Baseball and your Learning Organization

Baseball and your Learning Organization

Baseball and your Learning Organization

As an admitted Cleveland Indians fan and gracious World Series loser, I thought long and hard about how I could somehow link America’s Pastime to this unique blog. I could talk about learning techniques utilized in the past seven games and why players were less intimidated by pitches they encountered the second and third time around, or possibly what a combined 176 years of waiting can teach us in preparing for the future. However, the outcome I chose to focus on was staring me in the face this entire time. The modern game has migrated into something that is completely different from its predecessor, in the early 2000s The Oakland A’s set out to do something incredible, they perfected “Moneyball”, the practice of using a wide variety of statistics-driven analysis in order to determine an optimal and most cost effective lineup in order to take their team deep into the postseason. This practice and the particular application has changed the way small market teams compete in the major leagues and thus has made this recent postseason a possibility for my preferred team.

So you may be asking yourself where is the linkage to learning programs? Statistics are not just limited to the baseball field. Though it may not be the most attractive trend in the learning industry, there is something to be said about the wealth of information that is available to Learning Professionals across the board. In the age of post “Moneyball,” everyone is looking to leverage their data and do something uniquely beneficial for their organization, regardless of industry. If a learning program can figure out the ideal mix prior to anyone else in an industry, there is a very real chance that an organization can become a dominant player on the market, or at least improve their positioning.

The Importance of Reports

Reasonably, one of the strongest value offerings for a Learning Management System (LMS) is its reporting capabilities. The possibilities of this capability are virtually endless. When most people think about reporting in the Learning Industry, they think about ROI justification. However, there is so much more out there. Instead of just implementing learning for the sake of having some sort of platform in which to train individuals in the workforce, we can now scrutinize the learning that is being distributed, how effective it is as a whole, and address the individual needs of learners within our systems. We can also paint a picture with this immense wealth of data by determining manners to address company sales, safety within the workplace, external communications, and any other potential learning facet within a program.

Measuring Learning

Statistics are powerful. In the modern learning construct the following information is now available to you; at a glance knowledge of who has underwent a learning exercise, personnel who have neglected to take required courses, performance in the required courses (in order to address the requirement for additional learning), gap analysis on what learners need to accomplish in order to become an even greater resource, and theoretically any other statistical aid that may help you make informed decisions on behalf of your organization. We are living in the golden age of reporting, where statistics are feeling less like math and more like real world functionalities that are understandable and accessible. When establishing a veritable competitive dynasty for your organization calculate the grand scope of what you hope to obtain from your data. Establish the most important knowledge to obtain for improving your personnel and workforce as a whole and determine how those metrics would look, then implement them directly in your program.

Data and Data Quality Disclaimer

With all the wonders of reporting and analytics available to us, it is important not to get too involved with your statistics until you have verified the quality of your information. Replicate accounts, inactive users, junk accounts, and misconfigured users can skew reporting functionality. Prior to enacting these groundbreaking research practices into your organization. Be sure to perform the due diligence of data governance. This should be addressed early on in the implementation process.   

Conclusion

Despite the loss, I would like to wish the Chicago Cubs and all of their fans a large congratulations. It has truly been an amazing season, postseason, and series. After 108 years of waiting, you truly deserve such an outcome. As per the reporting and analytics portion of this blog, learning and development programs everywhere are benefitting from the addition of better reporting practices. Beyond Return on Investment figures, professionals everywhere can evaluate the true reach and effectiveness of their learning programs. Be sure to take a look at your learning program to establish if you are taking advantage of the full range and wealth of quality data, immediately at your fingertips. 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. As well as follow us on social media for new content, product news, and interaction directly from Gyrus.

Connecting the dots: What Corporate Training Can Learn from Formal Education

Connecting the dots: What Corporate Training Can Learn from Formal Education

Connecting the dots: What Corporate Training Can Learn from Formal Education

When we reach our breaking point or time where we decide that we are officially done with our formal education, we often immediately disregard the skillset that made us so successful in school. This is mainly because life in the office-place is very different and entirely more demanding, or at least in terms of outward appearances significantly more time intensive (No disrespect to the all-nighters I used to pull). To demonstrate, take the process of time management, if you are taking five classes and you have three exams on Friday, two pop quizzes on Wednesday, and a total of four written assignments to complete. This may seem entirely second nature. Formally, your mind begins organizing, “Study for this long on these dates, write paper one at this time and on this date, and so on and so on.” This core competency of organizing is vital to the success of individuals in the training field. As it is difficult to make the most of the training if the concern of the trainees lies elsewhere. The following steps will help your learners not only obtain more from their learning but also make them more impactful members of your organizational team.

Organizing the Calendar

Most of us are guilty of the time management taboo of not formalizing a schedule. I tend to write my processes out on a piece of paper or occasionally log important or reoccurring tasks in a Google Calendar entry. But, I am working hard to continue and expand upon these seemingly painstaking processes. In the training world, the largest detriment to training can be the barrier of entry for in system users to encounter the offerings in the full-time window allotted in order to obtain the most from what is being distributed. It is important to note that this sentiment does not just go for the users within the organization, but also the training staff themselves. Imagine how much more effective a training program could be if more time was devoted to course creation and selection, and each component could be vetted formally in order to eliminate unnecessary questions components or just general noise. Organization skills are key to developing the ideal training and development program.

Assigning Priority

In school, priorities are simple. There are concise due dates for all of your activities, “this class occurs at this time on this date and these are the deliverables required to fulfill the requirements for that time period.” In the business world, this model is a little bit murkier. Requirements come in at the spur of the moment, clients require this particular deliverable tomorrow, and this one assignment that you have been working on (on and off) for weeks is due sometime in the next week. The transition of these mentalities is often a stumbling point for most people that are entering into the labor force and a large reason why people abandon their prior learnings and opt for the creation of a new model of organization. This doesn’t have to be the case, instead, a culture of instilling a knowledge chain of the most important tasks as they arrive can be a huge benefit to employees within your system, and as such should entirely be a portion of the organization’s training efforts. The best training programs take this lesson into consideration in the formalization of the learning and development program.

Avoid Distractions

If you have devoted a specific time to sit down and encounter your training, it is your highest priority task at this particular time, and you would like to get the most out of your training, it is imperative that you avoid distractions. Put the phone down, close the informative web tabs, and do not allow yourself to cheat on your training time with additional work. Our brains, while capable of accomplishing a lot of tasks at the same time, are not too great with knowledge retention in scenarios where multi-tasking is taking place. The one exception I will personally allow is reading this Gyrus Systems blog. If a formal note is required to do so, please feel free to contact us.

Reward Yourself

When processes become expected practices at your desk, it is easy to become complacent. Be sure to set small rewards for yourself when you accomplish goals that you have outlined. For me, when I complete this blog, I am going to reward myself with a brief coffee break. I am quite the fan of coffee as it fuels most of these written outbursts, and will continue to throughout the weeks, however, this may not be the reward for you. Consider the regard of short breaks, or water cooler discussion, or if you didn’t buy into my argument that you can be distracted by my blog and my blog only, you can also reward yourself with social media or perhaps industry publications.

