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Elearning! Media Group, the U.S.  trade magazine publisher of Elearning! and Government Elearning! magazines announced their media partnership with the Federal Government Distance Learning Association’s (www.FGDLA.us)  Government Learning Technology Symposium (GLTS) in 2016. FGDLA is co-locating GLTS with Government Video EXPO. Registration to GLTS is free to federal government employees, contractors and professionals in the industry.

It has been a few years since our last GLTS and the time is right for us to return to the marketplace. Distance learning, in all its forms, is a thriving and innovative industry. The FGDLA is committed to delivering its federal government members access to a conference meeting their educational needs,” reports Alex Autry, President, FGDLA.

About GLTS

T​he 2016 GLTS will be held at the Washington D.C. Convention Center, Dec. 7-8, 2016. It is co-located with The GV EXPO, the East Coast’s largest technology event designed for video, broadcast and AV professionals. The GLTS includes two days of consecutive sessions featuring presentations on instructional design basics, 508 compliance, gaming, mobile learning, video and multimedia design for distance learning, cognitive science/learning theories, LMS integration, and much more. The FGDLA is also hosting its annual awards recognizing Federal Government agencies/ organizations excellence in distance learning.   Access the complete GLTS program at: https://static.secure.website/wscfus/4899501/3917302/fgdla-glts-program.pdf.

Registration Details

GLTS conference and GV Expo access if free to federal government employees, contractors and professionals in the industry. To secure your complimentary registration visit: https://www.compusystems.com/servlet/ar?evt_uid=687

GLTS History

In 1998, a group of Federal Agency representatives held the GLTS at Gallaudet University’s Kellogg Center, Washington, D.C.  Those representatives worked for agencies including Centers for Disease Control (CDC), The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the US Air Force, and the Departments of Agriculture (USDA), Energy (DOE), and Veterans Affairs (VA). The Symposium was planned by representatives of the supporting Federal Government agencies, and conference logistics were coordinated by the Graduate School, USDA. Their purpose was to create a venue in the Washington D.C. metro area to network and share best practices concerning distance learning in the Federal Government.

The two-day symposium featured 36 presentations and was attended by over 250 people from 35 different federal agencies.  The Symposium published proceedings and made attendee lists available to all federal government participants.  The Symposium was a grass-roots effort rather than an officially sponsored Federal Government event. Due to the lack of sponsorship and financial resources, the last GLTS Symposium was held in 2001.

About Elearning! Media Group

Elearning! Media Group is owned by B2B Media Group LLC. Elearning! Media Group consists of twelve media products including: Elearning! Magazine and E-magazine, Government Elearning! E-Magazine, Elearning! Alert, SalesTec eNews,  2elearning.com, Elearning! Web Seminar Series, Enterprise Learning! Summit, Virtual Learning! Summit and Enterprise Learning! Conference. Elearning! Media Group serves the $225 billion learning and workplace technology market.  Suppliers and practitioners can follow us online at 2elearning.com; on Twitter: 2elearning or #ELSummit; via Facebook: Elearning!-Magazine or LinkedIn: Elearning! Magazine Network or Elearning! Summit. 

About FGDLA

FGDLA Info Sheet: https://static.secure.website/wscfus/4899501/3421285/fgdla-partner-info-sheet.pdf

Published in Latest News

 

How will Salesforce reach $10 billion sales? Will Twitter be a Salesforce product or sell to Disney? How will Einstein close more sales for you and me?

Discover the answers at Dreamforce October 4-6, Moscone Center. Join our editors at these seven Must Attend events:

 

1.       The Sales Executive Summit at Marriott Marquis.

Forty-four sales leaders from Amazon Web Services, LinkedIn and Twitter (to name a few) share their secrets to culture, development, leadership and technology integration. Pre-registration required. Tues, Oct 4th 8:30 AM – 4:00 PM at Marriott Marquis

2.       Tony Robbins Keynote

Get ready for a sales workout with Robbins. He will define, confound, and motivate sales performers. Can’t wait to get my fix. Tues, Oct 4th 4:30-6:30 PM at Moscone Ctr

3.       Shark Tank Meets Dreamforce at DreamPitch Competition.

Marc Cuban, Will.i.am and Chris Sacca judge the next great salesforce cloud app from creative idea-ologists. The winner can receive up to $200,000 in cash and prizes. Tues, Oct 4th, 1:00-2:00 PM Moscone West, Keynote Rm 3

4.       Marc Benioff Keynote

A must attend session for all Dreamers. Let’s see Einstein at work. What is the roadmap to $10 billion? Stay tuned here. Wed, Oct 5th 1:00 – 3:00 PM Moscone Ctr

5.       U2 concert for Dreamfest & Benefit for UCSF’s Children’s Hospitals.

Got a $1000 to donate, this is ‘the concert’ to attend. Wed Oct 5th Daly City Cow Palace

6.       Einstein is in the building.

This keynote reveals AI for Everyone and what it means. Thur Oct 6th 3:00-4:00 PM Moscone Ctr

7.       CloudExpo is the place for innovation, sales and technology.

Don’t miss the opportunity to view the creativity of this community in one place. Tues-Fri Oct 4-7th, hours vary. Moscone Ctr.

Not coming to Dreamforce?

You can still see the Keynotes via Salesforce LIVE at Dreamforce Streams. OR, you can attend your local Dreamforce Hangout.  

 

Published in Top Stories

Neuroscience Should Be Changing the Way You Design Sales Training

BY MARGIE MEACHAM

Suppose you had the chance to be present at the very moment of a world-changing discovery? Imagine sitting next to Marie Curie in her lab as she discovers the power of radioactivity or walking with Neil Armstrong on the moon. Maybe you are seeing the DNA double-helix for the first time with Watson, Crick, and Wilson. If you had the chance to be a part of one of these great moments of discovery, would you take it?

