jobs
  • Define Certifications
  • Assign Training Requirements
  • Develop Learning Plans

 

After you have developed your columns, you are ready to start assembling some use cases.  These can be assembled in several different ways.  Two examples include: by role and by workflow.

Use Case by Role Examples

#1. Student’s Ability to view and track training.

Demonstrate how [The Student]WHO will be able [to view their historical training records and print these records in CSV format from their personal computer]WHAT.

Feel free to add in the specifics of what you need.  This will also allow you to see how easy the process is for your users.

#2. Administrator’s Content Management Features

Demonstrate the administrator’s control over content creation.  Show each of the following:

  • Create Instructor Led Training
  • Upload an eLearning
  • Create content from a document upload.

Show how an administrator can run reports on available content listing in the system.

 

Use Case by Workflow Example

#1 Instructor Led Training – Demonstrate how each of the following actions can be performed by their respective position.

  1. The administrator creates a course in the LMS.
  2. An instructor schedules a class for next month.  The class will be located at our corporate headquarters.
  3. Students will enroll in the class from the course catalog.  The class will require approval from a manager.
  4. Managers will be able to approve enrollments.  Managers should be able to review all of their direct report’s enrollments.
  5. The solution will send an automated email to the student when they are enrolled.

Notice that we have used each of the roles defined in the Who section above to complete one full workflow.  This should help you get an idea of the process involved in creating, scheduling, enrolling, and managing a class.

 

This week is about the basic components of use case writing.  You should be able to take the table for “Who will do What” above and come up with your own extensive collection of cases.  For any questions on LMS use case writing feel free to Contact Us and submit a general inquiry.

Next week we will provide a longer list of role and workflow based examples you could potentially use in your own demonstration request.

 

 


[1] "The Poor Overlooked LMS Use Case – Brandon Hall Group." 2013. 26 Jan. 2016 <http://www.brandonhall.com/blogs/the-poor-overlooked-lms-use-case/>

 

Do Ya?

do yaOur Gyrus Systems team works with customers every day.  Many conversations are about how to use features of the GyrusAim LMS not yet implemented because these customers want to get the most out of their investment.  In many cases they are inspired to understand at a strategic level the results of their efforts via reporting and analysis.  This makes sense because these Training Managers invest a lot of energy and company resources ensuring their staff development programs are effective.  Kudos to them for wanting to understand at a higher level the fruits of their labor.

Analysis of LMS data by Training Managers is important but I’ve noticed it’s often ignored.  The reasons are many, ranging from managers not having enough time, to too few resources, to not even knowing such analysis tools exist!

All LMSs include data analysis tools and time should be allocated by Training Managers to learn how to use these features and to comprehend the resulting metrics or statistics.  Spending the time analyzing training data will actually save more time in the long run by eliminating wasted effort that may not be “on target” and producing the desired results.  For example, if a training program was created to reduce or eliminate accidents at a manufacturing facility, but those accidents are not getting reduced, then the training program should be modified.  Using analysis tools to reveal details of such problems are exactly the reason why they exist!

So if you are a Training Manager and do not leverage the analysis functions in your LMS, you should!  Allocate time to find and learn how to use these features.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how they can dramatically improve the effectiveness of your training and development program by revealing details you may not have known even existed.

Are You One of the 25%?

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Learning Management Systems (LMS) must evolve as the dynamic learning environment of its users change. If an LMS isn’t continuously improved then these users cannot benefit from better pedagogic techniques and methodologies.  For example, learning no longer only takes place in classrooms, it happens online, in social settings, and on mobile devices: virtually everywhere.  LMSs must advance to meet the ever-changing learning environment for its users via the addition of new features and enhancements.  If the LMS does not change then the user’s education suffers.

Consider the following questions as they relate to the LMS in place at your company:

1. Does your LMS make the latest technology tools and resources available?
2. Does my LMS have social capabilities and features?
3. Am I investing too much time and too many resources into an LMS that is rarely improved?

If you answered ‘Yes’ to any of these three questions, it may be time to find a new LMS provider. Before the LMS search begins, it’s important to record the reasons why your current LMS is inadequate. These reasons are more important than the decision to switch because they help you to decide what features are required in your new LMS. Common reasons for switching include scalability issues, outdated features, a complicated interface, and/or poor customer support.

The decision to switch can be narrowed down into three main areas:

The Product
1. Features
2. Functions
3. Integrations

The Vendor
1. Service
2. Support
3. Continuity

The Cost
1. Annual/licensing
2. Maintenance
3. Overhead

Finally, (and surprisingly) according to a survey conducted by Bersin & Associates, 25% of customers were dissatisfied with their current LMS and said they were likely to switch vendors within the next year.  That’s a lot of dissatisfaction, but we can help!  For those (or any) LMS users, review the Gyrus Systems’ LMS Switching Guide to find out how to succeed at identifying the right LMS for your company.

Don’t be one of the 25% of dissatisfied LMS users in 2016!

Implementing an LMS (or: Good Information Never Gets Stale)

implement smallRecently I was looking for background information about implementing an LMS.  Naturally I did what most people do and searched the Internet for “lms implementation.”  After working my way down the list I noticed a link to the PDF “339 Tips on the Implementation of an LMS or LCMS,” by the Elearning Guild.

The document seemed interesting so I opened the link and noticed it was published November 20th, 2006.  Hmm, a document that’s almost ten years old.  In this age when technology changes so fast I wasn’t sure how relevant the information would be but I opened it anyway because certainly some of the 339 tips would still be useful.

Upon reviewing the document I realized that many of the ideas were quite helpful and still very important and relevant even in 2015, many years after the PDF was originally published.  For example, on page 11 the tip “Use a phased rollout to a small group of users first, then to a larger group, then to your largest group. Iron out the bugs with the small group.”  I used that advice a few weeks ago with a new Gyrus Systems customer, and there it was, published in black and white in 2006.  That idea, to start out small, is extremely important because if the learning program needs to be changed after the company goes live, it’s much easier to change it with a small number of users than with the whole company.

Another gem, “Test, test, test before going live with the new application to insure success.” on page 17.  That should be a no-brainer, but it’s amazing how challenging it can be to ensure that new customers spend adequate time testing the LMS during the implementation phase prior to going live.  Perhaps setting up and configuring the LMS took longer than necessary, limiting the testing time, because the planned “Go-Live” date is just around the corner and cannot be changed.  It’s a better idea to delay the go-live to guarantee plenty of testing time versus going live and being surprised by a failure that could have been caught in testing.

337 more useful tips are included in this informative publication.  I recommend downloading and reviewing it to prepare yourself with excellent advice for implementing your new Learning Management System.

Show Me the Release Notes!

release notes smallI occasionally help out with RFPs. A common question is to provide a release or upgrade history (Release Notes) of our GyrusAim LMS that shows its revisions over time. Access to such a document is very important for prospects prior to signing a contract.  An ongoing history of software releases provided by an LMS vendor proves that they invest resources into developing the product by adding new features and fixing problems. If a vendor cannot or will not provide such a detailed history, it can be a warning to steer clear of their Learning Management System. (An exception is a start-up vendor that is so new that they really don’t have a release history, other measures must be taken to validate such companies.) Providing such a history is not a problem for Gyrus Systems since we’ve been in business since 1987 and update our GyrusAim LMS several times per year.

A meaningful detail to examine when Release Notes are provided is to ensure that it contains product information up to the current date.  As an example, Release Notes are provided to you by a vendor in December, 2015 with history that ends in 2013.  Questions should be raised with the vendor about why they have not improved their product for such a long time.   It may indicate a loss of product focus or worse.  Perhaps the company is trying to be bought (mergers & acquisitions have been common in the Training & Development Software Industry) and has cut development staff to save costs and make the company more attractive to a buyer.  Most such reasons are good indicators to avoid a vendor.

Revision numbers may be another clue that the software product is not the primary focus of a business, especially if the product has been around for a while.  If the product has been in production for several years and is still a “Version 1,” then there’s a good chance it’s not being developed and a reason to avoid it.  Gyrus Systems is preparing to release its sixth-generation “Release 16” version of the software which means there are many years of development invested in it that translates into a tremendous number of features that help our customers manage their learning environment.

Whether the LMS you are investigating is designed to be installed at your location, is cloud-based, or SaaS, the vendor should readily provide Release Notes when asked for them.  Examine the document in detail and ensure you ask the vendor about gaps or other problems.

The Compliance Learning Management System (LMS)

the compliance lms smallLast week Gyrus Systems earned a “Top 10” award from Talented Learning in the “Best Employee Compliance LMS” category.  Gyrus Systems is pleased to have its efforts recognized by a well-respected organization like Talented Learning.  In 2015 we focused much of our development upon features that increased our customer’s ability to meet their compliance challenges, but why is compliance important?