Conclusion

Be sure not to forget your teachings that have gotten you this far. What has created your opportunity for success early on in your academic career can aid in dividends for your life in the workforce. Time management, priority assignment, Distraction avoidance, and self-reward, in practice can be the difference in not only excelling in your role and future roles but also in making sure that you can access all of the wonderful training that is available to you within your organization. I hope you have enjoyed my take on the application of life skills in the workforce. Please continue to join us here at the Gyrus Blog as we continue investigating methodologies to improve the learning experiences of your personnel. As always, don’t forget to subscribe to our blog in the top corner of this page (bottom if you are viewing this on a mobile application) to get the latest posts directly to your email inbox.

Getting the Most out of your Social Learning Program

Getting the Most out of your Social Learning Program

Getting the Most out of your Social Learning Program

Undoubtedly, you have heard it before. Statements like, “how do we make our learning program work for us?” or “let’s get social with our learning plan.” But, how do you get your learning program up to speed? With so many social elements making their way into our learning programs today, learning professionals are faced with the all too real decision of how many social facets should be included in their learnings before they become a distraction. Just how many mediums are actually needed for our employees to interact with one another? Unfortunately, I cannot answer this question for you. Fortunately, it is entirely answerable. In order to come up with the answer as well as enact a proper social media approach, be sure to reference the steps below:

Don’t Lose Sight of your Current State

Establish your current state before you begin implementing social components. Are there already social components in your current learning mix that you are using? (Such as comments fields, Twitter interactions, or in-platform social profiles). What components are you hoping to add? (Is there a hot new social platform that your entire workforce is adopting? A newer more professional network which needs to be linked to your learning approach?) Will your learner base actually utilize the new proposed functionality? By asking these questions, you can determine whether or not it is time to introduce new social features into your learning program, as well as the amount of effort required to integrate these new sought after social components into your program.

Clear Direction

Don’t just enable social features for the sake of having them. It is important to establish a clear direction as to what you want these new structures to accomplish. If you are hoping to encourage the use of a specific platform, focus solely on that platform and perform the necessary steps to ensure the success of that social entity over time. Consistency is key in fostering user adoption, as well as choosing elements that are not too far displaced from methods your workforce is already familiar with. If you are looking to implement a brand new social platform and it works nothing like what people are already familiar with, there is a chance that the users will forego this feature, or worse yet… have to be trained on the new functionality. The goal of social learning is to expand the reach of the initial learnings, as well as to get the learning core to discuss practices in which they are introduced. If the new social component is non-intuitive, it may serve as a barrier to the social approach to learning as opposed to the intended purpose of its introduction.

Don’t Over Do it

Having social components to the learning program is really cool, and at first, you will see a good amount of buy-in. But it is very important not to rely on the longevity of this initial intrigue. Social platforms are constantly finding ways to evolve and introduce functional change, solely for the purpose of re-engaging users. Ever wonder why Facebook rolls out changes that are deemed so unpopular by their usage base? Well, it is simply an exercise to bring users back to the site and increase activity by complaining about it. These complaints serve as word-of-mouth advertising, in both the new feature itself and the platform.  Focus on ways to maximize user interaction with the learning environment. Revert back to your plan, if you want the users to combine their LinkedIn accounts and grow the learning program externally based on their connections, then try not to introduce a variety of additional features that will muddle that effort; but, do keep them engaged throughout the process.

Migrate legacy information over to new platform

Old comment sections on previous learning exercises are perfect fodder to experiment with social learning. Establish user profiles in your new system and associate those posts with the previous social accounts in question. Then, encourage visitation of past posts and inspire discussion. This, in itself, is a great habit forming technique. In the work world, it is easy to lose sight of things we have done as recently as a few days ago. This habit forming exercise will not only establish an increased learning foundation but also make previous experiences more relevant within your new socially enabled system.

Promote additional materials through social components

Have you found a cool article that perfectly explains a certain work process? Well, don’t just hang on to it! Share it socially with your learning base. Get feedback on what you post, find out if there may be an alternative perception that furthers the agenda of that reading or topic. Establish perceived importance and shape an approach to continue the conversation well beyond the initial formal learning.

Encourage Learners to share/ be active socially

You shouldn’t be the only person contributing to your learning environment. Social learning is a many ways street. Social Learning’s most powerful feature is its diverse inputs from differing opinions and backgrounds. In order to get the most out of social learning, your employees must feel free to share professional stories and posts that directly reflect on their work and their industry segment. Winning over the user base is one of the most important steps to a social program. When people feel comfortable sharing their ideas, the greatest possible output is received.

Assign Group Work

It’s not truly social unless people are working together. Enable discussions that can achieve positive results. Assign work that can only be achieved in a collaborative setting. Follow-up with employees to determine how they are perceiving these new functionalities along the way. By keeping the user base happy, your program can expand and work optimally.

In summary, avoid becoming social just for the sake of the new features. Social learning can be a powerful tool if properly implemented and promoted within an organization. The best manner to establish an effective social learning mix is to first identify where the learning program is, and the social elements already existent in that system, establish a clear roadmap for getting the most out of your social enabled content. Then take advantage of previous social components and enact a clear linkage to legacy efforts while wholly promoting these exciting new features. Be social yourself, before encouraging others to join in with you, and endorse an environment where it is safe to share professional posts. Finally, establish group work that utilizes these features. By undergoing these steps, you are progressing in the correct direction for a long-standing social learning environment. Be sure to subscribe to our blog, and join us as we further investigate learning industry topics.

 

 

Fun Compliance Training – A Real Phrase

Fun Compliance Training – A Real Phrase

Fun Compliance Training – A Real Phrase

Fun Compliance Training – A Real Phrase

In life, there are few certainties, one in particular which you will be exposed and subjected to is compliance training. It is not everyone’s favorite and with good reason. Compliance training as we know it is meant to be a boring and highly regimented experience. But as many before me and many after me have pointed out, it does not have to be. Believe it or not, compliance training as we know it is slowly evolving. People understand the dry sentiment that they are providing to their workforce and are focusing on techniques in which they can improve delivery, effectiveness, and user attention. Now, with that being said, some compliance training needs to remain a serious ordeal, as it may be irresponsible to portray the solemn hazards of nail guns, radiation, forklifts, and other potentially dangerous exposures in the methods in which I am going to be suggesting below.  

Add Humor

Funny Sells. Think back to all of your favorite Super Bowl commercials over the past few years. It may all seem a blur, but the bits and pieces you can piece together are either the ones that weave strong storylines in 30 seconds or the ones that were funny enough to cause you to spit out a little bit of your beverage. The same concepts can be applied to Compliance Training. Workplace safety is no joke and should be portrayed in a serious manner. However, components of workplace training are already funny within themselves. Remember, the reason there are rules and behaviors we need to implement, is because someone has actually done some of this stuff, not only in your organization but on a global level. Do not be afraid to call out the humor in common sense practices, and verbalize the humorous natures of some of the experiences you yourself have undergone. This practice will go a long way in extending the message you are attempting to portray to your personnel, as a few laughs here and there could be all you need in order to keep the focus of the individuals undergoing the training. It is worth mentioning that there is a very fine line of acceptability here, as it is very important not to eclipse the severity of the topic in which the staff is being trained on.

