Election Day – Using Social Media Campaign Methods to Enhance Learning Programs

Election Day – Using Social Media Campaign Methods to Enhance Learning Programs

Election Day – Using Social Media Campaign Methods to Enhance Learning Programs

Many of you, much like myself are incredibly tired of the election build-up. I have heard countless friends’ and strangers’ state that they cannot wait for November 8th, just because we can finally be free of these intrusive campaign approaches. Well, I’m here to tell you, it’s finally time. No more build-up, today is the day (If you haven’t done so already, be sure to get out there and rock the vote). That being said, a lot of the initiatives utilized to motivate voters, also have merit in the learning realm. Specifically, a lot of research goes into calibrating a well-oiled campaign. Both sides know that there is a threshold of what they can provide to their prospective voters without disengaging them, as well as a wide variety of approaches in which their potential voters can be reached.

As learning professionals, the election is a large tutorial on how to motivate learners to undergo organizational learning at a reasonable pace. Instead of ensuring the success of a country, our focus is strictly on programs and the utilization of proven techniques. Advertisements may not be the best way to remind your organization of due-dates (Although, they could work to some extent). However, a few of the other methods utilized which are a little less intrusive could work wonders for your program. In order to provide a thorough campaign platform, I’ve opted into solely discussing innovative approaches parties are taking in the realm of social media.

Reminders

Normally, the eighth day of a month would come and go without much thought. But people from all over the US have had this date circled on their calendar for years. This may be the first day of the year that some of your friends who are really bad at acknowledging dates actually know what the date is. Granted the external drive for knowing this date may exceed that of the social media efforts utilized to inform of when people should show up. But the reminders definitely help. The same rings true for your learning program, whether it be within private social groups on LinkedIn or even a company’s Intranet, constant and persistent engaging reminders can make the difference between a low engagement of a learning object, and fully taking advantage of the learning itself.    

Engaging Communications

Reminders are not the only way in which to inform learners about what is going on within your program. Use learnings as a stepping stone and initialize discussion based on learning topics via private social media channels (Protected Groups). This will not only further facilitate learner engagement but also bring attention to learning efforts. This has been effectively utilized in the presidential campaigns in a public forum by instilling a FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). FOMO is a powerful tool for learning engagement as it allows program organizers the ability to project a needs based urgency to learners organization-wide.  

Badging

Perhaps the simplest form of badging exists in the voting world. A small sticker emblazoned with “I Voted Today”, or another similar moniker adorns users across a wide variety of social media today. Additional badging efforts have been included in campaigns from an early go this election period. “I’m with her” and “Make America Great Again” social media badges have been highly visible and effective marketing efforts for both candidates. Similar efforts can also work for your learners. Badging is a wide-ranging field that can be specifically addressed within learning or merely within the functioning of the LMS itself. Imagine your learners displaying proud badges of time spent within their learning environment, and what effect that may have directly on their co-workers. Badges are powerful and highly adaptive tools that can lead to the additional motivation of users within a system.  

Conclusion

This campaign season has been a wealth of knowledge in terms of utilization of unconventional voter commitment methodologies. Some of these methods are very significant from a social media standpoint. These are highlighted above as reminders, engagement strategies, and badging. When considering expanding the reach and capabilities of your learning program, do not neglect these capabilities. Beyond these initiatives, the most important takeaway is: Make sure you vote! (If you haven’t done so already). 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.

Aligning Learning Needs with Business Process

Aligning Learning Needs with Business Process

Aligning Learning Needs with Business Process

It appears that the work of a learning professional is never done. In order to establish an effective learning program, there must be a great consideration for the future needs of the day to day business, and the workforce themselves. One cannot simply establish a program and walk away stating that it is as perfect as it will always be and there is nothing more we can do as an organization. Learning is a fairly nebulous industry. The opportunities to improve upon our past successes are abundant in every turn. Whether it be addressing the blended learning mix we provide, the content we promote directly, or the style in which our learners process information; there are countless decisions that we can make, and the answer that we provide today, may not be what is most effective weeks from now.

How to safeguard your users’ learning experience

First things first, establish a platform that you are confident will grow along with your organization. Learning Management Systems (LMSs) are the foundation of the learning process. Picking the one that not only suits the need of your organization today but has a clear roadmap for innovation and product enhancements along your entire user experience, can go a long way in maximizing the return on your immense learning program formation efforts. When exploring a potential LMS, be sure to take into consideration features that are soon to be available, as they may give a precise picture of learning initiatives that can be included to propagate the reach of the organizational learning.

Learning Approach

The 70:20:10 rule, suggests that learning should be delivered in a manner that is 70% knowledge acquired from job-related experiences, 20% from social interactions, and 10% from formal educational objects. This mix is widely accepted as an industry standard and practiced across a huge assortment of learning segments. That being said, part of ensuring the longevity and reach of a learning program is performing the due diligence on where the field is going. Meaning, keep your ear to the ground and look out for any outlying theories that may contradict this ideal mix, and be aware that with all the new forms of learning that are quickly enhancing the marketplace, there is a very real chance that this model may need to be tweaked, to also represent unaccounted for learning objects. The Greek Philosopher, Heraclitus, was recorded multiple times for saying “Change is the only constant in life.” In the learning world, perhaps more now than ever, this position has never ringed truer.

Effectiveness of Content

Measuring the effectiveness of current offerings is vital in any learning environment. The content you are providing right now could be incredible, and your staff could be entirely enamored with the wide range of capabilities your learning and development department has focused. Or, possibly and most likely, the employees within your organization could potentially be providing hints and messages on the need for new courses, all of which may not be falling onto the appropriate and capable ears of the capable system administrator. Instead, the learning department, in general, could possibly be struggling with a lack of knowledge growth. Organizations are most effective when they grow organically, with this growth, comes a new wealth of knowledge, which can make for a timely addition to the learning mix.

Learning Aids or additional learning processes

The learning world is changing. It used to be that in order to obtain compliance training, employees would have to undergo grueling round table instructor-led training (ILT). However, today that is no longer the case. Outside of E-Learnings as a newer platform to maximize user buy-in, a variety of efforts are starting to be included into a well-blended mix, such as Social Learning, Gamification, and Micro Learning exercise. The collaborative appeal of social learning offers a new way to improve user intrigue by allowing for the convention of an additional system user, providing both expertise and a unique perspective towards a variety of experiences a user can encounter within a learning program. For gamification, the users which you have been addressing with traditional learning exercises can now be provided a new outlet, which may serve to reinvigorate users, as well create the value proposition of self-motivated individuals to perform within the program itself. Thirdly, microlearning can be utilized to extend the reach of the previously established learnings. Instead of getting stuck on a certain aspect of a course. You can now provide an overview of specific hard to understand content, in order to ensure the awareness of all aspects of a process, across the scope of the organization.

Conclusion

The future may seem entirely uncertain, but one thing is definite; preparing your learning department for industry advancements while keeping your eyes open for future state innovations can be the difference between a fledgling program and one that turns a business into a finely tuned and oiled machine. In order to properly prepare system administrators we recommend the following: establish an environment that will not only grow with you but also offers all the functionality your organization currently needs to produce the best possible learning for its staff. Then, lend specific focus towards the delivery method employed (how formal is the learning mix? What portion of it feels as if it is being directly pulled from the staff members themselves?) Rely on reporting and measurement to continuously evaluate the content that is being delivered. Pay close attention to content that is being perceived as less and less effective, as these often indicate areas with the largest potential for growth. Finally, do not be afraid of employing the utilization of new elements within your learning environment. Though it may seem that a lot can be achieved just through a classroom session and/or an E-Learning, there is still the possibility of expanding the reach of the provided learning. 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.

