Learning! 100 Awards

The 2017 Learning! 100

If there is a lesson to be learned from this year’s Learning! 100 honorees, it is that there is…

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The 2017 Learning! 100

If there is a lesson to be learned from this year’s Learning! 100 honorees, it is that there is… Read more...

99 Solutions Named Best Of Elearning! 2016

The 2016 “Best of Elearning!” awards honor best-in-class solutions across the learning and… Read more...

Meet the 2016 Learning! 100

Collaboration, innovation and high performance are the mark of this year’s winning organizations.… Read more...

Learning! 100 Profile Benchmarks

Private enterprise Learning! 100 winners reported an average revenue of $11 billion in 2015. The… Read more...

The Best of Elearning! 2016 Finalists Revealed

Executives Nominate 99 Solutions Across 29 Categories for Excellence Elearning! and… Read more...

About Learning! 100

  • About Learning! 100

    You create learning programs that deliver results. You innovate, collaborate and outperform your competitors. You master budget woes to woo you employees, customer and partners. Now, let us honor you and your team’s excellence in the Learning! 100 Awards program, honoring America’s top learning organizations.

    What is the Learning! 100?

    The Elearning! Media Group’s (EMG) Learning! 100 Awards recognize excellence in learning across enterprises that invest in a truly immersive learning culture. Learning! 100 Awards recognize the top 100 organizations for their best-in-class learning and development programs, enabling learning culture that creates outstanding organizational performance. Whether your firm is large or small, learning is department-led or enterprise-wide, we want to hear from you.

    The Learning! 100 will be honored at Enterprise Learning! Conference & Expo in an awards reception and series of articles, Web seminars and a awards presentation ceremony hosted by Elearning! and Government Elearning! magazines.

    Methodology

    The Learning! 100 is a research-based program that provides organizations a benchmark for future development; is quantitative and qualitative; and is unbiased by size of the organization. Learning! 100 applicants are evaluated on three sets of criterion: EMG’s Learning Culture Index, Collaborative Strategies’ Innovation & Collaboration Ratings and overall organizational performance. Every submission will be evaluated on the same criterion, scores totaled and ranked for the Learning! 100.

Videos

Push or Pull: Making Training Work for Your Organization

Speaker: Dean Pichee, President & CEO, BizLibraryHost: Krista Brubaker, Content Marketing…

2017 E-learning Trends: Study Results, Predictions & Practices

Speakers: Sam Adkins, Chief Researcher, Metaari & Catherine Upton, Publisher, Elearning! Magazine…

Creating a Culture of Learning in the Modern Workplace

Are you creating a learning culture for your employees? We’re working in environments today where…

How to Apply

  • Corporate, government and non-profit organizations are invited to apply. We welcome applications from organizations of all sizes, across industries, around the world. Vendors and PR representatives may submit applications on behalf of their clients.

    There is only one category for award consideration: Learning! 100. Each applicant will be scored and ranked based upon the research-based criteria. Each applicant will receive rating and ranking details after winners are announced.

    Why Apply?

    Learning! 100 applicants benefit from the evaluation process.

    Participants can:

    • Recognize their teams for excellence by leading industry media.
    • Network with Learning! 100 honorees at Enterprise Learning! Events
    • Receive their Learning! 100 rating and ranking, as well as benchmark report to measure future progress.
    • Participate in Learning! 100 community networking opportunities to extend learning opportunities.
    • Access all Learning! 100 articles, Web seminars and materials at www.2elearning.com.

    Each winning organization will be:

    • Recognized in Elearning! and Government Elearning! magazines’ Learning! 100 awards issues.
    • Honored at the Learning! 100 awards dinner at Enterprise Learning! Conference.
    • Receive Learning! 100 trophy, awards logo and ICON for promotions.
    • Participates in Web seminars, feature articles, roundtables and event discussions.
    • Receive nationwide promotional exposure through EMG media as well as general press and media channels. 

    APPLICATIONS ARE NOW CLOSED.

     

We are living in one of the most innovative yet disruptive times. The millennial workforce will account for 50% of the workforce by 2025. Five generations are working side by side. Digital disruption has arrived; mobile communications, the Internet of Things and the sharing economy are our new norm. Soon, artificial intelligence (A.I.), machine learning and cognitive systems will be augmenting the workforce.

