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Fun Compliance Training – A Real Phrase

Fun Compliance Training – A Real Phrase

Fun Compliance Training – A Real Phrase

Fun Compliance Training – A Real Phrase

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

Add Humor

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

Use Storylines

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

Clearly Defined Rules

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

Shortened Course structure

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

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

Mobile Learning Infographic - Benefits and Features

Mobile Learning Infographic – Benefits and Features

Mobile Learning Infographic - Benefits and Features

Mobile Learning Infographic – Benefits and Features

A few months ago we explored Mobile Learning and whether or not it is viable, today we provide an infographic of the benefits and features of Mobile Learning at a glance. Mobile Learning is a newer component of the blended learning mix and is constantly evolving into something more robust. Today, it truly is a viable feature for any learning development program, as it can adequately supplement a nomadic workforce as well as motivate workers to complete assignments in a timely manner.

Mobile Learning Infographic - Benefits and Features

Text of Infographic:

Why is Mobile Learning so Effective? Mobile Learning Infographic

 

Convenience

All the required learning and compliance training at the tip of your workforce’s fingertips.

Duration

Short and concise courses; allow for broader participation and motivate users.

Focus

Effective mobile learnings highlight specific learning objectives. This type of focus allows for greater overall comprehension and delivery.

Microlearning

Brief focused learning modules can be created to further the knowledge obtained via additional mediums.

Distribution

Instantly and globally make available learnings that will immediately impact your program.

Content Evolution

With the growth of the platforms themselves, we experience greater content capabilities. Modern, more dynamic content allows for a greater utilization of media and ultimately superior effectiveness.

Summary

Mobile learning is really gaining a foothold in the industry and is continuing to become a vital component of a well-rounded blended learning environment. With continuous growth on the distant horizon and traits and features such as these, it is hard to imagine it showing any signs of slowing. If your organization currently excludes mobile learnings and you are interested in its value going forward; be sure to tune into the Gyrus Systems Blog, as we will continue to explore this captivating topic.

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References:

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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.

How to Persuade your Boss to Invest in an LMS

How to Persuade your Boss to Invest in an LMS

How to Persuade your Boss to Invest in an LMS

How to Persuade your Boss to Invest in an LMS

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

A Learning Management System Means…

More Time

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

A Verifiable Educated Workforce

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

A Structured Delivery Method

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

Better Compliance Practice

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

Growth of Savings

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

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

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.

Guide to Successful LMS Implementation

Guide to Successful LMS Implementation

Guide to Successful LMS Implementation

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

Guide to Successful LMS Implementation

Text of Infographic:

Guide to Successful LMS Implementation

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

References:

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Contact:

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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.

 

 

Why we need Learning Management Systems

Why we need Learning Management Systems

Why we need Learning Management Systems

Why We Need Learning Management Systems

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

noun

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

Abbreviation: LMS.

 

Get Organized

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

Analytics and Metrics

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

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

Certifications

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

Ease of Use

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

Resource Management

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

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

References

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

Mobile Learning - Is it Finally Viable?

Mobile Learning – Is it Finally Viable?

Mobile Learning - Is it Finally Viable?

Mobile Learning – Is it Finally Viable?

Mobile Learning has been a cool shining beacon in the learning industry for quite a while now. So much so, we here at Gyrus tend to talk about it… a lot. But with new technologies, sometimes you have to stop and ask yourself, is it just being used for the sake of the media itself, or is it actually adding to my blended learning portfolio? If you have read my recent posts, you may already know where I stand on the matter, however, I would like to expand on my previous pro-mobile learning sentiments.

Why Mobile learning is actually worth its grain of salt

 

Convenience

Mobile learning reaches the most difficult demographic in all of the learning industry. Who might that be? Mobile learning approaches the traveler, by establishing channels that have never before existed. This rings of significant importance for businesses that are completely structured around a mobilized workforce, as training offerings of the past have seemed like a distant and unachievable possibility. With the only resolution to this issue being to schedule yearly training meetings/events, or requiring intensive eLearnings where the floating personnel  is not only taken away from their work, but they are often participating with varied levels of attention and an abundance of distractions. But now, everything that is required for proper learning and accreditation is right there at your fingertips, just a few screen clicks away from impacting organizational wisdom, verifying departmentalized compliance, and actually engaging these hard to reach people.

