Gaming is an important part of training delivery, according to recent research from the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD). In the report, “Playing to Win: Gamification and Serious Games in Organizational Learning ,” ASTD notes that 37 percent of 550 respondents rate gamification highly effective, and 51 percent rate serious games highly effective.

The report states: “With reference to gamification and serious games frequently in learning and business publications, it’s only natural that learning leaders who haven’t implemented either might wonder if their functions are lagging behind.”

Despite significant interest in gamification and serious games, only one in four respondents said their organization currently used gamification in learning; and one in five, used serious games.



Published in Trends


Online training and virtual learning environments, or VLEs, have been around for a decade or more. Why should you pay attention to them now? Over the past year, their capabilities have increased significantly, with new features and benefits that improve your ability to present, manage and evaluate learning, as well as provide strategic input for your organization.

Increasingly, learning leaders are thinking about cost, reach, impact and effectiveness, and how L&D influences the performance of their organization. VLEs allow the unique capture and tracking of metrics that help quantify learning programs.

When online training and virtual classrooms were first introduced, they were touted as a way to save time and travel. Today, VLEs offer a strategic advantage, allowing you to serve individuals with diverse learning styles, align L&D with job goals and performance, and extend reach to global audiences. Virtual learning has changed the nature of learning and the way many organizations manage it.

One of the key benefits is that VLEs can integrate content and learning assets, including learning management systems, into a single location where everything is organized and easily accessible. Virtual environments are designed for easy navigation — they’re intuitive and highly visual — so it’s easy for learners to find and consume content.

You probably know the adage, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” With virtual learning environments, this principle can be applied to learner behavior. Each learner’s actions can be recorded and evaluated, allowing you to assess engagement in each course and across multiple courses, and follow his or her development over time. At a higher level, overall trends in content consumption and effectiveness become apparent. Real-time changes can be made in design and/or placement of content to improve engagement and learning, in response to learners’ behavior.

VLEs support formal and informal learning. You can incorporate a variety of Web-based tools and learning objects, and set up learning communities with content organized into libraries or channels. PepsiCo leverages this social aspect in its Collaboration Expo.

There are learning rooms where subject-matter experts can schedule office hours to collaborate with learners via Web meetings, and networking centers support social learning through forums and open chat. The flexible infrastructure allows you to design custom learning paths within each course to meet the requirements of multiple accreditation bodies, and the VLE tracks and enforces compliance.

Increasingly, organizations need to develop global employees, like consulting firm CapGemini, which uses its VLE to train 130,000 employees worldwide. VLEs scale to accommodate an evolving organization, reduce language barriers, and offer 24/365 access while ensuring consistency, version control and security.

Demand is growing for learning content delivered over mobile devices, which will become essential as the generation of “mobile natives” gains critical mass in the workforce. A VLE is accessible from many different types of mobile devices, so you can embrace the BYOD movement instead of dreading it.

VLEs may seem like future think, but they are here today. Forward-thinking learning leaders are not only paying attention, they are putting VLEs into action now.

—The author is the senior product marketing manager for InterCall. More info:


Published in Ideas

BY Jerry Roche

Just a few years ago, not many people knew what QR codes were or what to do with them. Today these scannable barcodes can be found on almost every physical and virtual product in today’s connected marketplace. Manufacturers use QR codes to give the purchaser more information about the product, provide instructions on use, or to simply advertise other products or services.

The learning and development community soon recognized that these powerful codes (which can contain most types of data stored online) could help connect learners to content in real-time at the time of need. DuPont Sustainable Solutions sees the use of QR codes as a powerful new avenue to disseminate learning information across an organization. “When it comes to learning strategy, QR codes are all about solving ‘just-in-time’, ‘just-in-place’ problems,” says Steve Zuckerman, Software Product Manager for DuPont Sustainable Solutions. “We have found that tying this technology to safety and compliance video content can save organizations a significant amount of time in the delivery of necessary information to both internal and contract employees.”

QR codes not only enable learners to engage with the content in a personalized way, but they offer a way to apply new knowledge instantly. In the traditional model, learners gain new knowledge or information but must wait until it’s applicable to use it. With QR codes, they can use it right away, on site.

This is especially useful as it pertains to compliance-based issues like safety training. For example, having a QR code at the entrance to a manufacturing site can allow an employee or contractor to view a video or manual explaining all hazards at that site and what needs to be worn and recognized for proper protection. That type of learning experience at the time of need can be much more impactful than taking a compliance course every 12 months.

