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

Learning isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. It takes hard work, dedication and creative thinking. BY JERRY ROCHE

The 2017 Learning! Champion Award honors  individuals  for  exceptional  contributions  to  the  learning  industry.  Elearning! magazine  names  28  professionals  across six categories for 2017.

“Lifetime  Achievement”  winners  have dedicated  their  entire  lives  to  learning and  have  helped  thousands  of  others  do the  same.  “Thought  Leaders”  are  industry  experts  always  willing  to  share  their expertise  and  are  dedicated  to  bettering their  communities  and  industries.  “High Performers” have gone above and beyond, usually  in  a  relatively  short  time  frame, to  implement  new  learning  techniques  in their organizations. “Mentors” take a special interest in others to help them achieve their  potential.  “Trail  Blazers”  forge  new processes  and  procedures  in  uncharted areas  to  elevate  learning  and  technology successes.  “Innovators”  are  technologists and problem solvers who often bring these solutions to market for others to share.

The 2017 Learning! Champions are...

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT

Joe-DiDonato

Joe DiDonato, Editor-at-Large, Elearning! magazine

Joe DiDonato has proven to be a supremely knowledgeable, well-spoken representative of the learning industry through a long and distinguished career. He’s a customer-obsessed and a “roll-up-the-sleeves” kind of senior executive with background spanning both the for-profit and non-profit worlds. His experience ranges from individual, staff and management functions to CEO and board positions. Roles include senior learning officer responsibilities and marketing at major corporations. He is currently the editor-at-large for this magazine, providing content, expertise and analysis on trends impacting the world of corporate education.

At the same time, DiDonato is co-founder and presdient of The Orphan Foundation, a non-profit that helps find homes for orphans around the world by removing barriers to adoption. Its goal this year is to raise $1 million toward its mission.

Over the course of his career, DiDonato has had executive roles with The Wellness Community, Interwise (now AT&T Connect), Knowledge Planet, Productivity Point International, PeopleSoft (now Oracle). He earned the designation “Mr. Education” at Oracle when launching Oracle’s first certification and education program for the extended enterprise.

DiDonato’s self-professed specialties are business development, marketing, start-ups, professional services, corporate education, e-learning, customer obsession and conference development.  linkedin.com/in/editoratlarge1/

Elliot-Masie

Elliot Masie, Futurist, Founder, The Masie Center

Elliot Masie is acknowledged as the first analyst to use the term “e-learning.”  Masie founded The Masie Center, a Saratoga Springs, N.Y., think tank focused on how organizations can support learning and knowledge within the workforce. He leads the Learning Consortium, a coalition of 200 global organizations cooperating on the evolution of learning strategies, including CNN, Walmart, American Express, Emirates Airline, Starbucks, General Electric and Fidelity Investments.

Masie’s professional focus has been in the fields of corporate learning, organizational performance and emerging technology. He has developed models for accelerating the spread of knowledge, learning and collaboration throughout organizations and, advocated for a sane deployment of learning and collaboration technology as a means of supporting the effectiveness and profitability of enterprises.

Masie serves as an adviser to a wide range of government, education and non-profit groups. His service has included Skidmore College Board of Trustees and as a Board member of First Robotics, CosmoSid and the CIA University Board of Visitors. He has served as a pro-bono advisor to the Department of Defense and on the White House Advisory Council on Expanding Learning Opportunities.

Masie is known as a highly approachable speaker and trainer, blending humor, applicable stories of best practice and high levels of audience involvement. Over the past 30 years, he has presented programs, courses and speeches to more than 2.2 million professionals around the world.  linkedin.com/in/elliottmasie/

Kevin-Oakes

Kevin Oakes, CEO, Founder, Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp)

Kevin Oakes is the CEO and founder of the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp), a human capital research firm that discovers the people practices that drive high performance.

Ranked among the fastest-growing companies on the Inc. 500|5000 list, i4cp provides its extensive member network of leading global employers and government institutions with the research, peer collaboration, tools, and data essential to developing and executing workforce strategies and practices that deliver higher market performance.

A frequent author and international keynote speaker on talent management and using human capital strategically in organizations, Oakes co-authored “The Executive Guide to Integrated Talent Management.” He also serves on the board of directors for privately held Workforce Insight, the world’s leading provider of workforce management and analytics consulting services.

He has been a leader in the human capital field for the last two decades including: founder and the president of SumTotal Systems, the largest provider of talent and learning solutions in the world; chairman & CEO of Click2learn, which was founded in 1985 by Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft; and president and founder of Oakes Interactive, an award-winning technology-based training company in Needham, Mass.  linkedin.com/in/kevinoakes/

TRAIL BLAZER

Yvonne-Andres

Dr. Yvonne Marie Andrés, Founder, Executive Director, Global SchoolNet

Dr. Yvonne Marie Andrés has been a trail-blazer and non-stop thought leader dedicated to advancing online education and global collaborative learning since 1981. She has been an inspiration to thousands and thousands of educators worldwide, believing that in a connected world students need a global perspective. Her work has brought together youth online from 194 countries to explore community, cultural and scientific issues that prepare them for the workforce and help them to become responsible and literate global citizens.