According to Talented Learning, “You can’t get away from where LMSs started.  Employee and contractor compliance is a big problem for many organizations.  Federal and state and local jurisdictions enact training, safety and harassment regulations and then audit for compliance.  Non-compliance results in penalties and fines.  The more jurisdictions an organization does business within, the bigger the compliance management challenges they have.

Industries such as pharmaceutical, biomedical, manufacturers, transportation, energy, financial, retail and many others are all required to deliver mandatory compliance training and be ready to prove it to auditors at any time.  Compliance LMSs are admin focused and have skills, competencies, audit trails, electronic signatures, strong ILT management, facility and resource management, broad content support and powerhouse reporting.

Non-compliance with OSHA and other regulations costs money, as described hereherehere, and here.  Combine the monetary penalties with a predicted increase in criminal penalites (prison) and ramped-up enforcement efforts and you can see that non-compliance with OSHA regulations can result in serious negative consequences for employers.  On the other hand, compliance with OSHA regulations with an effective Training & Development program increases safety by reducing accidents and results in the decreased potential for civil and criminal penalties.

An important part of any Training & Development program is the Learning Management System (LMS) because of its ability to centralize management of all types of instructor-led, elearning, virtual classrooms, document and video-based training and to provide reporting and analytics on the back-end.  This LMS functionality enables companies to more effectively manage training over manual methods, which improves OSHA compliance.

By recognizing Gyrus Systems with a "Top 10" award in the “Best Employee Compliance LMS” category, Talented Learning has affirmed that GyrusAim's compliance features are on-target for companies that much achieve regulatory compliance. 

Get In Touch for More Info

Gyrus Systems has helped many industries to comply with ever more complex regulations. The GyrusAim Learning Management System allows companies to deliver, track, and report on compliance training, which increases safety and decreases penalties. Leave your name and email address below, and a sales representative will contact you to determine how your organization can benefit from using GyrusAim.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

smallGyrus Systems wishes all of our customers and blog readers a very Happy Thanksgiving celebration.  Here’s more reasons to celebrate: This blog will be short, and I will not discuss “skills,” as important as they are!

Earlier this year I used quotes by Ben Franklin as inspiration for a couple of blogs.  Another quote which many think was a Franklin quote, but really is an Anglo version of a writing from Chinese philosopher Xunzi is my thought for the day:

“Tell me and I forget.  Teach me and I remember.  Involve me and I learn.”

We should all remember this simple statement when developing learning programs for our colleagues or implementing an LMS at our company.  The path of least resistance, in labor and/or cost, may be simply to “tell” and “teach” but it’s only when learners are “involved” that they truly learn and can apply what they learn to their daily activities, ultimately resulting in higher employee job satisfaction and increased corporate compliance.

Skills Management Features in the GyrusAim LMS

gyrusaim - skills smallI’ve recently discussed skills, skills management, and the benefits of a skill-centric Learning Management System (LMS).  Remember that skills allow people to succeed at their job, not training, hence my focus on this subject over the past several weeks.  As previously discussed, successful skills management ultimately results in: Confirmation that a company’s staff has the skills to meet current business needs; Comprehensive and real-time insight of the organization’s capabilities to enable informed strategic decision making; and Proof that the organization complies with regulatory requirements to avoid penalties and other undesirable results.  Today I’ll review the GyrusAim features that companies can utilize to realize these benefits by successfully managing skills in their organization.

Skill-Centricity – The GyrusAim LMS is built around a skill-centric core, from which all other skill-centric features are derived.  If an LMS does is not designed for skill-centricity from its genesis, it’s challenging to change it after-the-fact.

Skill associations – Also essential for skill-management is GyrusAim’s ability to link skill requirements and people to organizations, jobs, and certifications, which enables Individual Development Plans (IDPs), Skill Gap Analysis, Enrollment of personnel in classes, and more.

Individual Development Plans (IDPs) – A single location where personnel review their skill requirements based on organization, job, certification, or directly assigned skills.  Skills recommended by managers are also displayed here.  From this single screen learners find details about instructor-led training and can enroll in it, launch eLearning, sign-up for Webinars, download training documents, and take assessments.  It is the best single location where students manage their progress in obtaining company required skills.

Course Catalog – A list of all training offered by the company, searchable by skill, type of training and other criteria.  Allows learners to easily find training to fulfill skill requirements.

Skill Gap Analysis – Shows the delta between a learner’s existing skillset and the skill requirements for other organizations, jobs, and certifications.  Allows learner’s to sign up for training for needed skills to enable them to become qualified for other positions or departments within the company.

Skill Transcript – Shows skill acquisition progress by learner.  Allows them to easily view their completed skills, when they were acquired, when (or if) they expire, notes, and other information.

My Profile Summary Screen – Shows all relevant skill-based training statistics for student on a single interactive screen.  Data provided: IDP Summary (# of skills obtained, # of skills required), Course Catalog and Training Event counts, Skill & Training Transcripts that show all historical training activity, Self-Reported training statuses (Enrolled, Pending Approval, Denied), Current Enrollments, Certification Statuses (Certified, Pending Approval, Attempting, Expired), Assessment Statuses (Completed, Partially Completed, Uncompleted), and Evaluation Statuses (Completed and Uncompleted).

Manage My People – Where managers go to review and update all aspects of their learner’s skill development.  Shown are a list of manager’s employees selectable by organization that shows learner skill requirements by organization, job, and certification.  Access to pending approvals, exhibited assessments, transcripts, IDPs is also provided as well as the ability to send users a list of their required skills via eMail.

These features all leverage the skill-centric nature of GyrusAim and provide real advantages to companies that don’t use a skill-centric LMS.  If in the market for an LMS these advantages should be highly considered.

Benefits of a Skill-Centric Learning Management System (LMS)

earth smallIn the 10/23/15 blog I mentioned, “Skills allow people to succeed at their job, not training.” Expanding on that thought, employees can attend training class after training class after training class, and even pass tests that show they’ve “learned,” however that does not truly mean that they can leverage the information presented in the class in the real world as skills.  As an example, a wannabe rocket scientist could take many rocket science classes, however until they build a rocket and put it into orbit, they don’t have rocket science skills.

A skill-centric learning management system (LMS) uses skills as the fundamental building block of training.  The individual’s development plan, the manager’s dashboard, and all other aspects of the LMS focus on learner skills, not just the training classes attended.  I would much rather be an astronaut in the rocket built by the person using a skill-centric LMS that gained actual rocket science skills rather than a person just attending rocket science classes.

An important tool within skill-centric LMSs is the exhibited assessment where a learner actually shows somebody how to build the rocket.  The exhibited assessment combines all of the classroom training and proves synergy: that the sum of the training is greater than the individual bits of training and results in a skill.  The benefit is that the student that passes an exhibited assessment really knows how to put an astronaut into orbit and bring them back safely.

Some other benefits of using a skill-centric LMS include:

Employees provided with

  • A better understanding of quality proficiency related to their jobs.
  • A clear view of current skills and skill gaps.
  • A learning and development plan comprised of job, organizational, and/or certification based skill requirements.
  • An inventory of skill records proving their competency.
  • Recognition of their skills and opportunities to use them in other areas of the company.

 

Managers benefit 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 individualized learning and development plans.
  • Identification of subject matter experts.

 

Executives benefit by

  • Confirmation that their staff has the skills to meet current business needs.
  • Comprehensive and real-time insight of the organization’s capabilities to enable informed strategic decision making.
  • Proof the organization complies with regulatory requirements to avoid penalties and other undesirable results.

Why Buy a Learning Management System (LMS)?

 

small (larger)

 

 

Last week I reviewed the benefits of an LMS.   In today’s article I focus a little more on the larger picture by noting several important reasons why buying an LMS is strategically important.

 

  1. To gain market share over competitors who only meet minimum work standards by using the LMS to train your employees to meet high quality standards.
  2. To decrease costs of safety compliance in an environment of ever increasing non-compliance penalties as shown here, here, here, here, and here.  Training your workforce to comply with OSHA regulations ultimately increases safety which reduces accidents and thus reduces penalties.
  3. To save management time by instantly producing detailed reports and analysis showing current and historical training activity.
  4. To schedule initial and follow-up courses based on employee’s training history, role, and other variables.
  5. To easily manage employee training requirement by simplifying the dynamic workforce environment caused by turnover and organizational changes.
  6. To enable global, cross-functional, and cross-enterprise teams by providing goal alignment and visibility of team effectiveness to senior management.
  7. To create new revenue streams and improve customer loyalty by providing education to customers through the LMS.
  8. To reduce employee turnover by increasing job satisfaction and safety by enabling access to training anywhere, anytime.  In today’s connected world, enabling users to review multimedia training at home, or even on the shopfloor is achievable.

