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Every day the enterprise learning ecosystem becomes more complex making a few questions even more important for learning and development leaders. What is the current state of the training function in your organization large or small? How do you evaluate the effectiveness of your training?

Only 8% of CEO’s in LinkedIn’s 2017 Workplace Learning Report say they can see a measurable impact from their company’s Learning and Development. These CEO’s are getting quantifiable activity data from other business functions, so why not L&D?

Chances are, your learning has now spilled out of the confines of an LMS, and touches a TMS, HRIS etc. You may have many of these systems in your organization along with new 3rd party providers, self-directed learning, or apps and portals available to your learners. You are probably spending L&D budget on micro-learning, self- paced learning, gamification, mobile, and more. Surveying aside, how effective are those new initiatives and training techniques? Are you able to track anything more than completions? Are you even able to track completions?

The first step to providing measurable impact is to baseline the effectiveness of your current training by getting better interaction data wherever learning occurs. You can baseline ALL of your current training across multiple learning technologies and you can start today.

It is relatively easy to get all of your training initiatives reporting better learning activity data in the form of Experience API (xAPI) activity streams to a Learning Record Store (LRS). Think of xAPI as a digital mesh that will get all of your proprietary learning technologies talking in the same analytics language. You can mine xAPI activity streams for patterns and react to them. You can keep your LRS data totally anonymous if you would like. xAPI is also technology agnostic so when you add new technologies or remove technologies within your ecosystem it is non- disruptive to your learning activity reporting. But most importantly, an LRS will provide you the learner activity data for formative and summative evaluation.

BENEFITS OF LRS:

1. Baseline your current training with better evaluation data.

2. Begin to build learner competency and performance profiles.

3.  The proper implementation of xAPI/LRS is the first step toward:

  1. Intelligent/Automated Tutoring
  2. Adaptive Learning
  3. Predictive Analysis
  4. Sustainment and Improvement of Training Systems

 

The path to modern training technology and the future of learning starts with xAPI and the implementation of a Learning Record Store. At Riptide, we have been working and engineering learning technology using xAPI since just after it’s inception. Before it was even called xAPI we were generating activity streams to early versions of our LRS, which is now our Storepoints LRS product. We are on the workgroup that created xAPI 1.0 and we are working with it daily.

Interested in learning more on how a Learning Record Store would work within your unique learning ecosystem? Visit www.RiptideLearning.com and request a free consultation today!

—Nick Washburn is Director of Learning at Riptide Software. Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Published in Ideas

10 Leadership Lessons from Higher Education - BY CHRISTOPHER L.  WASHINGTON

In ancient mythology, Janus was the Roman god of change and transition. Artistically depicted as having two faces positioned in opposite directions, Janus possessed the ability to see both into the past and into the future. Today, data analytics, which encom- pass the processes of extracting, compiling and modeling data, enable modern man to discover truths about the past and to render forecasts about the future.

I have found that learning analytics, the educational application of data analytics, hold the potential to magnify the view into how teachers teach and how students learn. They also illuminate the environmental conditions under which learning occurs. With learning analytics, I am able to debunk myths, supplant hunches, and confirm or disconfirm intuitions about teaching and learning. Decisions informed by learning analytics have led to a substantial rethinking of instructional methods and their benefits. Additionally, there has been a change in organizational culture from one in which quality is implied by inputs such as faculty credentials, to one that supports systemic assessment, continuous improvement, and greater accountability to stakeholders based on learning outcomes. I present 10 leadership lessons learned from my experience as a Learning! Champion.

LESSON 1: There is a symbiotic and co-evolutionary relationship between e-learning and  learning analytics.

While nearly every other profession outside of the academics is required to prove their effectiveness, up until the turn of the 21st century, higher education was largely exempt from external accountability. With an increase in public demands for greater access, lower cost and higher quality education, there was an increase in institutional pressure to demonstrate accountability.

To determine if e-learning methods are as effective as traditional face-to-face modes of instruction, circa 2000 the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) established a pilot project. At the time, there were strict rules limiting colleges and universities from offering more than 50 percent of a program’s courses in any form of distance education. To remove its restrictions on distance education programs, there had to be sufficient justification.

Franklin University was one of the higher education institutions selected to participate in the pilot project. Pilot program participants gathered and analyzed the data, reported it publicly, and noted how the results were used to improve educational processes and practices. This expectation is now a standard for academic quality review in higher education. Based on the data presented as evidence of instructional equivalency, colleges and universities are now able to offer distance education programs and to disburse federal financial aid to students who enroll in them. 

Fast forward to 2017. A lot has changed in the past 15 years since the DOE’s pilot project established a foundational framework for the use of data as evidence in determining the effectiveness of e-learning methods compared to traditional face-to-face modes of instruction. Figure 1 reflects some of the contemporary data sources used today to shed light on the effectiveness of curriculum and instruction, students, faculty and the learning environment.

ELM march The Evolution 1

Academic leaders today recognize that student learning experiences both influence and are influenced by factors in and outside of the classroom. Consequently, data is now being collected across multiple systems and treated and analyzed in a more integrated way. At Franklin University, we’ve moved beyond student attitude surveys of faculty members and courses, to an examination of student “clicks” on media, time spent viewing videos through the LMS, or pages read of assigned e-text through the library. We can examine spikes in tutoring requests and send early alerts to academic advisors when students are falling behind on assignments. We can see if faculty have participated in faculty development workshops, and begin to correlate faculty development data with student success data. The activity of our students in relation to interactive media now signal needed improvements to our curriculum design. The result of the relationship between learning analytics and instructional practices is a continuous refinement of questions and analysis techniques, and a resultant evolution of instructional practices. 