Use Storylines

As the other component of the Super Bowl example, stories can be equally important to furthering the retention of the messages you are attempting to convey. Be sure when implementing this method that you structure a believable storyline, develop characters, and incorporate real-life scenarios. The course message can be conveyed more effectively if the people undergoing the learnings can identify with the storyline they are presenting. This can best be achieved through the understanding of the class breakdown and through the establishment an underlying course strategy. These stories can be further augmented with the inclusion of participation. Choose your own outcome books have been commonplace in bookstores for years. Why not preface the group with some specific examples allowing them to see the downfalls of their chosen pathway. When importing the concept into your Compliance Training it is imperative that the employees can see for themselves both the hazards of selecting the wrong outcome, as well as the success of maintaining compliance.

Clearly Defined Rules

It is important when implementing these methodologies to not lose sight of the purpose of the compliance training. There are specific rules, guidelines, and regulations that need to be conveyed to the participants. Humor and storyline serve merely as a vehicle to better deliver this content and above all, these norms are the true reason for the training. A clear focus on the required outcome of the compliance training can lead to a better picture of the true necessary components of what is being presented. Understanding the interworking of the course can go a long way towards structuring a concise offering that is best received by the employees undergoing the courses.

Shortened Course structure

A lot of programs have migrated instructor-led compliance training over to e-learnings, which as a format can easily contain the components suggested above. The nature of this format itself is a bit more conducive to a shorter program emphasis. If a compliance training e-learning seems a little long, consider breaking it up into micro learnings which can serve the purpose of further conveying the message of the training itself and aid in the retention of the course. Be sure to take advantage of all of the available mediums, not using them for the sake of using them; but instead utilizing video, audio, games, and etc. when appropriate to further the impact of the content.

When devising a compliance training program, have fun with it. If you go into the process thinking that it is a boring, regimented, and necessary evil that your employees must undergo, then that is how they will view the offerings. Be sure to consider adding comedic elements, structuring stories that are relatable to the workforce as opposed to just listing the compliance factors as what they are, while carefully focusing on the rules and regulations you are attempting to portray onto the class itself. To add some icing on the cake, compliance training does not need to be an all-day event, be sure to consider the implementation of micro-learnings to further the ultimate reach of the courses. I hope you have enjoyed this post and continue to join us here at the Gyrus Blog as we discuss all topics pertinent to the learning industry.

ow to Train and Develop Millennials

How to Train and Develop Millennials

ow to Train and Develop Millennials

How to Train and Develop Millennials

Everywhere you look there are posts about millennials, mainly focusing on their abilities in comparison to their predecessors. There are some really fun ones out there, about how millennials are weaker than their parents, and how their neurological wiring explains their short attention spans. Most importantly these articles are mostly drawn up in the marketing world, and with good reason. Since millennial buyer behavior is so vastly different than what traditional advertising channels can influence, understanding the demographic completely, is vital. Without going too far into a tangent, this generation is simply very different from what organizations are used to. Because of this, the fact that members of this unique age bracket are finally starting to mature and fill important roles within organizations across the world leads to a solid amount of conjecture. With this new landscape and their bright-eyed and bushy-tailed outlook. It is important that we try to understand exactly the training and development challenges that they may represent. As a millennial myself with a fair amount of work experience, I offer a unique perspective on how learning works differently for myself than people that have filled my roles before me.

But before we begin, let’s make sure we’re on the same page. The dictionary accepted definition of what we are talking about: “a person who was born in the 1980s or 1990s” (Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary) is relatively broad. Each generation has its quirks and identifying characteristics, both positive and negative. However, it is important we do not harp on those. In order to develop an effective learning plan to account for this particular generation, it is best to play to their strengths.

What Are Millennials Strengths?

Technology

We have grown up in an inclement technological landscape, seemingly with the devices themselves. Each moment from the time we first picked up a keyboard, to now, is encapsulated in a trend of growth. The computers became quicker by month, they changed size, formats, shapes, in storage capacity, and are continuing to adapt in large part to this generation’s inclusion on forward tech designing teams. The culture around the youth of this generation was forged on the idea that we would be glued to computers throughout our aging and we were. As such, we are comfortable in most environments, are quick to adapt at the introduction of a foreign software and interface, and willing to take on complicated items they may seem daunting to the world before us.  

Multi-tasking

Perhaps our greatest perceived weakness is our greatest strength. There never seems to be enough screens to quench the thirst of a millennial. We move to our smartphones, to our laptops, to the attached screens on our desk, and at any time we could have hundreds of active tabs open and ready for our immediate use. To many, this is construed as a distraction. However, when properly nurtured this can be a great strength for any personnel within your workforce. The ability to keep eyes on multiple functions at once allows for more processes to be done, and quicker. In the age of lean operations, this is a dynamic characteristic to possess.

Group Work

Millennials grew up in a world demanding popularity and are a huge part of why people with obscure talents can now easily find their quick fifteen minutes of fame on the internet. Their entire lives have been placed on display for your viewing pleasure via social media, and strangely, have managed to benefit from the situation entirely. Social media, in theory, should be a detriment to an individual’s development. Instead, it allows for collaboration the likes organizations have never before encountered. Your customers are a tweet away, and millennials understand this, as well as how to get to them. They also know how to partner up to accomplish a task because of these reasons, as well as who they need to approach in order to do this in the most effective manner.

Self-sufficiency

“I don’t know how to do that. Can you help me?” Are words not often said by millennials. Instead, it is more something along the lines of, “I vaguely recollect that situation in comparison to something else, let me google it in order to figure out how to complete the task.” Millennials are rarely stumped in their work environments because they understand that the answer is merely a search away, they also know how to find the answer if it is buried deeply in a minefield of clutter.

Putting It All Together

Due to our inclination to excel on the technological front, millennials need access to learning on a variety of platforms. Or as many as they’re currently being distracted on. By catering your learnings to adhere to these platforms, you are taking the first step in the right direction to cater to your millennials’ needs. Because of our inclination to multi-task, mix the delivery method within the learnings themselves, we are highly responsive to mixed media and in general a good rule of thumb is not to pigeonhole the learnings into a solely text-based output in the first place. Thirdly, use social learning. I cannot stress the importance of this element enough. To get the most out of your millennials you need to allow them to work on their level of comfort, socialize, and develop working relations with each other through the seemingly unconventional method of electronic means. You’ll be surprised at how quick they bond together and begin developing strategies to enhance the organization in general. Fourthly, and finally; challenge them. Millennials are most responsive to situations in which they are forced to think, though most would not admit to it. We are a thinking generation, there is a reason our head is often in the clouds. If you keep these suggestions in mind while developing a learning program, you will surely develop an atmosphere that caters to the new demographic that it seems the world just do not understand. I hope you enjoyed this post, please to continue to join us here at the Gyrus Systems Blog for relevant topics in the field, current events, and attempts at forecasting the future of our industry.

