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.
 

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.

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.

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.

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.

Benefits of Learning Management Systems (LMS) in manufacturing:

Benefits of Learning Management Systems (LMS) in manufacturing:

Global manufacturing companies, whether industrial, automotive or consumer are continually growing and changing and new regulations and up to date training is constant.  Global manufacturing companies required simpler and more effective LMS which can reducing administrative time, while completely meeting all of the corporate and government regulations and standards.

Key benefits for manufacturing companies include:

  • Allowing employees to build skills and complete certification
  • Reduce production errors and cost over-runs by increasing employees’ skill and proficiency
  • Track, manage, and certify compliance with regulatory bodies, such as the FDA, OSHA, the EPA and others
  • Generate and assess employee learning plans and performance
  • Manage training information from one central location, with data seamlessly populating from one system to another
  • Develop, deliver, and manage all types of training, including traditional classroom training, on-the-job training, self-paced e-Learning, online training, and more
  • Integrates out of the box or via customizations with ERP, HRIS and CRM software
  • Multilingual capability allow manufacturers to easily reach the global business community
  • Accounts for local business rules and processes across multiple states, provinces or countries
  • Increase workforce productivity

Key manufacturing areas where GyrusAim has been successful:

  • Employees can physically show what they have learned through exhibited assessments (OJT)
  • Comply with FDA, OSHA, the EPA and state and local authority regulations
  • Comply with ISO 9001 standard
  •  Six Sigma training
  • CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration)
  • Managing compliance training
  • Current employees stay trained and up to date in their key areas

Manufacturing companies can expect to improved quality, increased productivity, reduced production error, and reduced waste as a result of adopting robust GyrusAim Manufacturing learning management system.

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/

 

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