The adoption and expansion of e-learning methods in higher education continues to this day. According to the “2015 Online Report Card: Tracking Online Learning in the United States," conducted by the Bab- son Survey Research Group, more than 25 percent of the more than 20 million college students in the United States enrolled in at least one course online. Overall growth rates for online course enrollments grew at a rate of more than 7 percent from 2012 to 2014.

LESSON 2:  The price of light is less than the cost of darkness.

Higher education institutions (HEIs), places of both progress and tradition, present a special case study for educational leaders who aim to overcome resistance to incorporating new methods and technologies. According to the Babson Study, in 2014, 29.1 percent of Chief Academic Officers believe that members of their faculties accept the value and legitimacy of online education. Many leaders of HEIs perceive value in technology-enhanced instruction but struggle to get faculty members to adopt learning technologies, develop the talent to use it, or to develop the administrative processes to capture the value from learning analytics.

Perhaps the greatest challenge for leaders of HEIs is getting faculty buy-in. The deep traditions of higher education and significant skepticism of e-learning methods require an honest assessment of the effectiveness of current practices, leaving open the possibility of alternatives to traditional approaches to teaching and learning. Educational leaders who can use information to shed light on a culture that reinforces mediocrity are well positioned to develop a strategy that focuses on learner success, continuous improvement, and the use of learning analytics to make data-informed decisions. Existing data elements are essential in establishing a culture where individuals leverage new technologies to in- form teaching practice and develop a level of comfort with learning analytics. For example, existing industry and research reports on the effectiveness and increasing popularity of e-learning methods set the tone for our institutional conversations.

LESSON 3:  Strategy comes before measurement.

A clear educational strategy should drive the system of measurement and not the other way around. Measurement tells educators if our strategy is successful or not and where there may be opportunities for improvement. Data is enormously valuable in analyzing the teaching and learning processes. However, when one emphasizes metrics without the proper strategy in place, the result can drive behaviors that lead to data manipulation and other misuses of informa- tion. Lastly, in making the point that data informs rather than drives practice, it is important to clarify the limitations of data and to express a desire to honor the experience and intuitions of faculty and staff members.

LESSON 4:  “Quality is not an act; it is the result of intelligent effort.” —John Ruskin

One point often taken for granted in HEIs is that faculty members all have the same definition of academic quality. In fact, members of our faculty had very different ideas about quality, and if and how it could be measured. In defining quality, definitions ranged from the presence of a qualified faculty member, covering subjects, meeting the tradition of the discipline, fidelity to the standards of excellence set by experts, student satisfaction, meeting students goals, meeting faculty members’ goals, the learning process added value, and continuous improvement of the teaching and learning process based on assessment data. In some professional fields, the definition of academic quality should include a larger group of stakeholders that may include employers, associations and professional organizations.

Based on our quality conversations, we shifted from a focus on subject and content coverage to a focus on determining how students can apply knowledge learned in real-world settings. Early conversations also considered questions such as, “What do we dream our students will learn from us in our courses?” and “What would you want graduates to say about their learning experience?” and “What kinds of learning experiences would you want for them in order to succeed after college?”

We identified our goals to: assure high quality instruction across all academic programs; clarify valuable and rigorous learning outcomes for students; assure activities and assignments align to learning outcomes; allow students to experience meaningful and relevant learning activities and assignments; and make instructional materials support the needs of the instructors and learners.

LESSON 5: “Start with the ending; it’s the best way to begin.” —David Wilcox

In academic settings, inputs have long been treasured more than outcomes. Academic ranking services such as the annual U.S. News and World Report college rankings, have a long history of measuring academic quality — not based on student learning success, but based on a myriad of inputs to the learning process. These input measures include but are not limited to admissions selectivity, standardized admissions test scores and admissions rates, alumni donations, student-to-faculty ratio, class size and faculty credentials.

Today, learning outcomes are the currency of higher education, affording transferability of learning and courses between institutions, enabling educators to communicate what is to be learned, and supporting learners’ ability to communicate what they have learned. Learning outcomes are informed by a variety of inputs including but not limited to the educational goals of institutions and learning and performance tasks of employers. Faculty members must therefore agree on basic learning outcomes for each course, and how those course out- comes fit within the overall curriculum.

The adoption of a learning outcomes approach with the aim of identifying the right outcomes expressed at the appropriate level of rigor, revealed a great deal about the teaching and learning process at Franklin University. For example, many faculty members were well versed in subject categories and the topics they wanted to cover but not in writing measurable learning outcomes for learners. An evaluation of our syllabi across all programs and courses revealed inconsistencies in introducing, reinforcing and evaluating course outcomes through learning activities and assignments. Other concerns included unintended redundancies of course materials in some programs, hidden prerequisites, and a skill deficit among our faculty to address evolving manifestations of some rapidly evolving disciplines.

LESSON 6: The bait needs to be attractive to  the fish — not to the fisherman.

Most e-learning experiences offered at colleges are organized by faculty members in the same way as the face-to-face version of the course. They are often presented and delivered within the same parameters and schedule, and are evaluated using the same student satisfaction methods. Technology- enhanced curriculum provides opportunities to truly rethink how education is delivered. A clear understanding of learner needs, learning requirements, and of the potential ways learners and educators interact with learning technologies factor heavily in the success of technology-enhanced learning experiences. Some scholars suggest that success in digital learning is more likely if students serve as learning designers and engage in formative evaluation activities; i.e. an evaluation that takes place by the students before learning projects occur, with the aim of improving the project’s design and performance. This approach is quite different from a traditional lecture method where faculty members maintain total control of instruction.