 

In summary, an LMS leverages today’s technology to increase profits and company competitiveness in an increasingly complex business environment.

How can an LMS Help an Organization?

 

10-16-15 small (larger)

Earlier this week I was asked by an acquaintance what I did for a living, and the conversation naturally transitioned to what a Learning Management System (LMS) was and how it could help his company.  The last several articles here at Gyrus.com have focused on specific LMS features, this one will review general benefits.  User roles are important in LMSs, so the benefits are categorized according to several commonly used roles.

 

Student Role (same as Associate, Employee, or Customer)

  • Skill-centric philosophy – Not all LMSs are skill-centric, however it is a powerful method of managing training that links skills to jobs, organizations, certifications, & people and the required training for those skills.  The benefit is that the focus is student development by skills, not just training.  Skills allow people to succeed at their job, not training.
  • Individual Development Plan (IDP) – It may have different names in each LMS, however it’s a single screen that shows all required skills with links to launch eLearning and enroll into instructor-led classes.  It is a central location for students to manage their development.
  • Skill Gap Analysis / Compliance– A result of skill-centricity, this feature shows a student the skills they must acquire for their department, job, or required certifications.  Students can then easily locate and enroll in training required for those skills.  Furthermore, students can determine the skill requirements for other departments, jobs, or certifications for career-planning purposes.
  • Course Catalog – Central location for all training that students can review to check whether other eLearning or instructor-led training classes are relevant to their development, even if the training is not specifically tied to their job, organization, etc.
  • Knowledge assessment (test) to determine whether student learning was effective.
  • Records availability – Students can easily access their complete training history with just a few mouse-clicks.
  • Remote capability – All of the above is available for the student out of the office, either from their home computer or mobile device.

 

Manager / Instructor

  • A single place for management of employee training activity such as enrollments, approvals, progress, and skill gap analysis.
  • Consolidated data for producing management reports and analysis.
  • Evaluation capabilities to determine quality of training, instructors, and locations so they can be improved if necessary.
  • On-the-job (OJT) training by managers using exhibited assessments to enhance real-time and personal education with instantaneous feedback.
  • Automatic electronic communication to students regarding status of training (enrolled, completed, waiting for approval) and other related activities.
  • Employee development through the use of required and optional skills easily assigned and reviewed by managers.
  • Ability to provide more interesting content like videos and other forms to improve the learning experience.

 

Training Administrator

  • Elimination of duplicated effort.  That is, a record (like a skill) can be created once and then used throughout the system by associating it to different organizations, jobs, certifications, and people.  It can be edited or updated with additional information without the need to completely replicate it.
  • Reports and analytics using vast amounts of historical training information used to improve the workforce development business processes.
  • Simplified procedures for managing, updating, and just working with the data.
  • Creation of safety or other compliance requirements, and assignment of the skills necessary for students to achieve them, improving overall corporate compliance.
  • Reduce overall training costs by enabling remote learning via eLearning and managing virtual classrooms where instructors and students are not in the same location.
  • All of the above working together synergistically to accomplish total workforce development throughout the company.

Oops, that hurt… The LMS and Workplace Safety

10-16-15 small (larger)I chopped a finger off, well okay, just the last ½” of it at the lunula, about two weeks before I started my job with Gyrus Systems in a new industry for me: Learning Management. I was using my 31-ton hydraulic wood splitter on a cold, wet, and too dark of a December day with a frisky dog wanting to play as well as other distractions.

During physical hand therapy I was shocked by how many other people were recovering from far worse injuries. While in therapy we naturally chatted with each other, and I learned that virtually all the other injuries were work-related. Being in learning management these past few years I know that safety training to prevent such horrible workplace accidents is a huge reason for companies to use Learning Management Systems (LMSs). Companies truly want to prevent their employees from enduring such tragedies, however, cost benefits are also realized when accidents are reduced. Review an enlightening cost calculator here, provided by the US Department of Labor, for more details. Additionally, compliance with OSHA (find more information here) and other regulatory agencies is mandated in all industries.

Safety training prevents such accidents and a well-managed LMS improves workplace safety even more by managing it via targeted instructor-led training or eLearning courses that can be based on departmental, job, certification, or employee requirements.  When used correctly, an LMS ultimately improves a company’s safety record boosting morale and lowering both direct and indirect costs.
 

Managing People in a Learning Management System

final smallAt it’s core a Learning Management System (LMS) is all about managing the learning that an organization’s people need. So let’s review some LMS features that enable the successful learning management of a company’s employees.

Primarily, and around which other management features revolve, is the need to visually arrange learners based upon the company’s multi-level organizational and supervisory structure. If managers cannot centrally and easily view their people, then using other features to support their learning is difficult at best. Let’s review a handful of these features and explain why they are important.

LMSs should provide supervisors with the means to create & update enrollments as well as to approve and complete them for both eLearning and instructor led training. Supervisors should also be able to completely review current and historical enrollment data and easily find new training for learners based on multiple parameters.

Using GyrusAim’s “Manage My People” screen, complete enrollment administration is easy, and several methods exist for finding new training for learners.

GyrusAim is skill-centric, and training is determined by the learner’s Individual Development Plan (IDP) which identifies requirements based on personal, job, organization, or certification goals. Skill Gap Analysis is also readily accessed which shows all required skills for any organization, job, or certification within the company, providing a clear set of objectives for improved workforce planning. Thus, complete metrics are available in a single centralized area for efficient management of skills, training, and related data.

Other ancillary, yet still important functions should also be included in an LMS’s people management screen. One of these functions must be the ability for the manager to quickly communicate with their personnel. For example, with one or two clicks in GyrusAim a manager can send an eMail to users with a list of their required skills, in this way reminding them to complete (or begin) their training. Having a fully functional and integrated communication system in an LMS eliminates the need to copy and paste or manually retype training information from the application into another separate eMail program, thus improving accuracy and saving time.

Other useful features to note in GyrusAim’s “Manage My People” screen are exhibited assessments and quick access to employee details, both which can be accessed in seconds.

Managing employee development can be complex, however using an application that simplifies this complexity by arranging important functions in an easy-to-use interface will improve a company’s ability to successfully achieve their training program goals. When reviewing and qualifying LMS applications, look for such an interface.

Close the Gap with Gap Analysis

small v1Last week I discussed how important the GyrusAim Individual Development Plan (IDP) is for employees to manage their development.  Today I discuss another tool included in GyrusAim that further enables workforce development: Gap Analysis.

The GyrusAim Gap Analysis screen compares obtained skills to required skills for jobs, certifications, and organizations. This concept enables the potential for powerful development planning because not only can an employee compare their skills to their current company requirements, but they can also compare them to other potential jobs, certifications, and organizations.  Additionally, employees can sign up for instructor-led classes, or even take eLearning directly from the Gap Analysis page which streamlines the entire process of locating and taking training.

Gap Analysis has many practical benefits that improve employee competency and the ease by which managers maximize employee development, thus strengthening the company’s overall training program.  Specific benefits are:

Succession planning – Succession planning is the identification and development of potential successors in a company. The key is to create a match between the company’s future needs and the aspirations of individual employees. The Gap Analysis function augments succession planning by identifying if employees have obtained those skills necessary for advancement into such positions.

Career path planning – Career planning is an activity that is best executed on a regular basis because employees, jobs, certifications, and organizations are dynamic and require periodic reassessment. Gap Analysis should be included in this reassessment because it simplifies career path planning by linking lesser skilled positions to more highly skilled positions making identification of required skills obvious.

Cross-training  – Cross-training is useful for managers because it provides flexibility in managing the workforce to meet the company’s goals.  It helps employees because it educates them with new skills increasing their value to the company, and it combats boredom by introducing new concepts and challenges.  Gap Analysis benefits both managers and employees because it streamlines and reduces the complexity of the above processes.

Skill deficiency recognition – Recognizing employees deficient in job related skills can be difficult, especially in large organizations. Not recognizing such skills can lead to safety, product quality, and other critical problems. The GyrusAim Gap Analysis function helps eliminate these issues by identifying areas where employees need additional training to fulfill current job, organization, and certification requirements.

Companies must periodically review their workforce development programs, and for the above reasons GyrusAim’s Gap Analysis should be included as part of this process to provide essential data with which informed decisions can be made.

Individual Development Plans: What are they and why are they important?

small v1If you’re researching Learning Management Systems (LMSs) you’ve heard the term “Individual Development Plan” or “IDP.” So what is an Individual Development Plan, why is it important, and who uses them?

Let’s search on the web to find out. Hundreds of links are referenced for government, education and corporate organizations so IDPs must be important! Where to start? How about at the beginning of the search results, which is at: OPM.gov. OPM is the US Office of Personnel Management so their definition should be accurate. 