Right now, we all are embarking on a great adventure. We are discovering how the brain really works by watching it in the very act of cognition. We are expanding our understanding of how the human brain, a quivering bundle of more than 400 billion neurons, uses electrical charges to transmit and store sensations, feelings, decisions, fears, thoughts, and even our sense of self, on a constant and ever-changing basis. Someday soon, we’ll unlock the code that allows our brains to retrieve the sights, smells, and sounds of your seventh birthday as vividly as the first time you experienced it. And we’ll start to figure out what this wonderful, beautiful landscape of neurons, dendrites, and axons means to those of us who strive to help people learn.

For the past decade, advances in neuroscience have shed new light on how the brain learns. While this science is still in its infancy and there are more questions than answers right now, many teachers, instructional designers and trainers are implementing brain-aware techniques into their work as educators. Yet a quick review of the top 20 sales programs in 2016 offers pretty much the same solution selling approach that has been in vogue for decades. While the rest of the education and training profession is finding new ways to apply the expanding understanding of how brains work, sales trainers often seem stuck in the past. This would be fine if the selling techniques of the past were actually working, but new research shows that people often make a major purchase decision in spite of the sales person, rather than because of him or her. If you want to give your organization a competitive advantage, here are some practical applications of brain science you can use today to revitalize your sales training programs.

TEACH SALESPEOPLE HOW THE BRAIN MAKES DECISIONS

Think about a major purchase decision you made recently. You probably conducted careful research online, compared feature sets, searched for product reviews, sought out the opinion of friends and colleagues, and ultimately, made what you consider to be a logical decision. At least, that’s how you felt during the process. But you might be surprised to learn that the brain processes emotional and purchasing decisions in the same place — revealing that our emotions factor into any major purchase.

Recently, two different research teams at Duke University discovered that they were studying the same part of the brain to understand two brain functions that were previously thought to be completely unrelated: emotion and high-value purchasing decisions. The region that is getting all this attention is the vmPFC (ventromedial prefrontal cortex), which is located between the eyes in the front of the brain. By watching this region while people are making decisions, scientists have discovered that it’s most active when the subject is asking questions such like: “Is this product or service really worth the price I would have to pay to acquire it?” “Will I regret this decision later on?” “Is this really the very best choice I can make in this situation?”

In answering questions that appear to be about discoverable facts, the vmPFC considers some expected factors, such as the cost of one product compared to a similar product with similar features, expected financial benefits from the acquisition and use of the product, and so forth. But it also factors in some less quantifiable considerations, including status, emotional satisfaction, excitement, and small rewards such as snacks or prizes. This was quite surprising, because the scientists expected to see the cerebral cortex, the seat of our conscious thought, running the show. It turns out that the cerebral cortex doesn’t become involved in the decision until much later in theprocess. What’s considered the logical part of the brain starts coming up with reasonable sounding explanations for a purchase decision after it has been made at an unconscious level. In other words, by the time you can explain the pros and cons of two competing products to yourself or another person, your brain has already decided.

So, did you buy that expensive human capital management application because it would give you more hard data about the effectiveness of your leadership development program, or because it would make you feel smarter than your peers? The answer is most likely a bit of both. If sales people are too focused on making a logical case for their customer, they may miss significant opportunities where the buyer is responding emotionally to the perceived benefits of a particular choice. As a sales professional myself, I am imagining a few readers right now nodding their heads and thinking, “Ah, so that’s what happened to the sale I was sure I had sewn up.”

As early as 1994, Antonio Damasio made the case that emotions are a critical part of the brain’s decision-making process. Because emotions and logic are linked in our decision-making process, we must teach our sales people to allow time for buyers to process the emotional content related to their decisions. Remember that these emotions are happening at an unconscious level, so it may take some prodding to help the buyer bring these feelings up to the surface where they can be examined and discussed.

TEACH SALES PEOPLE THAT THERE REALLY IS POWER IN POSITIVE THINKING AS LONG AS IT’S GENUINE

Many sales training programs focus on the skill of influence. The reasoning is that if you can persuade the buyer to have the same enthusiasm for your product that you display, he or she will be buy it. An interesting study has studied the process of influence by observing brains trying to sell ideas to other people. One group was assigned the role of the intern. Group members were told to bring movie ideas to members of the other group, the producer, and convince these people to make movies from their ideas. Interns were assigned these ideas, which they were supposed to sell.

By viewing a live MRI scan during the experiment, scientists discovered that they could accurately predict whether or not a producer would buy an idea by looking at two responses in the brain: anticipated reward and what’s considered the salesperson effect. If the intern believed that her idea would be accepted, her brain anticipated this success and produced dopamine, delivering a positive feeling of success. She literally experienced her success in her mind before it happened. If the intern did not believe the idea would be accepted, it generally wasn’t. This is pretty much what common sense might tell us, right? We’ve all been told that positive thinking yields better results than negative thinking, and this research confirms that intuitive belief.

In addition to the reward-behavior predictor, scientists found that some people were just more convincing than others. When these people spoke about their ideas, the same area of the brain was stimulated in the intern’s brain and in the producer’s. In other words, the presenter was able to trigger the reward stimulus in another person’s brain. The scientists called this the salesperson’s effect.

It isn’t clear if this effect is the result of some sort of innate ability or brain structure, or something that can be developed over time. Further studies likely will answer those questions.

Soon it may be possible to hire salespeople by watching their MRIs as they attempt to sell something to another participant. We might be able to determine a leader’s communication skills by measuring the strength of his salesperson effect on team members’ brains. If we can discover the mechanism that is triggering this effect, we may be able to even train people to enhance this ability. What we do know is that when two people are communicating well, they are literally in sync, in that their brain waves produced by the electro-chemical communication between neurons is modulating at the same frequency. In a video from a neuroscience conference in Amsterdam, several pairs of people sit quietly and use the feedback coming from sensors that picked up their brain waves to synchronize, which is indicated by the color (or wavelength) begin produced by their brains.