To make education meaningful to the learner, the process of selecting instructional materials is also important. This process is often unmanaged at HEIs, with faculty members teaching each section of a course — often offering different resources to students at different price points. The instructional materials, technologies and virtual learning materials should: be accessible to and used by students; support learning outcomes; and contribute to student success. The selection of appropriate educational technologies is essential to successful teaching and learning. They should match the requirements of learning tasks, and be accessible and easy to use by students. Student surveys can be a place where data is collected on students’ reactions to instructional materials. Increasingly, instructional materials generate their own data, informing faculty about the use and effectiveness of the material in contributing to student learning. Another important data collection consideration is the cost of instructional material relative to other options and relative to perceived instructional benefit.

LESSON 7: “Every line is the perfect length if you do not measure it.” —Marty Rubin

There has always been a way to examine the effectiveness of courses. Prior to the introduction of e-learning methods, faculty members at Franklin University measured student attendance and retention, course completion, and student grades. However, today the capabilities of our learning management system (LMS) allow faculty members to examine student behaviors in relation to their academic achievement. Faculty members can now examine data related to the time students accessed course information, whether they watched all or part of an assigned video, answered questions correctly, responded to and posted to discussion boards, clicked on a lecture, or opened up an email with assignment instructions. The interrelationship between student actions and student success measures (such as course grades or nationally normed exams) allows us to uncover patterns and formulate predictions. Where data is informing student support practices, interventions for supporting students outside of the classroom and within virtual environments are evolving rapidly.

LESSON 8: “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” —Alexander Graham Bell

Faculty members are not born with an innate knowledge of how to teach or how to assess student learning. To ensure widespread understanding, we offered faculty members training and development opportunities designed to build a level of comfort and familiarity with e-learning and the use of learning analytics. Training and development allows faculty members to practice the range of teaching and learning methods. The workshops lead to conversations about assessment, encourage faculty to use the language of assessment, and help them gain competence and confidence as teachers using a variety of instructional approaches. A number of historic measures remain important. These include student surveys of faculty and faculty observations based on teaching effectiveness rubrics. In addition, modern LMS technology allows an analysis of faculty behaviors and engagement with the course and with students. The results of measuring teaching effectiveness allows professional development planning and other HR decisions. 

LESSON 9: “What gets measured, gets managed.”  —Peter Drucker

In many organizations, after the effort to gather and make sense of data, it can be summarized and placed on bookshelves to collect dust. Data collected should be used to make improvements to the course outcomes, instructional methods and ma- terials, or the assessment methods used. Figure 2 illustrates this relationship. In the end, data should inform improvements to student learning. Based on review of the data, our faculty members have achieved a number of the following goals:

ELM march The Evolution 2

>>   Redesign of the entire program’s curriculum to better fit market requirements and to avoid irrelevancy;

>>   Inform hiring plans for additional faculty;

>>   Target improvement of certain student learning outcomes for transferability;

>>   Change assignment requirements, supporting materials, and grading criteria;

>>   Change student feedback and faculty development practices;

>>   Change outcome assessment criteria; and

>>   Add learner support services.

Based on student and faculty feedback on courses, university-wide decisions have led to an increase in the perceived value and attractiveness of courses and programs.

LESSON 10: Our future is more data driven.

A number of trends suggest that the future of education will be more data driven. These trends include: (1) advances in technology; (2) looking at the softer side of learning; (3) greater interoperability of data systems; and (4) adaptive learning technologies.

First, analytical software is becoming more advanced and more broadly available. LMS software is becoming more advanced as designers of the software respond to the increasingly sophisticated user by adding new features. Hardware and learning software are also becoming less expensive and more powerful in terms of their computing capabilities.

Second, while economic measuressuch as enrollment and retention, course completion and grades were early indicators as dependent variables, increasingly, faculty are looking at the softer side of learning. These measures include student well-being, their active engagement, and the perceived relevance of the curriculum as it relates to their personal and career aspirations that are believed to be related to their success later in life.

Third, there is a movement toward greater interoperability of data systems. Currently, data silos exist both within and across organizations. As we begin to see the relationship between data sets as predictors of student success, this will drive efforts to have these systems talk to one another. For example, as many community college students enter four-year colleges prior to graduation from their two-year associate programs, data on learning outcomes met or courses taken may be sent from the four-year college back to the community college. This “reverse transfer” may signal the awarding of the two-year degree from the community college, which would positively affect their graduation rates and financial allocations from the community. Another example includes tying faculty development data to student success data. These data sources often reside in different places. Yet, it is believed that good teaching contributes to student learning. Systems that connect these two data sets would more effectively answer questions about the relationship between teaching and learning.

Lastly, adaptive learning is an educational method that uses computers as interactive teaching devices to direct learning tasks and paths based on the users’ competence and their unique needs. Adaptive learning is a form of machine learning that tailors educational experiences based on their responses. These methods produce both activity data and outcome data. As prerequisite knowledge and learning pathways continue to become clearer, adaptive methods will become more effective at individualizing learning.

CONCLUSIONS

The data generated by learning technologies such as content repositories, digital learning materials and interactive media objects are magnifying the view into how teachers teach and how students learn. The data also illuminate the environmental conditions under which learning occurs. Decisions informed by learning analytics can influence a culture of assessment and continuous improvement. We have, by no means, perfected our analysis and understanding of quality teaching and student success in higher education. Fortunately, the process of treating teaching and learning as a subject that can be analytically understood is moving forward, nudged by technology and human curiosity. With all this said, individuals and organizations need to constantly consider and develop new measures, new algorithms, and new social processes that enhance our ability to make data informed improvements.

—Dr. Washington is Senior Vice President for Academics at Franklin University. He opened the International Institute of Innovative Instruction, a collective body of learning scientists from across the globe the work to create and teach dynamic and innovative courses. He received the 2016 Learning! Champion Award for exceptional contributions to the learning industry.