OPM defines an IDP as:
“An individual development plan (IDP) is a tool to assist employees in career and personal development. Its primary purpose is to help employees reach short and long-term career goals, as well as improve current job performance. An IDP is not a performance evaluation tool or a one-time activity. It should be looked at like a partnership between the employee and the supervisor. It involves preparation and continuous feedback. Many agencies require IDPs for new and current employees. It is encouraged throughout many organizations. Many Federal agencies require their employees to complete an IDP, annually. All Senior Executives are required to have an Executive Development Plan (EDP) (5 CFR 412.401).”

Let’s summarize the OPM definition:

  1. It’s a tool to assist employees in career and personal development to help employees reach career goals and improve current job performance.  
  2. It’s a partnership between the employee & supervisor and involves preparation and continuous feedback.
  3. Many public and private organizations encourage the use of IDPs.

 

With point #1 in mind, career and personnel development are critical functions of LMSs so including IDP capability into an LMS makes sense to optimize the process of employees reaching their career goals and improving their job performance.

For example, a core feature of the GyrusAim LMS is the “IDP Screen” which employees use to manage their personal development. On this screen all training is shown including required training, completed training, and even recommended (but not required) training. Also all methods for acquiring the training is displayed, from eLearning, scheduled instructor-led training, virtual classrooms, and more. So it’s extremely easy for employees to find and acquire those skills needed or recommended for them, for their job, or for their department! Employees can concentrate on obtaining their skills instead of figuring out how to use a complicated LMS just to manage their personal development.

Point #2 is the “Partnership between employee & supervisor.” This natural partnership must be maintained, even within a computerized LMS. To accomplish this, the GyrusAim LMS includes a “Manage My People” screen which managers use to review their employee’s IDP screens. This allows for easy analysis of their employee’s developmental progress, which promotes focused and easy communication between both parties. Other developmental details can also be accessed from the Manage My People screen such as employee enrollments, skill gap analysis, training transcript, and pending training approvals so that an open communication process is fostered between supervisors and their employees, enhancing their “partnership.”

Lastly, because many public and private organizations encourage the use of IDPs, it is a consistent concept for personal development which once an employee is familiar with it, they can use it for the rest of their career in other organizations too.

For these reasons, using an IDP approach is an excellent idea for employee personal development and when researching LMSs pay particular attention to those systems that use this technique.

The Golden Age of Customer Feedback

customer engagement smallEngaging customers from the beginning to the end of the product development cycle is critical for the acceptance of products, both with current and future clients.  Not engaging customers results in a “failure-to-launch” scenario, which benefits nobody.

It’s September, 2015 however and customer-focused companies are fortunate because many feedback tools exist that can be leveraged to relay product design, functionality, and other ideas to clients and to provide a method for feedback.  In fact, more communication channels are available now than ever before!  Modern tools such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Forums, Facebook, YouTube, eCommerce and others can be used to promote lots of feedback at very reasonable costs.  Think back only a few years ago when none of these methods existed and how much effort, cost, and time was required to understand your customer’s needs via the limited person-to-person, phone, or postal system options available.

As an example of how to increase feedback, one tool mentioned above, “Forums,” can be setup in an afternoon.  When completed, messages, images, even audio & video recordings can provide valuable product input.   The ideas can typically be categorized & prioritized, and follow up questions or other information can be provided back to the customer.  Used properly, a Feedback Forum can ensure a company’s products are on target, resulting in happier customers and higher sales.

In fact, consider that we are in a “Golden Age” of feedback, where customers can provide it, both positive and negative, instantly for any company or product.  Companies should leverage and control this ability and use it as a “Best Practice” to drive their product development because when a client is heard, it results in better customer satisfaction and higher retention: Outcomes all companies hope to achieve.

Customer Service: Well Done is Better than Well Said

Well_done_2Sticking with the Ben Franklin theme I started last week, today I discuss a personal example that illustrates the simple idea Franklin meant with his quote, “Well done is better than well said.”  

I recently hired a contractor to replace the roof on my house.  I previously used this company and was happy with their work, plus they have outstanding customer service so I was comfortable hiring them again.  During the installation I was out of town so I couldn’t monitor progress, but I trusted them to get it right.  Upon arriving home I was pleased to discover the roof was properly installed, looked fantastic, and was a beautiful improvement after living with ugly thirty year old shingles.   I did notice however, four minor problems about which I contacted the vendor.

The project manager, Greg, immediately responded with a heartfelt reply and outlined a detailed action plan to solve the problems.  Talk is cheap, however within days the issues were remedied.  Whether Greg knew it or not, he provided a perfect application of Franklin’s quote “Well done is better than well said.” to customer service.

I expected the quick resolution because of my previous experience with the firm, and again they met my expectations.  The situation could have devolved into much frustration due to a lack of response or remediation.  In an era of fly-by-night contractors I remain happy with my decision to use this company for the new roof and I’ll give them a call for future house improvements too.  I’ve even referred potential new business their way because of their excellent work and customer service.

My experience with this vendor reinforces the idea that quality customer service is extremely important to generate new, and retain existing, business.  When the timing was such that I could switch to another contractor, I did not, based upon my history with their skilled workmanship and quality customer service.  I’m not an expert construction guy, I left it with people I knew could handle the job and they didn’t let me down.

So it is with Learning Management Systems (LMSs).  At some point it’s time to review the current software contract and decide whether to stick with the existing LMS or begin a relationship with an unknown vendor.  Reviewing shiny new features is exciting, however it’s important to always inquire about the effectiveness of the customer service department too.  It’s easy for a company to make a sale and then ignore Franklin’s advice by forgetting about the follow-up, which leads to much frustration, both with system implementation and ongoing system utilization.  The outcome will be untrained employees, an unacceptable end result for any LMS.

For more details about switching Learning Management Systems, review this LMS Switching Guide.

The Importance of Customer Service for Learning Management System (LMS) Admins

Gyrus Systems Benjamin 2In May I blogged about the concept of “Fast, Good, and Cheap: Pick Two” and how it applies to product development, essentially: A development project can’t include all three qualities. Today I’ll explore how customer service is similarly affected by price & quality and leverage the quote, “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.” by Ben Franklin to demonstrate the issue. (Seems like price versus quality concerns have existed for a long time!)

Like “Fast, Good, and Cheap: Pick Two,” Franklin’s quote drives home the relationship between price and quality, that is, when an overly cheap product is marketed, quality suffers because the vendor must cut costs somewhere.

An easy cost-cutting strategy is to skimp on customer support since product features can still be demonstrated; the assumption being that sales won’t suffer. Also, it’s challenging to demonstrate customer support so vendors may only provide anecdotal information, if it’s discussed at all.

Based upon my experience with customers that have changed to the Gyrus Systems GyrusAim LMS from alternatives, customer support is extremely important where quality is not optional, it’s required. Service problems described by customers that had used inadequate support departments range from never getting hold of a live person to being forwarded to a call-center where the service rep “helps” by reading from a list of FAQs because they don’t understand the product.

Customers experiencing these problems truly understand “the bitterness of poor quality.” The “sweetness of low price” is long forgotten because the lack of support creates stalled training programs and untrained learners, not successful end results when using an LMS.

At Gyrus Systems quality customer support is a priority: We want long term customer relationships, not a quick sale. We invest in the personnel and develop the processes required to deliver top-notch assistance. For example, we don’t rely on a voicemail barrier when customers call. Instead, we answer the phone. The person that answers is not at a call-center either, it is a Gyrus Systems employee that’s deeply involved in product development or support.  The end result is customers speak with a resource that understands the product. In fact, all of our employees know our customers by their first name.   

Not all customers need help, however when they do, the responsive and dedicated Gyrus Support Team is available so our clients will not experience the bitterness of poor quality support.  Ben Franklin would be proud.

Ensuring 21 CFR Compliance with GyrusAim LMS

21 cfr checkTechnology has so greatly improved the ability to track and verify training records and certifications via digital signatures that physical records and handwritten signatures are rare in today’s business environment.  To define the trustworthiness of such electronic signatures the FDA created Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 11 which sets the standards and regulations of electronic records and electronic signatures for organizations in bio-technology, medical manufacturing, pharmaceutical, healthcare and other FDA regulated industries.

Issued in 1997, Title 21 CFR Part 11 allowed digital records and signatures to be equivalent to their handwritten counterparts while creating official methods that organizations must use to maintain and electronically submit them to the FDA.  If all electronic records met these requirements then the signatures are officially accepted.