“Think about the applicability for a company with a wide range of contractors who must access highly hazardous environments,” Zuckerman observes. “How does the company know that those contractors know about all the hazards? Having to scan a QR code at an entranceway to a plant, office or hazardous area can yield a video on their smartphone or digital device about existing safety regulations — like requirements for hardhats and eye protections.”


The future of learning is distilling content into smaller, bite-sized “chunks” to deliver shorter “just-in-time” training experiences. Imagine delivering two- to three-minute video clips via QR codes to communicate a safety contact, a meeting opener, or refresher training. Shorter learning experiences empower employees to seek the knowledge they need at the time they need to apply it.


QR codes can potentially:

>> Increase engagement by allowing the learner to use modes that are common in their daily lives: mobile video, just in time and “just enough.”

>> Put the employee in control of his or her learning experiences by providing access to content in the moment.

This approach also can minimize the need to pull individuals “off the floor” for refresher training, making for a smarter and more productive workforce.

“QR codes can be applicable to organizations of all sizes and in all industries, depending on the type of knowledge that the organization is trying to share,” Zuckerman says. “As employers become more comfortable with employees using their own personal devices for work-related activities, the use of QR codes will increase. It’s really about the organization getting comfortable with it.”


Published in Ideas

BY Bill Anderson

Soft skills are what we commonly refer to as people skills — the non-technical skills and traits that affect a person’s ability to interact effectively with others. They include problem solving, communication and conflict resolution. These skills are critical to an organization’s productivity, success and performance.

According to the Stanford Research Institute and Carnegie Mellon Foundation, 75 percent of long-term job success is directly related to soft skills, while only 25 percent of success is attributed to technical knowledge. (Source: Stanford Research Institute and Carnegie Mellon Foundation) Another poll found that “continuous learning and skills training are crucial to sustaining workforce readiness among employees of all experience levels.” (Source: “Critical Skills Needs and Resources for the Changing Workforce, 2008,” Society for Human Resource Management in conjunction with WSJ. com/Careers)  It is imperative that employers play an active part in developing these six vital skills in all employees.

Skill #1) Communication

 Employers and potential employees alike believe the ability to communicate effectively, accurately and concisely is the most important soft skill an employee can possess. (Source Comparative Analysis of Soft Skills, Michigan State University) Good communication leads to efficient and effective productivity, improves team performance, and bolsters workplace safety.

To communicate effectively in the workplace, follow these four guidelines:

>>  Identify the message and its purpose.

>>  Choose the appropriate means of communication.

>>  Deliver the message.

>>  Solicit feedback and respond accordingly.

Skill #2) Conflict Resolution

Given the right set of skills, employees can address conflict in ways that foster win-win outcomes.

Workers need to:

>>  Understand their role in managing and resolving conflict;

>>  Be aware of the potential sources of conflict in the workplace;

>>  Know how to react to conflict in ways that are positive and helpful to all; and

>>  Learn to resolve conflict in collaborative ways.

Skill #3) Coaching for Performance

 The two main pillars of effective coaching are:

>>  Creating a positive and productive environment; and

>>  Providing constructive feedback.

The first step is to create a workplace environment that empowers employees, sets realistic goals, gives timely and meaningful recognition, encourages self-development, and provides appropriate training. Feedback is a vehicle for teaching workers what is expected of them and how to make improvements in their performance. It’s for this reason that delivery is so crucial — it’s not just what you say, but how you say it.

Skill #4) Decision Making

Decision making refers to the ability to identify and analyze problems, and then take effective and appropriate action to alleviate those problems. Research also shows that organizations that fully develop analytic skills in all workers will continue to be the top performers in the coming years.

(Source: American Management Association, “Amp up Your Career by Improving Your Analytical Skills,” Nov. 2013)

Skill #5) Meeting Effectiveness

Meetings are an important tool for presenting instructions, assigning tasks, delegating responsibilities, and sharing information. To be successful, leaders must master skills such as identifying the meeting’s objective and planning accordingly, setting the meeting tone, and being able to keep the meeting on track.

Skill #6) Training Job Skills

 To conduct successful training, supervisors should understand the following:

>>  The steps needed to create effective training;

>>  The characteristics of an appropriate learning objective;

>>  How to plan relevant and useful training; and

>>  How to effectively present training.