Evolution of the Content

We as learning professionals already know that eLearning being ported to mobile for the sake of technological availability is not in itself an efficient utilization. Instead, effective content is and must be designed specifically for use on our handheld devices and tablets. More and more instructional designers and content providers are specializing in this medium and as the technology around them gets better Mobile Learning itself will continue to improve. As it is now, there in an abundance of quality mobile content on the market, with enough customization to suit your organizational needs. That being said, be sure to continue monitoring industry trends as this content will continue progress with the inclusion of mixed media, as well as utilizing new ways in which we interact with these mobile devices in general (Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and maximization of specific phone capabilities such as the long press and onboard motion controls come to mind as immediate examples in this category).

Building Intrinsic Course Motivation

Why should I want to participate in this learning exercise? One of the key features of Mobile Learning is the briefness of the media. Due to competing elements on the phone and how much time people on the go have in between events, the content is forced to be concise. Brief, engaging and sometimes gamified content are strides ahead of where they were just a few years ago. Currently, the motivational aspect of mobile content is more than enough to provide a significant learning experience for your workforce. Combine this sentiment with the inclusion of social platforms, and you have all the makings for a solid learning alternative that can take a fledgling program and produce something that is incredibly viable and sustainable.

Established Context

Learning and Development must first address what they wish their personnel get out of their mobile learning programs. The intent of the mobile learning exercise is very important to establish prior to the implementation of a mobile program and inclusion into a blended learning environment. Mobile learning can be used in a variety of ways, it can be used as a sole source of information directly to a learner, it can accommodate the message of a long-standing eLearning or Instructor lead training, or it can be used simply to certify an employee who has undergone necessary training in their required field. Contextually, we are at the point where learners are the focal point of the process. Content exists in all the pre-mentioned categories, and if applied correctly and displayed in captivating enough manners, can advance the output of your learning program leaps and bounds beyond what was previously achievable.  

Microlearning

It would be careless to exclude this category from the overall list of Mobile Learning, as it currently stands. Perhaps the newest topic on this list, but is already offering immense benefits to the field. A quick definition of microlearning is that of a brief (less than 5 minutes) learning component with a focus on a very particular learning object (specifically a skill, behavior, or compliance piece). These are currently best executed in a mobile environment, as they’re quick to develop and complete, as well as their hyper focus on a specific topic allowing for the greatest utilization of Mobile Learning practices and features. If you are looking to dip your toes in the Mobile Learning waters, in order to evaluate the potential benefits, it could be done very effectively through the inclusion of microlearning in your overall blended offerings.  

In short, Mobile learning is really starting to gain a foothold in the industry and a vital part of a well-rounded blended learning environment. Be sure to keep up-to-date with impending industry trends as they could immediately impact not just the effectiveness of your program, but also the methodology. Please consider joining me as I further investigate this fun and unique space, as well as leave feedback if you have another impactful argument which I may have missed.

 

 

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.

The Concept of Microlearning

The Concept of Microlearning

The Concept of Microlearning

The Concept of Microlearning

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

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

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

So how can we ensure great microlearnings?

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

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

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

How do I know if my microlearnings are working?

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

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

What Pokémon Go Means to the Learning Industry

What Pokémon Go Means to the Learning Industry

What Pokémon Go Means to the Learning Industry

What Pokémon Go Means to the Learning Industry

Pokémon Go is a phenomenon which is quickly taking over our cell phones. It has already surpassed Candy Crush as the biggest mobile game in US History (Mac Rumors). People are so engrossed in the game that they are watching their phone as opposed to their surroundings, and placing themselves in serious jeopardy; all for the reward of “catching ‘em all” before their friends. I personally am out of poké balls and am unable to join in on the fun at current moment… perhaps I’ll take a lunch time walk down to the nearest poké stop. However, my inability to participate aside, Pokémon Go is a very good application of Augmented Reality, and with the user base growing at such an alarming rate, it has caused many organizations to take pause and evaluate what seems to be endless opportunities in not only the game and its facets but in the delivery method itself.