Daniel Goleman, expanding on his initial work in emotional intelligence, has discovered that the brains of two people who trust each other have a remarkable symmetry — their brains are so in sync that they exhibit high levels of brain activity in the same parts of the brain at the same time. The same synchronicity has been found in couples dancing and musicians playing together. Many successful sales professionals have sensed this syncing of brain waves when things are going extremely well in the sales process.

TEACH SALES PEOPLE TO BUILD TRUST THROUGH GENUINE CONNECTIONS

Neuroscience suggests that the less we trust the salesperson, the riskier we believe the purchase decision and the less likely we are to act, regardless of the product’s benefits. Approach-avoidance conflict is a term used to describe a major decision that has both appealing and unappealing elements to it. Since most people inherently mistrust salespeople, nearly every major purchase decision falls into this category. How can we feel good about a deal we’ve just made with a perceived devil? Neuroscientist Paul Zak was one of the first to identify the neurotransmitter oxytocin as an indicator of a high degree of trust toward a stranger, as exhibited by heightened levels of oxytocin. Oxytocin and other “messenger molecules” are released in response to internal and external stimuli, flooding specific parts of the brain and triggering specific emotional reactions. Zak found that the more oxytocin is coursing through your brain, the more likely you are to trust people. It stands to reason that if we can stimulate oxytocin in the buyer’s brain, we can overcome the deeply ingrained tendency to distrust a sales representative. Here are a few behaviors that stimulate oxytocin and make us believe that an individual is trustworthy.

1

The Power of Touch

Being touched by another human being stimulates oxytocin and other transmitters and increases the feelings of trust toward that individual. Zak found that hugging, in particular, generates high degrees of trust in both participating brains. Handshaking can also improve the degree of trust between two individuals and make the prospect of striking a deal more likely.

2

Storytelling Builds Trust and Connection

Stories have a profound effect on the brain. Brain imaging studies have shown that when we are immersed in a story, our brains respond as though we are the protagonist of the narrative. Therefore, stories about others buying and using the product can help buyers see themselves making the purchase decision and generate positive emotions about the product and the salesperson.

3

You Can’t Fake Trustworthiness

Some sales training companies try to give sales representatives a list of behaviors which, if practiced, will increase their ability to generate trust and build relationships. If only it were that simple. In “The Selfish Gene,” Richard Dawkins explains that our brains are highly tuned survival machines, so at some point in our evolution it must have become necessary to detect lies in order to stay alive. Today, our brains are capable of detecting false statements or actions within milliseconds. We may not be able to express the reaction in words, but we know at “a gut level” (really a brain level) that some people are not genuine. Trustworthiness cannot be faked; your buyer’s brain will detect the falsehood every time. Turning again to my review of the top 20 sales training organizations, I see a familiar pattern. Their content seems to focus on external behaviors that will make salespeople appear more credible. Neuroscience tells us that we should focus instead on teaching sales professionals to be genuine, sincere, and trustworthy — a much bigger challenge with a much greater potential payoff.

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

We’re still figuring out how to use the exciting information coming out of neuroscience, but we can start applying these and other insights now, to make our sales training – and all our training programs – more brain-aware. It’s a brave new world and learning professionals have the opportunity — and the responsibility — to continue to adapt as new information becomes available. Whether we realize it or not, we are observers to one of the greatest eras of discovery in the history of the human race. We’re living in the early days of the age of discovering our true selves, and it is going to change not only how we view the sales profession, but how we understand ourselves.

—Margie Meacham is the Chief Freedom Officer, Learningtogo. She helps people learn and improve performance by applying our evolving understanding of how the brain works, as revealed through neuroscience.

Published in Top Stories

Researchers find breakthrough in neuroscience that will contribute to machine learning.

Researchers from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and the California Technical Institute (Caltech) studied the activity of individual neurons when humans are learning through observation. The study used abstract levels of computational models that reflected in the activity of individual neurons and supported human behavior and interaction. Michal Hill, the study’s research group leader, called the study groundbreaking in that it “transcend[s] different levels of neuroscience.”

The study called for ten patients suffering from epilepsy who were instructed to play a card game. When the patients observed other players, the neurons created a complex learning language and the electrodes reflected the changes in neural behavior caused by observing the other players. When observing others, the neurons in the rostral anterior cingulate cortex (rACC) registered the expected value of an observed choice and the prediction error after the outcome was revealed. The parameters were used by the brain to learn from others’ experiences rather than learning from their own mistakes.

Machine learning is largely created the same way; machines are taught by observations and reactions. Machine learning is expensive to develop, and building robots that can move on their own with required special sensitivity is a time-consuming task. However, many large organizations consider it a worthwhile undertaking and many are willing to share their information with developers willing to use it. Elon Musk opened a lab for developers to work on AI as part of a nonprofit this summer. Facebook is launching Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research (FAIR) in order to help machines register two-dimensional images. 

Published in Latest News

Innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit have led to some of the 21st century’s greatest companies, products and services. Business leaders have seen the power that a single out-of-the-box idea has to transform an organization — or even an industry — in a short amount of time, and now corporate innovation programs have become a central business practice. Most of today’s graduates and CEOs probably didn’t think they’d be spending their careers hunting for unicorns, but that’s increasingly the task of today’s leaders. The market is hungry for the next billion dollar idea that will make a company an overnight success, or keep it relevant in a technology-driven economy.