Organizations that focus on developing their employees’ soft skills will not only reap benefits in terms of career development, but will also create continuous improvement and growth for the organization itself.

– Bill Anderson is a product manager for human resources and government training at DuPont Sustainable Solutions


Published in Ideas

By Dr. George Haber

Workplace constraints require curriculum designers to make instructional compromises from the idealized training situation. Poorly considered and designed compromises can lead to training that isn’t always practical, efficient or desired. Effective training, which can be designed despite these compromises through smart choices, relies on how an instructor chooses to address the constraints of a given training situation. The path chosen will either hinder effective training (poor instructional compromises) or help you successfully overcome constraints (good instructional compromises).

The best way to deal with the inevitable constraints is to use a blended approach to employee training. That’s because comprehensive solutions are usually blended solutions.

Blended learning does not simply mean “multi-media” or “multi-dimensional learning.” Rather, blended learning means making use of multiple learning strategies and delivery media to ensure the most efficient and effective transfer of knowledge. Its focus is on the design of the training curriculum relative to the desired training outcomes.

When you begin to think of blended learning as part of the design stage, it’s easier to see its benefits, such as flexibility and customization. Taking a blended approach to employee training allows the designer to decide, through careful analysis, which instructional compromises can be made without damaging the integrity of the content. From there, the designer is able to mix, or blend, different instructional methods (e.g., lecture, demo) and media (e.g., face-to-face, DVD) to fulfill specific training needs. He or she can even more easily incorporate new and emerging technologies and instructional strategies into training.


Here’s how a blended approach to a training curriculum might work. Consider a mining operation that wants to train all its workers in process safety management. As with any training, the curriculum designer begins by determining the level of competence required for different work populations and how that training will be assessed. Instructional methods are then applied to reach that level of competence.

When considering the most basic training level (onboarding), an e-learning solution may be chosen to quickly deliver general knowledge and awareness of hazards to all employees. Here, the choice of an online strategy could efficiently and quickly train large groups of employees about basic hazard awareness without compromising the integrity of training content.

A more targeted level of training focuses on workers and their need to know how to be safe in their specific work areas. This level of training is targeted to the hazards in their work environment. This requires more in-depth knowledge and robust assessments, requiring instructional elements that cannot be delivered in an online-only learning solution. A blended approach incorporates elements such as instructor-led classroom training, video demos, and hands on assessment.

At the top tier of training is job-specific or skill-specific learning. In our mining scenario, this might include training supervisors and managers on specific process safety management elements for which they are responsible. Again, an online-only approach would negatively compromise the training. However, the online course could be deployed to all employees for basic awareness, then followed by in-depth, small group workshops, or even one-on-one mentoring.

Through blending a variety of methods and delivery formats, organizations can deliver dynamic learning experiences that are aligned with the desired training outcomes.

—Dr. George Haber is the global leader for instructional systems design at DuPont Sustainable Solutions. He also develops training system plans and oversees training product-design processes and development. For more information, access the website


Published in Ideas

Concurrent With The Continuous Evolution Of Mobile Learning, There Will Likely Be A Similar Evolution In The Use Of Video. By Steve Zuckerman

Video is a powerful tool to communicate and exchange information with a high level of engagement.  And we all know that the better the transfer of knowledge, the better the user will take it in, minimizing the risks of negative outcomes.

Not only that, but it’s becoming more and more popular with the new wave of more tech-savvy employees, who are replacing the retiring Baby Boomer generation. According to research from Bersin by Deloitte, in one month alone — May 2012 — 163 million unique video viewers streamed more than 26 billion videos, watching for about 5.8 hours on average.

Research shows these younger generations live online in increasingly mobile and social ways. It’s where they get their news on current events and communicate with friends and family. Research conducted by International Data Corp. predicts the mobile Web will replace wired Internet as soon as 2015.

Maybe that’s why a recent survey by the Masie Center found that 30 percent of organizations worldwide are piloting the use of mobile and tablet devices for learning purposes. These companies might be responding to the evolving communications habits and learning-style preferences of their workers.

Thus, video is quickly becoming an essential value-add for both on-demand and mobile learning apps because it is flexible, self-governed and self-sustained. On-demand videos allow learners to consume knowledge that is personalized, highly accessible, and can rapidly be applied to their work efforts.