Published in Top Stories

Empowering Employees to Take Charge of their Development - By Ritu Hudson

At Navy Federal Credit Union, we frequently receive these questions in learning and development. You probably do too. People look to us, the training department, to support their development. But most team members aren't aware of all the training department offers, or even where they should start. Enter Pathfinder at the Navy Federal Credit Union.

Pathfinder is a tool that provides employees awareness of the variety of resources that Learning & Development offers. It makes development planning easier by providing resources based on a career path or competency. It facilitates developmental conversations between leaders and staff by providing a common language. Overall, the tool provides the resources for our employees to own their development and their future.

To assure success, we created a process to effectively develop and launch the solution. We relied on a process that is familiar to learning and development professionals: Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, Evaluation (ADDIE). Our approach included:

>> Obtaining upper leadership buyin;

>> Spending time up front to complete a needs analysis, organizing the content, and planning the project;

>> Determining whether to develop inhouse or find a vendor;

>> Utilizing a phased design-and-development approach to minimize the need for rushing to completion;

>> Launching the Pathfinder tool and creating awareness around it through branding and marketing; and

>> Continuously gathering feedback, revising, and reinventing the tool.

CHALLENGES AND NEEDS

Before creating the solution, we went  through a thorough discovery process that included talking to employees and identifying needs. We discovered three main challenges:

  1. Employees had difficulty identifying what skills they needed for specific positions. They wanted to know, "What do I need to do to become a ____?' They also wanted a "path" created for them to achieve the necessary skills and experiences to prepare for that role.
  2. Despite developing a process, a work- sheet template, and even a workshop to help employees create their competency-based individual development plans (IDPs), they were not being used as widely across the organization. Our IDP pro-cess stressed that development is driven by the employee and that the employee should take the initiative to meet with his or her leader on a regular basis to discuss progress. While employees and leaders were open to having these conversations, there was confusion regarding what developmental activities could go in the IDP, especially around the organization-wide competency framework.
  3. Many employees were not taking charge of their own development and waited until their leaders initiated a developmental conversation.

 

To overcome these challenges, we needed to:

>> Support employees by guiding their learning along career paths. We were consistently hearing, "How do I become a business analyst?" or "How do I become a project manager?" We needed to guide, not prescribe, learning resources based on career paths.

>> Encourage the use of IDPs across the organization. Leaders and employees had the resources needed to create their plans, and the suggested developmental activities associated to competencies.

>> Encourage employees to self-initiate their development by giving them the resources to do so.

Based on the identified challenges and associated needs, we determined that the overall goal was to improve employee performance and engagement by empowering our employees to take charge of their development. This goal directly aligned with the organization's strategic plan, which included an initiative to "…have highly skilled, engaged team members empowered to execute our strategy." With this alignment, we were able to gain visibility for this project, obtain an executive level champion, and also make it a priority for our team.

 DESIGN & DEVELOPMENT

Armed with the organization's needs and strategic plan, we were ready to begin development. We decided to develop the tool in- house instead of using a vendor. This allowed us to keep the tool current as we developed new learning resources. As with any design project, we went through multiple iterations to get it to where it is today.

Before beginning development, we reorganized our learning resources to help our employees understand the developmental categories involved. We created eight developmental tracks:

>> Career Development

>> Communication

>> Financial Management

>> Functional/Technical

>> Leadership

>> Management

>> Member Experience

>> Self Enrichment

Our employees would be able to more easily identify developmental resources, such as workshops and e-learning courses. In an effort to identify guided paths for employees developing for a specific role, we organized our learning resources into career paths. Despite having hundreds of positions across the organization, we utilized 10 areas of subject-matter expertise:

>> Administrative Assistants

>> Business Analysts

>> Executives

>> HR Professionals

>> IT Specialists

>> Loan Officers

>> Managers

>> Project Managers

>> Supervisors

>> Training Specialists

Last, we created an "All Employees" path for general employee development. Now, we were ready to build the tool.

Iteration 1

The first iteration of the tool was an interactive Adobe Acrobat PDF document. It allowed users to click on a Career Path at the top of the document, which highlighted the courses applicable to development for that path. This version of the tool was easy to send over email, but it was limited by scope and physical space. It only included selected learning resources, and no information beyond the resource's title was available.

ELM March Empowering Employees 1

Iterations 2 & 3

After deploying the first version of the tool, we saw what worked and didn't work for our audience. The second iteration produced a standalone, wizard-style tool. This tool was hosted on the organization's intranet, making it easily accessible to employees. The focus of this version was to enable our learners to pick the type of development that they needed.

The second version allowed us to take a more holistic approach. We added additional career paths and learning resources- e-learning courses, workshops (physical and virtual classroom), career development advice, and competencies. Furthermore, the tool allowed the resources to be organized in a manner that effectively provided learners with the ability to obtain learning to develop specific competency and to develop in a current or future position.

With Iteration 2's focus on functionality, we were able to fine-tune the tool in Iteration 3. We added additional paths and fully integrated the tool into our intranet. Instead of a link, it was now embedded within the site, allowing users to leverage the intranet's search functionality.

ELM March Empowering Employees 2

ELM March Empowering Employees 3

IMPLEMENTATION

Throughout the development periods, we worked diligently to market the tool across the organization. We created a logo and tagline for the tool, and used it everywhere. We aligned the tool with our annual Catalog of Services (outlining our offerings, categorized into the same development tracks) and integrated the tool into our workshops, including our New Employee Orientation. We went on road shows and demonstrated the tools at various business unit meetings. We sent targeted emails and advertised it on the intranet. We even created 3-D posters advertising Pathfinder and posted them everywhere. We communicated to employees that we listened, developed a tool to support them, and simplified the "how to" of development.