References

Who said "the only thing constant is change"? (n.d.). Retrieved November 01, 2016, from https://www.reference.com/world-view/said-only-thing-constant-change-d50c0532e714e12b

The Power of Free Learnings – Non-SCORM Content

The Power of Free Learnings – Non-SCORM Content

The Power of Free Learnings – Non-SCORM Content

In the modern world, we have access to a wide-variety of free content. There are devoted websites that provide free E-Learnings and there is even a virtual Galaxy full of compliance offerings and operational tutorials on video hosting sites such as YouTube. When evaluating your learning program, are you making the most of what is available to you? Here is a quick guideline in evaluating the free content available to you, and how to augment your learning program with what you find.

Evaluate Current Content

Specifically, in the realm of business application learnings, there are finite methodologies for succeeding within a particular role. Many organizations provide custom learnings for these areas, as the practical nature of the process may be completely outside the scope of real life. Videos found on YouTube provide an alternative perspective. What may work for your business, may not register the greatest buy-in from your workforce. When looking through your current course offerings, consider whether or not there is enough of a human element in the offering, and how additional context could bolster the idea in the minds of your users. Also, look for items that may not be present. For example, if you are offering a software tutorial in your current learning mix, seek out specific features which may extend the functionality of the application which you are teaching on. It is hard to know what may most benefit your users, but giving them a full scope of ideas could be just what the doctor ordered in consideration of what could potentially best impact the organization in question. Establish a training team on these topics and talk about what your instructors may wish to see in the learning that is not currently there, and develop a complete list of requirements in order to make to learnings as well rounded as possible for the end users within your system. Develop a mapping that shows where the content holes are, and use this as a form of reference going forward.

Evaluating the Free Content

Not all free content is created equally. As such, this step is absolutely vital to ensuring proper utilization of free content within your learning platform. In order to evaluate the free learnings, perform simple web searches to look for materials that may fill these identified gaps, and begin building a list. Create a periodical email campaign internally with your learning team to establish the validity of some of the URLs which you have collected. Then, establish a meeting to follow-up on these items and collect input as to why the learnings you have found either work or come up short in the scheme of what your organization most values. This process will further shape your requirements, and push your search for suitable free content. Along the way, be sure not to neglect the ratings of the content which you are evaluating, a quick glance of the number of likes and dislikes on an embedded video could be all you need to disqualify a video prior to even viewing it for further content validity.

Patch Holes in Educational Provisions

Once you and your learning design team have evaluated your current offerings and the free online web provisions, it is time to start patching the holes which you have found. Match the criteria which you have established in the evaluation of your current content with the vetted available learnings encountered in the previous step of evaluating the free content. Utilizing the free learnings, start filling in the blanks of the mapping document you and your design team created within the step of evaluating your current content offerings.  

How to Implement New Content

Flag courses within your Learning Management System (LMS) in which these new Learning Objects may apply, and determine the best methodology for grading these new learnings. Whether it be via a simple verification of a one-time viewing, or a more elaborate methodology such as the creation of a supplemental testing object to verify user comprehension. This process will further the reach of the new content in the system, as well as the previously established courses in which these are in reference towards.

Conclusion  

There is an incredible library of learnings, completely free, available on whatever platform you are reading this blog on. Follow the steps of evaluating your current content, the content you would wish to add, filling the holes in your existing offerings, in order to implement a complete educational mix, which best suits the needs of your workforce. Doing this will ensure the best possible environment for your personnel and establish a deeper understanding of possible functionalities that could be going neglected within your organization’s current offerings. 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.

What Business Application Training Accomplishes

What Business Application Training Accomplishes

What Business Application Training Accomplishes

In corporate training programs, often the focus is strictly on compliance. It seems that not everyone is hip to the idea that there is indeed a utilization that can improve their personnel’s’ capabilities in competitively selected industries. Well, I am here to tell you that there indeed is. In modern times we expect a lot from our training and development programs, and it safe to assume that progression in our industry is strictly relational to a number of additional learning aspects we can obtain from our Learning Programs themselves. By instilling basic business skills courses within your program employees can quickly obtain the business skills they do not know they require to succeed in their roles.

I often think back to a sales seminar I was sent to, many moons ago. In that program, I learned many manners in which I could properly present myself in front of the customer, how to effectively summarize the purpose of my existence within a corporate entity, and most importantly a phone etiquette trick that has stayed with me until this very day. That etiquette trick is the simplest thing that one can do on the phone, but it goes a long way in aiding communication partner’s retention and appreciation of your call. As you have read this far, you are probably dying to know “what was the trick?” Well, I am more than happy to relay it here: when you call and you reach someone’s voicemail and are in the process of leaving a callback number. Speak deliberately (slow and assertively) and repeat yourself (the repetition is key, just in case they were unable to decipher your first rendition of the number). One of the most annoying things about communication in this digital age is that people ramble out their work numbers so rapidly, often you have to listen to the message five to ten times just to decipher the call. Things like this may seem like it is common sense, but you would be very surprised at the interactions your personnel has on behalf of the company. This blog will now focus on the list of generic business application training that will not only expand the learning and development program of your organization but will also enhance the competencies of your workforce.

Problem Solving

General problem-solving skills, as well as company specific troubleshooting standards, can go a long way in preparing the workforce for elements of the job they do not anticipate. When issues arise, it is best to prepare your students with a manner to evaluate the issue and determine a course of action, in order to best respond to the issue.  By doing so, employees are outfitted with the tools needed to accomplish these challenges with the least possible hindrance to daily work life. General problem-solving techniques can also prevent intervention from senior members of your workforce, allowing focus to remain on more taxing efforts within your organization’s workflow.

Writing

With the importance of email correspondence in modern business, writing and grammar skills are more important and meaningful than ever. Nothing turns potential consumers off quicker than an initial correspondence that makes them feel as if they are speaking to someone unable to process their business language. By including written and grammatical skills in your learning plans, you can further the reach of your organization’s unique brand, ensure a universal business voice, and further, extend the capabilities of your staff.

Communication Strategies

How does your company want you to communicate with established users, consumers, and stakeholders? Is there a specific channel? Tone? The point of view? Emotion? Or brand identity that your personnel is required to comply with? This is a very important aspect of the learning mix to approach. The existence of your learning platform can determine the communication efforts of your employee base. By providing a general outline of what the first encounter with an outside agency should be, as well as additional communications throughout the newly established relationship. A learning in the category can also go a long way in informing users as to where additional resources in the categories may be located (resources such as organization branded forms, emails, presentations, and letterhead).  

Presentation Skills

In continuing with communication strategies, public speaking is quite the task for individuals. Not everyone can go up in front of a group of people and talk about the functionalities and benefits of certain aspects of their business. This is your opportunity to instill the unique brand qualifications of your organization. Disseminate what a public speaking engagement could and should look like, as well as notify system users of established approval process the may need to adhere to.  

Time Management

Perhaps the most difficult component of a new job is figuring out how to appropriately manage one’s time. A concise learning on time management techniques can go a long way in making an employee feel as if they do not have to reinvent the wheel, as well as aid in the amount of time you or additional individuals within your organization will have to spend to get them up to speed. With individuals within organizations taking on so many responsibilities nowadays, Time management skills are crucial in rounding out the offerings of a learning system.

Conclusion

These skills and countless others can be the foundation of your learning program going forward. Allowing you to augment your platform to be more than just a compliance tool. Creating an immediate impact on your organization’s personnel. By introducing alternative business skills, and skills like the ones listed above, you are taking the first step in cultivating the abilities of your employees and getting the most out of your learning platform. Be sure to tune into this blog channel as we further explore the learning industry and advancement trends a few times a week. Also, do not forget to subscribe to this blog in the top right-hand corner (bottom of this page if you are viewing via a mobile connection), for the latest posts directly into your email inbox.

 

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.