Andrés is the co-founder of the non-profit Global SchoolNet and the founder of the Global Schoolhouse. She was named one of the 25 most influential people worldwide in education technology and was invited in 2000 to meet with President Bush to launch the Friendship Through Education initiative.

She also is the creator and producer of International CyberFair and the U.S. State Department’s “Doors to Diplomacy” program.

Andrés produces numerous videos and frequently writes about highly effective education programs from around the globe that blend online and offline learning, while incorporating the latest neuroplasticity findings and constructivist learning methodology. Her works have touched people in the U.S., Canada, Asia, Europe, Australia, South America and Africa.In short, she has offered the learning industry some amazing and tireless contributions. linkedin.com/in/yvonneandres/

Chris-Bartlett

Chris Bartlett, Director of Learning Resources, FMC Technologies

Chris Bartlett has made significant changes that enable FMC Technologies’ employees to learn and do more with less, organizing more than 150 employees from 30 countries into a central cost structure, bringing all global learning resources together into a centralized learning resources organization to greatly reduce spending on learning-related activities in just one year without affecting quality.

Here are just a few of the achievements of FMC’s Learning Resources Group, under Bartlett’s direction:

>>   Led the way as the first truly global “shared services” organization with a presence in all business units and regions of FMC.

>>   Connected people globally (75 percent of employees participating in 90 networks via the corporate knowledge sharing platform, The Edge).

>>   Connected people to subject-matter-expert verified information (The Well, FMC Technologies’ wiki, has grown 98 percent since 2012)

>>   Reduction in duplication of course development leading to standardization of courses.

>>   The near-elimination of the use of non-FMC Technologies facilities for training.

>>   Leveraging internal resources and eliminating external expense.

>>   Eliminated millions of dollars in travel costs annually through the increased availability and competency in hosting virtual events and training.

>>   Through in-house video services, reduced the time and cost of creating training materials while increasing the materials’ usefulness, reach and reuse.

>>   Implemented and integrated software to deliver meaningful data to those that need it through cleaning up a SharePoint environment.

linkedin.com/in/chris-bartlett-058636a/

Ruth-Ann-Clurman

Ruth-Ann Clurman, Senior Director of Learning  and Organization Development, Ascension Health

During Ruth-Ann Clurman’s tenure, Ascension’s Learning and Organization Development team has led innovation and accessibility through both social and mobile learning tools. The organization has been selected for the Learning! 100 list for the past five consecutive years. Its workforce supports customers both remotely and virtually and needs 24/7 access to learning solutions. The team also needs a way to connect with each other for peer mentoring and solution support.

Ten years ago, Ascension Information Services began with 675 associates from healthcare facilities across the United States. Today, it has more than 3,000 associates and is recognized as one of the best health-care information technology services organizations in the nation.

Co-workers say Clurman is encouraging and insightful, always striving for improvement in collaboration and effectiveness. That she possesses the vision to identify areas of opportunity and determine development plans that improve and engage associates. That she orchestrates changes with persistence and wisdom to allow for growth. That she continues to work ahead of the curve to clear the path in the constantly changing specialties of health care and information technology so that others may follow. Clurman possesses a master’s degree from Missouri State University. linkedin.com/in/ruth-ann-clurman-1a57883/

Ramon-Garcia

Ramón García Espeleta, Manager, Gerente Virtaula CaixaBank

Ramón García Espeleta guides Virtaula CaixaBank’s online learning effort throughout Spain. During the six years that had has been responsible for the bank’s learning platform, electronic learning has become of utmost importance. It has multiplied by 10 the capacity of concurrency, has changed the design four times, and has generated more than 15 million hours of learning, including more than 2 million in 2016. Informal training has been enhanced, and knowledge between all the people in the organization has increased. Internal trainers have become facilitators and entertainers through virtual online classroom training. The platform itself has been recognized with several awards.

During Espeleta’s watch, the main challenge of the project is for its employees to evolve together and to maintain the spirit of training and development service.

The bank’s online learning platform was born in 1999. In 2006, Web 2.0 tools, blogs, wikis and forums were introduced; in 2010, the collaborative and semantic Web were introduced; and in 2014, Virtaula emotions were introduced. The bank is now seeking the educational application of augmented and virtual reality within its content.