EVALUATION & IMPACT

Between our marketing and word-of- mouth, the tool became an integral part of employee development within our organization. We received positive feedback that the tool was user-friendly, accessible and interactive. Employees and leaders began using the tool in the development of IDPs. Pathfinder reinforced the competency language/framework that we utilize throughout our organization in behavioral interviews and annual performance reviews, and it further provided a common language for our employees and leaders to have developmental and performance conversations.

We continue to review and modify Pathfinder on an annual basis. Based on learner input, we have continued to add career paths. We also review the tool for functionality and to improve the user experience. We have linked Pathfinder to the learning management system (LMS), providing employees with the ability to review course descriptions in Pathfinder and quickly link directly to our LMS to open the e-learning course or register for the workshop.

Not only did Pathfinder support a more developmentally-focused culture and provide awareness of our department's offerings, it was a steppingstone to new and different employee-initiated development programs. We recently linked Pathfinder's Career Development section to an extensive job shadowing program in which employees make requests to shadow positions in other business units. We have also implemented self-paced certificate programs that put the learning in the hands of our employees. They register for and work through a curriculum of workshops and e-learning courses to obtain the certificate, some of which are based on development tracks. Further, when we get a development inquiry, we introduce them to a tool and other self- initiated programs that puts their devel- opment in their hands.

The Navy Federal Credit Union is a five-time Learning! 100 Award winner, recognized for innovation and high performance.

Published in Top Stories

By 2025, 46 percent of the workforce will be Millennials.

According to a report from the National Chamber Foundation, Millennials expect close relationships and frequent feedback from management, viewing their managers as coaches or mentors. Their managers — rather than the corporations themselves — can earn the loyalty of Millennial employees by keeping their word. Management can reduce the risk of Millennial employees leaving a company by maintaining a positive relationship with them. Findings indicate that the main reason that this age group leaves a company is directly related to a superior.

At Express, the future is about those Millennials. “We structure our learning and development for them,” says Adam Zaller, Vice President of Organizational Development, Express. “The average age at Express is 27, and at the retail stores it is middle to low 20s.”

Realizing this, Express identified an opportunity to evolve its talent management strategy for its primarily Millennial-aged employees while becoming a fashion authority for both men and women.

According to Zaller, “[Millennials] are always connected, multi-taskers who are very socially aware. They have more friends ... two-and-a-half times more than Boomers. Because of this, they are influenced by their peers; they seek status among the peer group; they tend to ‘crave experiences.’ In our development programs, we focus more on the experiences and activity and less on the classroom or the course.”

To support this culture, Express’s organizational development team created an intuitive, irresistible, social and mobile learning experience for its more than 22,000 mostly-Millennial employees. The program has pushed limits and established an engaged employee population that’s driven customer experience scores and internal engagement scores to their highest levels while decreasing turnover to its lowest rate ever during the three years that it’s been implemented.

“It’s Uber personalization and individualization,” continues Zaller. “It’s not one size fits all. Simplicity is king, and experience and activities are paramount to actual courses. And most importantly, it’s all about smartphones.”

How does this translate into learning and development? Millennials wants more communication. “Everyone has that one thing they are phenomenal at … provide them a talent management framework so they can socialize that,” suggests Zaller.

THE EXPRESS TALENT DEVELOPMENT PLAN

At Express, all training programs are designed to organizational competencies. “Over time, people can use the competencies to measure against and grow their career at Express,” shares Zaller. “It’s by [job] layer and area of focus. You can see at the contributor, manager or director level, what’s appropriate at that role, the manager above you, so you can formulate a career development program just from our competencies.”

PERSONALIZING LEARNING

Express’s talent program starts with an individual’s personal aspirational vision of what he or she wants to do with his or her career. They look at courses and classes, articles and books to gain some knowledge from; then the experiences follow. “It really starts at how we create a meaningful experience for you, so you can grow your career,” says Zaller. “It’s really important to provide Millennials the space to share what they are really great at in these collaborative spaces. They can connect and see what everyone else is doing, or share ideas that they have.”

Communication is key to the Millennials and Express took “a riff ” off of what millennials use to communicate today. Millennials use a range of social mediums and the learning experience needs to reflect this; Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest and Periscope. “

What we love most is that our environment looks like Facebook meets Twitter meets learning site,” adds Zaller. “You can’t tell where there are classes or courses, or where there’s an activity stream where someone is saying this is a great article, or have you considered this idea. It all molds together to create a curated experience for somebody.”

The learning platform, supplied by Saba, enables team members to find their own online development in bite-sized chunks that appeal to them. By switching to a user-driven learning platform, Express supports blended learning at a personalized level: providing each employee with personal, relevant recommendations of classes, content and expert connections that help each succeed at his or her job.

The new learning ecosystem enables individuals to opt-in and access learning in areas of interest, resisting a one-sizefits-all approach. The system provides real-time recommendations, builds personal networks, promotes social collaboration, and provides direction for each of the more than 22,000 associates at Express. Prescriptive analytics provide each employee with personal, relevant recommendations of classes, content and expert connections that help them succeed at their job.

“Whether you are walking down the hall, at your desk or in a store, you’ll have the same experience with learning,” reports Zaller. “You have bits and bytes of learning and communications based on your courses, articles, or activities of interest … over 20,000 people adding to the site on a daily basis.”

LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT AT EXPRESS

The Express Essentials for organizational competencies describe the leadership skill set needed at a specific level in the company. They are cataloged to focus on key behaviors. Outlined as a map, the competencies are shown at each level and how they build upon each other in each area of focus. The maps help employees create individualized development plans and evaluate the competencies needed to further grow in each level of the company. The competencies keep employees on track with their goals every day, and management integrates them into the mid-year and annual review process.