 

Reference

"Millennial Definition." Merriam Webster. Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary, n.d. Web. 24 Aug. 2016.

The Olympics – A Guideline to Continuous Learning

The Olympics – A Guideline to Continuous Learning

The Olympics – A Guideline to Continuous Learning

The Olympics – A Guideline to Continuous Learning

With the Olympics coming to a close and the closing ceremony occurring this Sunday. One cannot help but reflect back on these past few weeks, the incredible athletes and what they have accomplished. Years and years of training have culminated in either a medal for some of these participants or the drive to train even harder for one more chance at glory in the Tokyo Olympics of 2020. Which leaves the typical viewer with a lot of questions. Questions such as, what inspires these national representatives to work towards this ultimate goal? How could I train at this stage in my life to do what they are doing?

What we as the viewer see is only a fledgling look into the world of these competitors, the tip of the iceberg if you will. Sure there are special broadcasts that detail typical training regimens for certain prolific athletes, and I for one am quite interested in attempting to eat the 2008 diet of Michael Phelps, who famously proclaimed he was consuming 12,000 calories a day. However, I am sure that sounds a little more glorious than the actual act would be. The point being that much like in the Training and Development Industry, there is a clear and interesting storyline going on under the surface. That many outsiders will never see, and being highlighted in these efforts is the incredible underlying process of continuous learning. What is fast today, may not be the fastest tomorrow. Records are only established to be broken, and that thought process is wholly responsible for why we as individuals have to keep working every day in order to improve ourselves, our day to day operations and become better than the department that existed before us.

The following steps occur in the corporate world much like that have had to occur in each one of these Olympians’ lives. These are also the foundation for establishing an unbeatable culture of Continuous Learning:

Establish a Career Path

For some of these competitors, the life of athletics was chosen for them before they could even walk. Parents drilled into their minds that they were going to be the right build for these sports or that they were going to have the skill sets required to compete at a very high level. But, in most cases, the drive into becoming an Olympic level athlete solely rests on the shoulders of the athlete themselves. Olympians much like business professionals have to decide what the appropriate path for them is going to be. Once the sport is chosen, or the profession is locked in, the goal becomes the question of how can I do this better, faster, and more accurately than anyone else who has either played this sport or held this position before me? As heads of Training and Development programs, we need to be aware of this process. This is how our cohorts have gotten to where they are now, and why they are willing to become a better element within the workforce over time.

Present the Right Tools

In sports much like in real life, ourselves as individuals can only achieve so much. If you’re a swimmer, you need a pool to swim in. If you’re a basketball player, you need a basketball, a hoop, and some competition. In the business world, you don’t know what you don’t know. It is best to evaluate the role you will be responsible for, and identify what components are needed for you, in particular, to go forward. As a marketing person, I would be lost without my analytics platforms, my google (I do consider myself an Olympic level Googler), my Adobe Creative Suite, and a variety of other tools that are specific to me within this organization. Document these, know that a culture of continuous learning is dependent in major part on the environment that our workforce is placed into.

Establish a Clear Process

This is what my training course will look like if I want to be prepared for this upcoming competition. In order to achieve certain tasks in our business lives, we need to figure some things out. In particular, the best process to get us from point A to point B. Much like Track and Field superstars who spend hours agonizing over their stride length and form, we too have drivers that determine our abilities in the office place. Once you have established a clear process and trained the individuals within the department on how to achieve satisfactory results, the task is not over. There will also be someone out there who can do it faster, why not take this opportunity to establish clear methods in which the personnel can work together to improve this process as a whole, and promote positive growth within the organization.

Reinforce to Correct Mindset

“I can do this, I can wear one of those medals around my neck.” Much like in the Olympics, people need to have clear goals established for themselves. This can be done via a variety of methods, such as monetary incentives, badging, or even good old-fashioned approval from people in supervisory positions. Olympians just like members of the workforce need to determine what works for themselves and then find out what they need to focus on the task at hand. Most people that start out on the competitive sports track are met with adversity along the way. Personally, in my young sporting career I was awarded an immense amount of opportunities, and along the way I need to figure out how to overcome injuries, teammates vying for the same position I was, and adversaries who were just a little bit better than myself on the field.

Develop a Strategy

With my clear process for becoming better, I’ll develop milestones to measure my effectiveness over time. I want to be this fast by this upcoming competition, I want my shot accuracy to be 10 percentage points higher by this point in time 6 months from now. Here is the roadmap for how I will achieve these goals. The same principal applies in the workplace. I want a set number of people to read this blog today, and I want so much more people to read this blog tomorrow. In order to reach all of you wonderful people, I need to make sure I do not forego developing an effective strategy.  

Execution, Execution, Execution!

Put in the work with all these aforementioned items in mind. This is where we put the whole thing together, and we actually learn at an Olympic level. Once you have a strategy in place surrounding a series of processes and all the tools needed for your disposal, and the will to accomplish the very goal you have in mind. There are very few things in your life that can stop you. This is an important lesson for members of the Training and Development community. As these Olympians have so thoughtfully set a clear method to not only improve our day to day learning but have inspired us to want to achieve the ultimate goal. If these individuals can train their entire lives for an event that only take 10 seconds to complete, we can put in the work to be better within our positions.

Thank you for joining me in this evaluation on the training Olympians undergo, and their “real life” linkage to the concept of continuous learning. I hope you all have thoroughly enjoyed the games at hand. Please continue to follow Gyrus Systems’ as we further investigate relevant topics in the field, current events, and the future of our industry.

 

 

The Importance of Training and Development for Start-ups and Small Businesses

The Importance of Training and Development for Start-ups

The Importance of Training and Development for Start-ups and Small Businesses

The Importance of Training and Development for Start-ups and Small Businesses

With the hectic nature of start-up organizations today, one can easily make a claim that it is never too early to evaluate the effectiveness of a structured Learning, Training, and Development program. When starting out with a blank slate or attempting to move an organization into a direction in which they have never been. It is best to establish clear methods and processes in which the business as a whole can easily achieve their lofty goals. Without a Training and Development program, the following scenarios tend to present themselves in various manners across and organization:

Process Creation

A lot of times in bustling start-ups and small business environments, there is an underlying sentiment, along the lines of “I don’t care how you do it, just get it done.” This can create a strange occurrence in which a uniform process for achieving a goal is not feasible. Instead, members of the organization scramble to create their own individual processes for accomplishing their tasks. Originally, as it may be the first time an organization is encountering these challenges; it may seem as if this Wild West gunslinger policy of creating on the go is advantageous or even agile. However, as time goes by, the team grows, turnover is experienced… the process can become exceedingly difficult to the team at hand, and the manner in which it is accomplished can be as varied as the members of the team themselves. As an emerging business, it is best to get a hold of these processes early on in their development stages and define learnings that will not only benefit your team as a whole but will instill a knowledgebase on how to approach these particular tasks for years to come.  