In the last year, a smart recommendations engine has been included in the online learning effort. This tool allows automatic content personalization and segmentation depending on the actions that the users themselves or other employees related to them have made. The bank is currently working on advanced models of artificial intelligence with analytics that inform managers about what employees need and want, as well as applications of virtual and augmented reality.  linkedin.com/in/ramongarciaespe/

Johnathan-Fear

Jonathan Fear, Senior Director of Coupa University, Coupa, Inc.

Jonathan Fear is known as a brilliant leader in the corporate education industry. He has taken all areas of education into consideration at Coupa Inc., an enterprise software company. That includes internal training, customer training, and partner certification, which have all been integrated into their existing platforms (like Salesforce CRM).

Coupa’s corporate education program is called Coupa University, of which Fear is vice president, a position from which he has been able to drive training across many different functions within the company.

Fear is detail oriented, customer focused, and a joy to work with according to staffers. He has proven able to manage the expectations and priorities of requests from top customers effectively. He works well under pressure and is always looking out for his client’s best interests. Additionally, he has always had an excellent grasp of the technology and manages resources wisely.

Fear has been with Coupa for the past six years, but has more than 20 years of experience in the training and education space with companies like SumTotal and Executrain. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Quantitative Economics and Decision Sciences from the University of California, San Diego.

Coupa has been named to Inc. magazine’s list of the 5,000 fastest-growing companies. Its primary mission is to deliver a spend-management platform that unifies business processes across all the ways employees spend money. Its consumerized financial applications digitize spending across travel and expense management, procurement and invoicing. The organization was honored with the 2016 Learning! 100 Award.  linkedin.com/in/jonathan-fear-901a11/

Mohammed-Amir-Habib

Mohammed Amir Habib, Consultant, Sidra Medical and Research Center

Mohammed Amir Habib created the first scenario-based e-learning course at Sidra (and possibly Qatar) as part of a core values awareness drive. All the other 110 or so sessions (clinical and corporate) used tell-and-test approaches with an occasional one-page contextualized question.

Because the learning industry in Qatar is still maturing, it generally purchases materials from companies in Dubai. But Habib became one of the first — if not the first — e-learning professional Because the learning industry in Qatar is still maturing, it generally purchases materials from companies in Dubai. But Habib became one of the first — if not the first — e-learning professional working in the Persian Gulf to bring cutting-edge instructional design coupled with superb development and graphics skills, to create a world-class module. The session he created — Sidra Core Values Awareness — takes the learner through a typical day in the life of a Sidra employee. The learner makes decisions with appropriate support in the form of a values champion to give guidance on behavior in line with Sidra’s values.

Habib helped everyone across the organization to not just learn about the values but actually see the values in action in their everyday decisions. The aim wasn’t just to teach the values but how they need to be lived by allowing learners to experience real, authentic experiences that occur everyday.

Habib has a background in I.T. and has been developing since the age of 10. The key to his success is his understanding of instructional design, human learning psychology coupled with his expert level technical skills.

David-Hembroff

David Hembroff, Head of Training and Development, USIC

David Hembroff has proven to be quite a visionary in the learning industry from his position with USIC, an industry leader for underground infrastructure protection with more than 7,500 employees nationwide. He has helped to chart the course of current and future training and development at USIC and is always looking at ways to improve the company’s overall education process. He’s also taken a fundamental role in USIC’s transition into a digital learning organization, helping to drive internal productivity rates up by more than 100 percent.

Hembroff’s passions are adult education, development and training, and writing. He has built great soft skills as a leader, and has honed his marketing and customer skills with some of the best in the business.

Under Hembroff’s watchful eye, USIC’s employee training has become a well-balanced blend of e-learning served through its proprietary LMS — USIC Institute — and instructor-led and on-the-job training led by its team of training leaders and coaches.

His Training and Development division has been responsible for: curriculum development, instructional design, tiered skill training courses, multimedia and interactive training presentations, micro-learning, continuous engagement and the aforementioned USIC Institute, which offers more than 100 training courses.

Moreover, USIC is a high-growth company, making learning and training crucial. Its 8,200 field technicians undergo more than 500,000 training hours per year.  linkedin.com/in/dave-hembroff-37377a3a/

Brooks-Williams

Brooks Williams, Director of Organizational Development, MidSouth Bank

As an extraordinary leader, Brooks Williams is acutely aware of the impact he has and is dedicated to helping people become their very best. He recognizes leadership as a responsibility, not just a job.

Williams is a learning executive who champions meaningful and impactful workplace learning. By being able to understand both the needs of the bank’s business at a high level and the value of employee development, he gains buy-in from across the organization that learning and development is a key to achieving real and sustainable results.

What makes Williams an extraordinary leader? He is future-directed, with a confidence and optimism about future successes that are contagious. He puts in the work: curriculum development, class (instructor-led/virtual/hands-on) presentations, site visits. Even the little things, like a phone call to an employee who made a big contribution or a handwritten note to welcome a new employee.