“People are just naturally more easily and instantly engaged by the human face and voice,” observes David Mallon of Bersin. “As a result, the use of video, as well as audio, voiceover-IP and collaboration tools can help bridge the gap between self-paced e-learning and face-to-face instructor-led training. For product training, instructors may use a video camera to demonstrate the use of the product. When used as part of a virtual classroom for management or other soft-skills training, video can help facilitate student interactions in breakout rooms.

” Nancy Kondas, of DuPont Sustainable Solutions Product Development for Learning & Development, agrees on the practically unlimited horizons for video learning. “It’s an interesting and exciting time. If you look at the way we consume information — the Internet, flat text, Facebook to Instagram — there are more apps for just pushing out video. There is an increase in activity in delivering broadband content.

“In the past, we weren’t able to do things at the quality level that was evident in the professional broadcasting industry. But today, that’s all changed. Tools have become more acceptable and easy to use, enabled by broadband. The whole paradigm is changing and giving us a lot more opportunity.”

The Masie Center is tracking a rise in the use of short video as a supplement to the learning process at major organizations. A key driver, says Elliot Masie, is the desire of learners to hear context and work examples from multiple voices. “The more the video segments focus on targeted bursts of context, including the ‘back story’ or ‘field truth,’ the more learner consumption and appreciation grows,” Masie says. Bottom line: you deliver more effective training.

Other reasons that video learning positively differentiates itself from traditional learning:

>> It can provide information in about half the time as words alone.

>> It offers employees the chance to gather, access and process information at their own pace, and they don’t have to do it in a traditional learning environment. They can watch a training video when it is convenient (during downtime) or when it is needed (like solving a workplace dilemma).

>> It supports corporate communications, global learning and change management.

Streaming Video

>> It’s more interesting and engaging than manuals, PowerPoints and classroom instruction alone.

>> It can be paired with assessments or used to reinforce learning objectives after classroom training or an online training event.

>> It’s a powerful way to show the audience the proper ways of performing tasks without subjecting them to hazardous conditions.

>> Its storytelling ability can transport learners into certain situations applicable to their jobs, allowing them to better understand the consequences of their actions and thus discouraging them from making poor decisions.

>> It can be both an effective and flexible tool for overcoming corporate challenges, solving internal problems and showing proper techniques globally in a consistent manner.

>> It is an effective means of providing corrective information or explanations delivered by top leaders to a wide range of constituencies, even if these extend to multiple company sites around the globe.

>> Its production costs have come down drastically in last few years. Using a camera phone, recording a video (of acceptable quality) is relatively easy and at almost no cost. This sort of video works well when a “how-to” video is needed efficiently to explain a new and important process.


Like many ideas that are still in the development or acceptance stage, there are some downsides to learning via video.

For instance, the question of hosting video and bandwidth is always an issue. Corporate I.T. departments are always wary of anything that will increase the load on their networks.

Creating videos on your own can pose a raft of problems if not done properly. Among the clients we’ve talked to say that trainers need to be able to effectively convey their messages in a video format, which requires a whole different approach than face-to-face training.

So if you’re creating produced video, even “on the fly,” you’ll need additional tools and skill sets. And if it’s employee-generated video, then you need to address content stewardship (accuracy, business alignment, privacy, risk, etc.) issues and perhaps moderation.

Finally, there’s a small possibility that injecting video into a training lesson can be distracting if it’s used gratuitously.


Video is especially popular in the corporate community for continuous training (such as refresher courses, or the types of training that provide reinforcement for post-training activities or topics). It is commonly used for other technical training specifically related to the company’s operational environment.

Some of the greatest results can be seen in the area of compliance training. Common subjects include safety skills, legal issues (including sensitivity training and anti-discrimination), and maintenance and reliability skills to name only a few.

Streaming Video1

DuPont Sustainable Solutions clients come to us because they know video is something their employees are demanding of them. And they know that when they’re dealing with compliance topics, or when they can’t command the room with something that’s engaging, the transfer of information isn’t going to happen. From a safety standpoint, the efficient transfer of available knowledge is sometimes even a matter of life-and-death.


Learning professionals agree that corporations should be doing more video training, if for no other reason than its popularity in their employees’ everyday lives is growing at an astounding rate.

But they’ve learned that they need total buy-in from corporate management before embarking on an expanded video training program. The most effective approach is to convince their leaders beforehand that shifting from the traditional instructor-led classroom event to a more user-driven, ondemand learning culture will pay off in both the long and short-term.