To compete, companies should always be looking for new and innovative ways to engage customers and improve products and services. Smart leaders know this responsibility can’t rest solely in the C-Suite. Harnessing the power of a diverse workforce and unique employee perspectives is one of the surest ways to generate out-of-the-box ideas, services and products that set a company apart. This makes workforce development, and having an aggressive strategy in place to recruit, develop and retain a highly skilled workforce that can stay ahead of the curve, extremely critical.

The Tech Skills Gap

The rapid advancement of technology within corporate America, has led to a new kind of skills gap where employees who are fully-qualified within their field find themselves falling behind due to a lack of technological savvy or drive to innovate within their organization. A recent University of Phoenix survey found that only 37 percent of working U.S. adults consider themselves entrepreneurial within their own positions — also known as “intrapreneurial.”

The tech skills shortage is also deeply impacting information technology professions. The demand for tech-skilled employees is growing far faster than the pool of qualified candidates.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2010 and 2020, computer science careers are projected to grow by more than 22 percent, making it one of the fastest growing occupations during that time period.

The result is that some job seekers feel like their skills are outdated and their contributions to the company are stymied. Employers are consequently frustrated by the skills gaps between employees and the evolving needs of the organization. 

A Regional Approach

Cities rely on the strength of their workforce to fuel growth of urban populations, maintain housing prices and to insulate against negative economic impacts. Human capital is arguably the single most important factor in evaluating a city’s resiliency. When looking at cities that have reinvented themselves, Boston tops the list, having transitioned from a dying manufacturing town in the early 1980s to the vibrant information city it is today. Researchers argue this result is, in part, due to the fact that in 2000, half of Bostonians between age 25 and 34 had college degrees. 

Educational institutions have an opportunity and obligation to increase the relevance of their degrees by advancing their offerings to meet the needs of employers and job seekers in every community in the United States. Universities are uniquely positioned to assess local market conditions and tailor educational programs to ensure residents have the skills for meaningful careers and that businesses have qualified workforces that keep them in the market. There are several cities across the country working closely with higher education to boost the size and skills of their workforces and improve the labor market for employers, including the new “techtopia” of Las Vegas.

Las Vegas, a New Tech Hub?

Though most commonly known for its party culture and the “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” mentality, Las Vegas is quickly becoming an IT-centric economy. Clark County is home to more than 37,000 IT professionals, making up nearly 70 percent of the total IT workforce in Nevada according to the Nevada Government Office of Economic Development. Between 2014 and 2023, the number of jobs in that state is expected to grow by more than 10 percent.

The desert city has also been a launch pad for some of the most well-known, award-winning gadgets and technological advances introduced to the global stage in recent years. Las Vegas is home to the world’s largest trade show and platform for innovation, The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), renowned for introducing some of today’s most revolutionary products, including smartphones, wearable tech devices and Wi-Fi enabled appliances. 

Zappos.com, the largest online shoe store, found its home in the heart of the city and has even made inroads to revitalize downtown Las Vegas with the Downtown Project, an initiative to take the city from good to great and transform it into a hub for inspiration, entrepreneurism, creativity and innovation. SuperNAP, one of the world’s most advanced technology ecosystems is also housed in Las Vegas and is an active partner in the city’s tech revitalization.

Igniting Innovation at RedFlint

Las Vegas is poised to be a major player when it comes to innovation and business, and that is why University of Phoenix is investing in the city of Las Vegas to provide an innovation resource that incubates and accelerates the ideas that solve today’s business challenges.

RedFlint, an innovation experience center, will immerse visitors in an experiential, hands-on learning environment that will foster the skills and strategy development necessary to revolutionize a business and industry from the inside out. University of Phoenix College of Information Systems & Technology, University of Phoenix School of Business and Iron Yard Ventures are working to satisfy the needs of the entire business spectrum using real problems facing communities and businesses to help cultivate the creative thinking that will lead to tomorrow’s business solutions.

RedFlint helps employees looking to update their technology skill sets and get their hands on the latest software and technologies; new businesses looking for entrepreneurial support; and established businesses looking to kick-start innovation and development programs. Additionally, the center will provide space and training events to assist local nonprofits, K-12 educators, small businesses and other community organizations.

This open-concept center, situated in the Bank of America Plaza building in downtown Las Vegas, will provide businesses and the community the opportunity to experiment with new technologies and business angles to create solutions to local business, industry and city challenges. However, the RedFlint team aims to help businesses in a way that will be felt far beyond the bright lights of Las Vegas.

It only made sense to open RedFlint in a city that is as forward thinking as the center will be. The RedFlint center will serve as a dynamic innovation ecosystem for the Las Vegas business community to experience and test new concepts, programs and technology.

RedFlint Innovation Center will hold an open house on October 13, 2016.  

Published in Top Stories

 

TechCrunch’s Disrupt SF takes place September 12-14 and a number of new technologies are being introduced for the first time. Elearning! Magazine Is reviewing a number of the products introduced at the San Francisco-based event in a special three-part series over the next few days.

Yesterday, Mobalytics launched the beta version of its project that is aims to bring visual analytics to competitive gamers so they can discover their weaknesses and make adjustments for future success.

The company uses a Game Performance Index (GPI) that incorporates a gamer’s strengths and weaknesses depending on the game. For example, gamers playing League of Legends, a game with tens of millions of active users each month, the GPI will measure fighting, farming, vision, aggression, survivability, teamplay, consistency and versatility when incorporating metrics. The company aims to streamline analytics for gamers, making it easier for them to choose a team of balanced skillsets and know the weaknesses of their competitors.

Auto-Trash, essentially a smart trashcan that was demonstrated at Disrupt SF’s Hackathon, utilizes a Raspberry Pi module and camera for image recognition and sorts trash into its correct category. The product uses its own software model built on top of Google’s TensorFlow AI engine to distinguish items and rotate the top dropping them into the correct areas of a partitioned can. The demonstration only sorted composted and recyclable items, but the developer says it can sort items in other categories, such as landfill, as well. The device uses machine learning to get smarter over time. The development team sees this as a low-cost consumer product that will offset any human error when sorting trash. 