The Disruptive Approach to the Learning Industry

The Disruptive Approach to the Learning Industry

The Disruptive Approach to the Learning Industry

Not too long ago, all the rage in our industry was shifting focus to the disruptive business model. Whenever there is a long-standing construct, it seems that someone comes out of nowhere and flips the model on its head. We see it all the time in this modern internet age. Companies like Uber, Airbnb, and Google (via a variety of enterprises) continue to break down the walls and establish new and innovative processes for consumers to integrate into their daily lives. From an outside perspective, it would appear that the Learning Market is ripe for such an opportunity. However, I would like to make the case that our industry is not as ripe as one would imagine.

The Learning marketplace, in particular, has been very adaptive throughout its entire existence. It seems that Training personnel are always focused on new and innovative teachings, and designers are obsessed with developing an open platform that can accommodate all these visionary changes that we as learning professionals would wish to implement. As a result, the largest changes that we are currently experiencing in this market are alarmingly innovative, however, they all work within the framework that is in place. The grand scheme of training from a disruptor’s perspective perhaps is not completely re-inventing the framework of the wheel, but instead, the successful disruptor may have to come in with a perspective far more internal to the learning process itself.

Think of the industry and how it currently stands, and the new features that are being introduced within the context of your training environment. New features such as mobile learning, gamification, and microlearning, all serve a need that was not immediately identified within the context of a training environment. That need being, how to motivate your workforce to action upon the training, as well as making said training accessible at any time, in any place. Microlearning in particular caters towards reinforcing ideas, motivating students due to the brevity of the content, as well as creating an environment where the user feels like they have accomplished something within that same very short time span. The innovators in this environment have created these amazing new functionalities, however, they have chosen to do so in a method that works with the already established infrastructure that organizations enjoy, and instead of further shifting focus onto newer and even greener pastures, a focus is being applied on perfecting these new features as they stand today. Gamification, while incredible and entirely visionary for the field of learning is not built out as much as designers and training administrators would like. The role of the disruptor in the learning space is currently to perfect these new processes and turn them into something that is entirely the vision of the learning client and helps positively shape experiences within the paradigm of learning.

What is next for the learning industry?

There is definitely more to come in the learning industry; the current focus is to make the end to end process feel more accessible. Instead of something that has been almost entirely compliance driven, more and more efforts are being placed on rounding out the entire offering. Providing situations where the complete picture of a role is thought out from the first interaction to some of the most difficult interactions an employee may face.

If a disruptor were to shift focus onto the industry at hand, some of the things that may be the most beneficial are as follows:

How do we capitalize on existing knowledge?

This is arguably the most immediate environment for an entrepreneurial mind. One of the largest problems with learning content in our industry is ensuring its effectiveness, as well as appropriately catering it to the needs of individual organizations. Especially, when considering the current climate in the pricing of custom learnings, and attempting to get something perfect based on our perceived requirements. We are not all instructional designers, and even when we are, there is a chance that on our own, we are unable to truly capture the requirements of the learners within our organization. In this stage of development outside eyes of like peers to point out areas in which we may have missed opportunities for greater learning are crucial.  For the outsider (and in this case the disruptor), it is imperative that employees, industry peers, and competitors alike are all considered, as they are a completely underutilized wealth of knowledge. An opportunist can capture the appropriate requirements of these given categories, and determine what they are doing to ready themselves for the future. Though there are organizations that already do this, the focus is not always on specific role capabilities or instituting a passive chain for knowledge transfer. This could be an exciting offering if approached properly, and could entirely revolutionize the manners in which we approach learning in each and every one of our organizations.

How do we further the reach of our learnings?

Practice makes perfect. Just like in school, often people cram for their big test and leave all the answers on the examination itself. We often remember very little, almost as if the knowledge was captured via the keyboard or writing utensil of which the examination occurred and removed from us entirely. Though learning innovators have approached this with some not so traditional methods, such as microlearning and gamification, there are definitively additional opportunities in this space. Imagine a comprehensive approach to facilitating once a day training within a short time window. That can be traceable and effective, giving appropriate tricks and tips on how to be more effective within certain roles within an organization. Or even better, completely editable content that is easy to configure without the help of any vendor whatsoever. This is the exciting future state of content in general.

How can we ensure our learning and development program is properly fixated on organizational bottom line?

At the end of the day, the mission of the organization should be the reason we seek to better ourselves. A disruptor realizes there is an untapped wealth to be found in the delivery of the right training to the appropriate staff, at the right moment. Just in time training may be the future of training itself, having the most impactful content could be the differentiator your organization has desperately craved since it first opened its doors. Imagine a picklist within your LMS that gives you access to any content available within a providers’ system. This could be done and a virtual a la cart variety package could be an amazing way to close role gaps within your organization.

Conclusion

The future is incredibly bright, and always very fun to ponder. With so many opportunities on the horizon and so many choices already in the learning mix, it is hard to argue the undoubted benefits of a learning and development department. Be sure to join me and Gyrus Systems as we further investigate the Learning industry and all that it entails here at the Gyrus Systems Blog. Also, do not forget to subscribe to this blog, with up to the minute content on new postings delivered straight to your email inbox!

xAPI – What it can mean for your learning Program

xAPI – What it can mean for your learning Program

xAPI – What it can mean for your learning Program

In the Learning and Development industry a very buzzworthy topic is xAPI (xAPI is also known as Tin Can API or the Experience API in case you have heard or read additional posts elsewhere, it will herein be referred to solely as xAPI within this blog post). The concept is everywhere… you are reading blogs left and right explaining what it is and its characteristics. Some a lot more easy to understand than others. But in general, you realize that xAPI definitely can go a long way in expanding the capabilities of some of your more cumbersome components within your learning program. But “how exactly can it do that?” And really, “what is it?” According to Tincanapi.com (which also exists as experienceapi.com to suit your fanatical naming convention’s needs), “xAPI is a brand new specification for learning technology that makes it possible to collect data about the wide range of experiences a person has (online and offline). This API captures data in a consistent format about a person or group’s activities from many technologies. Very different systems are able to securely communicate by capturing and sharing this stream of activities using Tin Can’s simple vocabulary.” Why is this important? Well, previously these data points had been collected over various other protocols, specifically focused on E-learning and Instructor Led Training (ILT), while now, this universal type of data encapsulation ensures interoperability between new learning objects within your system and the outside world.

What does that mean to my learning program?

Think of your learning program like it is an amusement park full of intense rides, arcades, and entertainment. In general, you would be satisfied in knowing that the only reason people are there is to ride the most insane breakneck ride in the park, and that is why the queued line is always so long. But, what if I told you that people actually go to the amusement park for a variety of other reasons. Some people really like an excuse to walk around and eat carnival foods, others dislike roller coasters altogether and really enjoy watching live acting, and others are obsessed with video games, but really just need an excuse to get out of the house. In order to identify what motivates people to go to the parks, their overall experience would need to be measured. Experience Tracking (The reason xAPI is also known as the Experience API) is a very real component of the xAPI offering. Objects that begin as strictly online E-learning, do not have to end that way. Interactions throughout the process are carried out on a variety of devices and in an abundance of ways allowing for an all-encompassing view of the learners’ involvements. If there is a social component of the learning mix, if there is a game that aids in the specific development of a particular course, it is now attributable to a single data node. As a whole, the intent of xAPI is to aid the flexibility of the entire system, as well as the way in which we measure our learnings.

What are the benefits?

Learning is no longer confined to typical methodologies, this opens up the avenues towards Social Learning, Mobile Learning, and Gamification. SCORM is not designed to track these learning approaches. SCORM is not going away, you can continue to use your currently established SCORM to track end to end utilization of various learning objects. However, in the xAPI Format, the administrator can view Learning objects from a broader perspective (as well as institute a variety of objects which were not originally considered part of the learning blend). Such as, if the user has asked for help on connected social media, contributed to the learning environment via discussion boards, or if the user photographs or screen captures relative content. This specification should be exciting to industry personnel as it extends the outreach of our user metrics. Further understanding our users and how they interact not only within, but also outside of their learning environment can provide a vital knowledge component that was once missing from our analytics in order to determine courses of action in our programs.