Success is key. He works with employees to eliminate barriers that might inhibit success, and he creates opportunities for employees to contribute more to the business and thus feel more empowered. He is invested in his people: a catalyst for their continued learning and development. One of his favorite sayings is, “When you are finished growing, you are finished.”

Williams is a senior leader with a notable career in financial services. His selfless approach to leadership has earned him an incredibly loyal following and is the primary reason his people stay with the organization for much longer than some of them had ever planned. People want to work for him. linkedin.com/in/brooks-m-williams-mbb-cmf-239200128/

Jeanne-Beliveau-Dunn

Jeanne Beliveau-Dunn, Vice President, General Manager, Cisco Services

In just the past year, Jeanne Beliveau-Dunn and her team’s many accomplishments include the launch of a $10 million global cybersecurity scholarship program aimed at helping address the cybersecurity skills gap; revamped and revised the certification program to address new and emerging technologies; and continued to bolster efforts to provide best-in-class I.T. training and certification.

In November 2015, her team launched a revised curriculum and framework for its expert-level certification program, the Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE), to meet the changing demands of the digital economy and ensure that I.T. professionals are imbued with the skills they need to participate in meaningful business discussions about the new technical areas that are shaping business strategy and operations. This includes revising the curriculum to incorporate a new assessment approach focused on ensuring that candidates demonstrate knowledge and skills with evolving technologies such as network programmability, Cloud, security and IoT.

This next generation of I.T. certification and training represents a continuation of Jeanne’s long-time work to address talent agility and reskilling. Helping organizations address the existing skills gap and empowering professionals in their own career development is a driving passion for Beliveau-Dunn, and have been the guiding forces of much of her work at Cisco.

In the past year, her book “I’m the Boss of Me: A Guide to Owning Your Career” was published. It provides an easy-to-follow guide on developing a self-empowered approach to work, career and life, interspersing personal stories and anecdotes with lessons learned from her more than two decades of experience in the technology industry.  linkedin.com/in/jeannedunn/

THOUGHT LEADER

Matt-Kurtin

Matt Kurtin, Lead Programmer and Learning Technology Consultant, Innovative Learning Group

Matt Kurtin has been a passionate, knowledgeable, and active thought leader in the learning and development space for the past 20 years. This fact is made abundantly clear by his prominent role at Innovative Learning Group (one of Inc. magazine’s 5,000 fastest- growing small businesses) and the fact that he is in constant demand to share his knowledge with those in the industry.

Kurtin has spoken at more than 15 conferences and conventions, including many of the industry’s most prominent gatherings. He has authored more than 500 e-learning courses and is proficient in Captivate, Articulate Studio, Articulate Storyline, Lectora, Flash, ASP.NET, JavaScript, and XML.

He is a true rarity: someone with immense technical skills, emotional intelligence, and a consultative ability to identify the true need of the client. All of these traits are held together with a visionary passion for learning as a whole. His infectious zeal for learning and development has had a significant impact on the industry. He has acted as both an active developmental presence and an engaging ambassador.

Kurtin leads the mobile learning strategy at Innovative Learning Group, where he has personally developed many mobile applications and courses. Additionally, he has extensive experience supporting translation of custom e-learning courses and has worked on courses delivered in more than 20 languages.

And he has not rested on this pioneering approach to mobile learning; he is actively involved in the discovery of possible applications for virtual reality and augmented reality within the learning and development market.

Jean-Meister

Jeanne C. Meister, Founder, Partner, Future Workplace

Jeanne C. Meister founded Future Workplace to work with forward-looking companies to think differently about the future of work and the changing composition of the workforce. It is now a human resources advisory and research firm dedicated to discussing, debating and sharing the “next practices” on navigating the future workplace and workforce. A consortium of nearly 50 organizations come together both virtually and in person to discuss debate and share “next” practices on preparing for the future of work.

Meister considers herself a workplace visionary and activist who drives her clients to think differently. She has a deep background and experience in corporate learning, and has been awarded a Distinguished Contribution in Workplace Learning Award by a leading organization in the learning industry. Her specialties are employee experience, corporate university design, talent management, leadership development and executive education.

She is also the author of four business books — the first two of which were written on the topic of corporate universities. Today, Meister is very obviously passionate about helping organizations re-think how to attract, develop and inspire employees in a workplace that is rapidly changing. Her latest book is “The Future Workplace Experience: 10 Rules for Mastering Disruption in Recruiting and Engaging Employees.”