How do today’s learning leaders drive the high-performance organization in this age of disruption? This year’s Learning! 100 award-winners have some answers (beginning on page 26). In this issue, Elearning! magazine recognizes 100 organizations across the public and private sectors for innovation, collaboration, learning culture and high performance.

The most innovative companies like Amazon Web Services and Bayer AG not only create new solutions, they host a culture where innovation is in their DNA. (See Bayer AG’s story in our November edition.) Enterprises like Cisco, Agilent and IBM are shifting from manufacturing to business and cognitive services while reinventing their learning organizations. Scripps Health, Bing Lee Stores, VCA and universities like Georgia Tech, USC and the University of Edinburg are embracing simulations, virtual reality and A.I. to improve learner performance.

The Learning! 100 are thriving in this age of disruption.

Where do you start your own organization’s transformation? Defense Acquisition University (DAU), a seven-time Learning! 100 winner, reveals the evolution of learning strategy on page 14. At DAU, strategy development is collaborative; courses are tiered and evaluated with Impact Metrics to assure alignment with business strategy and impact. Performance improvement is the criterion every course is measured or replaced.

Disruption is also changing the role of instructional designers, subject-matter experts (SMEs) and learning leaders. In a data-driven world, we need to be more analytical and insightful. Access to intelligence is key to this transition, as noted by Candy Osborne, Bob Danna and Laci Lowe on page 42.

Even though your organization might not be ready to embark upon a re-invention, you can make learning more impactful. So Jonathan Peters, Ph.D., shares how L&D professionals can gamify learning, beginning on page 21.

Congratulations to the 2017 Learning! 100. Thank you for sharing your stories and showing the way to building the high-performance organization in the age of disruption.

Jerry Roche

Contributing Editor, Elearning! Media Group

 

 

Published in Insights

What Steve Jobs Can Teach Us About Success

BY WALTER ISAACSON

Steve Jobs is one of the most admired and admonished figures of the technological age. With his razor-sharp focus on his work, continuous quest for perfection, unapologetic behavior, selfishness at times, seeming disregard for the feelings of others, and absolute dedication to his life’s work, he is like the hero of an Ayn Rand novel. His life, character, achievements and failures are repeatedly debated by admirers and critics alike.

Jobs’ path was not straightforward, winding through Indian ashrams, unfinished education, psychedelic experiences, companies found, and positions lost. But as Jobs himself says:

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

No matter what Jobs did, however starting companies, looking for spiritual answers, winning over the woman he loved he did it fully.

“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

“I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what’s next.”

And his main approach for doing things well, probably rooted in his affinity for Buddhism, was always looking for simplicity, stripping ideas, problems, products to their core, looking for that one, simple, clean essence of things.

“That’s been one of my mantras: focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex; you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

Finally, we should emphasize over and over again, that probably the biggest common denominator between incredibly successful people like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk or Bill Gates is simply their incredible perseverance and refusal to quit when faced with failure.

“Getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.”

—Walter Isaacson is author of “The Innovators.”

Published in Insights

THE THREE KEYS TO A MODERN WORKPLACE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT

when looking for talented employees to join your company, what are the most relevant qualifications that your recruiters and hiring managers consider? Résumés are primarily filled with education and work experience aspects that demonstrate what an applicant has learned over the course of his or her life before joining your team.

However, the most important characteristic for people you’re bringing on board is a talent and a passion for life-long learning. While it’s helpful to find people with an inborn talent that matches perfectly their new positions, the reality is that most new employees need to add to or refine their current skillset.

The good news is the majority of skills your company needs in its employees can be taught. Today’s workforce recognizes the benefits of personal and professional self-improvement, and offering training and development that fits the needs of modern learners will shift your organization to be more creative, agile and growth-minded.

There are several key aspects to modern learning that look different from traditional training methods.

1. The first step in delivering a modern workplace learning program is moving it online. The ability to access training videos and materials anytime, anywhere allows your team to find exactly what they need, when they need it, and to apply it on the job right away. One huge disadvantage to traditional classroom training is the lack of mobility. Expenses add up quickly when everyone has to be brought together and taken off the job for hours at a time for sessions. Online training that is also mobile-optimized extends that “anytime, anywhere” ability even further, so those working in the field can fit training in whenever their schedule allows.

2. The second key to delivering a modern workplace learning program is to use video. Let’s face it: this is the way most of us learn at home and away from work. YouTube is a tremendous resource for learning all types of new things. Workplace learning needs to work the same way. Take advantage of the most effective form of training today: micro-learning videos. Video allows both sight and sound to create a more engaging learning experience, and especially when it’s in a micro-learning format, retention rates go through the roof compared to clicking through a text-heavy, hour-long course.