In Conclusion

Try not to be afraid of new technologies, the learning space is continuously evolving and as the tools get better, our abilities expand as well. As your program begins implementing social learning and gamification initiatives make sure the environment in which they are being provided is capable of fully measuring these features and their utilization. You don’t have to take your learning amusement park at face value, use xAPI to learn how users are crafting their own experiences and use this information to further establish methods for success within your implementation. As always, remember to join us here at the Gyrus Systems Blog as we continue to investigate buzzworthy components of the learning and development field multiple times a week; don’t forget to subscribe to our blog (subscription form on top right of this page) to have the latest blogs delivered straight to your email inbox.

 

References

"Tin Can API." Tin Can API. Rustici Software, LLC, n.d. Web. 26 Sept. 2016. https://tincanapi.com/overview/

 

Open Badges – What you need to know

Open Badges – What you need to know

Open Badges – What you need to know

With gamification being such a buzzworthy topic and so many successful manners in which to implement into your program, it is hard to decide what the best manner is. Ideally, the solution that offers the greatest intrinsic motivation for your learners would be the ideal provision of your learning management system. But, which one is that? Instead of getting into the argument of which methodology is best, I will merely select a certain aspect and roll with the punches. Regardless of how you slice it, a very important aspect of the gamified mix is badging. Though there are many beliefs as to the best way to establish a badging program, it is hard to argue the fundamental benefits of OpenBadges.org and the flexibility that an open standards system provides.

Open Badges Capabilities

Badging when it started was a relatively inexact science, sort of like being granted a gold star in class for answering a question, but sometimes not getting a golden star for the same exact behavior. Today, users are rewarded based upon adhering to a particular set of pre-determined guidelines. When a user signs into a system a certain amount of times, when a user completes an assessment for the second time, or even when a user successfully signs into a particular system for the first time. The badging rewards for doing “stuff” can be anywhere we as learning experience providers see fit. Open badges are very good at doing these types of things, and it is very easy to use and digest. When a user completes one of these pre-defined tasks, the badge is issued, and the exact details of the award are encapsulated within the badge itself, then it is entirely capable of being displayed anywhere the user wants. If a user achieves a relatively hard badge to obtain, or the badge itself is directly linked to a certain type of accreditation; the badge itself can be used in a manner to display capabilities to the outside world (effectively extending the reach of your training program).

Open Standard

Get your badges from courses you build, pre-packaged courses purchased for your learning platform, or online courses and e-learnings found via third party programs, all with pre-existing collaborative and universally accepted badging capabilities. Based on the capabilities of Open Badges themselves and the type of data they store, these badges can not only be verified by outside agencies, but they can also be trusted in terms of pathways to success parameters for achieving these awards. Because Openbadges.org is built on an open standard, it can be used by any entity. You can take a quiz put on by your favorite TV show on how well you know the main characters, as well as an examination of the viscosity of certain brands of jet fuel, and they can be hosted on the same general forum! Open badges are cool, and there are plenty of predesigned badges to choose from, or, you can design your own.

Easy Issuing

Open badges work as you tell them to. As such, it is vital that you pre-define success criteria strategically to get the most out of your system. Do not be afraid to search for cool manners in which open badges have been used in the past, as well as scroll up and down your friends and colleagues LinkedIn walls, as there is a strong chance that some of them are already proudly displaying Open Badges curated content. There are many devoted websites that provide pre-existing open badges that can immediately be used by your program, just a quick google search away.

Display Capabilities

As I mentioned earlier, a lot of users are familiar with work completed in Open Badges. We see our friends on social media posting new badges every day, some as simple as scrolling through the end of a blog, to those a little bit more robust, such as adding a quality comment on a peculiar situation.  When these occur, it is very important that we wear our earned badges with pride. Display them everywhere to show your capabilities and success. Stick them on your Facebook Wall, your LinkedIn Profile, or even reference them in tweets. Open Badges are designed to be dynamic and shared. The more you share them, the further the capabilities of Open Badges reaches.

In short, Open Badges is a versatile badging platform that allows a universal capability to assign badges, across a multitude of platforms, and it is available right now, at your immediate disposal. Open Badges is the most recent addition to GyrusAim r16.1 and offers an amazing opportunity for the growth of gamification within Learning Management Systems themselves. For more information on Open Badges and to find out how they can improve your programs capabilities, stay tuned, right here, to the Gyrus Blog. Here at Gyrus, we tackle all the fun topics and further the discussion of key components of the learning industry. Be sure not to miss out on any of our upcoming posts by subscribing to our Blog.

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.

 

 

Fostering User Adoption in your Learning Program

Fostering User Adoption in your Learning Program

Fostering User Adoption in your Learning Program

As you transition from your outdated Learning Management System (LMS) to your new GyrusAim v16.1.0.4 application it is important to keep in mind your users’ perception of the change. Successful implementations hinge on how well the user base accepts the new program and what is has to offer. Below I have compiled a list of change management strategies that can be used specifically in optimizing your experience in migrating your enterprise over to a newer and more robust application.

In order to properly prepare your workforce for the impending change, it is pertinent that you:

  1. Obtain User Input to Specify Requirements

One of the easiest and strongest components of User adoption is making your users feel as if they have a say in what is to be selected. By allowing users’ to specify their unique requirements you can build a pre-qualifications list which can go a long way towards fitting your organization with the optimal application for its needs. Pre-qualifications discussions can also help you identify topics that were not in your initial product scope.  If it turns out that the only reason your users’ dislike their current LMS is due to the lack of one particular feature, the work leading up to a new system could be lighter than you anticipate.

  1. Keep Users involved in the Selection Process

Don’t just stop at obtaining user requirements, invite users to participate in your selection committee. Allowing them to evaluate and discern features of the products which are available to them. This step can go a long way in explaining to other members of the organization why features are exhibited differently than initially scoped or envisioned by the user base during their requirements forming process. This can also help if your requirements are heavily regimented and require an extensive time commitment. By keeping the user group abreast of how the search is going, it will then be easier to explain any type of lull or required extension in the resources required to obtain the perfect application to suit your organization’s needs.

  1. Inform Users of the Changes they will experience in the new program

Encourage communication between the group members who sit on the selection board and members of the organization that will be most heavily impacted by this change. This will establish the groundwork to let them know how the process is going and what requirements may be tough to find specific compliance. Once the product is carefully chosen by the selection committee, it is vital to inform on the positives of the new system.

  1. Know the System Benefits

In order to properly inform the user base on the impending software change. It is best that you take proper notation on exactly what you are getting with this change. Know the gained functionalities and options which you will be offering like the back of your hand. By knowing the cool features you are getting (especially the ones that exceed the original scope of requirements), you can act as an internal sales figure for increased product adoption. In some cases, the manner in which a system approaches a particular challenge can be much better than you originally envision. If one of your students is disheartened by the prospect of losing a particular feature, it would be very beneficial to identify the specific feature that is replacing it. Imagine the ability to be able to say this line, to a troubled individual concerned with the new change: “Though that one specific method of course creation has changed, you now have the ability to further configure multiple aspects which we had never considered, which will not only improve our course offerings and user accessibility, but also our capability to measure impact on our organization.”

  1. Educate on the Interworkings of the New Program

Knowing that a component is achieved in a different manner in the new system can also go a long way in addressing hostility expressed towards a new system offering. Training can be specifically developed for your workforce once you have been educated on the ins and outs of the product you have implemented. Saying the following expression in how it relates to your old system, “In the old system, such and such was achieved by doing this and this, while in the new system this is a simple click, and completion of a form.” Extends the perception of a new application much further than, “This is how you do this now.”