Meister has also published articles in popular magazines like Financial Times; Fast Company; Forbes; Harvard Business Review; Harvard Management Update; Journal of Business Strategy; Outlook, a Publication of Accenture; People & Strategy Journal; and Elearning! magazine. linkedin.com/in/jeannemeister/

Mike-Connor

Mike Conner, Chief Evangelist, BlueBottleBiz 

Mike Conner believes in revolutionizing the future of corporate learning. His vision is to support informal learning by giving it some structure, yet providing professionals with more freedom to learn than traditional learning systems provide. He sees the value in an all-encompassing learning solution that supports collaborative learning by combining expert (vetted) content, professional network and unique collaborative tools that allow colleagues and experts to work together.

Conner spent 2016 introducing collaborative learning to Fortune 500 and enterprise companies. He has contributed articles to top publications, and weighs in on topics that cover the future of learning, how learning technology is evolving, and ways to retain talent by building solid learning programs. His articles and quotes have been shared widely among the business community in both the U.S. and the U.K. He meets with the analyst community to discuss collaborative learning and the impacts it will have on organizations.

Conner truly believes that learning provides the foundation to success for professionals and for their organizations. For him, sharing the benefits and innovations of collaborative learning isn’t just a “job,” it’s a passion.

Previously, Conner was the Vice President of Global Sales for Safari (previously Safari Books Online). As a member of Safari’s executive team, most of his time was devoted to developing a second-generation platform and preparing his sales organization and enterprise customer base for enhancements to drive customized learning with curated content. linkedin.com/in/michaelconnercatalystsale/

INNOVATOR

Sue-Brett

Sue Brett, C.E.O., Learningonline.xyz

Sue Brett has proven to be an inspiring force who has shaped a young team of e-learning professionals and developers into achieving results that transform people’s lives and add value at every level of interaction with the company’s user base. She has spent over a decade, challenging and inspiring individuals to do more, be more.

She has been instrumental in the success and launch of e-learning portals such as Cudoo.com and apps such as Langu. ag, which offer more than 160 languages to users to learn and enhance their communication skills. She has worked hard to map the language courses to internationally recognized CEFR levels so that users can easily chart their progress from one level to another, as they progress in their language learning journey. Language lovers can now confidently learn any language and get certified based on their level.

Her company, from its absolutely unique video-based language nanolearning to peer exchange and live online learning, a combination of mLMS, apps and online-based products that connect learners, peers and instructors to a world of cultures.

Brett’s company was shortlisted for the Global Educational Supplies and Solutions (GESS) Education Awards 2017. GESS is a world-class education exhibition and conferences provider and with GESS Education Awards, it aims to acknowledge and reward the brightest contributors to the educational industry.  linkedin.com/in/sue-brett-27911034/

Rory-Cameron

Rory Cameron, Executive Vice President, Corporate Development,  Learning and Marketing Platforms, Litmos, by CallidusCloud

Rory Cameron has led all areas of Litmos at CallidusCloud since its acquisition in 2011. Much of Litmos’ ongoing success and innovative product and marketing direction is driven by his substantial knowledge and thought leadership in the learning industry.

Cameron operates a high-energy and customer-centric organization. He was responsible for multiple acquisitions in 2016, including the key addition of ViewCentral, which has been re-branded as Litmos Training Ops.

He has been recognized with many different honors and awards, including the Irish Global Technology 50 by the Irish Technology Leadership Group and the Irish “40 under 40.” He continues to rapidly grow the Litmos learning business within CallidusCloud and has reinvigorated innovation into the learning industry.

Cameron has more than 15 years of experience in business development, sales, and sales operations across a range of technology sectors. At CallidusCloud, he runs the platforms group which consists of Litmos, Clicktools, Badgeville, and Datahug, highly disruptive platforms in their respective markets. He also led the effort to broaden CallidusCloud’s solutions suite including a volume SaaS operation and the development of the company’s renowned sales academy.

Bottom line: Cameron drives all areas of Litmos and heavily impacts the ongoing success and innovative product and marketing direction within the business. linkedin.com/in/rory-cameron-8947403/

Nicole-Thomspon

Nicole Thompson, Human Resources Director, Fairfax Media

Nicole Thompson has been a driving force in creating one of the first new multi-disciplinary, contemporary learning teams within an innovative digital learning platform that enables collaboration and capability building. 

Through Thompson’s efforts, Fairfax is now speaking to companies globally about its innovations, in order to help them drive transformation in their companies through their new learning teams. Fairfax also presents at conferences to educate the broader market on what it has done to assist them transform learning.

Thompson joined Fairfax as the Human Resources Director for Technology during a career that spans 20 years. Since joining Fairfax, she has obtained an invaluable insight into digital disruption and how technology can be used to build capability. Her current role focuses on enabling business transformation and spans building capability, digital learning, talent management, diversity, alignment and engagement, leadership development and performance management.