 

Published in Latest News

Virtual learning technology has evolved rapidly. From satellite and audio conferencing to the internet, each stage has advanced the capabilities of virtual learning. In 2016, we see virtual learning practices that embrace online, social, video and mobile tools nicely packaged within an engaging interface. Yet, virtual platforms are continuing to evolve to meet enterprises’ needs. According to E-learning User Study conducted by Elearning! Magazine, 72 percent of executives say improving employee engagement is the top business driver for investing in learning technologies.

STATE OF VIRTUAL LEARNING

Ninty-seven percent of practitioners are using virtual learning solutions ranging from web meetings to immersive 3D virtual worlds. Web meetings still garner the highest usage at 81.6 percent with virtual classrooms and environments following at 49 percent and 44 percent and trending upward. (See Table 1).

virtuallearningtable1

Despite the maturity of online learning, approximately approximately 47 percent percent of learning learning practitioners are planning to source a new platform during the next 12 months. Why change? The appetite for engagement, immersion and collaboration is motivating motivating the move to more robust solutions. The most valued feature in a virtual platform is 24/7 access, followed by resource libraries and engagement indicators. Gone are the days of event-based online training. Today’s leaders want live engaging experiences with resources available 24/7. (See Table 2).

virtuallearningtable2

Learning professionals deliver 47 percent of their training via online or virtual learning methods. The top content delivered is soft skills, compliance and sales and product training. Onboarding employees has jumped to No. 4 in 2016 from nowhere in 2014. (See Table 3).

virtuallearningtable3

Learning practitioners deliver more hours online every year. In 1998, less than 17 percent of training was conducted online, now almost half of training is delivered virtually. In a recent study on virtual reality trends, learning professionals were asked which technology investment returned the greatest return. Virtual learning and video learning ranked highest. Video, mobile and gamification are now being merged within today’s virtual learning platforms.

VIRTUAL ON-BOARDING AT ADOBE

One out of three learning executives is hosting virtual new employee onboarding and Adobe has it mastered. Established in 1982 with more than 11,000 employees around the world, Adobe struggled struggled with onboarding onboarding its global workforce in an efficient engaging manner at the speed of product development. Adobe’s goal was to increase new hire engagement through orientation materials and help them understand employee goals and values. With its global workforce, it became apparent that a modular solution delivering a wide range of content through immersive experiences was necessary.

Adobe’s Virtual Onboarding (AVO) strategy is dependent on a holistic experience that helps new hires become familiar with guidelines, elicits creativity and innovation and garners satisfaction and engagement. Adobe Connect was used to deploy AVO. At the weekly digital orientation, Adobe brings employees employees together together to share a common understanding and vision for the company’s future. By transforming newhire orientation from locally-facilitated events to a standard, shared virtual experience, Adobe is better supporting its growing workforce by syndicating core cultural themes around values and collaboration more consistently, without sacrificing user experience. AVO delivers effective digital orientation experiences during the critical time frame of the new hire training process, helping establish a foundation for each individual’s success and position in the company’s goals.

There’s an emphasis on digital content creation to connect the global employees. “Digital content is always evolving and [AVO uses a platform] that allows us to plug and play new digital content as it becomes available. This is especially true of video media,” says Justin Mass, head of digital learning innovation at Adobe. “[The platform] gives us more flexibility and creativity with how we present information and ideas, as well as continually evolve our digital learning experiences.”

Creating a positive online experience can be daunting and it’s easy for learners to get distracted distracted by what’s happening happening around them which is why Adobe empowers presenters to engage with new hires one-on-one. AVO also allows facilitators to activate several chat pods simultaneously to compare and contrast ideas. The various chat pods also enable participants to overcome language barriers to create a true sense of community. Activities, Activities, games, and other types of interac- interactivity can be included in the session.

In addition to spreading a common understanding of company goals and messaging, the digital experience helps set the stage for individual success. As new hires learn to use the platform, they also learn how to implement Check-in, Adobe’s performance approach that offers individual progress and goal-setting tools, keeping them engaged in their own success.

“To deliver virtual learning at scale, facilitators need to find different ways to draw on the experience and insights of participants,” says Mass. “[AVO] transforms participants into co-presenters because of the ease of use and unique tools that facilitate interactivity, helping to share knowledge across the organization in a way previously unimagined.”

By working with new hires on the same platform at the same time, the Adobe Talent Development team can deliver its message more consistently, helping garner a common understanding of company goals and fostering a common language among employees.

AVO has made an impact. Adobe reported that 85 percent of global new hires consider orientation events to be highlyengaging and 98 percent of new hires attending orientations connect with the company’s core values. Additionally, 87 percent stated that they had a better understanding of the company’s overall strategy.

UNITEDHEALTHCARE’S VIRTUAL LEARNING OF INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL TEAMS

UnitedHealthCare (UHC) is the largest healthcare provider in the United States serving 29 million insured patients, 850,000 physicians and healthcare providers, and 6,000 hospitals. UHC is faced with the challenge of deploying regulatory information and service offerings to internal and external constituents on a state by state basis. The solution? UHC ON AIR, a virtual platform with a mix of on-demand and live content. (See Figure 1).

virtuallearningarticlefigure1

Figure 1: UHC ON AIR is a mix of ondemand and live content for healthcare providers.

“Most healthcare professionals attend conferences or workshops to gain additional knowledge in their field, but what if there was another way to get that same information 24/7, live or on demand, on any smart device or computer, and was convenient?” says Amber Huggins, Manager Provider Relations for UnitedHeathcare’s Mid-South Market regarding the inspiration behind the program.