  1. Immediately Utilize the New Application

If you yourself are not buying into the new functionalities of the new application, it will be hard to justify its adoption to the personnel you are administering the application towards. Typically, in organizations where a technological change is suggested, there is a bit of a push back as users have acclimated to the system currently in place. If there is an option to utilize the functionality of the environment of which they are comfortable with, there is a very small chance you will be able to migrate them over to the newly accepted platform. It is best to completely sever utilization of legacy products, in order to gain a complete product buy-in from all applicable professionals.

Using these steps will go a long way in expanding the reception of a new product and the process itself is applicable to many different facets of life. By getting people involved, keeping them involved, and informing yourself, you can close the gap between discontinuing usage and start a new application and recognize its full potential. Please continue to join me as I further investigate the learning industry and things that impact our industry from week to week.

 

The Role of Coaching in your Learning and Development Program

Coaching in your Learning and Development Program

The Role of Coaching in your Learning and Development Program

The Role of Coaching in your Learning and Development Program

As summer winds down, and the intense heat we have been experiencing here in Virginia starts to subside, it can only mean one thing. For those of you who do not know where I am going with this, it is finally here! The full gauntlet of college football officially kicks off this weekend! As Learning and Development professionals it is time to ask ourselves… What does this mean to our industry? Or perhaps something more pertinent, such as, what lessons can we learn from these competitions and the pomp and circumstance that surround them? To our industry, the collegiate hierarchy means a lot, as it is the backbone of many corporate learning programs, and since a majority of these large schools devote contributions directly into their athletic programs (mostly football). It must be exceedingly important.

So, let’s lay the groundwork with some comparisons. College athletes have a lot in common with the younger members of your personnel. They possess similar mentalities, motivations, educational backgrounds, and drive for success. The comparisons do not just end there. They are both incredibly talented, attempting to improve themselves, and they just need help realizing their full potential; in order to develop the necessary skills to climb up all the way to the next level. That is where coaching comes in. In College Football more than anywhere else, a coach can be the difference between five wins a season and obtaining an undefeated record. The best coaches achieve success with great game-plans, proper attention and research into proven methodologies, and an appreciation to their competitors and what their efforts for improvement may be.

Your great learning program could be even greater with just a little coaching

Instructional designers have been trying for years to come up with the perfect teachings for organizational entities, with learnings ranging from electronic, social, micro, mobile, instructor-led, and blended. But all the content in the world can only get you so far when not paired with real life circumstances and the experiences of someone who has undergone the difficult processes in their infancy. Someone who has been there, experienced that, and advised you how to use the methods you have learned in your learnings, and encourage you to succeed within this environment. Coaching is not just a byproduct of good social learning, in fact, the best learning programs find ways to implement coaching into their offerings in a highly regimented manner.

How can my organization utilize coaching?

In learning concepts and methods for improvement within an organization, it is best if relayed in a manner consistent with the environment your staff is encountering. This approach can best be implemented departmentally. Set completion deadlines for learnings, then offer subsequent meetings learners who have freshly completed said learnings. Let the students interact with each other on what they have learned. In these meetings present the employees with real-life practice problems or perhaps current departmental issues that best reflect the teachings of the lessons. Listen closely to their input and coach them towards the proper methodology to accomplish an adequate resolution. Seeing processes first hand can be the connection point required to finalize the learning with individuals, as this can be the way they best learn.

Turn this into a weekly tradition

These meetings will be very productive for your organization. Like college football, they are best served in a repeatable fashion. When you become a fan of college football, you do not just watch one game. Instead, challenge your workforce weekly or bi-weekly in these endeavors. Eventually strong members of your organization will take on the Quarterback roles and become the on-field coaches your organization has always desired, yet did not know they needed.

Reinforcement

Be sure not to stop there, coaching involves so much more than instruction towards a positive outcome. It can also consist of reinforcement of techniques and procedures. When in a coaching environment, do not be afraid to figuratively pat your students on the back. Things like, “Hey, Awesome Marketing Person, your most recent blog changed the way in which I view our product. Utilizing those freshly established brand guidelines you have learned, you have really gone above and beyond the cause on this one.” All the way to, “That was a really great sales meeting Bill, the way in which you incorporated our sales training techniques in the front end of that call was completely legendary.” These will go a long way into extending the reach of your learnings, as well as motivating your workers to achieve even greater things.

In summary, coaching is a unique value added concept to a learning and development program. It allows the program itself to systematically convert the learnings experienced within a learning management system to real-life applications that they present. Consider making these quick and easy additions to your program today, in order to get the most out of your program. We hope you have enjoyed this reading and are ready for the beginning of the season now. Please continue to join us week to week, in order to see what we will be up to next.

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.

 

 

What Makes Social Learning so Interesting

What Makes Social Learning so Interesting?

What Makes Social Learning so Interesting

What Makes Social Learning so Interesting?

A Comprehensive Examination of Social Media in Our Learning Programs

Not too long ago, connections were forged outside of technological communications and maintained via sheer will. Social learning, relied solely on what one could obtain in a classroom setting, working with direct peers, or what could be conveyed back in forth on a phone. Those days are now extraordinarily a thing of the past. The World is quite plainly at our fingertips. Thanks in large part to the advent of social media, we as humans are accessible from anywhere in the world. As a result, the world is an increasingly connected and much smaller place. Instead of sitting around a campfire and playing “6 degrees from Kevin Bacon”, I could proactively comment on one of his Twitter posts and get a reaction directly from the star himself. Then, I could declare that I was only one degree away from Kevin Bacon, and most likely win the game convincingly. Why does this matter to those of us in the Training, Learning, and Development field? Social media doesn’t just close the gap between ourselves and movie stars, it also opens up a world of communication options to industry peers, thought leaders, and potential clients. This is important because it allows insights into the daily work lives of like individuals, their processes, and lessons learned on the job that can positively impact the learning community as a whole.

Social Learning can best be defined as working with others to understand ideas, concepts, and procedures. In a classroom setting, this is most clearly present in projects in which group work is assigned. The goal of social learning is to pair people with different strengths and let them combine said strengths together, in order to make a pseudo-superhero. This process has been significantly augmented by social media, instead of limiting the practice to a regional endeavor where only local personnel can apply their skills, members of the organization in satellite offices can now contribute to the learning environment as a whole. In modern times, there is not a day that goes by in which I forego attempting to learn from my peers. Bloggers just like myself are sitting there tormenting their brains in an effort to say things that impact you more than the person before them. We are not here to write fluff pieces, instead, we seek solely to improve your understanding of difficult topics, keep you abreast of industry trends, and every now and then, find a way to endorse the products which we represent.

Social learning done properly is unique as it provides a number of benefits not available in traditional learning environments.

New more consistent source of materials

One of the most intriguing value offerings of Social Media in direct relation to social learning is that there is an endless stream of content being updated live, clicks away from the learner. Though not all of this content is perfect, conglomerate sites based on RSS feeds are pulling posts and ranking them so you can even abstain from reading prose that has been poorly formulated. There are even forums created for people within our industry to get together and discuss issues that they are experiencing as they happen, all of which getting archived for future generations of learners to read, digest, and implement in their daily lives. If you Google it, an answer shall appear.  

How to communicate with each other to achieve a task

In order to make the most of social learning in the social media environment, it is completely vital that we correspond with one another. Social learning begins looking like regular learning if you are just reading someone’s informative “How-to” post on your social network of choice. One of the most vital components of social learning is that we are able to work together to establish a means to reach a solution. To horribly paraphrase the great Douglas Adams, The meaning of life may be 42 but that doesn’t really mean anything to you unless you know how you arrived at that answer. Make sure your social components in your learning environment adhere to this thought process. If a member of your team approaches you and says, “We need a way to turn this into a lean process. Each time a request for this particular item comes in; I panic and it takes me 3 weeks to produce the required outcome.” Then it is probably best if that particular person explains the process in which they are undergoing with someone else who has encountered the same process before. If the communication channel is opened up, the following can be quickly conveyed: “this is how the process was accomplished last time it was done, and these are the successes we have encountered while executing the process.” As a result, you are much more likely to resolve the issue of the ever extending timetable.