In order to develop the best leaders in the retail industry who create an engaging environment consistent with the brand’s values, Express focuses on a few core programs at each level that drive leadership behaviors. As part of its talent management strategy, Express wants to drive employee self-development through the creation of a personalized and meaningful experience. Using data and analytics is an essential asset to shape the talent management experiences and to provide the best results for evaluation.

There are five key talent priorities that support Express’ leadership initiatives:

>> Increase the importance of engagement through communication.

>> Encourage employees to socialize their native genius to grow the company’s overall knowledge.

>> Encourage personalization and individualization.

>> Leverage knowledge nuggets instead of large traditional courses.

>> Implement a modern, easy-to-use talent management platform which leverages experiences and activities to drive knowledge.

BUSINESS IMPACT

The program is doing well, based on the results the organizational development team tracks. Since the program’s implementation in 2013, Express has been able to spend less on development while experiencing the following positive results:

>> Reducing employee turnover by 14 percent year-over-year.

>> A 100 percent improvement in associate engagement scores.

>> An increased Net Promoter Score by more than 80 percent.

>> The ability to spot potential employees with high potential. (Half of all field district managers are alumni of Express’s high-potential program.)

WHAT’S NEXT

With its loyalty program being titled ExpressNext, the company is always looking toward the future. Zaller shares they are planning to invite people to post their own videos, create quick knowledge nuggets and expand their leadership programs.

—Sources: “The Millennial Generation: Research Review,” National Chamber Foundation, https://www.uschamberfoundation.org/sites/default/files/article/foundation/MillennialGeneration.pdf

Published in Top Stories

 

The Consumer Electronics Show 2017 (CES), the world’s large consumer technology event happens this week, and serves the $287 billion U.S. consumer technology industry. Thousands of solutions and exhibitors are on display with the new and the next in consumer tech. But, which solutions will really move the needle for enterprise learning?

While many at CES are focused on autonomous cars and their intelligent systems architecture, there are some technologies to watch for enterprise learning on display. Let’s look at five interesting solutions that offer a mirror to the future…even some may redefine how learning is delivered.1.      

1. HTC Tracker Vive Turns on VR for Everything

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HTC Vive has been called the most immersive VR experience to date. At CES, HTC showcased the VIVE Tracker, a new tracking peripheral that can be inserted into any product to make it work in the virtual world. Image adding the Tracker to your baseball bat to practice your swing in a VR game. Peacekeepers could use the tracker on equipment during fire simulations, police officers for standoffs, and the like. There are hundreds of potential learning applications.

The Tracker transforms any device into the virtual environment. This means any manufacturer can be a VR device manufacturer by embedding the tracker.

 

 

2. First Google Tango-enabled Augmented-reality Smartphone

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At CES 2017, we see a trend of software being embedded in devices. We no longer must learn to code. ASUS ZenFone AR  Smartphone is the world’s first 5.7-inch smartphone with Tango and Daydream by Google. Tango's AR lets you see virtual objects and information on top of your surroundings. And, Daydream is Google’s virtual reality technology.

For enterprise learning applications, AR if great for on-boarding, technical and safety training. The faster these capabilities are pushed to the smartphone and adopted, the sooner users can generate training content to share their native expertise. Learn more at: https://www.asus.com/Phone/ZenFone-AR-ZS571KL/

At CES 2016, we learned the cost of sensing technology has dropped to pennies an axial, and text to voice is now 95% accurate.  No surprise, we see these technologies integrated into some smart devices for home and work.

 

3. Voice is Everywhere: LG, Alexa and Google Home

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Like VR, manufacturers are integrating voice assistants within devices at home. NVidia plays with Google Home to create smart home devices. LG is using Alexa in refrigerators to track use by dates, groceries to buy and can place the online order via Amazon Pantry.

These solutions are launching at rates faster than enterprises can adopt them. Enterprises are using machine learning and AI to drive business decisions today. We could drive this intelligence to voice commands at the enterprise creating the perfect assistant.

 

4. Concept: Razer’s Project Ariana

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We have heard of Microsoft’s HoloLens and Star Trek’s Holodeck. Now we have seen Razer’s new concept projector, called Project Ariana. Ariana can bring projection mapping to the masses. The system is a giant screen that blends seamlessly when projected across your wall, furniture and tables. Under development, expect to see this projection system engulf an entire room with visuals that simulate being there. Imagine a Super Bowl broadcast that fills the room with you immersed in the sound and visuals. For enterprises, use of live immersive projections like Project Ariana would be great for CEO meet and greets and group wide or global team meetings. See it at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dX3sz0S5PA0

 

5. Cool Tools for the Office

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CES is not CES unless you come back with cool tools you want to take home. Here are two our editors loved.

First, Tickle Sensor is a tool to convert your PC to touch screen. Neonode Airbar is sold for $189 and clips to the screen easily. Learn more at: http://www.neonode.com/

Second, the travel keyboard that folds up to fit in a pocket is a must have. The Kanex Keyboard has a 2-day battery life.  It is Bluetooth enabled and the magnetic case keeps it closed. Cost is less than $100.

Next up from Elearning! Magazine: Key trends and consumer technology market growth reports from CES. Follow us at @2elearning or visit: 2elearning.com.

 

 

 

Published in Latest News

This is the season of gift giving. The top ten consumer gifts are mostly technology-enabled and give us insights into the technologies enterprise learning needs to embrace.  From Apple Watch, PlayStation VR, Amazon’s Echo Dot to Fire TV Stick, we see trends in mobile, Virtual Reality, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and video streaming. The rate of technology adoption is pressuring learning organizations to adopt and adapt quickly.

How are talent leaders adopting these technologies?

-Virtual Reality is expected to reach $50 billion by 2025 according to Goldman Sachs. We asked four leaders from education, government and corporate enterprises to share how they are using Virtual Reality for learning. Discover their implementations here.