Augmented Reality

As per Merriam-Webster, “Augmented Reality is an enhanced version of reality created by the use of technology to overlay digital information on an image of something being viewed through a device (as a smartphone camera).” Companies have been trying to figure out ways to use augmented reality for years, typically its most effective application has been allowing people to see where storefronts are located from a user’s frame of reference. These pre-existing applications though cool were unable to break the walls down and collect a universal adoption of the technology. Pokémon Go, on the other hand, came in like a wrecking ball and tore down the walls inhibiting acceptance. Now that everyone is experiencing it, and appreciating what it has to offer, it now becomes a race to incorporate it into product offerings. So, how can this apply to the corporate learning environment?

Gamification

Pokémon Go is an incredible study on gamification. With the application’s GPS interface to Google Maps, landmarks are chosen as places for increased activity. Not only does this get a user out of the house away from their televisions, but it also makes them be active and run around cityscapes. It can dual in purpose as a means to view landmarks that have been long forgotten, as well as force social interaction that hadn’t previously existed. The game as it exists right now can be used as a Human Resources tool to endorse a healthy workplace, sessions of play could be organized once a week causing people to go outside together and communicate about who gets to catch what, which has turned into a positive interaction on college campuses across the United States.

Pokémon Go is great as it is, however, the possibilities of new and more enthralling mLearnings are a real game changer for the learning industry. If your training arsenal consists of Instructor led training and elearnings and your user base is not as receptive to the teachings as they used to be, another option now exists. Imagine a company onboarding using Augmented Reality as a scavenger hunt around your facility. People can take a self-guided tour around your facilities and will think that their new employer is hip for developing such an environment for them. The real kicker is that based on the awards you structure in the environment there is a very high probability that users will remember a significant portion of their adventure, what the saw, where they were, and how they got there. On nicer days, games could be structured outside the facility to aid in employee morale, and eventually, we may get cool practical apps or glasses that can project emails and vital information right in front of us like in sci-fi movies of the past. Lending to even further advancements in mLearnings engagement and potential.  

User Engagement

People are obsessed with Pokémon Go, so much so that local restaurants, sporting venues, and other commercial entities are organizing get-togethers of players in order to capitalize on the wonder. People are fascinated with this new world layered on top of the one they have already been living in. I myself have been charmed by the application and find myself turning it on at night time just to see what’s around me as I’m sitting on the couch. As such, it is safe to say a well-executed mobile learning in augmented reality could captivate learners to levels we have yet to see, and it is up to instructional design developers to get us there.  

Social

Social Feeds have aided in the Pokémon growth enormously. People post on social media their locations and what they are finding. Organizations are posting that they are Pokémon friendly and that if people engage with them on social media on their findings, they’ll send out promo items that will aid in their future conquests. It’s all sort of been a lot of excitement. With the increase of social settings in the learning world, gamified augmented reality applications could be further promoted internally via department social networks, adding another level of collaboration and interaction that would be completely new to our learning realm.

In conclusion, embrace this new era of technology and what we can experience in our daily lives. There are incredible possibilities surrounding augmented reality and us as an industry should be exciting about the potential it holds. If you haven’t done so already, download Pokémon Go and try it out for yourself. You may be surprised at the inspiration you draw from it and most importantly, have fun. Also, please join me as I continue to look at new technologies or possibilities in the learning realm.

Bibliography

'Pokémon Go' Now Considered 'The Biggest Mobile Game in U.S. History' (n.d.). Retrieved July 14, 2016, from http://www.macrumors.com/2016/07/13/pokemon-go-biggest-mobile-game/

Augmented Reality Definition. (n.d.). Retrieved July 14, 2016, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/augmented reality

Successful E-Learning – A Roadmap

Successful E-Learning – A Roadmap

Successful E-Learning – A Roadmap

Successful E-Learning – A Roadmap

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

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

Learning Styles

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

Professional Drive

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

Interactive

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

Adaptability

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

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

Academic vs. Corporate LMS – Where the Lines Blur

Academic vs. Corporate LMS – Where the Lines Blur

Academic vs. Corporate LMS – Where the Lines Blur

Academic vs. Corporate LMS – Where the Lines Blur

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

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

Organizational Definitions

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

Educational Terms

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

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

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

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

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

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

Corporate Terms

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

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

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

Tests: eLearnings occasionally accompanied by one final certification exam.

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

Duration of Studies

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

Teaching Focus

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

Where the Similarities Begin

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

How To Successfully Implement Your LMS.

How to successfully implement your LMS

How to successfully implement your LMS.