Requirement Highlights:

 

  • Validation to ensure accuracy, reliability, consistent performance and the ability to discern altered records.
  • Ability to generate accurate and complete copies suitable for inspection, review and copying.
  • Protection of records.
  • Limiting system access to unauthorized personnel.
  • Use of secure, computer-generated, and time-stamped audit trails to independently record the date and time of entries and actions that create, modify or delete electronic records.
  • Use of operational systems checks to enforce permitted sequencing of steps and events.
  • Use of authority checks to ensure that only authorized individuals can use the system.
  • Use of device checks to determine the validity of the source of data.

 

How GyrusAim Measures Up

 

Non-compliance during regulatory inspections can risk damaging your company’s integrity and reputation.  Only a handful of learning management system (LMS) providers offer organizations the ability to meet the FDA’s Title 21 CFR Part 11 requirements.  With the July, 2015 “15.1” release of GyrusAim, Gyrus Systems will be part of this select group of LMS providers.

Included in GyrusAim r15.1 are integrated features that thoroughly permit your company’s Title 21 CFR Part 11 compliance.  When enabled they assure compliance by adding an additional layer of security tracking and auditing of any change to GyrusAim data.  All access and functions within GyrusAim are controlled by user identifications and passwords, ensuring audit-trails are properly recorded for every user.  Additional built-in features are included such as on-screen warnings to managers, manager authentication of warnings, instant de-authorization of individual or all user logins by managers when a violation occurs, and more!

With Gyrus Systems’ Learning Management System, GyrusAim, you will have access to these key features to help you manage you 21 CFR Part 11 compliance:

  • Auditing
  • Electronic Training Records
  • Electronic Signatures
  • Reporting
  • Version Control
  • Secure Hosting options-SaaS or Self-Hosted

For more information or to request a demo please visit our website.

Training: The Key to Manufacturing Workforce Development Success

Manufacturing LMS imageManufacturing contributes $2.09 trillion to the U.S. economy and supports about 17.6 million jobs as it continually grows and changes. (NAM) In this dynamic environment, improving both employee competency and training processes are major challenges.  In such a large industry, employees are often distributed, because many manufacturing companies utilize multiple shifts, buildings and facilities.  Properly using a learning management system not only provides on-demand training for professional and regulatory needs, but also creates training processes that improve overall employee competencies. 

GyrusAim, and its mobile companion MobileAim, is a Learning Management System (LMS) that streamlines employee training and improves safety and efficiency while maintaining regulatory compliance.  GyrusAim supports training for standards and regulations set by ISO 9000, OSHA, the FDA, the EPA and is 21 CFR 11 compliant. It also provides the necessary audit reports for such regulations. Our mobile app makes it possible to instantly check company compliance and employee qualifications from a smart phone or tablet on the production floor or elsewhere.  There is no need to return to the office and check statuses from a computer.  Complete and up-to-date data is easily checked, which saves the company time and money.

Gyrus Systems understands many segments exist in the manufacturing industry with their own unique challenges and training needs and GyrusAim is fully configurable to meet these specific needs.

GyrusAim empowers the business environment by increasing knowledge sharing and engagement, ensuring agile and flexible regulatory compliance. Training delivery costs are reduced by using virtual classrooms and social learning.  Also, training and testing is provided faster to all employees.  For these reasons Gyrus Systems' manufacturing customers are extremely happy with their chosen LMS: GyrusAim. 

Learn more about GyrusAim and manfucturing here.

Our Takeaways from ATD 2015

 

Are you unhappy with your Learning Management System provider? If you answered yes, you are not alone. Two weeks ago Gyrus Systems attended the ATD 2015 Conference and had the opportunity to meet with many LMS users.  Roughly 90% of the attendees we spoke with were displeased with their LMS. The number one complaint was the lack of care and support from customer service. Another major complaint was that users were unhappy with the quality of the LMS software. There were quite a few people, just like you, who felt stuck and frustrated.

We understand your pain and that's why Gyrus has provided the highest quality service for the last 27 years. We pride ourselves in getting to know each and every one of our customers personally. Our close relationships with our customers is just one aspect of our high quality customer care. We never leave you waiting "on-hold," and always answer calls and emails immediately.  Our customer care speaks for itself. In a recent survey of our current customers we achieved an average of "9" (out of 10) in customer satisfaction. One user, Melissa Feeney, a Learning Center Manager, recently told us that "Gyrus has always exceeded our expectations. They are amazing."

We urge you to review our GyrusAim Product Suite and consider switching to experience unparalleled customer support from Gyrus Systems! 

Gyrus Systems ATD 2015 Prize Winner!

Gyrus Systems ATD Prize Winner

Congratulations to Melinda Johnson for being selected as our ATD 2015 first prize winner for the iPad mini!  Recently Melinda visited us in Richmond, VA to pick up her prize and meet the Gyrus team.  We enjoyed seeing her again and know she'll enjoy the iPad mini.

From all of us at Gyrus Systems we'd like to thank everyone who participated in the prize drawing and for stopping by our booth to discuss your training needs.  We met many training professionals that are passionate about training and development like us.  We hope our passion shined through in our product demonstrations and conversations.  Keep in touch with us through our blog!

Gyrus Systems ATD Booth

Many attendees expressed an interest in GyrusAim, and we will be contacting them in the near future to schedule a live demo of our LMS.  If you were unable to stop by the Gyrus Systems ATD 2015 booth, we'll be back next year!  We'd still be happy to give you a demo.  Click the request demo button below to sign up.

image

 

Fast, Good, or Cheap: Pick Two

Early in my career when I suggested a laundry list of useful product features to our Engineering Manager that “just had to be” in the next release he said, “Fast, Good, or Cheap: Pick Two!”  That was the first the first time I heard the phrase, however I’ve been in the business long enough now to appreciate the value of such a simple statement as it relates to product development.  The phrase is common enough, however its value is that it describes, quite succinctly, the relationship between these three important qualities of product development and that if two are selected, then achieving the third is at best, challenging.  

That Engineering Manager is now retired, however I’ve adopted the phrase and used it myself with customers when discussing the development of Gyrus Systems’ Learning Management System product, GyrusAim.  The “Fast, Good, or Cheap” concept quickly allows our customers to “Get It” and understand the challenge we face as a LMS software company to maximize features within a specified time frame while not pricing our product out of our desired market.  In a perfect world all three goals would always be fully achievable, however in the real world each must be weighed and prioritized to create products that best meet the needs of current and prospective customers.

As with previous generations of GyrusAim, a requirement for our latest 5th generation revision was to keep it “Good.” Thus the two remaining qualities are “Cheap” and “Fast.”  I really don’t like the word “Cheap,” so I’ll replace it with “Price Competitive.”  GyrusAim is truly one of the most price competitive, enterprise level, skill-centric LMSs in today’s marketplace, with a very low price-per-learner that minimizes our client's software costs.

So we're left with “Fast.”  While we would love to release every feature on our product roadmap tomorrow, we simply can’t guarantee the “Good” or “Price-Competitive” aspects if we did.  Therefore we take the required time to fully develop and test our new features and release them only when we can guarantee they’ll fully meet our customers’ needs.

In summary, the promise that Gyrus Systems makes to our customers is that the software is good and will meet their learning and development needs now and in the future.  We also strive to keep the price of our LMS solution extremely competitive.  To meet our goals of “Good” and “Price-Competitive” software, we take the time required to analyze our customer needs and prioritize the release of these new features.  Using this philosophy, since January, 2014, we have exceeded our goal of four releases per year.  In fact, we’ve published eleven new releases that allow our customers to leverage hundreds of new features that improve their learning and development programs, a proven track history that we’d love to discuss.  Give us a call!

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.

Buy-in for an LMS Implementation

LMS Buy In

In the introduction to the Change Management Strategies Series I mention three major factors effecting change.  These include an organized implementation plan, communication, and management buy-in.  This blog will focus on management buy-in.  A direct report's level of engagement can be effected by information or business practices received by their manager.  If a manager is resistant to change, often times the direct report will inherit the same attitude.  Understanding that manager's need the same reassurances as direct reports all the way up the line will go a long way in solving this problem.  Increasing manager buy-in can be done by developing test groups during the implementation process.

 
Ideas for test groups:
  • Create a game/raffle out of it. Let managers enter into a raffle to be put on a test team with their direct-reports.  (This method will probably require some type of reward as well for the 'extra' work)
  • Assign one test team per channel or industry that you support.
  • Create real world scenarios for testers that will promote the value add of a new LMS.
  • Never forget to explain the purpose of the test group and show employees how they are directly improving the business by giving their feedback.
  • Add a message to the communication strategy that highlights the achievements of each of the test groups.
  • Hold weekly or bi-weekly meetings where managers can give their feedback and the feedback of their direct reports
  • Encourage test groups to find bugs and errors in the system (this will help you in your overall roll out)

Each of the ideas above is geared toward including managers and allowing them to include their direct reports.  Once managers start to use the LMS they will become promoters of the system (if you can successfully highlight all of the benefits).  Using testing groups for manager buy in can increase adoption rates, reduce launch day glitches, create a positive stir in the organization about the LMS, and accomplish a lot of testing that the training department would have to do on their own.