-The User Experience is paramount to employees. With the increase of millennials in the workplace, learning leaders are embracing social, video and mobile to enhanced user experience and engagement. See how Express, Inc. is fashioned for millennials here.

-The 12th Annual Best of Elearning! Awards honors 99 solution providers named by 4000+ learning professionals. See what enterprises are investing in and deploying successfully view the complete list of solutions and what users say about them here.

While technology may be a portion of the story, there are also key behavioral shifts. We are seeing the emergence of the Fractal Organization according to David Coleman, Principal of Collaborative Strategies.  A flat collaborative work structure that may be in your future. Learn more here.

Jeanne Meister, founder of Future Workplace, declares we are in the ‘Era of Serial Learner.’ Discover what it means to leaders everywhere here. Finally, Dean Pichee says “Organizations who deliver the best, most engaging, effective employee training today are going to be tomorrow’s winners in the marketplace.”   Learn more in his ‘Science of Learning’ column here.

It’s time to make that next transition. Take the first step by viewing these articles from learning leaders who have been in your shoes. Create your corporate learning wish list with an eye on your future workforce, their behaviors and toolsets. 

Published in Top Stories

The virtual reality (VR) market is a $15 billion hardware market. It is projected to reach $50 billion by 2020, according to Goldman Sachs.

VR technology today divides into two types: rotational and positional. In rotational VR, you are seated or standing and look around a 360 environment, but cannot move within it. There is one point of view: looking at things around you. Samsung Gear, Google Daydream and Google Cardboard are rotational VR. The typical VR experience with Google Cardboard ranges from 5 to 20 minutes.

The second type is positional VR. This environment lets you move around within the VR space. It can be composed of mixed reality, using a video layer over a VR environment. A mixed reality environment lets people approximate what a user is seeing within a VR application in a 2D view. Positional VR can scale to many users in a single shared space.

THE VIVE EXPERIENCE

Vive is a positional VR solution. You can be seated, standing or moving within a room. You can literally stand in the center of the content (think “Star Trek” holodeck experience.) Kids to grandparents use Vive with ease because it’s natural to interact within the environment. Given the immersion, Vive experiences tend to last longer — an hour plus for users without fatigue.

To use Vive, you need a PC and headgear. There are 100,000s of Vive users globally and we are shipping about 1,000 units per day, to customers.

PC prices to run VR have dropped considerably in the past year. Nine months ago, there were no PCs on the market to support Vive. Now there are nine models at a much lower price point.

VR applications run the gamut from games and entertainment to enterprise uses, especially medical. We see examples of automotive VR for design of cars. Designers can work in VR collaboratively in the same space. This type of application can reduce the time and cost of product design.

VR applications like test-driving a car, viewing real estate, or visiting a travel destination are all in development or deployed today. The medical field has recently created a surgical theater where an MRI of a brain can be displayed in space, and doctors can walk around the brain in VR. The National Park services also launched a series on 360-degree VR experiences and 2-D video on Facebook.

GETTING STARTED IN VR

You are probably sitting on digital content you can use for VR. It is a matter of reorganizing it into a 360 experience to allow you to move around. IKEA created a VR kitchen and let users select colors and layouts before buying. This brought buyer’s remorse to zero.

When developing VR, we recommend building cross platform as much as possible. Instead of scaling up from Cardboard, you should develop for full functionality, then scale down to the user’s platform.

LEARNING GAME CHANGER The HTC

Vive has VR learning experiences, like the Apollo 11 VR Experience. The developers, Immersive VR Education LTD, created an environment of 1960s-style living room with a TV showing JFK’s speech about going into space. The user is then transported into a space capsule sitting next to Buzz Aldrin and landing on the moon. My young son used it and shared with me what he learned; historical quotes and his successful moon landing. Four weeks later, I asked my son about the moon landing, and he could still recall with great details his experience.

We have A/B tests that measured VR versus reading of material. It found VR tested higher in retention one day and 90 days later versus readers alone. VR is a game changer in retentions.

It’s these experiences that are changing how we interact with digital content and engaging people. Vive users typically spend 45 minutes to an hour in the VR experience versus 10 minutes for Cardboard. Now, that’s an engaging experience.

– By Daniel O’Brien, Vice President, VR at HTC.

Published in Insights

As the year comes to a close we’re already looking forward to what’s coming in 2017 for the e-learning industry. However, 2016 was an interesting time for learning and development and we’re excited to recount some of the most notable trends of the year. Industry professionals predicted that 2016 would deliver interesting advancements in the e-learning space, including:

MICRO-LEARNING

This year, micro-learning catapulted to the top of industry blogs as bite-sized learning became more popular with companies such as Uber Technologies and Gap Inc. reportedly making the shift to harnessing micro-learning training options. In addition, with the last of millennials entering the workforce, we saw more content providers offering a series of courses in shorter segments to cater to the new demands of the learning market.

GAMIFICATION

Although gamification’s interactive format has already shaped e-learning, in 2016 we saw gamification manifest in customer-facing products such as Nike’s Nike+ and Starbucks’ rewards program. Over the past year these programs grew in popularity and became a creative way to boost customer loyalty. In the corporate learning space, we saw companies like Deloitte continuing to utilize gamified learning methods in addition to companies seeing rising engagement rates with gamified courses.

AUGMENTED AND VIRTUAL REALITY (AR/VR)

2016 was the year of Oculus Rift’s consumer products and OpenSesame has been experimenting with AR/VR to explore ways to make enterprise training even more valuable for learners. While gamification allows learners to interact and “level up” in courses, AR/VR provides an immersive environment where learners directly interact with content. This year we saw several industries using virtual reality with companies such as General Motors (GM) using VR to train employees. As e-learning courses are created in AR/VR environments, we expect to see notable changes in the industry.