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

Organize an LMS team

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

Determine what you want the LMS to do for you

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

Learn the LMS like the back of your hand

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

Convert previous materials to SCORM packages for integration

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

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

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

Start producing new content

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

How We Learn - Capitalize On Knowing

How We Learn – Capitalize On Knowing

How We Learn - Capitalize On Knowing

How We Learn – Capitalize On Knowing

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

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


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

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

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

Know they exist

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

Use various forms of media

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

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

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

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

Guideline For Finding Your Organization’s Ideal LMS

Guideline For Finding Your Organization's Ideal LMS

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

A post written by Meghayu Advaryu

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

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

 

Determine your objectives in advance

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

 

Make a list of key features you need

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

 

 

Consider the technical limitations

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

 

Get feedback

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

 

Consider future project scopes

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

 

Observe a demo

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

 

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

 

LMS Branding - Beyond the Logo

LMS Branding – Beyond the Logo

LMS Branding - Beyond the Logo

LMS Branding – Beyond the Logo

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

Colors

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

Fonts

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

Pictures

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

Organizational Language

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

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

Gamification, Badges, Levels, or Leaderboards

Gamification – Badges, Levels, or Leaderboards?

Gamification, Badges, Levels, or Leaderboards

Gamification – Badges, Levels, or Leaderboards?

Gamification is a buzzword you have undoubtedly encountered. The novel concept of taking something that is intrinsically fun and forming it around a learning exercise is an incredible notion that really invigorates the field of corporate learning and development. But anything new tends to lead to a lot of questions and with those develop a few barriers of entry that the industry must overcome. Over the coming weeks, I’ll investigate the answers to questions such as: does it really work? How does it work? What method should my organization choose? Should my organization even use it? And most importantly, will it actually yield better results in my talent pool?

 

In order to truly approach these questions, we must first understand what gamification really is and how it motivates us to complete learnings. To qualify, I will address what makes me uniquely qualified to approach this topic. When I was a child, I had difficulty with a math class, and an obsession with baseball cards; my father, saw this as an opportunity. As a capable programmer, he dusted off an old Apple II and created a game. If I managed to answer all of my multiplication and division tables correctly, I could be incentivized by the reward of a pack of baseball cards. Back then I was truly amazed that accomplishing a task could lead to such a prize, but I was also intensely fixated on being precise and accomplishing the task at the speed of the computer, that the process truly left a lasting impression on me.

 

To me, a self-proclaimed, “modern chic geek”, I think of the hours I have wasted playing games at home and what I was really accomplishing. What motivated me to keep playing when I was stuck in a level? What pushed me to do the same thing over and over again to obtain a silly achievement next to my username? Why did I need to have the highest score possible in the multiplayer game when I was just hanging out with my closest friends? Thinking of traditional video games and their value proposition is the best method for truly understanding the value of gamification. What motivated me was my inner drive for accomplishments and my competitive nature. Good gamification addresses that inner drive in 3 ways:

 

Badging

Gyrus is quite a fan of this approach, as we’ve opted to include Mozilla OpenBadges integration in our GyrusAim product. Badging is an online representation of an earned skill, allowing you to share your skills and interests with the world in a visual manner. This is most likened in the video game world with achievements, which are rewarded for doing something very difficult in a game, playing the game for so many hours, or repeating a process enough that the designers have previously designated as significant. In the video game world, these emblems are proudly emblazoned in players’ online user profiles, and to the hardcore gamers are prideful reminders of time spent in the digital world and accomplishments their friends and cohorts were unable to achieve. Badges motivate users by defining a clearly obtainable goal, one that if achieved can boost an internal resume, as well as show smooth progression within an organization.

 

Leveling

In the gamified world, there are games just like World of Warcraft and Diablo. Games in which character levels are clearly defined and are the motivation for continued use. Skills are preset by the instructor within a level, and once the student obtains said skills or enough experience, they can level-up their character and move on to the next; often more difficult level ahead. In modern games, levels are often disguised within storylines. Once you accomplish something, you must talk with someone else within the digital land to obtain more experience and designate your next course of action in the environment. This allows for the opportunity of sub-tasks and additional skill-building exercises to prepare you for the next big event your character will be faced with. This particular environment best motivates people who are enamored with structure and offers a quality foundational learning approach when compared to the training industry.