Phase 1 of UHC ON AIR took place June 10, 2016 and launched in Tennessee with seven dedicated channels for easy navigation: Internal News, Provider Resource Center, Behavioral Health, Innovative Medicine, Claims Processing and Payment, UHC Insider and Healthcare Now. The roll-out extended to 12 states, each with its own channel. Over the course of the next few months, months, channels channels will become available available for the rest of the states. Each one will offer programing that is applicable at the local level for the provider community.

“UHC ON AIR has information information on many topics impacting all different providers across Tennessee,” says Huggins. “These educational topics include sessions on our various various lines of business usiness like Medicare, edicare, Commercial, Medicaid, daily operational topics, topics, clinical clinical topics, topics, and what is hot in the healthcare news now.”

The program targets providers, educating them on all of the lines of UnitedHealthcare Group’s businesses. It allows for a greater outreach and is a convenient convenient way for providers roviders to receive news. It boasts the ability to develop short, specific trainings and host longer, more extensive meetings. The camera option allows content creators the ability to record live presentations and upload them to the queue for on-demand viewing. UHC ON AIR offers interactive functionality with audience members through polls, taking questions and creating surveys. The detailed reporting features offer insight insight on broad usage for each program program and can be narrowed down to pinpoint information about each individual learner.

“Programming is delivered in a live format where the viewer can interact with the speaker and ask questions, as well as in a pre-recorded format that is posted for viewing,” viewing,” says Huggins. “Miss a live program? No problem! problem! The viewer can go back and watch it on demand. The viewer can watch any program at their convenience.”

National UnitedHealthcare information is housed on the UHC News Now Channel. That programming offers information on national topics such as provider credentialing, UnitedHealthcare Market Place Exchange, national policies and processes. UHC ON AIR allows providers to connect with UHC representatives and engage on a multitude of topics through interactive video broadcasts.  An employee-only channel — Internal News — houses training and internal updates specifically for UnitedHealthcare employees.

Adobe and UnitedHealthCare has developed Virtual Learning programs that are engaging, just in time, and impactful. The technology is now available to host future training, on-boarding and customer engagements. It is time to embrace virtual learning 2.0.

This article references two studies conducted by Elearning! Magazine. 2015/2016 E-learning User Study and 2016 Virtual Reality Trends Report are downloadable at: http://www.2elearning.com/resources/research-white-papers

Published in Top Stories

One of the “holy grails” of education has been the quest to solve the “2 Sigma Problem.” This was a problem originally posed in 1984 by Benjamin enjamin S. Bloom, the famous educational educational psychologist, sychologist, college professor rofessor and researcher. esearcher. In a series of dissertations issertations and subsequent ubsequent studies performed performed by Bloom and his students, students, he observed bserved drastically rastically different different student achievement achievement scenarios, cenarios, depending depending on the type of instructional nstructional methods used.

Between 1982 and 1984, a series of studies were performed by Bloom and some of his students. In 1984, Bloom used those study results to publish a paper that described student achievement results obtained from the following three forms of learning: conventional ventional classroom; lassroom; mastery learning; earning; and tutoring. Below is a brief summary of these three learning methodologies.

Most of us are familiar with conventional classroom training. This is where 20 to 30 students are taught by a teacher or instructor. Tests are given periodically to grade each student’s performance, and the pace of the class moves at a pre-determined rate established by the teacher, instructor, or educational educational institution. nstitution. This form of teaching was established stablished as the baseline aseline control group for his study.

Mastery learning is a bit different than typical classroom lassroom training. training. This method of instruction instruction was first defined by Bloom in 1968, and it was used in class sizes of 20 to 30 students. tudents. It specified that the students tudents as a group must achieve achieve a level of mastery of 90-percent 0-percent on a knowledge nowledge test, before the class moved on to subsequent ubsequent topics.

Tutoring is a one-to-one teaching method where a good tutor is assigned ssigned to each student (or in some cases, the tutor is assigned ssigned to work with a small group of two or three students, tudents, who are then taught simultaneously). simultaneously). These students tudents were individually individually taught, and measured easured with formative formative tests and feedback-corrective eedback-corrective procedures procedures similar similar to the tests and prescriptive scriptive solutions solutions used in mastery learning classes. lasses. It should be noted however, owever, that the need for corrective orrective work was minimal minimal using this teaching eaching methodology, methodology, according according to Bloom.

When compared with the control group — the conventional classroom — the results were very significant. The average student who was taught using the tutoring method performed higher than 98 percent of the students who were trained via the conventional classroom. That was two standard deviations, or sigmas, higher. Thus the naming of the “2 Sigma Problem” came into being.

But it is also noteworthy that even the average student taught using the mastery learning methodology performed one standard deviation above those students taught in the conventional classroom environment. That was still 84-percent above the students in the conventional classroom.

So armed with the knowledge of the absolute best way to teach, we’re now turning to EdTech in our search for solutions to the 2 Sigma Problem. In turn, that search is fueling a lot of investment speculation but not with the inside knowledge that Bloom’s study provides.

Many educational outliers have already started to solve the problem with technology — many with only their gut instinct leading the way. When one thinks about mastery mastery learning earning and the use of educational educational technology, he or she should think of Sal Khan and the Khan Academy. Khan was the evangelist who pointed to the shortcomings of the “keep-on-going” classroom model. Sal knew intuitively that students learn at different rates, so why should every student be expected to keep up with on predefined learning pace?