Using micro-learning videos improves the learning process, decreasing the cognitive load, which is necessary for employees to retain information. Even for someone with an exceptional attention span, giving too much information at one time is futile because the brain cannot process and retain it all.

3.  That brings us to the third key of a modern learning program, which is post-training reinforcement. Our brain works on a “use it or lose it” basis, so your employees need opportunities to recall what they’ve learned afterward, or the natural process of forgetting will take over, ousting the majority of that expensive training. With microlearning videos, employees will retain more initially, but they’ll still need the extra boost to retain the information long-term. Better learning retention can be achieved easily and efficiently through an online program that includes reinforcement, such as quizzes and thought questions delivered in the days and weeks after a learner has engaged in training.

All of these key aspects of modern learning online accessibility, in a micro-learning format with post-training reinforcement are what create significantly higher engagement in your training program, which translates to employees being more adept at finding solutions to business challenges across the board.

To gain an advantage among your competitors, you have to take advantage of the talent for learning that each of your team members possesses. Employees are your most valuable asset, so investing in their development in the way modern learners need is the ace in the hole for your organization to become a leader in your industry and to stay there for years to come.

— Dean Pichee, Founder and President of BizLibrary.

Published in Insights

CHANGING YOUR PARADIGM ON HOW YOU WORK AND MANAGE MILLENNIALS CAN COMPLETELY CHANGE YOUR CANDIDATE POOLS.

BY BILL KLEYMAN

There’s clearly an evolution happening in our profession. The research firm Gartner recently reported that by 2020, 100 percent of technology roles will require at least an intermediate level of proficiency in business acumen.

“Developing strong business acumen is a prerequisite to effectively shift focus from optimizing operational efficiency to driving business effectiveness, value creation and growth,” Lily Mok, Gartner’s research vice president said. “At the heart of an effective communication strategy is the ability to clearly link the vision, strategy and action plans of the business to drive desired behaviors in the workforce that contribute to improved performance and business outcomes.”

Communication aside, new management styles are required to gain as much value as possible out of employees. Furthermore, these new management styles also introduce more value to the employees through new, exciting challenges, growth opportunities, and new ways to interact with the business.

MANAGING THE MILLENNIAL

We are firmly within the digital economy with a digitally-enabled workforce. This means we are a part of a fluid, dynamic business environment that is constantly evolving.

Millennials are the drivers of today’s emerging digital economy. Now that we have an idea as to how these legacies work, let’s examine a new approach to managing millennials that involves re-prioritizing the hiring traits we discussed earlier.

1.  Attitude: What is the candidate’s attitude toward the industry and the job at hand? Is he or she excited or just there to make a dollar? What’s driving him or her to succeed? A digital-ready organization will want a positive-attitude candidate who’s ready to emerge into the digital framework and be excited by change.

2. Aptitude: Once attitude is established, what is the candidate’s aptitude toward learning and growing? Does he or she want to take on more roles? Is he or she curious about cross-training? Going beyond what the candidate already knows, aptitude toward learning will allow you to hire a moldable and excited new member to the team.

3. Experience: Let me start by saying that experience is certainly important. But fluid organizations ready for the digital economy won’t hire for experience alone. They’ll want a positive attitude, the aptitude and capability to learn, and then the ability to evolve the experience. Having some experience is great, but it’s even better to mold the experience to what the organization really needs. In a way, we’ve flipped candidate capabilities and priorities to match the strengths of the millennial.

We’re allowing experience to grow organically around what the business requires. Ultimately, this gives the millennial candidate a voice within the company and an opportunity to grow and evolve with the company. Most of all, it builds loyalty and encourages thought.

Think of Facebook as an example. Yes, it loves your experiences and what you’ve done in the past; but it will very actively look at your attitude, your aptitude to learn new technologies, and your personality. These organizations know that if they hire the right people, the experience will come. However, it’ll also give these organizations an employee who’s much happier in his or her job.

Changing your paradigm on how you work and manage millennials can completely change your candidate pools. Furthermore, millennials don’t often work well in overly rigid environments. This is where they get restless, become less productive, and are more prone to leaving. However, if you employ and nurture around attitude and aptitude, you’ll see that not only will they get more experience, but also they’ll bring more value to your organization.