Skill-Gaps

Certain department members are running circles around others, making them look bad. How are you going to alleviate this? When people take positions they often come in with an assortment of prior experiences. Though just being around successful people on the job can permeate positive skill building. It does not create a clear delineated pathway to ensure the enrichment of the entire department. When one person is doing well, the business does alright but is capable of much more. When everyone is doing well, the business is truly capitalizing on its resources. Installing a Training and Development program with social components can go a long way in capitalizing on this diverse collection of experiences. Allowing for the organization itself to develop a roadmap on how to train people in the future, as well as identifying important areas in which employees need to focus for the betterment of the business.

Onboarding

In your organization, do you feel that you give your employees enough time to dip their toes in the rippling waters of their position? Or, do you just start them immediately on tasks without any familiarity with where available resources reside, positional strategies, or established communication channels both within and external to the organization itself? You would probably not be surprised to know that many upstart companies subscribe to the policy of immediately holding their new employee’s feet, directly to the flame. Instead, imagine a world where when you bring somebody on, they will undergo their required certifications and training, and know exactly how the role is comprised on the organizational level. Something they can only estimate in their own perception and often without the entirety of scope. In a training environment, these valuable assets will be more prepared for their roles, quickly, and they can go about implementing serious and long-lasting change with much fewer barriers to entry. A training and development program not only makes onboarding clients easier, but it alleviates the pressure of turnover experienced along the way, as the next person in will quickly be able to obtain working knowledge of the position and the tasks it includes.

Engaging Users

One of the biggest adversaries to augmenting employee skills is the drive for personal improvement. This can be seen in employees who already believe they have a grip on their role and are unwilling to accept positive criticism to become even greater within their position. The benefit of establishing a training and development program is that calculated measures can be placed that will allow you to address some of these concerns. Not only can you guarantee that these users are exposed to appropriate methodologies, but you can also ensure how they are absorbing the information. This can be achieved through establishing a learning environment that is specifically designed to meet their needs. By utilizing all the tools at the disposal of the organization; various methods of communicating information can be presented, tested, and measured to promote an atmosphere of continuous learning.

Certifications

The role of Human Resources is exceedingly difficult in these small environments. As there are few established guidelines for safeguarding the brand, and many programs are not nearly as mature as they need to be. By seeking out practices to best benefit the organization, it is also vital that auditable delivery methods are established. By developing a learning and development program with the output of certifications, you can not only confirm that someone has undergone their required training, but you can also adhere to human resource procedures and quickly mature the department.

Productivity

A trained employee is a productive asset for your organization. When processes are documented and the entirety of the representatives are trained, odds are the speed in which their tasks are accomplished will rapidly increase. In small business and start-up cultures, these changes in speed can equate to the lifeline required to continue as a profitable business and thinking up newer more creative methods to stay afloat. A training and development program also signifies to employees that their company is willing to invest in them as well as the business itself. This can go a long way in establishing a learning culture, and incentivizing employees to continue down the path with the organization.   

Though it may seem like an obvious solution, a successful training, and development program requires a certain level of commitment regarding time and resources that small organizations and startups do not always feel that they have. However, establishing the processes of an organization, finding more effective means to onboard, train, and implement these effective processes can immediately lead to a higher growth rate of an organization. Taking the guess work out of how an up-and-coming business goes about procuring more business and interacting with potential clients is exactly what the Doctor ordered. Join me as I continue to explore the Learning and Development landscape, addressing how it impacts businesses, organizations, and learning institutions of all varieties here at the Gyrus Blog.

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.

Creating a Culture of Continuous Learning

Creating a Culture of Continuous Learning

Creating a Culture of Continuous Learning

In the ever-changing climate of business, it is vital that organizational members are able to adapt to their surroundings. At the end of the day, it is the experience of ourselves and our colleagues that make the difference between industry acceptance and being just another small fish in the industry pond. The best way to ready ourselves for this shifting environment is Continuous Learning. Continuous learning is an established persistent learning process, designed for bolstering the knowledge and skills of your workforce over time, and presents itself in many forms. There are various obstacles to keeping your staff above the knowledge threshold, including the likes of organizational busyness, lack of individual drive, and lack of an industry focus to cause a true change in the way we may think. Yet there are a few simple things that your organization can implement immediately to overcome these obstacles.

Establishing a formal policy of Continuous Learning

This is the most important step in promoting a continuous learning environment. Sit down with department heads and obtain the commitment to developing your workforce. This simple step will go a long way to realizing the potential of your organization. Knowing that your staff is going to continue to improve throughout their tenure at an organization will positively impact employee morale, as well as reduce the amount of turnover your organization may experience. Then when it comes down to writing up a formal policy, take the following practical continuous learning foundations into consideration:

An Open Environment – Establish to your employees early on that it is ok to ask questions when something is not understood. Senior level people often have the required information on the tip of their tongue and are more than willing to demonstrate what they know. Use this as an opportunity for knowledge transfer. Also, do not be afraid to give your employees some supervised free-reign; let them try new ways to approach reoccurring problems with alternative methods and comprehension. This may lead to developing processes that can inevitably improve departments and organizations as a whole.   

Mentorship – When onboarding new employees, be sure to pair them with employees who have been in their role, department heads, or are simply in their department. This can establish a line of communication and lead to increased knowledge transfer. This will also allow the new employee to evaluate past ventures with a new eye and establish any possible shortcomings, shaping an environment where the organization can actually learn from their previous mistakes.

Learning Management Systems (LMS) – it would be a total let down if I did not at least throw in a reference to digital learning. There are structured eLearnings and mLearnings beyond the typical certification requirements which allow for the continuing and necessary education of your people. This can include advanced sales techniques, introductions to hidden product features, and techniques to hone their craft dependent on their job title and responsibilities.

External Education Incentives – Some organizations are big on continuing education. This can be as rigid as convincing employees to go to collegiate courses to as lean as instructing an employee to schedule 30 minutes a quarter of self-guided learning via YouTube videos. With the availability of online seminars, actual seminars rolling through your town, and even trade shows consisting of industry leaders, it is hard to ignore this method for continuing education. If their availability was not enough, these types of learning structures can be incentivized which in general can lead to the largest absorption of external knowledge for your employee base.

Soft-Skill Development meetings and discussion of current happenings – Some organizations require this type of training, especially in the consultancy field; where everyone needs to be able to continuously improve their intrapersonal skills. Theses training initiatives are unique in that they allow for employees to relay their outward communications and how they handled certain crisis scenarios to their colleagues, ask the best method of approaching difficult discussions and problems, and get another frame of reference from an outsider with differing experiences than themselves. These types of meetings go a long way towards establishing protocols for how to deal with these sorts of impediments over time, as well as provide a sense of unity to the participants by further establishing a new channel of communications.    

Organizational Book Clubs – Many start-ups have instituted book clubs to aid in their organization’s knowledge development. This is best instituted when leadership determines topics that they feel are imperative for their staff to undertake, per quarter and selecting a few highly rated books from an internet search, which may further those initiatives.

Social Learning – Encourage your employees to develop professional social media accounts and link with colleagues and various industry professionals, with instruction to follow a few very active members in their selected fields. This will provide for a couple of things, the first a stream of information from industry leaders on industry best practices, the ability to share said best practices with their colleagues, and a means to bolster the organization’s reach as a whole.