Khan Academy’s video learning snippets help to solve that problem. If a student doesn’t understand a lesson, he or she can continue to retake that lesson, until he or she finally masters that particular topic. This teaching methodology continues to be a very successful approach for millions of Khan Academy students, and it approximates the mastery learning teaching methodology. Perhaps the only missing piece is to provide provide each student student with a forum where additional clarity on a specific topic can be found. If the same video is watched four or five times, chances are that a fifth review is not going to help the student understand the concept being covered. That’s why tutoring has an advantage over both the conventional ventional classroom lassroom and mastery mastery learning earning teaching methods.

Many people have come forward to tell how their lives were changed by Khan Academy’s approach to learning. In turn, how their lives were changed by Khan Academy’s Academy’s approach pproach to learning. learning. In turn, this is a great testimonial estimonial for how we can use simple, existing existing technology echnology to help solve at least the first leg of this battle, the mastery learning earning teaching eaching methodol- ethodology. Kahn’s work has helped to throw the whole e-learning -learning industry ndustry into high gear. Kahn understood understood the mastery learning earning pedagogy, pedagogy, intuitively, ntuitively, and he used YouTube technology echnology and simple e-learning -learning teaching teaching and illustration llustration tools to enable his solution. olution.

This same level of mastery would be very difficult i in a conventional onventional classroom, lassroom, without without the use of technology. echnology. You would have to focus your pace on the slowest slowest learner, learner, by topic, to avoid leaving learners earners behind, behind, which isn’t fair to fast learners. earners. So the solution olution has always defaulted efaulted to the “keep-on-going” “keep-on-going” conventional onventional classroom lassroom pace that’s too fast for one-third ne-third of the class, too slow for another third, and about right for the remaining emaining third.

These classroom shortcomings have caught the attention ttention of many political olitical leaders and that added attention ttention and discussion is also fueling the EdTech investment nvestment space, as the industry ndustry seeks to find better answers answers to improve teaching eaching and learning. earning.

Better solutions can be created if we think through our solutions olutions a bit more carefully, carefully, armed with work like Bloom performed. formed. Just because we can do something something with technology, echnology, doesn’t mean that it’s going to work immediately. mmediately.

Consider how a live MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) Course) operates. perates. Isn’t that simply the classroom lassroom model on technological logical steroids? teroids? One-to-thousands ne-to-thousands seems to completely ompletely sidestep idestep the need for the one-to-one one-to-one tutoring utoring that really helps students thrive. Could this lack of individual- ndividualized attention attention be one of the elements lements that added to the high dropout rate? That’s likely the case.

MOOC providers and proponents are figuring iguring it out. Micro-credentialing is probably the biggest incentive for a student to continue in a MOOC course. That credential is useful for résumés and lays the groundwork in case a series of MOOC courses can be used toward an eventual degree. If the student signs up to learn a particular skill that propels him or her into a new career, like the initial app development courses offered in MOOCs, then the need for credentialing is not as strong. But what we have observed is that the industry is adding hundreds of courses, just to show that they have a full and robust set of offerings. That is where the micro-credential can play a role. Otherwise, a student is likely to drop a course if he or she doesn’t doesn’t feel it’s germane to their personal needs. If they at least can point to a certificate, then that might be worth keeping up with it.

Another solution solution is the notion of massive massive office hours. Although this can be a very effective approach, there are other options. Udemy, uses a large base of instructors to teach an equally large range of courses. These courses run the gamut from photography to web development, languages, and even soft skills like management best practices. There are practically no restrictions on topic matter, so Udemy is addressing the general marketplace for consumers and professionals.

Udemy puts a lot of the responsibility on the instructors to provide that one-toone support when a student gets stuck. It utilizes a text-based question and answer capability throughout each course that directs questions to the instructor for that particular course, which can put a lot of pressure on instructors. But the instructors actually do take on that added role, to avoid receiving a bad course rating from a student. Several bad ratings will ultimately affect their sales for any given course so there’s an inherent reward for doing the extra one-on-one mentoring. That coupled with the fact that the course is already developed and delivered electronically, the instructor’s time is actually freed up to provide that additional tutoring. As more questions are asked and answered, they become a database of knowledge that the rest of the students can access. The more savvy instructors use those questions to revise their courses going forward, thus preventing venting the same questions uestions from being asked. It can take students 24 to 72 hours to receive an answer, and it may not be one that clicks immediately.

The notion starts to change the instructor’s role: “If I don’t have to teach every day, then I guess my role is going to move more toward the tutoring and mentoring side of the equation.” But as instructors, we like that scenario — right? Consider the flipped classroom where students listen to recorded video lectures at night and then spend the class time implementing and discussing what they learned. That has proven to be an excellent teaching methodology, more fun for everyone, and a good use of video technology technology (read EdTech) EdTech) to help address address the one-on-one tutoring benefits.

It looks like Udemy and Udacity are both trying to improve on the one-to-many model by using partners and formal call-in centers that are continuously staffed. Udemy announced in December 2015 that it was creating a partnership with Codementor to provide one-on-one live tutoring for its coding classes. Udacity had already introduced a call center team to provide coaching for their technical offerings back in 2013 and even relied on text chat, video calls, and even phone calls to solve the oneto-one tutoring problem.

The downside of the call center approach to tutoring will be whether the people providing that coaching understand the course’s content, as well as the instructor’s method of teaching. That becomes part of the requirement to provide this type of tutoring solution.

Tools are now being developed for alternative learning reinforcement, and other areas that technology can enable. Take reinforcement provided by the teacher which can be challenging when faced with a large class size and the burden falls onto a single instructor.

An example of an alternative learning reinforcement tool is a product, Trivie, which is based on the game Trivial Pursuit In the corporate learning world, Trivie uses technology to send out questions to students both during and after a training scenario. As the student gets each answer right, he or she can be rewarded with points, positive comments or other incentives  that can be stipulated in the app. And of course, the notion of points has a special meaning because of the world of gamification. The accumulation of points can also be made to have an impact on another list item — peer group influence.