—The author is vice president of Strategy and Innovation at MTM Technologies, a Stamford, Connecticut-based consulting firm.

Published in Insights

BY DEAN PICHEE, CEO, BIZLIBRARY, INC.

Unengaged employees cost the U.S. economy $550 billion every year! According to a report by Gallup, 70 percent of workers aren’t engaged at work. The modern worker is changing, and the workplace is not modernizing quickly enough to meet employees where they’re at and engage them. So, in this new environment we’re all navigating, what do employees really want? Security?Stability? More money? In nearly every instance, the answer to all of these questions is a resounding “NO.”

In 2016, research conducted by ClearCompany discovered that 68 percent of workers say training and development is the most important workplace policy. In fact, many employees value employee training and development more than salary or even benefits. So, if engagement could be increased and turnover mitigated, why is this employee training and development often an afterthought?

There are multiple answers:

>>  It’s Too Long - Along with a changing workforce comes a changing attention span. YouTube has ushered in the era of the short video, and that’s what today’s employees expect. The average attention span of a learner is now said to be in the 5-to 15-minute range. This is due to our inherent limited ability to concentrate, as well as the steady stream of interruptions throughout a normal work day. It’s a fantasy to think that learners can maintain full attention throughout an 8-hour class or a 90-minute e-learning course. They physically can’t do it, and the workplace environment wouldn’t let them even if they could.

>>  It’s Too Boring - In addition to the fact that most training is too long to be effective, it’s often too boring. Let’s face it: we’re all professional TV watchers. We’ve been conditioned to expect visually stimulating content. We’ll gladly play along at home with long-time classics such as Jeopardy! or Wheel of Fortune. But we have no tolerance for “death by PowerPoint” presentations or click-and- read e-learning where stilted text is read to us word-for-word while we look at static graphics.

>>  It’s Too Expensive - Traditional training — a costly proposition — is much more expensive than many organizations realize. It requires a lot of money to bring people together, whether it is in a room or online. In addition to the direct costs of the training itself, there are often hidden and indirect expenses, such as travel costs or opportunity costs. It’ s no wonder managers are always looking for ways to cut the training budget.

It’s time to give your employees effective, modern, microlearning development opportunities and really support those initiatives. Microlearning is the ideal solution to the employee engagement problem because it addresses the vast majority of issues organizations are facing when it comes to employee engagement. Videos average in length from five to seven minutes so learners can actually focus long enough to absorb the information they need.

Microlearning is done in a way that’s familiar to learners. When you need to learn how to do something quickly, you usually turn to short online videos to demonstrate those things to you. By providing employee training using this method, we can ensure that the learning experience is consistent with what they already do.

IS MICROLEARNING REALLY A SOLUTION?

If done correctly, absolutely! You’ll need to use your program to develop your employees in their current positions, but also develop them in a way that will benefit their overall career. In fact, employee development is the second-most impactful way to improve employee engagement (after recognition).

Gallup studies have shown that 87 percent of Millennials think development is important in a job – making training and development a top priority among the generation that is soon to make up nearly half of the nation’s workforce. Employees who are provided with these modern development opportunities are more engaged at work and more satisfied with the workplace overall, so it’s no wonder that readily available training opportunities often lead to reduced employee turnover. Instead of searching YouTube on breaks, learners can watch an online training video that’s relevant to their job and improves their overall skillset.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Employee engagement, employee turnover, productivity, agility and many more business challenges are all different parts of the same problem — a problem that can be solved with strategic employee development and made more effective with microlearning at its core.

Published in Insights

The top consumer technology transformations were revealed by Dr. Shawn Dubravac, Research Director, Consumer Technology Association. These trends will impact enterprise technology over the coming months and years.

1. The Next Computer Interface is Voice

The word error rate is now at human parity, meaning the graphic user interface will disappear ushering in an era of faceless computing. Voice will be the command function for digital devices including robotics, A.I., etc.

2. Increasing Intelligent Systems  will Connect Diverse Objects

Software is now found in hardware out of the box, and hard- ware is eating software. Alexa is found in refrigerators and automobiles. While google’s newest smartphone is embedded with AR/VR software out of the box.  “This creates a ‘physical manifestation of data’ in our lives,” says Dubravac.

3. Transportation Transformation

The self-driving car was the catalyst for intelligent systems. With connected systems reporting to other cars, the vehicles can respond and react without human intervention. This is a model of many “robotic” type activities that may complement or replace human interactions.