In short, continuous learning is one of the most important commitments your organization can make, and there are many methods to implement a quality program. Take the time to evaluate this list and see if any of it could be applicable to your organization. You may find hidden knowledge contained in your employees that you were unaware of, as well as an improved sense of self throughout your organization. Also, please join me as I continue to delve into components of the learning industry.

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.

The 6 Hottest Training Technologies That You Can’t Overlook

Training TechnologiesEditor's Note: This blog was originally published in eLearning Industry in May 2016, and has been reproduced here with permission.

Technology has impacted almost every aspect of our lives and training & development is no exception. It is redefining workforce learning methods and tools, allowing organizations to nurture their talent in the most effective way. Advanced software, technology tools, and innovative methods are being used to enhance training program’s quality, participation and engagement as well as to enable corporate training to be a more personalized experience. Struggling with gaps in talent and skills, organizations are starting to invest more heavily in technologies to predict their training requirements, understand their learners and to create exciting ways to deliver training and learning to their employees.

Let us look at some of the top technology trends taking place in the training and Development Industry:

Mobile Learning: According to e- Marketer, the number of smartphone users in the United States is estimated to reach 207.2 million, with the number of smartphone users worldwide forecast to exceed 2 billion users by the end of 2016. This widespread adoption of mobile phones as well as other mobile devices such as tablets, e-reader, etc. is encouraging organizations to leverage mobile learning technologies for their workforce training. Mobile Learning enables smaller sized courses to learners without restricting them to a fixed time and place, leading to higher absorption and retention rate of knowledge. Mobile learning will soon be the most conventional medium to reach the new workforce, which is more tech-savvy and digitally connected.  It’s estimated that the mobile learning industry will grow to over $37 billion by 2020.

Video-Based Training: Video streaming has been around for quite some time, however, the new millennium has seen a sudden upsurge in the online streaming space, with YouTube becoming the second popular search engine after Google. Newer technologies, tools,  increased network bandwidth, and widespread access to the internet is enabling organizations to create an affordable and advanced video- based training programs, which can be used not just in online courses but in traditional and blended settings as well. It is growing to be an effective medium for creating bite-sized and engaging learning modules. With the cost of video conferencing being reduced dramatically in recent years, organizations are also embracing this method to reduce their training costs and challenges. Tools such as Google Hangout and Skype are increasingly being used as cost effective video conferencing training tools.

Virtual Environment and Avatars: Virtual learning environments bring the social interaction part of traditional classroom training into the e-learning world. Organizations are using virtual training coach also called avatar, who engages with the learners like a real human being. These are human looking avatars in the form of a cartoon, a 3D character instructing and engaging with learners during the training process.  Companies are exploring online virtual platforms such as second life, Minecraft, Unity, etc. for delivering training and are creating similar virtual environments to bring the human touch into their e-learning environment. Companies like IBM, Cisco are already using virtual platforms for meetings, interviews, and employee training. Virtual environment and use of virtual avatars in training is an exciting medium to target the young workforce, where they can create their own avatar, build their own challenges and collaborate with other learners. 

HTML 5 and Responsive Design: Mobile learning is allowing learners to take training courses at any time, from any place and hence it is important for organizations to look into aspects such as user experience, content delivery from mobile point of view. HTML5 is the latest version of HTML, which is accessible on all platforms, devices, and browsers. HTML5 is adaptable and faster, providing the ability to design interactive and engaging learning experiences, without leaving the mobile users behind. Offline storage and data management can take place, even when the user is not connected to the Internet. Learning Management Systems (LMS) are also incorporating responsive designs to provide the most suitable content experience based on the screen size and resolution of learner’s device. A responsive LMS modifies the content placement according to the device capabilities, features, and provides a seamless and uniform user experience. 

Automation and Adaptive Learning: Content providers and LMS providers are using a vast number of automated solutions to create new courses and learning materials, reducing the cost and development time required in the conventional process.  Authoring tools and platforms allow you to find themes, templates and other resources that are needed for eLearning. You can also automatically detect learners’ preferences, requirements and customize their eLearning experience accordingly. These tools can also provide algorithmic solutions to evaluate user’s knowledge and skills individually in an automated process.

Big Data: As more and more learning activities take place digitally, we have more and more data gathered, which can give us hidden insights into our learning process, learner’s behavior, etc. By using external big data analytics tools or the ones, which are built into a variety of LMS, organizations are getting to know about their learners’ usage patterns, behavior, training courses effectiveness. This is enabling them to create a customized and personalized training courses based on facts and insights. LMS’ analytics features also help in managing, tracking and reporting training activities in a scheduled way and doesn’t require human intervention for most parts.

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

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

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

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

Learning Context:

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

Cost Difference:

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

Availability and Flexibility:

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

Reporting and Monitoring:

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

Content and Delivery Consistency:

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

The Difference between Training and Development.

The words training and development are mostly used together in the corporate world and are seen as activities focused on improving the knowledge, performance and productivity of the employees.  However, there is a distinct difference between their meanings and implications, which are often overlooked by a majority of professionals.

Training programs are organized by the organization to develop employees' knowledge and skills as per their job requirements. On the other side, development is not directly related to job requirement, rather it aims at the generic development of the individual employees for the long run. Think of this way- training is mostly provided to teach new skills while development focuses on improving existing skills.

Let us look at the image below to understand the difference between training and development.

Training vs development.jpg

With the ever-changing business environment, it is crucial that organizations pay equal attention to both training and development to stay ahead of the competition.

Both training and development are required to work hand in hand for providing the right skills and knowledge to employees and help them get the most of it for both organizations benefit as well as their own progression. When an organization looks at employees' overall growth, apart from the job-related training, it also helps in building a more efficient, motivated and productive workforce.  

 

 

 

 

Informal vs. Formal Learning: Creating a Blend!

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

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

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

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

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

Has Your New Hire Quit Already?


on boarding pic2

It is important for organizations to establish a proper onboarding strategy and training for new employees to ensure long-term organizational success.  However, cost conscious companies often overlook the importance of onboarding strategy as their main focus remains on solving everyday business issues. A recruitment process involves enormous time and effort and a repeat not only doubles the investment but also impacts the organization’s productivity.  Let’s look at some effective tips to help you make the most of your onboarding strategy:

Day One is Important: It is very important to give the positive impression to the employees on the very first day. Take care of logistics such as work desk, access cards, computer, etc. before they arrive. Employees should not be running after these and getting approvals themselves.You can also allot them an employee id and even add them in the employee portal beforehand to give them access to various employee tools, information, etc.  Employees should be made aware of the first day agenda and the paper work procedures expected from them. Make sure to introduce them to co-workers or departments where they might be interacting on a frequent basis. Give them an employee handbook to know about company’s policies, benefits, procedures, etc. A welcome lunch is another good idea to make them feel comfortable and a part of the team.  

Provide the Right Training: While you expect them to learn or know how to do their jobs, educating them about the organization’s offering, value proposition, vison, mission etc. should be an organization’s responsibility. Identify the right people or team, which can provide an in-depth overview of these to employees. Identify all training requirements such as safety training, Standard Operation Procedures, regulatory compliance, etc. and make a detailed checklist for employees to follow along with timeline.