 

Leaderboards

Leaderboards are my personal favorite. As a kid, I remember going to a local arcade and dropping some serious quarters in games just because the 3 initials on the screen before the scrolling demo were not my own. To this day, if I wander into a place and Galaga is present, there’s a good chance I’m not only going to play it, I’m going to send out a social media blast and call for challengers. In training, some skills can be quantified into scoring with a repeatable process. Imagine the bragging rights you would have if you were the official king of the office! However, this often manifests in the training environment as a social routine and is paired with badges. “Did you see so and so on the third floor? He has 300 Badges!!!” and, “I thought I was doing well with just my 49.”

Regardless of method, people are motivated by different means. The goal of gamification is to present an environment conducive to learning unlike any previously experienced. If learning is fun, the odds of retention are most likely higher than a dry instruction or eLearning piece designed specifically for term learning and processes. Think back on your best classes in school or in business; what stands out the most? Thank you for reading and I hope you’ll continue to join me as I further address the field of gamification.         

Surprisingly Cool Things You Can Do with an LMS

Surprisingly Cool Things You Can Do with an LMS

Surprisingly Cool Things You Can Do with an LMS

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

Resource Management

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

Custom APIs

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

Assessment Creation Tool

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

Granular Control

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

Title 21 CFR Part 11

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

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

 

References

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

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

Six Things I Learned From Our Visitors Part II

Six Things I learned From Our Visitors Part II

Six Things I Learned From Our Visitors Part II

How to overcome challenges experienced by LMS users from ATD 2016

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

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

 

Difficult to Formulate Content:

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

Defining Course Requirements:

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

Limited and Tedious Reporting:

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

Complex System Implementation:

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

Poor Search Functionality:

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

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

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

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

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

Four Reasons to Replace Your Outdated LMS

Four Reasons to Replace Your Outdated LMS

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

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

LMS' User Interface Is Non-Intuitive:

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

LMS Lacks Integration with Other Systems:

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

LMS is Non-Compatible with Mobile:

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

LMS is Missing Valuable Reporting and Analytics:

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

Why Instructor-Led Training Still Matters?

Instructor Led trainingWith each passing day, there is an increasing emphasis on the use of eLearning for corporate learning and training. Citing reasons such as cost effectiveness, flexibility and content variety, eLearning advocates often claim that eLearning is actually the most effective learning method and soon instructor-led training (ILT) will be a thing of the past. While eLearning does come with its own advantages and unique attributes, it cannot replicate all the benefits of instructor-led training. In the training world, instructor-led-training is often referred to as the gold standard and we think the gold standard will continue to show its impact along with eLearning.

Let’s learn the uniqueness of instructor-led training and why it can’t be replaced entirely by eLearning:

Adaptability:

A good instructor can adapt the training content to the specific needs of the participants during a training session. For example, if the participant’s training requirements revolve around one major area of the entire training program, a good instructor will easily take that clue and deliver the content and craft his/her stories or examples accordingly. The instructor can also adapt to the learners’ level and pace of understanding and can accommodate all types of learners. In eLearning, there is a very little scope of adaptability to address such issues.

Familiarity with Instructor-led training:

There is a certain level of familiarity and comfort being in a classroom environment with an instructor available to guide and mentor. Participants can ask questions or discuss their queries in real-time, which is generally missing in eLearning.  In an eLearning environment, participants, mostly work in isolation and don’t have the comfort of instructors if they are confused or overwhelmed.

Individual Attention and Focus:

ILT allows individual attention from the instructor, which is not possible in asynchronous eLearning.  It is very easy to divide the participants into different groups and address their specific problems or even pay attention to a single participant in an instructor-led training. An experienced instructor keeps an eye on body language and engagement signs and reaches out to participants to address their problems.

Group Learning:

Group interactions enhance learning, with participants learning from one another as well as from the instructor. With an ILT, a lot of interactions take place informally, that is during the class, at breaks or even after the class. These informal discussions are helpful to understand a topic from different viewpoints and experiences. It also breaks down the silos where participants across departments and functions can learn together and apply their knowledge collaboratively.

Human Touch:

ILT brings face-to-face interaction and real-time discussion, where participants can validate their understanding right away. Participants also receive real-time feedback, which reinforces their learning. An experienced instructor keeps the audience engaged, motivated and focused throughout the training program.

One can’t simply overlook the tremendous value and advantages of instructor-led training just because eLearning came into practice.