While most organizations recognize the need to transform learning, many haven’t yet taken the big step and acted. Fairfax — with Thompson in the forefront — is one of the brave few that have taken the first steps toward L&D transformation. Thompson and her team have created what they believe to be a first within big corporate Australia: a new, multi-disciplinary team with contemporary skills and an interactive digital learning hub that requires stakeholders to collaborate on content production. linkedin.com/in/nicole-thompson-70865712/

Ibrahim-Jabary

Ibrahim Jabary, CEO, Gamelearn

Ibrahim Jabary has turned technology and video games into the best allies of learning. In the process, he has not only revolutionized e-learning, but is also proving that video games are becoming the most powerful tool within corporate training.

It all is the result of betting on the field of learning, of innovation and the transformation of traditional training methods. Thanks to his serious games, Jabary has managed to solve the big problem of e-learning. That is, 70 percent of the people who start an online course never complete it. However, with Gamelearn and his online courses in video game format, Jabary has achieved a dropout ratio of only 7 out of every 100 students.

This is done thanks to a completely revolutionary methodology that combines quality content with a practical approach, simulators to practice with “real” situations, and gamification techniques in a single format: a video game. It’s a unique recipe that has allowed for the training of more than 200,000 professionals from more than 50 countries.

In addition, Jabary has managed to meet his other great challenge: to transform online training with video games into a simple, useful and accessible tool for any company in the world, thanks to the development and launch of the first game-based learning platform in the market.This Gamelearn CEO and founder has spearheaded innovation in the field of corporate training. He was a pioneer in game-based learning platforms in the market, along with developing the first simulator for the development of customer service skills. linkedin.com/in/ibrahim-jabary-2457661/

Sarika-Khanna

Sarika Khanna, Sr. Vice President of Product and Services, Litmos, by CallidusCloud

Sarika Khanna and her team supervise all product development and innovation at Litmos, by CallidusCloud, which prides itself on being at the leading edge of innovation in the learning industry. Khanna and her team have been responsible for pushing the limits of innovation forward in the learning industry. Khanna is passionate about building products to solve business problems and is an avid learner. She has been with CallidusCloud for more than six years and was instrumental in taking the core product offering — Commissions — to SaaS business. In addition to Litmos, she has led the products for the Selling Cloud, Hiring Cloud and Marketing Cloud.

She has proven to be a strategic problem solver with ability to quickly evaluate business issues and work across cross-functional teams to develop innovative strategic and tactical solutions. Her other strengths include:

>>   Strong domain expertise in audience and segmentation, reporting and enterprise analytics, lead management, campaign management, vendor management, email and Web marketing and search marketing.

>>   Strong interpersonal, persuasion and facilitation skills with people of different levels, backgrounds, and personality styles.

>>   Excellent technical, analytical, and problem-solving capabilities.Prior to joining Litmos, Khanna worked at leading software companies including Oracle.

She held variety of positions ranging from engineering to product marketing and product management. She holds a master’s degree with distinction in Information Systems from George Mason University and a master’s in Industrial and Mechanical Engineering. linkedin.com/in/sarikakhanna/

Jack-Makhlouf

Jack Makhlouf, Chief Learning Officer, eLearning Mind

The founder eLearning Mind (ELM), Jack Makhlouf was born to tackle corporate America’s stale and ineffective internal and external- facing training. When you meet him, you instantly know that he’s an extrovert with an undying passion to make learning fun, engaging and impactful — as it’s meant to be. He is a true believer in the idea that education is the key to lasting change and true success.

Makhlouf was previously a founding member of the industry-recognized AT&T Learning Services team. He has been pioneering the e-learning industry for more than 20 years, working with Fortune 500 clients, designing, developing, and implementing innovative learning solutions and enterprise system technologies. Makhlouf brought two widely known learning components together to create a revolutionary learning methodology backed by modern brain science. This was coined as “neurolearning.” This methodology leads the way eLearning Mind thinks and implements learning solutions to foster deeper and more impactful learning experiences.

He applies neurolearning principles to the e-learning industry through instructional design, and has proved neurolearning’s effectiveness over and over by helping more than 100 Fortune 500 clients implement innovative learning solutions and maximize performance through by applying neurolearning to e-learning solutions. 

Makhlouf has a master’s degree in Instructional Technology from the University of South Florida. linkedin.com/in/jackmakhlouf/

Brent-Pearson

Brent Pearson, Founder, Enboarder

Brent Pearson has developed a new mobile learning platform called Enboarder that is streamlining onboarding challenges for busy managers in an intuitive way that adds value for new hires, busy managers and organizations.

Enboarder has been developed by Pearson in response to research that indicated one of the biggest gaps in onboarding new employees takes place between the time the employee is made an offer, and begins his or her first day. This e-learning tool uses mobile delivery methods to serve up a scripted set of interactions that fill that gap. In the first year of implementation, he’s already won pilot projects with such notable brands as Coca-Cola and Turner Broadcasting.