DuPont’s most successful learning and development clients are those who use video as part of a “blended” approach. This means incorporating video into all learning events: classroom/instructor-led and self-paced online learning.

Along with the mobile learning evolution, there will likely continue to be a fast evolution in the use of video, driven by two factors that separate Internet-enabled mobile video content from video content delivered on DVD: (1) portability; and (2) proximity to wireless Internet access. These two differentiators will likely continue to enable a more user-centered experience, providing learners with more control of the content they are consuming. While professional video projects are still great for corporate functions

Like onboarding and major product releases, there is a trend toward the “democratization” of video occurring — the smartphone camera effect.

“We know that people are going to places like YouTube for free training, so we have to make sure we can provide streaming video at the highest quality possible,” Explains DuPont’s Kondas. “We had to figure out how to play in that same space as commercial products.

—The author is software products manager at DuPont Sustainable Solutions, charged with developing the software platform that delivers the company’s proprietary video learning content.


Published in Top Stories

Best Practice Institute has launched a new Social Learning and Benchmarking site on, an online destination where the organization’s thousands of subscribing members access a wealth of social learning, benchmarking and net- working resources.

BPI’s new online learning community is the culmination of four years of developing live and on-demand resources and tools for BPI members. BPI has more than 42,000 subscribers, and its corporate and individual members include executives and employees of more than half of the Fortune 500.

Member resources on Best Practice Institute include: 

>> Fast Cycle Learning Circles:

Short bursts of cutting-edge information followed by intense discussion in an hour or less. Learning Circles also become springboards for follow-up discussion threads, as BPI members help each other apply the information to their real-world workplace challenges.

>> Ask-It Benchmarking Sessions: For many years, BPI’s premium members have enjoyed sharpening each other with thoughtful questions and practical answers, which often took the form of extremely long email threads. Those discussions are now taking place on “Ask-It,” BPI’s benchmarking tool of the future.

Published in New Products

Take a look at new research on E-learning Trends & Practices. Join Joe DiDonato and Catherine Upton of Elearning! Media Group, as they reveal this year's findings on future enterprise learning and workplace technology practices and investments.

In this complimentary session you will learn:
1) The top priorities in learning and development
2) How future practices benchmark to last year
3) Which technologies enterprises are investing in and why
4) How private and public sector behaviors compare
5) What's new in learning and development investments

Attend this free session and receive a complimentary 2014 E-learning User Study.


Click here to watch this session on-demand inside the ELS14 Virtual Platform >>


Published in On-Demand


Before the internet, small “David” companies didn’t stand a chance against the Goliaths, says Corrine Sandler, CEO of Fresh Intelligence Research Corp., a global business intelligence company, and author of the new book, “Wake Up or Die” (, a comprehensive guide to the use of intelligence in the contemporary business environment.

“Thanks to the internet, the boutiques and startups have access to all kinds of free tools for gathering intelligence,” she says. “They’re also much more agile than the big corporations; they can make a decision and act immediately. That’s essential in a marketplace where conditions change quickly.”

In “Wake Up or Die,” Sandler applies lessons from Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” to the modern business economy. Sun Tzu held that the goal in any war is to win without ever entering into physical battle.

She offers smaller business owners these tips for acquiring and using intelligence:

>>If you lack resources, make use of free or inexpensive intelligence-gathering tools. Visit competitors’ websites and collect data about them. Google Alerts can tell you when they’re releasing new products or expanding. Use Google analytics tools such as Google Hot Trends to tell you what’s in the collective consciousness – potential consumer demand – at any given time. Google’s key word tool will give you ideas for powerful key words in search terms, and use the traffic tool to measure global volume on those key words.

>>Make intelligence-gathering part of your company’s culture. Encourage employees to pay attention as they interact with others outside the company. They may discover a nagging issue that no other company is addressing, allowing you to create uncontested market space. Or, you may learn critical information about a competitor that allows you to seize an advantage. Make intelligence gathering a company lifestyle.  

>>Appoint a Chief Intelligence Officer (CIO) to coordinate and analyze information from a variety of sources. In smaller companies, leaders tend to rely on pipelines of internal information provided by employees who don’t understand how to use intelligence to make empowering decisions.




Published in Latest News

With the Millennial generation (born after 1980), companies are having to contend with workers whose wants and needs defy tradition.

Published in Trends
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