The skills of individuals you have been paired with

In the same regard of directly pulling information from the skills of one another, social learning is a great way to quickly pick up skills and establish approved lean processes. For example, a certain senior engineer at your firm can quickly answer the question about a particular sized component within a system without having to reference a diagram. When the question is posed to a new employee in a junior position, they may immediately start deep diving for documents with component ratings and whip out a calculator, and within 30 minutes, they will eventually arrive at the same answer. The purpose of effective social learning is to close this gap. Pair the two together and let them undergo the process of solving a complete project

In conclusion, a social learning program that pairs with your already in place learning objectives can improve the overall quality of the workforce. Not only will a well-adjusted program teach colleagues how to work together and utilize all of their strengths, but it will also improve their processes in the long run; shaping them as more productive individuals. Though the act of social learning has not changed too much in the grand scheme, the introduction of social media has done wonders to extend the reach of these methods, and has led to the need to re-evaluate how our programs work and are structured. I hope you have enjoyed this blog post and urge you to continue to join us here at the Gyrus Systems’ website 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 Olympics and Learning – A Fierce Combination

The Olympics and Learning – A Fierce Combination

The Olympics and Learning – A Fierce Combination

The Olympics and Learning – A Fierce Combination

With the games already under way and the Opening Ceremony beginning tonight. It seems appropriate that we compare the games to our industry. In the Learning and Development market, as in most, there are incredible similarities and strange happenstance where the lines seemingly cross without much of a thought. Though in one realm people are representing their countries and battling in beloved sports, and the other, we’re just trying to learn better and convince people along the way that they can too.

So how is the Learning and Development landscape like the Olympics? In the LMS market, we’re no strangers to competition, with projections marking as many as 700 providers in the marketplace, it sort of feels like we are participating in our own Olympics every day. However, that is not the direction I plan on taking this blog post. The secret of these large events is to embrace them for what they are. People are fascinated by these events for good reason, and if understood by the organization, could be used as a means to bring your departments, stakeholders, and personnel even closer together, and here’s how:

Gamification

Admit it, you were waiting for me to get to this point. The Olympic Games as they are known are a tremendous time to capitalize on action-oriented content. People are fixated with medal counts and want to know how their country is doing at all times, including intrigue in sports that they have never once given consideration to. To be clear, I’m not suggesting that you conduct an office-wide gymnastics, volleyball or wrestling competition. Merely, that at this particular time in history, people are highly motivated to think introspectively. Thoughts like, “If I would have kept with that sport in high school… Would I have gotten to this point?” or “What am I going to do with this new found knowledge of the complexities of Table tennis?” are running rampant in your workplace. This leads us to an intriguing opportunity for the content creators out there. Topical games are an underutilized facet of the educational mix, though their longevity is questionable, their existence could easily generate motivation the likes of which your organization has yet to experience. If a big swimming event is occurring next week and it is going to be in the hearts and minds of your employees, why not place a game in front of them that allows them to expand on their learnings while advancing their avatars across a cartoony swimming pool?

Badging

Speaking of medal counts, Bronze, Silver, and Gold medals are quite literally the badging standard. Why not create badges that match your gamification efforts? By giving a time window reflecting the duration of the games themselves, you could ward off office distractions, and obtain a level of focus an organization typically does not experience at this time of a 4-year cycle. Instead of hearing about who won Judo, Equestrian, team handball, and rowing; we could be motivating our learners to participate in their own way. Statements like, “Did you see John in Human Resources has 35 Gold Medals?” could very well be an interesting change of pace that not only brings your smart and topical learning environment into the limelight, but also provides an increase in productivity for your program.

Social

With so much focus on National pride and reaching collective success as a team, another manner you could reach your team is by using this time to becoming more team focused. It is only natural for people to chatter about the events that are transpiring on the World’s stage in Rio; at the same time, they’re talking, and while they’re talking they are presenting a strong ability to collaborate on tasks. Embrace the Olympic culture, and suggest collaborative work groups up and down your organization. Take advantage of inter-company social media representation and allow people to use this time in order to further build their connections. 

Pride in your work

People, in general, are already invested in their work, but if you take a look around the office, you will be surprised to find that some of your hardest workers are giving their work just a little bit more during these events. Above all, people are very proud of their Countries and when that particular emotion is presenting itself, it tends to permeate into other facets of work. Embrace the Summer Olympics as they are a truly unique commodity that only present themselves every 4 years, and to use a dated expression, “Strike while the iron is hot!” That Trampoline event may not make sense to you, but there are undoubtedly people in your organization who perceive what is going on in that sport as a dream come true and its representation as a victory in and of itself.  Do not be afraid to nurture these thought processes. Get out ahead of it and consider sending a quick company-wide synopsis of events from the previous day; this will promote positive communication channels within your organization and allow for the Learning environment mentioned above.

When coupling all of these methodologies together keep in mind that we do not want to go overboard. Instead, we are finding a unique way to cultivate the motivation of our staff, by presenting them with items that are coinciding directly with how they are thinking t this current moment in time. Though your entire office may not be interested in all of the events, and some people may be disinterested altogether, the sheer anticipated volume of eyes set to watch the events themselves should be an indication of what a colossal opportunity this could be.   Thank you for joining me for this fun venture into a current event that will unquestionably affect our work week in one way or another and please continue looking towards the bright side and the potential of what these cool current events could mean to yourself and your organization.

 

 

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 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.  

 

 

 

 

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.

Why You Should Be Investing in Employee Development?

emp dev blog picEmployee Development is often seen as an optional requirement by organizations and they tend to neglect it without realizing its real potential. On the other side, employees are always eager to learn and develop and look forward to organization’s support and commitment towards employee development practices. Employee Development is equally or more beneficial for the organizations than it is for the employees and overlooking this can be detrimental for an organization’s growth in the long run. 

Let’s see how Employee Development benefits the organization:

Attracts and Retains Employees: Ortus research indicates that the biggest catalyst for employees leaving an organization is lack of career development (75 per cent). An employee development program enables learning and career growth for employees while remaining in the same organization. It makes them more skilled, knowledgeable and ultimately results in better productivity. Providing the platform to support and nurture your employees’ career development promotes employee loyalty and motivation. The amount of effort, time and money invested in a hiring process easily surpasses the efforts required for an employee development program. Organizations that focus on their employee development also attract best of the talent. Prospective candidates see it as an added bonus to their work positions.  

Increases Employee Engagement at Work: Employee Development can be a powerful medium for organizations to keep their employees engaged and provide new challenges to them.  It gives employees an opportunity to learn new skills, take their career to next level or even take a new role altogether and all of this reduces the monotony of everyday work or role. It not only adds to their satisfaction at work but also improves their engagement and performance at work. With the right training and opportunities, their concertation and commitment towards the work automatically increases.

Builds Skilled and Knowledgeable Workforce: Employee Development program broadens the skills set of employees making them technology and business experts. They will have the right expertise in their domain of work, which will add to company’s overall performance. Skilled workforce acts as a backbone for organization’s growth and innovation and employees’ skills, expertise can be leveraged to come up with innovative products/solutions, superior customer experience.  It can be used as an edge to compete in the market.

Each employee contributes to an organization's overall performance. And, employee development programs aim at making them as successful and productive as they can be. Employee development does not have to start as an extensive or costly affair. At the basic level, organizations can involve and support managers to understand their subordinate’s skills and be their coach. It can be manager’s role to pass on, skills, knowledge and insights through coaching and mentoring. It can be added in to manager’s duty and there must be way to provide reward and appreciation. This approach can be further taken to create Individual Development Plan (IDP), where employees will be owning and taking charge of their own development. And, it will be organization or managers responsibilities to support and measure their plans. Overall, Employee Development should be seen as a business strategy and not another human resource investment.