 

Communications for an LMS Implementation

In the introduction to the Change Management Strategies Series I mention three major factors effecting change.  These include an organized implementation plan, communication, and management buy-in.  This blog will focus on strategic communications.  Learning Management System (LMS) roll outs that catch employees unaware can have a potentially devastating impact.  The project team may believe that because implementing a new LMS is the best thing for the organization, that employees will automatically see the benefit as well.  This is likely not the case, because employees may not have all the information.  Specific information that might not be available to employees includes:

  • Who the LMS will directly impact?  Who is responsible for steering the implementation?
  • What is an LMS?  What exactly will this mean for internal customers?
  • When will it be released?  When will internal customers see a change?
  • How will the LMS impact the organization?  How will this change the way work is done?
  • Why is this impact needed within the organization?  Why now?
These bullet points make for the perfect first topic of a minimum three that should be released during an LMS implementation.  We recommend three communication releases at minimum to cover the inception of the project, the midway point, and the blackout / go-live phase.  Feel free to add in communication points to your project plan as you see fit – especially if you are planning on a longer implementation.  One I like to add in is the Launch Day communication.  

 

Potential topics for communications:
  • Inception of the Project

    • Use the "5 Ws" above.
    • Let employees know they will be receiving a Midway Point communication as the project progresses.
  • The Midway Point

    • Discuss data migration.  Make employees feel comfortable that they will maintain their training records (if you have decided to make training records available to employees).
    • Reapply some of the earlier "5 W" bullet points.
    • Include an endorsement from a key stakeholder.  Try to use someone that has been active in the implementation and knows the power of the new solution.
    • Talk about successes in the project.
    • Let employees know they will be receiving a Go-Live communication (try to give an approximate time range).
  • Blackout / Go-Live Phase

    • Let employees know that during the blackout time frame they will not be able to access the system.  Even if a blackout period is over the weekend, you may have weekend workers that would be interested in knowing their LMS is down for maintenance.
    • Include an endorsement from a key management personnel.  This endorsement should focus on the benefit to the internal customer with limited emphasis on the organization as a whole.
    • Give the employee a specific time frame for the blackout and a specific date for the LMS Go-Live.
  • Launch Day

    • Provide information on how employees can now access the system.
    • Thank employees for their patience throughout the process.
    • Offer training on the new system (this would need to be developed during implementation).
 
 

White Board for an Organized LMS Implementation

In the introduction to the Change Management Strategies Series I mention three major factors effecting change.  These include an organized implementation plan, communication, and management buy-in.  This blog will focus on an organized implementation.  Whether you are in the market for new Learning Management Solution (LMS) or have recently purchased new LMS, the implementation should be at the forefront of your mind.

An LMS implementation includes the application installation (if not hosted), data migration (historical and automated), configuration, training, testing, and launch.  Simply put, it is the time from which the software is purchased to the time the software is operational.  Implementations can span a wide variety of times depending on factors such as: amount of users and administrators, resources available, integrity of the data being migrated, and etc.  Here at Gyrus Systems we have worked on implementations spanning 3 weeks to over 12 months.

One of the keys to a successful implementation is keeping organized.  A great way to keep track of events during an implementation is to utilize a basic white board.  We keep a white board wall in the office with a template of the general implementation plan.  I'm not saying you need an entire wall, however a simple white board could increase the organization of your LMS implementation team.

Benefits of using a white board include:
  • Keep everyone updated on the progress of the implementation
  • Encourages input from all resources involved in the project
  • Gives visibility of processes within the implementation
  • Allows for reorganizing and re-prioritizing events and milestones in the plan
  • Having the plan visible throughout the project may prevent potential conflicts during the course of the implementation.

If you have already purchased the software, hopefully you were provided an implementation plan (might be referred to as your project plan).  If you were not provided a plan, or have not yet purchased an LMS, I would recommend asking for a standard implementation plan.  Companies may be hesitant to provide a detailed plan until they have spoken with you about requirements, however they should be able to supply a general plan that they work from.  Once you have the plan you are ready to start filling in your white board!

How you can use a white board to aid in your implementation:

  • Draw a rough outline of your project time line on the board
  • Have a meeting to discuss key points in the time line, and the resources needed at each phase of the project
  • Keep the board in a highly trafficked or visible area
  • Encourage your team to provide input and suggest changes if they think the project could be managed better
  • Don't worry if the board gets messy – this means people contributing
  • Reevaluate the board and your progress weekly to stay organized.

 

See Also:
Change Management Strategies for LMS Implementation
Communications for an LMS Implementation
Buy-in for an LMS Implementation

 

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

What is Skill Management?

Skills management is the practice of defining employee skills and jobs and capturing skills assessments for analysis. The results of this analysis are then used to develop and deploy people and their skills.

Skills are defined within a framework in the form of a list of defined skill names. Each skill has a description combined with a numerical proficiency-level scale. Each level provides a detailed description of behavioral indicators.

To understand the skills and proficiency levels that an individual possesses, skill management systems provide a method of self assessment, with the assessment confirmed by an appropriate third party, typically the individual’s line manager.

Change Management Strategies for LMS Implementation

     Three factors that are important to change management when implementing a Learning Management System (LMS) are management buy-in, communication, and organization.  All three come down to making the employee feel safe about the change that is occurring.  If management resists the transition into your new LMS then employees will not feel as though it is a priority.  If the change is not well communicated, they will feel as though they were not considered when the change was planned and implemented.  Lastly, if the project is not well organized, this will be apparent to your employee audience and they will lose faith in its legitimacy.

     When change management is not taken into consideration we are left with employees who feel the change is a low priority, ignored their consideration, and lacks organization.  Each of these factors will lead to lower adoption rates among employees.  If training is a requirement of the organization, employees may even begin to resent the change that has been forced on them.  Again, this all comes down to employee’s feeling safe and comfortable.

Three best practices to meet these challenges include:

  • Encourage manager involvement and feedback in the implementation process, and student involvement in testing groups.
  • In the project plan set milestones for company-wide communications to go out at the inception of the project, midway through, and before the blackout/go live period.
  • Regularly review and modify the project to fit the business needs of your organization.  Get your implementation leader to provide progress reports to keep everyone on track and organized during the implementation.

 

See Also:
White Board for an Organized LMS Implementation
Communications for an LMS Implementation
Buy-in for an LMS Implementation

Activate Formal Learning

Most people are familiar with these statistics:

  • 70% of development happens on the job
  • 20% is through mentoring and coaching
  • 10% is through formal learning which includes instructor led workshops and e-learning courses

Not only are these statistics familiar, they intuitively make sense.  We have grown up with teachers, coaches and parents telling us “practice makes perfect”.  So, we practiced and practiced and got better and better at riding a bike or playing the piano.

Even though 70% of development or skill building happens on the job, where do most corporations spend their learning and development budgets?  The answer:  On formal training where only 10% of development happens.  How do they help their learners practice and apply the content from the course on the job?  The answer: GyrusAim Skill Centric LMS and  Vado’s courses as every Vado course contains step by step instruction on how to apply on the job.

The LMS Business Analytics

Many workforce key performance indicators (KPI) are tied to critical corporate training goals.  It can be difficult to gather and synthesize such KPI into meaningful results without an effective business analytics capability in your Learning Management System (LMS).  This business analytics function should enable a more granular view of training effectiveness, rather than just training ROI or other overly-simplistic metrics.

Imagine instead a human capital performance measurement tool that shows the true effect that corporate training has on goals such as: employee turnover, production quality, safety, customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, or high performer turnover.

Using “high performer turnover” as an example, perhaps we suspect that the unusual turnover of our high performers indicates serious underlying employee job dissatisfaction. Thus we identify high-performer turnover as one of our KPI and monitor it. We ultimately determine that the turnover rate is indeed increasing, creating a need for more data showing which factors are the cause. One factor could be poor employee development because it often ranks as a top reason for employee job dissatisfaction. Using a properly designed business analytics tool, we can identify and mitigate it by getting even more granular. Is the root cause minimal training hours or reduced learning expenditures? Is it ineffective instructors or the lack of elearning content? With a proper model implemented, such correlations can be ascertained quickly.

An LMS with a business analytics feature is critical for a deeper and more thorough understanding of how training and other personnel development factors affect the overall health of the business.  Without such capability, critical training data may not be available which detrimentally affects the company.

Stay tuned to Gyrus Systems for more information.