Set the Right Goals: Define the immediate goals that the new employee is supposed to achieve. Employees should feel that they are creating value for the organization and not treated like a newbie. Make sure to provide the new employees a supportive environment as well all the training and resources enabling them to complete the tasks successfully. See if employees have any feedback on the way goals are set or its timeline.     

Overall, organizations should look at all onboarding elements together and create a smooth and effective onboarding program for new employees. It is also important for managers to personally invest time in their new hires’ development. Research indicates that employees who perceive their managers to be personally invested in their development have higher employee engagement Index scores than those who do not. The least engaged employees are much more likely to leave than the most engaged. A strategic onboarding program ensures that the new employees are prepared and have the right know-how to perform in their roles leading to increased employee engagement, retention and organizations’ productivity.

Are You Compliance Ready?

Compliance blogCompliance training ensures that employees, contractors, and partners have the right knowledge and understanding to comply with an organization’s legal, operational, ethical aspects of business. It is something that organizations can’t compromise on, if they don’t want to risk a complete business failure.

Despite regular reiteration of all state and federal compliance guidelines and audits, organizations fail to be compliant with the latest regulations and research indicates that compliance lawsuits have increased tremendously over the past few years.  A recent example is of Barclays Capital Inc., who was charged by The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for failing to build adequate compliance systems, after the firm acquired Lehman Brothers' advisory business in 2008. It resulted in overcharges and client losses of $472,000, for Barclays.

Even companies who have a proper compliance methodology get caught in the midst of changing regulated environment, new compliance measures, etc. At times, they focus on one area of a compliance program more while sidelining other elements. Or, they are still following the outdated compliance policies and technology at the organization.

Let’s look at ways through which organizations can develop a compliance culture and be prepared for compliance audits.

Leadership Focus: If the leaders own and support ethical, compliance measures, it is going to trickle down in the organization in the same way. Senior executives should be the role models for employees to build a strong compliance culture at every level of an organization. It is important to show and communicate that leaders are committed to compliance measures and the company will not negotiate on its compliance program in any way.

Identification of Risk Areas: It is important for organization to identify and evaluate all risk areas that relate to its core business. They also need to identify and abide by workforce rights and regulations pertinent to them to save themselves from an employment lawsuit. Organizations must create a complete checklist of risk areas to create the right compliance strategies and measures. It is also important to evaluate them in order to put the right focus on different areas.

Communication and Training: Compliance policies and regulations must be effectively communicated to employees along with the right training and technology. Organizations should ensure that there is a proper communication between the compliance team and employees. Training should be done in a systematic, centralized and seamless way with a proper reporting and monitoring structure. If there is a need to customize the training courses for different functions at the organization, the compliance team should be ready to provide that.

Review and Monitoring: A compliance program should be reviewed on a recurring basis to catch any breaches or potential lapses. Regular review and monitoring would provide an opportunity to discover compliance failures, issues before it becomes uncontrollable. The compliance team should work along with the leadership team to take the right measures to stop such lapses take place in future. A regular report to leadership team also ensures their ongoing attention and commitment for compliance programs. A compliance training report can also act as a proof during a compliance audit.

To build a robust compliance program, it is necessary to invest in to the right technology, processes and systems. Organizations should look for a Learning Management Systems (LMS), which can help them communicate, monitor as well as report on their compliance programs. A LMS will also help in automation of certain processes, which will avoid lapses and manual failures.

Is Your Organization Moving Towards a Skills Gap Crisis?

Skills Gap pictureSkills gap can be defined as the difference between an organization’s current competency, skills and the required skills it needs to achieve a goal. With rapid changes in technology, consumer market, business process, it is very important for organizations to have the right skills set among their workforce. The skills gap is widening across many industries and organizations are struggling to find people with right skills set despite the availability of a large pool of candidates.

A report by Deloitte Consulting LLP & Manufacturing Institute Skills indicates that “Over the next decade nearly 3 ½ million manufacturing jobs likely need to be filled. The skills gap is expected to result in 2 million of those jobs going unfilled”. One more industry, where skills gap is widening to a warning rate is nuclear industry. Retiring employees, lack of right training programs are two major contributing factors behind the growing skills gap in nuclear industry. Another report from American Society for Training & Development indicates that 84 % of people think there is a skills gap in their organization, 6.4 % think there is no gap while 9.6% are unaware whether they have the skills gap or not. Organizations across industries are failing to bridge the gap and train their existing workforce while constantly focusing on finding new employees from outside. And, even when a new workforce is hired, it is critical to provide training and guidance, for them to be as productive as the previous workforce.

Such situations can only be controlled if organizations take charge of their current workforce’s skills gap and find a medium to develop and engage them for their future needs. Let’s look at ways through which organizations can manage the skills gap crisis and create better sustainability for their business as well as workforce.

Start Identifying the Required Skills: The Human Resources (HR) or the Talent Development team should identify the current and future needs of the organization and see how closely it matches to the skills set of their workforce. They can start determining the required skills in each area of the business by consulting the leadership team, taking insights from industry reports or by taking help from a consulting organization. It is important to keep organization’s vison, objectives and strategies in mind when you are doing a skills gap analysis.

Start Building Skills Framework: Once you have identified the skills, it is important to see how they fit in to your company’s workforce structure. Are they needed on an individual level, job level, team level or at an organization level? Do two jobs have the same skills set requirements? The skills framework should promote balance development for employees by combining business, technical and leadership skills. A skills framework would help you to understand, assign and target right skills set for the right employees on a timely basis.

Make a skills development plan: Once you have identified the required skills and its framework, the last and most important step is to develop skills development plan. See whether your current training program can incorporate skills based learning. Think about all the in-house resources you can use. For example, see if managers can plan a training program for their sub-ordinates based on their experience and knowledge. A learning management system, which enables skills centric learning can be very useful to plan, execute and track skills based learning.

While skills gap is more dominant in manufacturing, technology, healthcare, energy industries, other industries and sectors of work are also witnessing this phenomenon. Organization across industries must gain a complete understanding of their skills supply, shortage, availability, which will enable them to make right workforce planning and learning & development measures. Skills gap crisis will soon become a threat to the economy, if organizations don’t foresee the situation and invest the right budget, technology, processes in to their training strategies and methods.

Are You Engaging Your Talent in the Right Way?

We are in an era where everyday a new enterprise pops up. To make your organization stand in the storm of cut throat competition, you need to have something that others don’t! An amazing set of employees is one of the most important factors behind an organization’s success.

Let’s talk about keys for a successful organization! The only thing you need is a perfect HR department to bring in the best talent, right?  The answer is a yes and no both. Yes, this is an integral step, but no the entire success does not lie there. Attracting the right employee for your company is an important task, but the real battle is to keep the talented one’s retained while extracting the best from them.

What does talent management exactly mean? In simple words, to manage the ability, competency and power of employees within an organization. This concept acts as a boon to a company! Imagine life as an employee where your designation at your job is not what you aspired to be. In such cases, there can never be a win-win position for both the employee and the company.