4. A.I.’s Infusion into Real Life

Blending data from diverse devices is improving signal, functionality, and recommendations for users to follow. Hub de- vices will be used for vocal computing. A.I. will boost informa- tion processing geometrically. For example, Google cars have already driven more miles than a human can in 75 years. The speed, experiences, data collection and sharing has increased geometrically.

5. Digitizing the Consumer Experience

From wearables to smart home, online and mobile characterizes consumers tastes. Drone purchases reached 1.1 million units in 2016; VR 700,000 units; smart watches 5.5 million units and fitness trackers 12.6 million.

—Source: CTA.tech  bit.ly/CES2017TRENDS

Published in Insights

BY PRADEEP KHANNA

The other day, I went to meet someone in downtown Sydney, Australia. On my way, back on the local train, I looked at my mobile to check my emails and found a message asking me whether I would like to meet the person I had just connected with on my LinkedIn network. So, was this some form of artificial intelligence (AI) at play?

Yes! We now live in a brave new world where AI is the next frontier. We keep hearing about bots, chatbots, teacherbots, digital assistants, machine learning, deep learning and many more such words and often wonder what do they mean.

Just like virtual reality (VR), AI has been around for quite some time. In fact, I remember taking AI as a subject when doing my second master’s degree in computer science at University of Technology in Sydney 17 years ago. So, why so much fuss about AI now? AI will reshape how we live and work, but will AI also reshape the way we learn?

ABOUT BOTS, CHATBOTS, TEACHERBOTS AND A.I.

A bot is software that is designed to automate repetitive tasks. Bots have been around for quite some time. An example is use of bots for searching and cataloguing Web pages for search engines. Another example is shopping bots which pull out prices of an item from different vendors from the Internet. Some recent examples are bots making dinner reservations, adding an appointment to the calendar, or fetching and displaying information.

Chatbots are bots that conduct a conversation mirroring potentially a real-life conversation. Chatbots can either be simple rule-based or more sophisticated AI-based. AI-based chatbots get smarter as more interactions take place. The popularity of messaging apps has been lifting the demand for chatbots. Another way to look at the rise of chatbots is the user migration from Web to apps and now from apps to chatbots.

What are teacherbots? Just like a bot or a chatbot, a teacherbot can be a simple rule-based or smart AI-based. Simple rule-based teacherbots can automate simple teaching tasks whereas a smart AI-based teacherbot can become a teaching assistant (TA). A yet smarter AI-based teacherbot can also be personal tutor.

TEACHERBOTS AT WORK

There are two well known instances of teacherbot pilot projects at the University of Edinburgh in the U.K. and Georgia Tech in the U.S.A. The University of Edinburgh teacherbot project was led by its School of Education in collaboration with the School of Informatics and the Edinburgh College of Art. It was launched in April 2015 by Siân Bayne, professor of Digital Education. “Botty,” as this teacherbot was affectionately called, was created to engage on Twitter with students of Edinburgh’s e-learning and Digital Cultures MOOC on Coursera. This MOOC has had 70,000 enrollments across three course runs. The teacherbot’s primary role was to act like a TA. It could answer simple questions on deadlines, course content, etc. It was also able to answer some complex questions as well, based on AI that had been developed on stored tweets with Twitter hashtag #edcmooc. In “Botty’s” case, the students were aware that a teacherbot and not a human being was answering their questions.

Georgia Tech’s teacherbot was developed by Ashok Goel, a professor of Artificial Intelligence at Georgia Tech. Typically, the 300 students at Georgia Tech’s online AI course posted around 10,000 messages in online forums during a semester. Many of these questions were repetitive in nature. This was enough of a driver for Ashok to initiate work on the teacherbot. Leveraging IBM Watson’s technology platform and a databank of 40,000 questions and answers from past semesters, Ashok developed the smart AI overlay for the teacherbot, calling it “Jill Watson. The students were not told that TA “Jill Watson” was a teacherbot.

“Jill Watson” was launched in Jan 2016. As expected, its responses were not very accurate in the beginning, so responses were moderated by the human TAs before posting in the online forums. But by April, it had become sufficiently “intelligent” to answer the questions without human intervention.

The table on the following page compares the two pilot teacherbot projects.