Tin Can: Is Your Learning Management System (LMS) Compliant?

What does Tin Can compliance mean?  It means that your Learning Management System (LMS) has been updated to include the latest standard for learning content.  Previous SCORM standards created specifications for learning content that allowed interoperability between content authors and LMS providers.  This goal was admirable (and essential), and achieving it allowed companies to play in the same ball field, ultimately producing many quality LMS applications.

The ever-evolving technological landscape created new learning options that caused a paradigm shift in perception about how and where learning occurs.  Thus the premises upon which SCORM was based fundamentally changed, and SCORM and the LMS applications using it became obsolete.

Product obsolescence is a constant challenge for software development companies.  Balance must be achieved between price and product features, cost and release timelines, cost and product support, and many other priorities to keep software fresh, “not obsolete,” and well-supported.  Companies that successfully balance these requirements thrive by combining relevant and customer-driven software with quality product support at a reasonable price for their customers.

Companies that do not successfully balance these challenges create irrelevant or few new features and product support may be non-existent.  Customers and prospects soon migrate to other vendors.  Corporate survival under such circumstances is difficult and many vendors fail, merge with other businesses, or perhaps get bought out.  As with any enterprise application purchase, caution is the rule and LMS buyers should fully evaluate a vendor’s current product, release schedule, and customer support to remediate future negative results from the LMS purchase.

So how does Tin Can work into all of this?  The Tin Can specification became available mid-year 2012, with the official release being April 26th, 2013.  Many LMS vendors have already, or are in the process of, modifying their application to be Tin Can compliant, potentially indicating forward-thinking companies.  Tin Can compliance is an important “first filter” indicating whether an LMS vendor “has gotten it right” by prioritizing its development effort to become compliant.  If a vendor is not currently, or will not soon be, Tin Can compliant, it’s good reason to avoid them as your LMS vendor.

Here at Gyrus Systems we are proud to have included the Tin Can specification in our GyrusAim application as of April, 2013.  We look forward to continuing our 25 year legacy of organic software development by leveraging the Tin Can specification through the development of many revolutionary enhancements in follow-up versions.  Stay tuned for details!

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

The Benefits of a LMS For Government Organizations

While T&D is important for all industries, there is a lot of emphasis placed on T&D  in government organizations. In current times it is absolutely critical for government agencies and organizations to respond quickly to constant challenges and to be trained and competent in order to face them. Training of federal, state and local employees can be easily managed through a learning management system. With the right amount of user learning functions and capabilities, adopting this software can provide a high return on investment (or ROI) and overall workplace development.

A learning management product is perfect for any government organization because it reduces costs and time for a T&D initiative, leading to increased productivity. It also helps organizations remain compliant. Your organization is constantly growing, so you’ll want to choose software that is scalable and can grow with you. The ideal vendor for government agencies will understand the regulatory and compliance needs of government agencies, and especially focus on compliance, safety, security, and T&D. It’s also important that reporting is available within the learning management system to help you track progress and history in an organized manner without paper or spreadsheets.

Since training is so important in the government industry, organizations should make wise decisions on which learning management system and vendor they choose. For example, Gyrus Systems is a government approved vendor and their GyrusAim product can be integrated with OPM’s Enterprise Human Resource Integration system (EHRI). The GyrusAim software can also create, store, manage, and transmit SF-182 requests and is compliant with Section 508 of the United States Workforce Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Safety and security are critical factors of government agencies, which is why GyrusAim is a very secure platform for data, and customers also have the option to self-host their software. Because GyrusAim is a web-based software, it can be accessed by learners from anywhere at their convenience, and can be translated into over 25 languages. Our federal, state, and local government clients are guaranteed the lowest rate available.

Our government clients expect nothing but the best and we strive to deliver that. We understand the difficulties in dealing with the proceedings that go along with acquiring a vendor and maintaining a relationship with that vendor, therefore we are proud to be a General Services Administration (GSA) vendor. We have over a dozen government clients and are familiar with their individual needs. Our learning management system also caters to non-GSA government clients and we are prepared to offer you a learning management system that is customizable to your needs and goals.

 

 

 

Three Reasons Why Tracking Training Should Be Your Top Priority

Got training? Prove it. One of the most important factors in T&D is tracking your company’s programs. Who is certified? When is programs are conducted? What is required and what is optional? Keeping track will not only keep your business up and running (legally), but will lead you to further success because it will allow you to create the most effective program possible. Below are three reasons why tracking students is important:

1. Compliance

Without laws, industry standards, and regulations, training would not be the same. Don’t risk legal action by forgetting to track all of the programs that are going on. Human rights and health and safety are two main compliance categories where T&D is pertinent. But simply conducting the it is not enough—you must track it and therefore be able to prove that your company is compliant and up-to-date.

2. Productivity

By tracking learning, you can discover patterns in the productivity of your workplace. Do performance levels start to diminish after a certain amount of time? Are there more mistakes made after a worker has been with the company for a certain amount of years? A program could be the perfect solution to boost performance and refresh the employee’s knowledge. It can also provide employees with the motivation to succeed and excel in your organization.

3. Record keeping

Referencing back to reason number one (compliance), many laws require you to have documentation of your efforts, such as health and safety requirements. Certifications are also important to keep on record, such as in the healthcare industry. Offering T&D opportunity is simply not enough in today’s day and age, you must also be able to prove that opportunities are being offered and employees are participating regularly as needed. Referencing reason number two (productivity), record keeping can also help you discover which records are effective and helpful, and which ones do not yield as significant results (ILT versus eLearning).

You’ll also need to get rid of your spreadsheets, file folders and paperwork (we think you’ll be more than happy to see them go). If you’re conducting ILT or eLearning, we suggest keeping it organized in a learning management system, such as GyrusAim. Various reporting and certification functions will allow you to manage and track records and employee progress without having to replace any ink cartridges or fix paper jams (again, something we highly doubt you’ll miss dealing with).

Is Your Relationship with Your LMS Vendor Long-term?

When it comes to purchasing a Learning Management System (LMS), you don’t want to only focus on the product. Sure, it’s important—you’re investing time, money and effort into it. But what many often forget is that the relationship with the LMS vendor is just as important. Why should you invest your dollars and hours if the vendor isn’t willing to do the same for you as their customer?

The ideal vendor provides a consistent experience year after year (this includes both the quality of their product and their customer support). Many vendors give you the 5-star treatment as a new customer, but as you continue to use their product year after year you may feel like you’ve been forgotten.

Experienced vendors provide consistent service and support and do not forget about those customers that have supported them for years. For example, LMS vendor Gyrus Systems has been in the learning software industry for 25 years. Not only do they provide support to those that are just climbing aboard, but they also take care of those that have supported their business for five, ten, maybe even fifteen years. Gyrus also offers free software upgrades to their customers three to four times a year to ensure that they have access to the best software versions possible.

I emphasize the importance of experience because it’s not uncommon for younger businesses to be bought out by other large, more experienced organizations. How does this affect you as a customer? Prices may increase, products may change (or discontinue), and the quality of the support you receive may diminish. Investing in an experienced vendor with a quality product can ensure that you won’t find yourself in any of these situations.

Vendors like Gyrus Systems understand the importance of a customer-vendor relationship. Gyrus customers don’t have to wait days to hear back from customer support. Even better—Gyrus representatives remember their customers, they remember your name, and they remember your support. With vendors like Gyrus, you are no longer just a number, you are in a relationship.

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.

What is SCORM, anyway?

eLearning is a huge buzz word today, especially in the workplace. In an effort to leverage the cost of staff development and to provide training when necessary, many companies are looking toward using eLearning.  However, if you have never deployed an eLearning solution, how do you get started?  Do you just go out and purchase the courses you need? If you do, how do you know that what you purchased will provide you with the results you need, or the data necessary for reporting?  What is the meaning of these terms that others seem to know — for example, what does “SCORM compliant” mean? If you don’t know the answer, you’re not alone—many don’t.

Before you begin the planning phase of an eLearning project, it is a good idea to prepare yourself with the basics.  Some preliminary research can help you determine what to look for when shopping for an LMS that meets your company’s needs.

Let’s get started by taking a look at some terms.  In this age of eLearning and compliance reporting, most companies have a dual goal of providing required training and to report on which staff members have completed this training.  To avoid late nights of manually tracking and compiling data, the use of a LMS (Learning Management System) that can capture and record training results is beneficial.  However, there must be a mechanism in place to allow the LMS and the eLearning content (training course) to communicate.

The communication mechanism most often talked about today is called SCORM.  This acronym stands for “Shareable Content Object Reference Model.”  This standard is a result of a U.S. Government initiative on Advanced Distributive Learning.  In a nutshell, SCORM is a “set of specifications for developing, packaging and delivering high-quality education and training materials whenever and wherever they are needed.”