The 6 Hottest Training Technologies That You Can’t Overlook

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Six things I learned

ATD 2016 – Six Things I Learned From Our Visitors

Six Things I Learned

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


Difficult to Formulate Content

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

Defining Course Requirements

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

Limited and Tedious Reporting

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

Complex System Implementation

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

Poor Search Functionality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learning Context:

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

Cost Difference:

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

Availability and Flexibility:

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

Reporting and Monitoring:

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

Content and Delivery Consistency:

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

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

Gamification vs game-based learning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.  

 

 

 

 

Are You Attending ATD 2016?

atd2016-logo-374x176

Gyrus Systems Team is all set for ATD 2016!

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

You can connect with us in following ways:

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

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

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

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

Online Learning Trends That You Can’t Ignore

 

Online Learning Trends

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

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

Mobile learning

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

Creative and Digestible Learning Modules

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

Data Analytics

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

Gamification

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

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

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

21 CFR Part 11 FDA Compliance- Electronic Record Electronic Signature

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LMS acronyms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LMS acronyms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Debunking Misconceptions about Video Learning

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

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

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

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

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

Debunking Misconceptions about Mobile Learning

Mobile LearningMore than half of the world’s population now has a mobile subscription. The Mobile Economy report by GSMA intelligence indicates that an additional one billion subscribers are predicted by 2020, taking the global penetration rate to approximately 60%. . Mobile training not only offers learning on-the-go, but also allows learners to gain an instant access to information whenever and wherever they need it. However, there is often a misunderstanding on mobile learning capabilities and its usage for corporate learning and training.

Let us look at some of the common misconceptions about mobile learning or m-learning through this blog:

Mobile Learning Means Learning via Mobile Phones

While it is true, that a mobile phone can be used for mobile learning, it is not the only device that can be utilized. One can use a variety of handheld devices such as netbooks, tablet computers, wearable devices, e-readers (kindle for example), etc. as mobile learning tools. Mobile learning targets all such devices equally and learners can use any of these various mobile devices for learning.

Mobile Learning Is Used to Provide E-Learning on Mobile Devices

While a mobile device is used to provide online learning, it doesn’t imply that you will be doing the same kind of e-Learning that you would do using your laptop or desktop. Mobile learning differs from e-learning in terms of the size of courses that can (or should) be provided on mobile devices as well as the context in which mobile learning is accessed. The smaller screen (in most cases) and touch based interaction demands a change in the size of the course and the way it is being presented.  If your current content is not mobile friendly, you cannot replicate it for mobile learning purpose.

Mobile Learning Signifies Learning on the Move

While, it implies learning on-the-go, it is not a prerequisite for mobile learning. Learners can engage in mobile learning even when they are not travelling. The “mobile” in mobile learning also focusses on the devices being used along with the learner’s mobility. Learners have the flexibility and ease of learning through a mobile device and it does not matter whether they are at home, office, etc. or travelling.

Mobile Learning Is Not Serious Learning

People presume that smaller screens will not facilitate serious learning and mobile learning attracts distraction. This is not true as mobile learning captures micro-learning approach, which makes it easier for learners to initiate, complete, and absorb learning courses at a time and place convenient to them. And, if we talk about the distractions, it can be there in a classroom training setting as well. It is difficult to exactly find out how and what distracts each individual learners.

Mobile Learning is Not Secure

This is partially true as it is easier to lose a mobile device especially when learners are travelling and this can heavily compromise a company’s intellectual data. However, advanced security solutions coupled with latest mobile technologies allows you to deliver a secured and safe content. Companies can encrypt the content on any device as well as the browser in order to ensure a secure, safe connection. Security settings such as password protection, remote wipe/erasing of data, encryption are minimizing the security risk associated with mobile learning.

 

 

 

The Power of E-learning

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

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

The power of E learning

 

Informal vs. Formal Learning: Creating a Blend!

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

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

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

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

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

Six Tips to Help You Select the Right Learning Management System

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.

Are You Compliance Ready?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is Your Organization Moving Towards a Skills Gap Crisis?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Future of eLearning and Immersive Learning Environments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy an LMS

So You Want to Buy an LMS?