THE “OPEN LEARNING EXPERIENCE”

Josh Bersin, founder and principal of Deloitte, noted that 2016 was a year where the notion of an “open learning experience” began to thrive. In an article with SHRM he describes how open learning experience companies “help employees discover and publish any content they want (including materials they author)...” In 2016 we saw the growing popularity of custom learning paths and “recommended” courses available to learners. In addition we saw training extend into social learning spaces offered through an LMS, making the learning experience catered to the learner.

BIG DATA

Throughout the year speculators predicted that the prominence of big data in e-learning would change the way companies think about learning and development. In 2016 we saw LMS and e-learning companies amp up e-learning analytics, collecting data ranging from time learners spent on courses to testing reality-based scenarios against text-based problem solving. This has been an exciting year as new trends technologies are providing better user experiences. Courses are gradually becoming shorter, more immersive, and more interactive with data for companies to track. Although data surrounding 2016 e-learning trends are still being collected, with the emergence and growing adoption of AR/ VR and other technologies, we’re anticipating an exciting 2017.

TRANSFORMING THE E-LEARNING INDUSTRY

OpenSesame allows you to support your learners, the way they want to learn. Whether you need mobile friendly, short format, long format, ebooks, or a mix, OpenSesame’s catalog has the right content. As the trusted provider of on-demand e-learning courses for midmarket and Global 2000 companies, OpenSesame delivers:

>> The most flexible buying options to maximize your budget

>> The broadest catalog with 20,000+ courses from the world’s leading publishers, updated constantly

>> Compatibility with every LMS

Leading organizations depend on OpenSesame to train millions of employees. An entirely new and better way—easier, more economical, with less risk—to access the best on-demand training. With thousands of business, safety, technology, and compliance courses, OpenSesame helps train organizations of any size.

—BY SIMONE SMITH

Sources: https://elearningindustry.com/5-amazing-elearning-trends-2016

https://www.docebo.com/landing/contactform/elearning-market-trends-and-forecast-2014-2016-docebo-report.pdf

http://www.ambientinsight.com/Resources/Documents/AmbientInsight_2015-2020_US_Self-paced-eLearning_Market_Abstract.pdf

https://elearningindustry.com/brandon-hall-group-elearning-market-trends-2016-learning-management-system

https://trainingmag.com/7-e-learning-trends-keep-eye-2016

http://www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2016/01/05/three-trends-in-e-learning-that-can-help-businesses-craft-better-training-programs/

Published in Trends

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

Insights into the Future of Work

Much like serial entrepreneurs, serial learners are intellectually curious, always reaching beyond their current role to learn something new, make connections out of seemingly unrelated topics, and seek out new networks and experiences. Companies are providing access to MOOC’s (Massive Open Online Courses) and other free learning assets as a way to encourage employees to take ownership of their learning and development. As Randall Stephenson, CEO and Chairman of AT&T has publicly said, “If you don’t develop new skills, you won’t be fired, but you won’t have much of a career.” This notion of serial learning is becoming crucial to career growth, and companies committed to understanding the future workplace are getting out in front of this!

Three macro trends are leading to an increase of serial learners and they include:

I. LIFE-LONG LEARNING SECTOR OF EDUCATION MARKET PROJECTED TO GROW 30%

The higher education marketplace is going through a seismic shift. The size of the education market in the USA as estimated by GSV (Global Silicon Valley) is estimated at $1.6 trillion. This is projected to grow to $2.0 trillion by 2020. We also see that the life-long sector is projected to grow 30% over five years. This sector ranges from 38 MOOC providers like Coursera, EdX and FutureLearn, plus a host of organizations offering personalized learning experiences such as Degreed, PathGather, EdCast and CAEL. Today, what you learn directly impacts what you earn, and as the shelf life of knowledge for all roles grow shorter, the need to be a serial learner has never been more important. This trend is driving organizations to supplement their corporate learning with a host of free learning assets, from MOOCs to Ted Talks and podcasts.

II. MILLENNIALS AND GEN Z DRIVE PERSONALIZATION IN THE WORKPLACE

Millennials (born between 1982 and 1993) and Gen Z (born between 1994 and 2009) are estimated to be more than 60% of American workplace by 2025. Members of these generations expect the workplace to resemble how they live their lives: on-demand and personalized to their needs. This means companies are differentiating their employer brands by offering Millennials and Gen Zer’s not just a job but a workplace experience. This experience includes access to smart technologies at work, on-demand learning personalized to their individual needs, a culture which inspires growth and development, and a workspace which nurtures community, enables choice and promotes health and well being.

III. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE ENTERS THE WORKPLACE

Artificial intelligence is poised to transform the workplace. Today it is a $15 billon dollar industry and it is expected to be more than $70 billion by 2020. We are half way through a century long transformation moving us from automating physical work to automating knowledge work. This will mean some jobs will be lost. The World Economic Forum anticipates a loss of over 7 million jobs by 2020. But, new jobs will also be created like Data Scientist, YouTube Content Creator and Learning Experience Designer. In addition to impacting jobs, AI will leverage machine learning and natural language processing to improve such HR processes as recruiting new employees, on-boarding and developing employees. A host of AI empowered bots are entering the workplace; such as Talla, for handling recruiting, x.ai for scheduling and calendar coordination and Gridspace for meeting follow ups.

Over the next five years, the combination of these trends will change the workplace in a way we have never witnessed before. These trends will propel employees to take charge of their learning and become serial learners, to grow their skills and avoid job obsolescence.

—Jeanne C Meister is partner in Future Workplace and co-author of “The Future Workplace Experience: 10 Rules For Mastering Disruption in Recruiting and Engaging Employees."

Published in Insights
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