ELM March A.I. Already Reshaping

Many factors determine the accuracy level of any AI project, including the AI technology layer at the infrastructure level, the size of the database, and the contextualizing smart AI layer. Looking at the above comparison between the two projects, the Georgia Tech project does have an advantage of using IBM Watson as a technology platform and having a database of 40,000 questions and answers from previous courses. No wonder, it performed better.

AI NEXT IN LEARNING?

The potential of AI to disrupt education and skills training sectors is immense. As Microsoft’s Bill Gates remarked sometime back, we already have online tutoring services where humans provide the services while the platform is online. Smart AI-based teacherbots can replace the humans to provide personalized learning. This has special relevance in lifelong learning scenarios where we will be dipping in and out the learning continuum all through our life.

Automated assessments are a natural application of AI in education and skills training. This application gets further amplified when  large number of assessments are being done in an online environment. Use of technologies like Facebook’s facial recognition technology and proctoring are classic examples.

Are we already there in the brave new world where AI is reshaping the way learn? IN these early days, where we are seeing AI-based projects being rolled out in different parts of the world. In the first instance, the focus appears to be on automating routine teaching tasks. This is akin to the Robotic and Process Automation (RPA) implementation onslaught we are seeing in other industries.

“Jill Watson” is estimated to have taken 1500 hours to develop. When many “Jill Watsons” are produced in 15 hours is when we will see real disruption in education and skills training.

Developments in AI in education and skills training will to an extent follow the developments in AI in general. With all major technology innovators investing heavily in AI, it appears certain that our working and learning will get reshaped by AI in future.

—Pradeep Khanna is founder & CEO of Global Mindset (www.globalmindset.com.au) and Technology-enabled Innovations in Learning & Teaching (TILT). He works on enhancing collaborative learning across boundaries and by leveraging technology. Khanna has also been Global Delivery Leader for IBM GBS Australia/New Zealand. He lives in Sydney, Australia, and can be contacted via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Published in Insights

6 STRATEGIES FOR MAKING YOUR TRAINING STICK - BY DEAN PICHEE, CEO, BIZLIBRARY, INC.

THE SCIENCE OF LEARNING

Many professions use science to improve the outcomes of their work. For example, architects use the principles of physics and math to design buildings that will function safely and last decades or even centuries. Architecture is often equated with art, but it's the science behind the art that truly makes it work.

In much the same way, we as learning and HR professionals need to understand and use our knowledge of the science of learning to improve the outcomes of our efforts in training employees. What does science tell us we should do to improve the way employees learn?

Here are six things you can start doing today:

1. Make learning bite-sized. Use short, relevant, video-based training (microlearning) focused on individual concepts.

2. Space training out over time. Employees should use the information they learn during training within the first 24 hours after the training event and in the days and weeks to come. Time is on our side here!

3. Add post-training reinforcement. Use quizzes, polls, videos and other resources to reinforce key concepts.

4. Mix it up. Combine training of multiple related skills rather than focusing on one skill at a time. Scientists call this learning concept interleaving.

5. Make it difficult. Resist the temptation to make training easy for learners. Challenging them actually increases the learning impact. One of the ways to make it more difficult is to increase the amount of time between testing and retrieval opportunities.

6. Write to remember. Your brain will recognize more of what's important when you write what you learn.

WHAT WORKS?

We call microlearning and post-training reinforcement "Burst and Boost Training." Using a combination of "bursts and boosts" is a proven way to get more ROI from your employee training program. Bursts of microlearning have been proven by cognitive psychology to be the most effective way learners receive information. Cognitive load theory states that we have mental "bandwidth" restrictions. The brain can only process a certain amount of information before reaching overload. To improve training content, chunk it down into bite-sized bursts to lower the cognitive load. Microlearning is very popular today and is a key component of BizLibrary's online training solutions.

Boosts, or post-training reinforcement, has been shown to increase long-term memory. Testing can actually INCREASE learning more than any other study method. Scientists call this idea "The Testing Effect," and numerous studies have shown that long-term memory is increased when some of the learning time is devoted to retrieving the to-be-remembered information. Incorporating tests and quizzes into employee training programs is more than just measuring the amount of learning that has taken place ... it's a critical part of the learning itself. Resist the temptation to skip testing and boost learning!

THE GREAT TRAINING ROBBERY

Stop the great training robbery that occurs when we deliver programs that are too long, too boring and easily forgotten. Microlearning is the first step. It's also crucial to add on-going reinforcement. Think of post- training reinforcement as the deadbolt on the door of your house, keeping the valuable information you're delivering to your employees from being forgotten and ultimately, maximizing the ROI of your program.