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

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

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

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

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

Examples of LMS Use Case Scenarios

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

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

Student Role

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

 

Manager Role

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

     

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

 

Instructor / Trainer

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

 

Training Administrator

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

     

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

 

The Solution Itself

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

Meaningful LMS Use Case Scenarios

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

Brandon Hall Example of Good and Bad Use Case

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

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

 

Who

What

 

 

 

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

Who

What

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

 

 

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

Who

What

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

 

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

Use Case by Role Examples

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

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

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

#2. Administrator’s Content Management Features

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

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

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

 

Use Case by Workflow Example

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 


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

 

Do Ya?

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

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

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

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

Are You One of the 25%?

25 small

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

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

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

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

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

The Product
1. Features
2. Functions
3. Integrations

The Vendor
1. Service
2. Support
3. Continuity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Show Me the Release Notes!

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

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

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

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

The Compliance Learning Management System (LMS)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get In Touch for More Info

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

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Gyrus Systems Earns “Top 10” Award for “Best Employee Compliance LMS” by Talented Learning

gyrusaim - skills smallRichmond, VA · November 30, 2015. Gyrus Systems, a leader in the Learning Management Systems (LMS) industry, proudly announced that Talented Learning named the GyrusAim® Learning Management System as a "Top 10" World Finisher in the "Best Employee Compliance LMS" category. 

Talented Learning is a news, research and consulting organization dedicated to the advancement of all aspects of extended enterprise learning technology solutions.  Gyrus Systems' earned this award by developing GyrusAim features that "are admin focused and have skills, competencies, audit trails, electronic signatures, strong ILT management, facility and resource management, broad content support and powerhouse reporting."  

“It’s a great honor to be recognized by Talented Learning in providing innovative learning solutions for our customers,” said Viren Kapadia, President and CEO of Gyrus Systems. “We are always focusing on market needs, client success and product leadership."

This award means that Gyrus Systems' customers continue to enjoy the ever-expanding enterprise-level compliance features included in GyrusAim, ranging from the deep feature-set of Instructor-Led Training, to Certifications, and more.  Thanks to all of our customers that have provided feature input in 2015, your comments and suggestions continue to make GyrusAim a great LMS!

About Gyrus

Gyrus Systems is the one-stop solution for the efficient management of any size training program.  Since 1987, 450+ companies worldwide have used Gyrus Systems’ products to improve training effectiveness, organization efficiency, and to attain greater success within their respective industries. The company is headquartered in Richmond, Virginia.  For more information, please visit http://www.gyrus.com/.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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

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

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

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

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?

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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!

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

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

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

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

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

Employees provided with

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

 

Managers benefit with

  • A clear picture of the skill requirements of their employees.
  • An understanding of their employees’ skills strengths and weaknesses.
  • An informed basis for career development planning discussions.
  • Ability to develop individualized learning and development plans.
  • Identification of subject matter experts.

 

Executives benefit by

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

Why Buy a Learning Management System (LMS)?

 

small (larger)

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

How can an LMS Help an Organization?

 

10-16-15 small (larger)

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

 

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

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

 

Manager / Instructor

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

 

Training Administrator

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

Oops, that hurt… The LMS and Workplace Safety

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

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

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

The Golden Age of Customer Feedback

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Customer Service: Well Done is Better than Well Said

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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?”

The Hidden Cost of Open Source LMS

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

The LMS market is no exception.

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

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

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

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

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

Buy-in for an LMS Implementation

LMS Buy In

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

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

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

 

Communications for an LMS Implementation

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

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

 

Potential topics for communications:
  • Inception of the Project

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

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

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

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

White Board for an Organized LMS Implementation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

That makes SCORM very important.

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

What if SCORM isn’t the problem?

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

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


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

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

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

  1. Pricing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Start – Transfer – Deliver

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bridging the Gap

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

Vado’s strategy is simple but not simplistic;

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

Think differently about training

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

Make it relevant

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

Make it accessible

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

‘Chunked’ Learning

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

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

Effectiveness of video in training

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

Incorporate the basic rules of retention

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

Development Best Practices

1. Aligned to organizational objectives

2. Self-paced and learner focused

3. Embed learning into workflow

4. Granular, bite sized, ‘chunked’ learning

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

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

 

Benefits of Skills-Centric Learning Management Systems (LMS)

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

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

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

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

Benefits of Learning Management Systems (LMS) in manufacturing:

Benefits of Learning Management Systems (LMS) in manufacturing:

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

Key benefits for manufacturing companies include:

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

Key manufacturing areas where GyrusAim has been successful:

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

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