SCORM-compliant courses leverage course development investments by ensuring that compliant courses are RAID:
Reusable: easily modified and used by different development tools,
Accessible: can be searched and made available as needed by both learners and content developers,
Interoperable: operates across a wide variety of hardware, operating systems and web browsers, and
Durable: does not require significant modifications with new versions of system software.

If you want to learn more about LMS products, visit www.gyrus.com.  Gyrus has been building Learning Management software since the 1980s, and their LMS solution, GyrusAim, is SCORM 2011.2 compliant.

 

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.

 

Adopting an LMS: How Manufacturing Industries Can Benefit

While all industries practice training methods, the manufacturing industry has the most challenging environment when it comes to training. As a main driver in economic wealth, the manufacturing industry accounts for 12.5 percent of U.S. GDP and 11 percent of total U.S. employment. With strict training regimens and industry requirements (such as OSHA and ISO 9000), it’s important to adopt an LMS (Learning Management System) to manage necessary training in the workplace. There is a strong focus on productivity, costs, and efficiency and because of the industry’s large size, it is very diverse and adopts many different processes.

In this industry, there are employees everywhere. Some work in shops, others in offices, some outside of plants and others across the world. Therefore, language is also a huge factor in this industry and its training practices. Gyrus Systems knows how important it is to make training available to all of your customers, not just the ones at your location, which is why their LMS, GyrusAim, is available in 25+ languages.

Each unit of the manufacturing industry has different challenges. Even more so, each unit’s departments face even more diverse challenges. There is often a lack of process, knowledge, skills and training in such large organizations (and this is found across many industries).

But, there is good news. An LMS, such as GyrusAim, can be designed specifically to organizations in the manufacturing industry. Not all industries have the same requirements, codes, and procedures, which is why course customization is an excellent way to increase proficiency and performance. It can also be designed for certain units, departments, organizations and skills. With its ability to easily track on the job training and certifications of its users, Employees can physically show what they have learned through exhibited assessments.

An LMS like GyrusAim is the perfect solution for these challenges. It strives to help companies remain efficient and effective so that they can continue to remain competitive with other similar organizations. With an LMS, there are less accidents and higher compliance with government regulations because training is managed with effective, Web-based software. Even more, GyrusAim is able to comply with FDA, OSHA, the EPA and state and local authority regulations and integrates Six Sigma Training and CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration). Manufacturing companies will see improved quality, increased productivity, reduced production error, reduced waste and a higher rate of return on investments. With GyrusAim’s reporting feature, employee’s proficiency and performance can be tracked real time and exported.

 

Source: http://www.aboutlms.com/lms-across-business-verticals/lms-manufacturing-industry-framework/

 

Shopping for an LMS? Five Questions You’ll Want Answers to Before Choosing One

Q: Does my company really need an LMS?

A: More than likely, at some point your company will need to train its employees. This is when you’ll need an LMS the most. Any kind of eLearning practices and training in the workplace is easily done through an LMS of your choice.

 

Q: Do I need to choose an LMS specific to my industry?

A: No. Many LMS solutions can be applied to several different industries. When shopping for an LMS, you’ll want to look for not only the vendors who support your specific industry, but also have a wide variety of choices for any training need(s) that may come up. Should your industry introduce a new employee requirement (such as a specific certification), you won’t want to switch your LMS. The wider the audience of the LMS that you choose, the more safe you’ll be in the future.

 

Q: How do I know my employees will be willing to use an LMS?

A: Firstly, it’s great to consider your employees wants and needs. Sure, an LMS can greatly benefit a company, but if you’re employees dread using it, their morale will go down significantly. The LMS you choose should be easy for users to use and navigate through. Many solutions (such as our LMS, GyrusAIM) make it easy for users to track their progress and expiring courses or certifications, and make use of outside resources when necessary. If you choose an easy-to-use LMS, your users will be able to focus more on learning and improving their skills—and less time learning how to actually use the LMS itself.

 

Q: How will an LMS help my company?

A: In more ways than one, you’ll see a significant difference after adopting an LMS. Two words: training and development. They go hand in hand. If you’re employees don’t have the right skills to do their job—or if their skills are a little rusty since the last training they went through years ago—you’re company will fall behind too. A simple “refresher” course for employees never hurt anybody! Sure, you’re employees may have skills—but it’s important that they have the skills for their specific position or responsibilities. You’ll rest easy knowing that your employees are the best of the best and freshly trained . . . and you’ll be able to keep up with competitors too. In the workplace, you don’t want to just merely survive: you want to grow!

 

Q: But there are so many LMS vendors! How will I ever know which LMS to choose?!

A: Well, it’s different all around. Each vendor is different, and each customer is different—there is no list of universal needs. Therefore, you’ll want a vendor that works with you to learn about what it is you need out of an LMS (and provide it for you!). To start, you’ll want to consider hosting (Do you need to host the LMS yourself or does the vendor provide a host?), language capabilities, (Can the LMS be translated to meet all of your international customer’s needs?), course catalog selection, customer service, and more. If you’re employees aren’t necessarily tech-savvy, you may want to find a software that is easy to use and navigate. If its customization and branding that you’re into, you’ll want to make sure that feature is available. For example, GyrusAIM offers custom course creation so that users feel a sense of customization and can tailor courses specific to what they need.

You’ll also want to consider the vendor itself. How long have they been in business? What is their retention rate? It’s fair to say that a business that’s been around for 25 or more years with a 95 percent retention rate has a great product and loyal customer base. Gyrus Systems has a commitment to their product, with constant updates and versions being released every year and focused customer support. Does the vendor ask for your feedback? If so, this proves that the vendor cares not only about customer satisfaction but also the product, constantly trying to improve it to better serve a customer base. When it comes to choosing an LMS, there are many things to consider—so the first step? Find out what you need and start shopping!

 

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

So you’re ready to select Learning Management System

So, you’re convinced it’s finally time to select a real Learning Management System. What was the straw that broke the camel’s back? Was it the latest mandate to develop standardized learning programs company wide? Or is it this year’s directive to incorporate succession planning, career development and pay more attention to employees outside the United States?

Maybe your company is much smaller than the corporate giants with an international presence and it’s just about getting everyone who has a hand in employee development on the same page? Duplicate Excel spreadsheets, new elearning initiatives, redundant training development, managing no-shows, empty seats, training schedules via multiple emails, compiling reports that take hours only to be asked to recreate similar reports at management’s whim each month?

Where do you begin to research vendors and understand the scope of implementing an LMS? How long should the implementation take? Does IT need to be involved up front or should you narrow down your search before putting in a request? What type of services do vendors offer? How much or how little can you do yourself?

These and many, many other questions are fair game for anyone taking the LMS plunge. From the vendor perspective, we want to help you through the research and evaluation process and we want to help set the right expectations. Ultimately, it’s your success that makes us a success.

There are several free resources available for LMS researchers. I recommend this free digital ebook, 339 Tips on LMS/LCMS Implementations, published by the eLearning Guild. Implementing a Learning Management System with the right expectations can make all the difference in your success. Armed with the right tools, you can make a difference in establishing an effective workforce development program.

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.

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.

Don’t Ignore Instructor Led Training

Instructor Led Training is still the preferred venue of many learning organizations.

Even though eLearning and adaptive learning methodologies seem to have grabbed the headlines in learning organizations for the past ten years, the old style of training, viz., instructor led training has not gone away. Recent surveys even show that its use is increasing.
With the eLearning abandonment rate hovering around 80%, it often fails to deliver on its promise of being an effective training medium. Instructor led training is still the preferred venue of choice for many learning organizations.
The GyrusAim learning management system (LMS) does not forget the tedious processes that are required for a training department to be effective. GyrusAim simplifies the typical tasks associated with delivering a successful instructor-led training event: tasks such as scheduling, conflict checking, enrollments, cancellations, and notifications.

  • GyrusAim goes further than most learning management systems though. It provides block scheduling so that you can schedule multiple instances of a class based upon a schedule, yet giving full control over the entire course schedule.
  • GyrusAim provides for drop-in enrollments so that learners just get the training that they lack.
  • GyrusAim provides for online evaluations and assessments along with the reporting that makes it valuable to gather these statistics.
  • GyrusAim handles scheduling across multiple time zones so that a 10AM distance learning class in New York shows up as a 9AM class in Chicago.
  • GyrusAim handles self-reported training so that employee training outside the company can be recorded. They are not assigned to skills, but are useful for documentation purposes.
  • GyrusAim will automatically enroll the next learner when a class slot opens.
  • GyrusAim provides extensive resource tracking of everything from donuts to documents to computers, classrooms, and instructors.
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