Pearson is a serial entrepreneur with passions in research & development, recruitment strategy and recruitment technology. He has previous tenures with Booz.Allen Hamilton as Director of Knowledge Management, as well as many startups. linkedin.com/in/bpearson/

Alexander-Salas

Alexander Salas, Supervisor, Learning Management Systems, Centene Corp.

According to co-workers, selecting just one category in which to honor Alexander Salas “is impossible.” Since joining Centene Corp., he has been a catalyst for progress — a figurative wrecking ball destroying bad habits and silos in the organization when it comes to the LMS. He has developed an entire online community to support learning and the LMS, streamlined administrative processes, and enhanced the abilities of corporate customers.

Not only is Salas an e-learning multimedia developer, he’s also a U.S. Navy veteran and a lifelong learner in learning and development (L&D).

After serving alongside U.S. Marines as a Navy Hospital corpsman, Salas has promoted and spearheaded the adoption of e-learning solutions for every employer he has worked for in the last 12 years. He’s the organizer of the Orlando Articulate Users Group, which promotes learning of Articulate authoring tools; he shares many of his custom templates at Articulate’s E-learning Heroes Community.

A former Web technology board member at ATD’s Central Florida Chapter, he is an active speaker on topics such as augmented reality, e-learning authoring and multimedia design.  Aside from all this, Salas has a master’s degree in Training and Development and Leadership and is a Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) and CompTIA Certified Technical Trainer.  linkedin.com/in/stylelearn/

Mike-Alcock

Mike Alcock, Managing Director, gomo learning Ltd.

Mike Alcock has now created two award-winning, game-changing e-learning authoring tools: Atlantic Link in 2003 and gomo learning in 2013. He’s won more than 30 awards on the back of these, including “Best of Elearning!” (four times), Brandon Hall Gold (three times) and many more. In each case, he’s been personally responsible for sales and marketing as well as product development, leading both companies to global recognition.

With gomo learning in 2013, Alcock took an existing HTML5-based framework and commercialized it to create the next generation of Cloud-based authoring tools. Gomo was one of the world’s first responsive HTML5 authoring tools and still maintains product and innovation leadership in the authoring tools space.

Alcock and his team continue to lead the way with collaborative, Cloud-based solutions. Gomo now offers integrated hosting, xAPI analytics and a native app capability, taking it from a pure authoring tool to a complete learning suite. The new product’s sales is now growing by more than 60 percent in the last 12 months. Gomo is now a key part of Learning Technologies Group (LTG) alongside LEO, Eukleia, Preloaded and Rustici.

Alcock’s success in inventing new and innovative software solutions, as well as building and running two global authoring tool companies and changing the landscape of the industry, earned him this 2017 Learning! Champion Award. linkedin.com/in/mikealcock/

MENTORING

Che-Prince

Che Prince, Owner, Founder, Che Prince Learning Solutions

As a recent graduate from the Instructing Adults Certificate Program at George Brown, Che Prince was instrumental to the success of his students as a direct result of his excellent mentoring capabilities. He provides additional technical support and guidance in order to achieve excellent grades that will help students successfully launch new careers as training developers. In addition to his daily activities as a training developer and C.E.O. of his own learning solutions company, Prince also finds time in his busy schedule to provide the coaching and mentoring.

Prince is a subject-matter expert in learning consulting and needs analysis. He has demonstrated knowledge and experience within L&D and learning technologies, a comprehensive knowledge of practice of project management, and an understanding of adult learning. Other strengths are global and organizational awareness, change management leadership, excellent communication skills, highlighted by initiative, creativity and vision.

Bottom line: Prince is an excellent coach and mentor who rigorously applies the principles of adult learning not only to his own instructional design, but to his trainees as well. He is able to break down requirements into individual simple step-by-step tasks in order to easily obtain successful learning objectives.

Previously, Prince spent nine years as a troop commander and training officer in the Canadian Armed Forces; 16 years as an aerospace engineer at Pratt and Whitney Canada. He has a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from Ryerson Polytechnic University and a Six Sigma Green Belt.  linkedin.com/in/cheprince1/

HIGHPERFORMER

DanHalverstadt

Dan Halverstadt, Vice President of Quality and Training, USIC

Dan Halverstadt has been recognized as a thought leader in the learning industry and has been influential in training and quality at USIC. He currently manages a team of four direct reports for training and quality. Additionally, he’s accountable for more than 60 indirect reports. In recent months and years, he’s effectively moved all training internally, saving $1 million annually in consulting cost. He added the positions of Learning Management System Administrator and Instructional Designer, who created an online learning system under his directive, reducing training times by 66 percent.