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.

Skills Management Features in the GyrusAim LMS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why is Skills Management Important?

skills small - whyLast week I defined skills management by referencing and summarizing an existing Wikipedia article.  This week I’ll explain why skills management is important and I’ll begin by repeating Wiki’s definition of Skills Management: “The practice of understanding, developing, and deploying people and their skills.”  Perhaps last week I put the cart before the horse though because I didn’t define “skill.”  Again going to Wikipedia, here’s how it defines skill.  The article’s first two sentences are: “A skill is the learned ability to carry out a task with pre-determined results often within a given amount of time, energy, or both.  In other words the abilities that one possesses.

So the bottom line is that a skill is an ability, and of course we know that companies hire people based upon their abilities and whether they match the abilities required for the job.  The hiring process gets the new employee in the door for a specific job, however the corporate work environment is a very dynamic place.  People and jobs come and go, job requirements change, and people’s abilities also change.  The reason for skills management is to apply some order to this environment both for the benefit of the employees and for the company.  So skills management has both a human component: managing the abilities of employees, and a corporate component: managing the abilities required for positions (jobs).

Thus, when skill management protocols are developed and implemented successfully, employee skillsets are expanded via training to not only more fully match their current job requirements but also to match the skill requirements of other job's within the company.  When an employee's skillset matches their job's skill requirements, it’s a “win-win” situation benefiting both the employee and the organization.  Employees are happier because they have the skills to perform their job, and the organization becomes more efficient and productive which helps the bottom line.

Other benefits of implementing skills management processes are:

1. Enhanced execution of business strategy by developing skills that support business objectives.
2. Improved competitiveness by producing superior products and services because of a better trained workforce.
3. Reduced costs by identifying true training needs that eliminates wasteful spending on unnecessary training.
4. Maximized workforce ROI by more efficiently aligning employee skills with job skill requirements. 
5. Mitigated operational risks and costs by identifying & eliminating skill gaps to reduce risk of non-compliance.
6. Increased employee retention and job satisfaction by improving employee development and utilization.

A computer system is not a requirement for this successful management of skills, however it will help, especially for organizations larger than a few employees.  Some Learning Management Systems (LMSs) are skill-centric, which means they manage training through skills, other LMSs are not skill-centric and manage training only.  If in the market for an LMS, evaluate the benefits of a true skill-centric LMS and strongly consider the advantages versus a non-skill-centric LMS.

What is Skills Management?

skills small

In several recent postings I’ve blogged (a lot) about skills and skill management.  So what IS skills management?  It being 2015 the first place I looked is Wikipedia (of course) and found this: Skills Management. Terrific, a Wiki about skills management! This means other people are interested in the subject as well.  The Wiki really does sum up many important elements of skills management:

  1. Definition: The practice of understanding, developing, and deploying people and their skills.
  2. Well-implemented skills management should identify the skills that job roles require, the skills of individual employees, and any gap between the two.
  3. Skills are usually defined in a skills matrix consisting of a list of skills, a grading system, and what it means to be at a particular level for a skill.
  4. To be useful, skills management must be an ongoing process where skills are regularly assessed.
  5. Benefits

    1. Employees

      1. The ability to review the list of skills they require, the skills they have obtained, and ultimately their skill gaps.
      2. A development plan may be provided to bridge skill gaps over a period of time.
      3. Employees gain from improved identification and understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses, from being able to set personal goals, and to understand the value they bring to the organization, which in turn can boost morale.
    2. Managers

      1. Enables knowledge of employee skill strengths and weaknesses.
      2. Allows them to search for employees with specific skills.
    3. Executives – A rolled up view of skills and skill gaps across an organization can enable its executives to see areas of skill strength and weakness. This enables them to plan for the future against the current and future abilities of staff, as well as to prioritize areas for skills development.

 

These benefits actually closely match with the points I made in my last posting about the “Benefits of a Skill-Centric Learning Management System.”  I guess that’s not too surprising though since the whole point of a Skill-Centric management system is to manage employee skills!

Transforming Learning Through Mobile: Managers On-The-Go

As a manager it is hard to stay tied to your desktop computer to check on the progress and status of your employees participating in eLearning.  The lack of accessibility is not the only complaint about traditional eLearning.  A quick internet search shows that both users and managers dislike the boredom and inability to focus when stuck at a computer for a long training session. Mobile Learning, or mLearning, is the solution.

Mobile-Manager-Training

Mobile LMS for Managers

Gyrus Systems’ MobileAim is not just for employees on-the-go, it is also designed to provide managers with more flexible schedules by allowing them to manage employees while in or out of the office.  MobileAim has several tools designed specifically with the manager in mind: “My Enrollments,” “My Assessments,” and “Manage My People” are key features that make life easier for a manager.

While your staff is in the field or on-call you can easily track their training progress via “Manage My People.”   “My Enrollments" allows you to check on your students’ enrollment status and learning status, as well as all eLearning events.  When it is time to give an assessment, the instructor can manage it from the “My Assessments” feature.  Once an employee completes an assessment, the manager receives results in real time.

Benefits of Taking Your LMS Mobile

mLearning allows your employees to stay connected to their training through their mobile device, accessing it on their own time.  Employees no longer need to attend long training sessions, which reduces company training costs and travel expenses.  This flexibility also creates a more efficient workplace by minimizing employee's schedule interruptions to attend classes.  According to a study conducted by Dell “more than two thirds of businesses have seen increases in employee productivity and customer support by allowing employees to use their mobile devices at work.”  (crn.com)

Employees have a higher training completion rate when performed on their own time.  Gyrus Systems’ MobileAim streamlines the process of providing tasks and information to your employees while giving you easy to use tools to monitor their development. The end result is a more efficient and competent workplace.

 

Mobile Solution for Employees on the Move

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Different Training Media for Better Learning

mechanics-424130_640

     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?”

White Board for an Organized LMS Implementation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Start – Transfer – Deliver

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bridging the Gap

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

Vado’s strategy is simple but not simplistic;

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

Think differently about training

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

Make it relevant

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

Make it accessible

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

‘Chunked’ Learning

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

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

Effectiveness of video in training

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

Incorporate the basic rules of retention

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

Development Best Practices

1. Aligned to organizational objectives

2. Self-paced and learner focused

3. Embed learning into workflow

4. Granular, bite sized, ‘chunked’ learning

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

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

 

Benefits of Skills-Centric Learning Management Systems (LMS)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The foundations of the skills gap       

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

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

Executives recognize the problem

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

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

They recognize the impact

If they don’t fix the Skill Gap:

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

Training is a waste of money

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

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

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

Break the mold 

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

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

What is Skill-Centric Approach?

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

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

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

Why Skills Management?

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

What is Skill Management?

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

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

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

Change Management Strategies for LMS Implementation

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

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

Three best practices to meet these challenges include:

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

 

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

Building a Corporate University

One of the major initiatives for corporations in 2014 is to create a Corporate University. Which means, that if this is a priority for your organization, you’ll want to understand the nine steps needed for building a successful Corporate U.
However, before we jump in, we should first discuss what a Corporate University is. Is it to combine all learning activities under one umbrella? Is it to create a “cool” name for activities that are already taking place? Or is it to be a member of the approximately 3700 Corporate Universities that are estimated to be in existence?

I don’t think so. According to Mark Allen in The Corporate University Handbook, a Corporate University is “an educational entity that is a strategic tool designed to assist its parent organization in achieving its mission by conducting activities that cultivate both individual and organizational learning, knowledge and wisdom.”