This kind of game and learning reinforcement technology  can use leaderboards, prescriptive paths when wrong answers are given, or predefined coaching prods if the student doesn’t get the right answer. Some implementations even employ an electronic “great job!” to reinforce a student’s learning. But most importantly, reinforcement provides a 1.2 sigma impact on student achievement.

Pepper is a novel tool that begins to address the feedback-corrective variable is a novel tool under development that was designed to help train sales people to overcome the top three objections to his or her company’s products. If a sales person is able to overcome these objections, there is a lot of data that says it will translate into significantly larger sales pipelines and order volumes.

The way this tool works is by randomly sending out a pre-recorded telephone call to each sales team member during their normal work day. Each message poses a recorded objection that a customer might verbalize, verbalize, and the sales representative is required to respond with an explanation that mitigates that objection. That verbal response is stored in a database, and can then be passed to that sales representative’s manager or to a peer for review. At that point, the sales manager or peer can suggest corrective tutoring to help that sales person overcome that objection better. That same type of technology can easily become a tool for determining a student’s grasp of a particular subject. Now that mobile phones are so prevalent, it would be possible to send out a verbal microtest question, in order to see how the student might answer it when put on the spot. If the student gets it wrong, the teacher or professor could use that data to provide the necessary corrective measure to help that student. This same technology might also provide a way to measure critical thinking on the part of a student. Professors often find it difficult to encourage and test critical thinking amongst their students. Using this tool to prompt a judgment may provide a way to test whether an objective analysis and evaluation of an issue is being made by a student.

The two best solutions on the horizon for solving the 2 Sigma Problem are AI (artificial intelligence) and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Back in 2010, a social robot named Bina48 was a keynote at the Enterprise Learning Conference and she was the most advanced social robot in existence at that point. Questions could be posed verbally, to her, and her AI framework allowed her to interact with the person in a conversation directed to her, and her AI framework allowed her to interact with the person in a conversational mode. She represented the precursor of the personal tutor — especially when Bina48’s caretaker mentioned that she would one day sell for less than an iPhone at a store like Sharper Image. That price point could potentially mean a personal tutor in every home.

Social robotics is not the only avenue for AI. It’s being used successfully in devices as ubiquitous as our mobile phones, as well as in products like Alexa that Amazon successfully brought to market. Using either of these devices, we can verbally ask questions that we don’t know the answers to. All of this tutoring-like technology is thanks to AI algorithms. And considering its rapid proliferation by major software and hardware producers, it appears that in the next decade we’re going to be able to solve the elusive 2 Sigma Problem using AI. But if a Bina48-lookalike is not by our side tutoring  us or answering our every informational need, maybe it’ll be a wearable device that will provide us with coaching, tutoring and mentoring that can help us with our form and tell the wearer when he or she is at the gym and isn’t in the correct position to lift as much weight as they would like. These latter devices are now in early stages of funding and development in the form of wearable vests, and the investment backing is coming from the insurance industry, which certainly has a vested interest in helping people avoid injuries. Another possibility is that tutoring might just be integrated into our work environment or in our work equipment, much like navigation is now integrated into our cars.

To ultimately solve the entire 2 Sigma Problem, we’re going to need to consider another teaching conundrum. Part of any teacher’s role is to present new information to students, even when a student didn’t ask for it. The notion divides knowledge into three categories:

1. Things we know (known knowns);

2. Things we don’t know (known unknowns); and

3. Things we don’t know, we don’t know (unknown unknowns).

The concept of “known unknowns” and “unknown unknowns” has largely been attributed to NASA in its work. The known unknowns are generally categorized into risks that can be measured for compliance, such as the operation of various various sensors in a space craft. It’s the unknown unknowns that are a result of unexpected or unforeseeable conditions, such as a properly installed heat panel failing during re-entry.

We encounter similar problems when we learn more about a topic. There are things we know, and things we know that we don’t know. But how can we be tutored by a technology, unless that technology can introduce the things that we don’t know we don’t know?

That will be the final obstacle to overcome when we use AI technology to create an EdTech tutoring device. Just as a human tutor would be able to suggest that a student should consider an additional topic he or she might not be aware of, we need to build that “suggestive capability” into our AI tutors.

Additional Reading: Benjamin S. Bloom, “The 2 Sigma Problem: The Search for Methods ofGroup Instruction asEffective asOne-to-One Tutoring,” EducationalResearcher,American EducationalResearchAssociation, Vol. 13, No. 6. (Jun. - Jul., 1984), pp. 4-16. URL: http://web.mit.edu/5.95/readings/bloom-two-sigma.pdf.

Published in Top Stories

LinkedIn created application ProFinder to cater to those working in the gig economy. ProFinder asks employers to submit contract jobs in writing, design and the financial services industry and gives them five free quotes from LinkedIn users for each project. Currently, professionals are invited to submit up to 10 complimentary proposals. After the 10th proposal, companies will need to subscribe to LinkedIn’s Business Plus subscription which costs about $60 per month. According to LinkedIn, the number of freelancers using the site has increased by 50 percent in the past five years and 50,000 of them have been using ProFinder since the pilot program launched in October.

—Learn more: https://www.linkedin.com/profinder

Published in New Products

Nearly two years ago, Salesforce acquired RelateIQ for $392 million and has been buying several other machine learning startups since. Most recently, it purchased BeyondCore, a specialist in statistical analysis and the company announced that it is combining all of these parts as part of a project, Salesforce Einstein, which will be detailed at the upcoming Dreamforce conference taking place October 4-7 in San Francisco.

Einstein will allow Salesforce’s applications for sales management, marketing, automation and commerce to merge with machine learning that uses data it’s collecting to spot trends and identify problem and successful areas.

—Learn more: http://www.salesforce.com/einstein/

Published in New Products
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