This is when, talent management comes to your rescue. The concept not only restricts to recruiting the right candidate at a right time but also exploring the best and increasing retention.

This department in a company is always at work. They work continuously to attract retain, and manage promotions, all while keeping the organization’s needs in mind.To take the organization to the next level and achieve success it is vital to understand the right place for the candidates. After attracting the candidates, it is very important to strategically fit them in the organization.  The importance of the situation can be best understood with the example of buying the most expensive and amazing pair of shoes. If it doesn’t fit properly, it will only cause sores in feet or in other case, will just come out of foot! So, the task of managing talent would be incomplete if you are unable to fit the best talent at the correct place. The next most important step is to evaluate and engage with your employees on their career objectives and provide opportunities to grow within the organization on an ongoing basis. A talent development strategy, which brings together the employee’s career objectives, right skills training, personal development and finally learning and performance management not only motivates and retains the employee but also helps increasing organizational productivity. To focus on employee loyalty and motivation, it is very important to match their personal aspirations with career positions and career progression

A leading research by BlessingWhite tell us that “employees favour personal development over career progression”. They are more likely to stay loyal to a company if given opportunities to develop. Another research (Ortus’ research) shows that the biggest catalyst for employees leaving an organization is career development (75 per cent).

The world is growing digitally and everything is at the tip of your fingers. There are various software, which play an important role in talent management. Some of the components of talent management are recruitment, onboarding, performance management, compensation management, learning management, etc.

These software help in this fast growing field and make the task easy. Just digitally you can learn to manage as well as get recruited. In reality talent management software is a set of HR capabilities. So in short, talent management software is designed to manage talent through the entire lifecycle from hiring through development to reward!!  It helps a lot to maximize the value of an organization.

To fit it all in a bottle, talent management software is designed specifically to help organizations meet highly strategic goals. . Having right talent is important but valuing the right talent is more important. And, only a well-designed talent development statregy can help you achieve that and is a sure shot way to take another leap in the growing competition.

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.

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.
 

The Benefits of Using a Customer-Oriented Learning Management System (LMS) Vendor

Henry Ford small (larger)Someone famously asked Henry Ford if he had talked with customers for their opinions before creating an automobile for the masses.  Henry Ford, wisecrack that he was, quipped “If I’d asked what people wanted, they would have said faster horses.”  That attitude may have flown in the day and age where doctors were still attempting to cure maladies of all sorts by zapping the bejesus out of their patients with raw electricity, but today’s customers are better informed and much more savvy as to what they need.  And doctors thankfully became more judicious with their use of electricity as a form of treatment.

Today’s customers have problems that are unique to their business processes, and they know exactly what functions and abilities they need their learning management system to perform. What good is it to have a system that can’t adapt to changing business processes?  Or even worse, an LMS provider who responds to your unique needs with: “You probably don’t need that. That’s why we don’t have it.”  If you do find yourself in that situation with your LMS provider, check out our LMS Switching Guide on how to ask soul-searching questions about whether or not you should find a new LMS.

Part of Gyrus Systems’ customer focus is to gather feedback from our customers in our product community and to incorporate customer requested features into each release.  The benefit? You get an adaptable product that meets your business needs without the pain and expense of a customization.

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.

Different Training Media for Better Learning

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     I love working on cars.  There’s nothing quite like the feeling of accomplishment after changing my own brake pads and rotors, or the satisfaction of putting new oil in my car.  Or it could just be the fact that I no longer pay north of $60 for a synthetic oil change at the local mechanic’s.

     But before I got into working on my own car, I was somewhat naïve on the inner workings of those magnificent mechanical horseless carriages.  As a youngster, I asked my dad how they worked, and he verbally described in exact detail the process of an Otto cycle internal combustion engine. My head was swimming: you could have beckoned me over and whispered in my ear in total confidence that my car was powered by a small, little gnome named Gerald in an oversized hamster cage that was coupled to the driveshaft.  And my eyes would have opened wide in understanding as I exclaimed, “this explains everything!”  And I would have happily caromed down Lombardy Street in San Francisco, a la Steve McQueen in Bullitt, hollering, “GIVE IT ALL YOU GOT, GERALD!”

     But instead of continuing on my path of blissful ignorance and taking my car to the mechanic with the complaint of “Gerald’s tired all the time!” I decided to read about my car’s make and model and increase my knowledge so that I make minor repairs myself.

     Reading wasn’t enough, so I would seek out videos on the internet, pictures of parts, and examine my own car so that I wouldn’t make a fatal error and require a new Gerald. Engine. I meant require a new engine.

     The point is that I sought out different types of materials in different mediums: print, discussion forums, tech manuals, pictures, and videos. And I was certainly better for it.  How many of us have had to sit through PowerPoint presentations, and thought a picture would work better, or watched a training video and wanted the steps and instructions written down?

     Learning occurs a lot of different ways. Most companies realize this, and are moving towards providing their employees with different training methods and different training media to increase the amount of learning.  If you’re not satisfied with overall training outcomes, try examining your delivery method and see if you can’t present it in a different way, or couple it with a visual or collaborative portion.

     Besides, the last thing you want to see is one of your employees go up to your VP when they finish parking their Corvette in the morning and ask, “So how many Geralds does this baby have?”

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.

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

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

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).

Do you have control over your own career path?

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

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

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

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

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

MOOCs are Revolutionizing Where, When, and Who is Learning

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Is a Lack of Necessary Workforce Skills Dragging Your Company Down?

Workforce skills management is important in the workplace. There’s no argument there. It’s so important that we at Gyrus Systems even created an entirely new LMS (GyrusAIM) based around this concept of workforce skills management. The training you provide is about much more than simply providing courses, it’s about the skills those courses are developing in your workforce.

Your organization can take a huge hit without the necessary skills-management. If your employees don’t have the necessary skills to succeed, it’s only a matter of time before your company will fall behind too. Are your employees getting the “refreshers” they need? Are they meeting the requirements for your specific industry? It’s important to ask these questions—and ask them often—to make sure that your employees aren’t getting stale or rusty.

That’s where our LMS, GyrusAIM, comes into the picture.

It’s not merely good enough to train your employees—you need to train them for the right skills, for the right job, at the right time. Sounds like a lot to keep up with, right? This is the meaning of skill-centric software such as ours.

An LMS should make your life easier, it says it in the name—it’s a learning management system because it should be helping you manage learning in your workplace. A great LMS, such as GyrusAIM, makes it easier for you by notifying you of expired certifications, what courses have been completed and those that have not, and other metrics or repots.

eLearning is used every day in many universities, so there should be no question that is can be just as valuable in a workplace setting (we’re taught for years that learning never stops, right?). Don’t let unskilled workers be to blame for your company’s slow (or for some, abrupt) failure.

Using technology to create a high performance learning organization

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

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

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


Some of the key deliverables for the projects were:

1) Key requirements with metrics for success

2) Team formation

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

4) Product configuration based on key roles

5) Implementation

6) Training


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

How to Keep Your Training Data Neat and Tidy Under Pressure


Neatness counts!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Discipline

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

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

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

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


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

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

Fast forward.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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