Published in Insights

Is your workforce prepared for tomorrow’s challenges? Maybe you’re thinking -”my workforce isn’t even prepared for today’s challenges, let alone future challenges.” Regardless, providing employees with the knowledge and skills they need has never been more important – or challenging. And the stakes couldn’t be higher… organizations who deliver the best, most engaging, effective employee training today are going to be tomorrow’s winners in the marketplace.

TODAY’S TRAINING CHALLENGES

The modern worker has changed. The average worker is checking their smartphone nine times an hour and are typically interrupted every 5 minutes on the job. Since the year 2000, the average attention span of a person has dropped from 12 to 8 seconds – 1/3 of the attention span of workers has completely disappeared (Time).

The modern workplace is also changing rapidly. We are running our organizations lean and mean… so managers often feel that they can’t afford to have their people “off-the-job” and training for long periods of time. Fitting in training is often viewed as a secondary objective.

Finally, the shelf life of knowledge and skills has shortened dramatically. Today the shelf life of knowledge is much, much shorter with technological changes and other factors. Experts believe our knowledge and skills must be updated roughly every 18 months or we risk extinction. It’s never been more important for workplaces to use technology to blend learning new skills into their employee’s jobs and create a culture of learning.

ENTER MICROLEARNING AND LEARNING TECHNOLOGY

Thanks to YouTube and other streaming video platforms we now understand that not only do employees desire to learn, but their preferred format for learning is video. We also know they prefer shorter videos to longer ones. Research shows the ideal length of an online training video is 6-7 minutes. This type of microlearning creates 50% more engagement than other training methods.

Microlearning also works well because the programs offered by many online training providers today are designed for any device and any size screen. This is important as many organizations and industries need training available in remote locations where a traditional computer setup is not available or feasible. Fortunately, most of us carry our little video players (aka smartphones) at all times. And since we’re checking them nine times an hour on average, training has never been more convenient!

LEARNING RETENTION AND SCIENCE

So you’ve found an online training partner with a large library of microlearning content and you’re working on a marketing initiative to roll it out to your employees. Great! Isn’t that all you need to create the behavior changes and performance improvements your organization expects to see? Unfortunately no, research by neuroscientists and cognitive psychologists tells us that no matter how great our training programs are, employees will forget about 70% of what they’ve learned within 24 hours of learning it.

Don’t throw your training plan out the window just yet, however. Let’s talk solutions – solutions based on what science tells us about learning and retention.

It turns out that testing knowledge isn’t just a way to measure how much your employees know, it’s also a great way to increase their learning, and their long-term learning retention. When the brain is asked to retrieve information, it tags it as important and is less likely to forget. In practice, asking employees a series of quiz questions and other memory “boosters” related to the training they have taken, spaced out over strategic intervals, can increase learning retention by as much as 300%!

THE RIGHT MIX

We certainly have challenges as HR and workplace learning professionals today. Combining a library of microlearning content that is curated and updated, and a post-training reinforcement plan is the perfect foundation for your training program. Get the mix right and your on your way to preparing your workforce for tomorrow.

--Dean Pichee, Founder and President of BizLibrary

Published in Insights

Many of you have never heard of fractal organizations. I hadn’t until I talked to a colleague working on the Hyperloop project, which was described as a “fractal organization.” The fractal organization may be your future collaboration ecosystem. Most organizations today are top-down command-and-control hierarchies that have to grow through acquisition rather than expanding from within. Oracle is a great example of this (having just recently acquired NetSuite). In nature, mathematical constants are both random and scalable. Look at the leaves of a fern, or the organizational patterns on some seashells. Even vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli. Fractals are often thought to be infinitely complex, because, at all levels of magnification, the pattern is the same.

With about 100 years under our belts around command-and-control hierarchies, we know that they might work well for the Army but are not agile or stable enough to work well in today’s chaotic business environment. On top of that, they tend to create “silos” and foster miscommunication, and in essence are not great for collaboration no matter how good the technology.

Hierarchical organizations create harmful stress and internal competition, because there are only so many spots at the top of the organization. This causes the members to hoard information. I witnessed this directly in the big five consulting firms when I did research on them around collaboration in their organizations. The stress can cause absenteeism and employee turnover, and creative individuals got tired of corporate politics and found more creative environments.