Simply put, it’s about developing employees to improve employee and organizational performance to achieve organizational results. If we use this definition as the backbone for creating a Corporate U, we can easily define nine steps for success.

Steps for Creating a Corporate University

1. Support
2. Vision, Strategy, Goals
3. Funding
4. Audience
5. Learning Needs by Audience
6. Supplier Selection
7. Technology
8. Measurement
9. Communication

Many organizations give their Corporate Universities clever names and create University logos. While this is encouraged to promote the University brand, it is not the starting point but rather comes at the end of the process.

However, if you can include these nine steps when you embark on creating a Corporate University, you will find your University to be more successful, and thus is better able to support the organization’s goals and strategy more effectively and efficiently.

*** Detailed steps can be found on our white papers at Gyrus Resources ****

Competency Development Best Practices

HR Leaders and C-level Executives agree that developing competencies improves individual and overall organization performance. While most leaders recognize the importance of competency development to the vitality and sustainability of their organization, a recent poll showed that only one third currently develop competencies. It’s interesting to note that in the same poll, 45% of the respondents were also considering implementing a competency based training program within the next 12 months.

To achieve their desired goals, organizations that are currently developing or planning development should understand and build the five competency development best practices into their development process.

Competency Development Best Practices

  1. Development needs to happen on-the-job. There are many research studies that show development happens on the job. The US Department of Labor estimates that 70% or more of work related learning occurs outside of formal training. So it stands to reason that learning needs to integrate seamlessly into the employee’s daily work and on-the-job activities to leverage the natural way people learn.  The other benefit of designing development around on the job activities is the elimination of scrap learning. Scrap learning is training that was successfully delivered and not applied on the job. Some estimate that 50 – 80% of all training is scrap learning and is never applied. This means that five to eight out of every ten dollars of training budgets are wasted. When you add up the cost of formal training to include the cost to provide the training, travel expenses and the time away from the job, total costs are very high. Training and development leaders need to be more effective with their training budgets. By providing on the job competency development you eliminate scrap learning and increase your return on investment by as much as 80%.
  2. Chunked learning. Chunking refers to the strategy of breaking down information into bite sized pieces so the brain can better digest new information. The reason the brain needs this assistance is because working memory, which is the equivalent of being mentally online, holds a limited amount of information at one time. Dr. George A. Miller, the author of one of the most highly cited papers in psychology, “The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two” formulated the chunk concept in 1956 as he presented evidence that working memory is limited in capacity. So, how does this relate to learning and application of learning? Here’s an example. If you were given a string of numbers, say 19525456698, most people would have a hard time remembering the number a short while later. However, if you break the number into smaller chunks, 1-952-545-6698, you have a much higher ability to remember the number. A learner’s memory operates the same way. If too much information is presented at the same time, the excess information will drop out and disappear. Presenting information in small chunks prevents information overload as well as scrap learning.
  3. Videos. How people take in information has changed. For instance, people watch short videos to learn everything from how to tile the bathroom floor, to how to fly fish, to how to create a border garden, or prepare a crown roast. Learners are accustomed to learning new skills and capabilities by watching videos. However, in addition to videos, information needs to be presented in multi ways, such as written instructions and downloadable word documents, as one size fits all does not meet the needs of a diverse workforce.
  4. Self paced and self directed. For learning to be self paced and self directed, learners need to be able to access the information when they need it (just in time learning) and complete it at their own pace. Additionally, they need to be able to choose the training and development that best meets their needs. When these conditions are present, learners take more ownership of their learning and are more engaged in the learning process.
  5. Aligned to the organization’s competencies. Organizations spend a great deal of time and energy identifying the competencies that will drive individual performance and organization success. Many organizations build their competencies into their selection process, succession management, and compensation processes. If an organization is selecting job candidates, promoting and rewarding according to their competency model, it makes sense to develop current employees’ competencies. In fact, competency development needs to be tightly aligned to the organization’s competency model to ensure organizational success. Conversely, development that is not aligned to the organization’s competency model can result in developing skills and capabilities that will not drive organization success. Additionally, learners will see you are measuring one thing on their performance reviews, but developing different competencies in practice.  Learners need to see a direct relationship between what they are learning and what the organization has defined as important for effective job performance. The development of personal competencies specifically aligned to your organization’s priorities will lead to increased personal and organizational performance.

So, how does a training and development professional develop their employees’ competencies taking into consideration the five best practices? GyrusAim LMS and Vado’s e-learning courses have the answer.

Our learning content is:

  1. On-the-job development providing a dual benefit – every course instructs the learner to complete an exercise on the job.  This provides a dual benefit: development occurs while real work gets completed
  2. Chunked learning content – videos are short, two minutes maximum, followed by the step by step Implementation Guide detailing exactly what to do on the job
  3. Self-paced and self-directed – we provide five development actions for each competency so learners can choose the learning content that suits their unique needs and situation. Additionally, learning content is delivered through your LMS or technology platform so it is available when learners are ready to develop.
  4. Aligned to your organization’s competency model – by mapping our courses to your organization’s competency model, definitions, and behaviors, we deliver the right set of development courses to specifically build your learners’ competencies.

What is Skill Centric Learning Management System (LMS)?

In a skill-centric learning management system(LMS), skills are embedded in many entities. They are associated with learning objects (an atomic learning node that teaches one skill at one level), jobs, assessments, organizations, certifications, business objectives, and training costs.

Hierarchical entities such as jobs and organizations provide even more power moving skills from being more general to more specialized simply by being associated with as part of the job or organization. In job hierarchies for example, skills assigned at the high level node apply to all jobs associated under that node. All electricians may need to know how to install receptacles, while a master electrician may need to know how to rebuild an electric motor.

GyrusAim, the new learning management system by Gyrus Systems, builds skill maps identifying jobs, courses, learning objects, organizations, business objectives, certifications, and people.

You can use your own competency library and rating schemes or integrate with a third party skill repository. Learning and retraining can be assigned based on job role, department, physical location or other attributes.

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.

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

Q: Does my company really need an LMS?

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Q: How will an LMS help my company?

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

 

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

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

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

 

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.

Why Buy a Learning Management System (LMS)?

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

2.    Increased, more severe penalties for non-compliance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Individual Development Plans (IDP) Are Here To Stay

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

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

That’s were individual development plans come in.

An individual development plan (IDP) can help employees:

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

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

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

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

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

To learn more about IDPs visit:

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

So you’re ready to select Learning Management System

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

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

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

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

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

Are Academic Achievements Indicators of Workforce Performance Successes?

How important are academic achievements in predicting workforce performance? The general thinking that good students will be good workers goes along these lines:

  • If the student cares enough to work for good grades, he or she will work hard as an employee.
  • The student has the general aptitude to understand what is needed in this profession.
  • The student has the general background to be successful in this profession

While these are valid arguments, there are other considerations for a student's academic performance, such as:
Personal factors–Perhaps the student has many personal conflicts with jobs, family (e.g., newborn baby), and environmental (having to study in a loud, distracting place).
Social factors–Perhaps the student gave up a social life to have academic success. While that is honorable and noble, will such a person make a good employee in a highly social environment?
Personal motives–Was the driving force behind the academic success an unbearable parent, for example? Will that same force be present in the work environment? Did the student learn for the right reason or just to alleviate another problem?
Poor Student–Some people, I am convinced, are just poor students. But that does not make them poor or even marginal employees. Some people just do not thrive in a classroom environment but do in a work environment.
I worked on an IT project several years ago with a group of seven or eight academically-successful people. One older lady in the group did not have the college degrees that the rest of us had. She even had limited technical skills and was used on the project as a technical writer. But she had a way about her that brought out the best of everyone on the team, even though she was not the project manager. I remember watching her interact with the group, thinking, that if we were to name an MVP for the project team, it would be this lady; even though she made minimal technical contributions.

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