FRACTAL SYSTEM CHARACTERISTICS

Author Janna Raye identifies the properties of the fractal system:

1 Emergence: Agents in the system interact in random ways. Interaction patterns emerge from these behaviors that affect the agents in the system as well as the system itself. A good example of this is a termite hill.

2 Co-evolution: Systems are in their own environment, as well as being a part of another, larger environment. As the larger environment changes, the system does also, but because it is part of the larger environment, it also changes the larger environment. For example, think of a person as a system in a larger system (environment) called a business. As a person changes his or her behavior, it also changes the behavior of the business, showing a co-evolution of these systems.

3 Sub-optimal: Fractal systems do not have to be perfect to thrive in their environment, and only have to be slightly better than their competitors. Putting additional energy into making the system better tends to be wasted energy, as these systems tend to trade off increased efficiency for greater effectiveness.

4 Requisite Variety: The greater the variety in the system, the stronger it is. That is why diversity in our organizations is so important — not just of races, but of thought, approaches to problems, attitudes, etc. Fractal systems have lots of ambiguity and contradictions, but rather than seeing these as “bad,” they are seen as a way to create new possibilities to adapt to a changing environment. Democracy is a good example of this.

5 Shared Purpose: Like ants, honeybees, geese or schools of fish, all of these organizations have shared purpose and shared values among all their members. These create pattern integrity, and often high levels of participation in ideas and solutions for continuous improvement, which helps with decision-making at functional levels. Leadership is universal, which enables the competition energy to be directed outward instead of inward.

6 Information Sharing: Hierarchical organizational structures cause information silos. In a fractal organization, all members share information iteratively and make decisions collectively in response to constantly changing conditions.

FRACTALS AND ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURES

One major feature of fractals is their “self-similarity,” meaning different sizes of similar attributes within the larger whole, ad infinitum. In nature, you can have individual actors (like a school of fish, or a flock of geese) all working together for the common outcome. Both fish and geese display interdependency, relying on each other. Systems in nature also have scalable structures at every level, and at each level, there is a different organizational pattern. Some examples of this type of system are living organisms, a nervous or immune system. a corporation, and economy or even a society.

So if this is true for mountains, coastlines, tree bark and even wiggles, why not organizations?

What this implies in organizations is the application of complex systems theory, with tight feedback loops, autonomous cooperating actors, and a simple and limited set of rules governing the system. This is the basis for the agile movement in programming today. It also seems to be one of the best approaches to how large organizations can stay creative and innovative. Fractal organizations can do so by climbing “the fractal ladder,” enabling the sustainability of innovation.

According to Raye, a “fractal” is a way of thinking about the collective behavior of many basic but interacting units, and in a macro sense have the ability to evolve over time. A fractal organization is the embodiment of “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.”

A fractal is a pattern, a form of sustainable ordered chaos, while an organization is “an ordered arrangement of things (people).” Fractals have self-organizing principles, and fractal organizations are seen as “an emergent human operating system that mimics nature in its capacity for creativity, adaptation, vitality and innovation.”

Switching from a hierarchical to a fractal organization supports more cooperative work, provides better information flows, more room for advancement, lower turnover, and eliminates the view that there is a scarcity of resources.

People in these organizations are seen as “complex adaptive systems” and emergent behaviors arise out of organizations like this.

Self-organization is the key to self-adapting systems evolve and adapt to new challenges. In living systems, we see cooperation and symbiotic interactions (like in an ecosystem). We also see that reflected in many organizations today; for example, both Salesforce and Slack have created large ecosystems of developers that add value to the original product.

Some fractal companies are like Pixar — core leaders in the center — and all firms are arranged as arms around the leader. Then in the arms, each team has a leader, and info is funneled to the center of the organization to the leaders, needs for resources, and then allocated flow back out.

Although we are just starting to see these fractal organizations as we move from the industrial age to the information age, we are starting to see the demise of hierarchy and the flattening of organizations. One type of these flatter organizations are fractal organizations, which are inherently collaborative. This bodes well for more modern organizations that are adopting the fractal nature.

—Sources: “Fractal Organization Theory” by Janna Raye, The Journal of Organization Transformation and Societal Change. http://www.fractal.org/fractal-systems.htm

—David Coleman is the Managing Director of Collaborative Strategies Inc. (CSI), a San Francisco-based industry analyst and advisory services firm. He is the author of “the collaboration blog” and author of four books on collaboration, the latest two being: “Collaboration 2.0” and “42 Rules for Successful Collaboration.” Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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