Halverstadt developed an industry, ground-breaking and award-winning training method with 270 learning modules specific to the position, utilities, and geography of each role.  He also created a system of on-the-job training that included upgrades and changes resulting in: doubling production and employee retention; reduction in safety issues by 50 percent; quality increase of 40 percent; reduction in cost by 85 percent for new technicians; and, developed user-friendly, water-proof pocket manuals affording each employee an easy-access field guide.

He has more than 20 years of experience driving improvement, visibility, and quality in organizational initiatives for the United States Air Force and USIC. As a USIC VP, he ensures that each time an employee goes out to a call, that employee is equipped with the tools to ensure safety and quality through in-depth training initiatives, protect infrastructures, and provide damage prevention.  linkedin.com/in/danielhalverstadt/

DanielleTomlinson

Danielle Tomlinson, Vice President, Global Education, Plex Systems

Danielle Tomlinson is a long-time leader in the training and development industry, having led training and development within some of the largest and highest growth software companies. Currently, she is responsible for all education services around the world at Plex Systems, a leader in Cloud-based ERP for manufacturing.

Tomlinson has spent the majority of her 20-year career working for high-tech and high-growth software companies on the Services team, specifically the Education Services team. That’s typically the department that provides technical training to customers, partners and employees. Her responsibility has centered around making sure that people know how to use the products that are being sold. Performance is typically measured against a financial goal for the delivery of this training. During her career, Tomlinson has demonstrated an ability to grow revenue and improve margin through business development initiatives, cost management, recruiting key partners and employees, and innovative training product development.

At Plex, Tomlinson has expanded the corporate education globally to search many different markets around the world. The company currently supports more than 400 organizations and 1,300 production facilities in 20 countries around the world.

In 2012, Tomlinson was honored with a “Top 40 Under 40 Training Leadership Award” by a leading publication. This Learning! Champion Award adds to her impressive career. linkedin.com/in/danielle-tomlinson-458393/

DianaBennet

Diana Bennett, Program Manager, IBM Corporate Headquarters (CHQ), Center for Advanced Learning (CAL) Technical Leadership Exchange (TLE)

Here’s the kind of person and employee that Diana Bennett is:

“D”ynamic harbinger of learning for technology leaders;  

“I”nspirational role model;

“A”dvocate for innovation and enablement — bringing positive change to IBM;

“N”urturing manager who supports, encourages and empowers her team; and

“A”gile learning program manager who removes obstacles in order to deliver quality education.

According to her co-workers, she is the type of leader who transcends the negative and works towards the growth, improvement and overall betterment of employees. Her positive nature is infectious.

In terms of reach, Bennett’s training program has a primary target audience of IBM technical employees in leadership roles, but all of IBM’s 400,000 employees can participate. In past few years, the 25,000 to 50,000 technical participants have given the program an overall satisfaction rating of 92% positive.

Bennett leads a small but effective team of nine learning professionals who trust her to deliver their vision and increase the skills and knowledge of innovative and technical IBMers.

Obstacles arise that have the potential to derail a lesser talent, but not Bennett. She faces each challenge with an unflappable positive spirit and a capable tenacity. She inspires. Success is the only end state that she knows.

With a Bachelor of Arts in Education from Arizona State University, Bennett has an extensive background in producing engaging and exciting events in corporate education. Past work includes acting as program manager for fast-forward career development events as well as facilitation, event planning, presentations, communications and client focus. linkedin.com/in/diana-bennett-b122599/

Published in Top Stories

 

The 7th Annual Enterprise Learning! Conference is now accepting submissions for the September event. The theme is ‘Building the High Performance Organization’ and focuses on the strategy, best practices and technologies that drive performance. The event seeks thought leaders and presenters with expertise in learning, talent development, business performance and learning and workplace technologies.

ELC17 is also host to the 2017 Learning! 100 and Learning! Champions Awards honoring the top 100 learning organizations and those making extraordinary contributions to the learning industry. Attendees herald from Amazon Web Services, AT&T, NASCAR, Dept. of Defense, and others.

To submit to ELC17, visit: http://www.2elearning.com/rss2/item/56671-enterprise-learning-conference-2017-call-for-papers

 

Published in Latest News

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

For too long, employee training systems have been cumbersome and complex to work with. But the need to onboard employees, introduce programs, educate staff on updated policies, and offer training to external audiences has been accelerating. Organizations today do not have the time or the patience to spend months implementing clunky learning management systems. Litmos by CallidusCloud is changing that.

Litmos is the world’s fastest growing enterprise learning platform, supporting more than 4 million users in over 130 countries and 22 languages. The Litmos cloud-based solution unifies a learning management system (LMS), the extended enterprise, and prepackaged content in an engaging platform to meet any organization’s training needs. Built to scale from 100 users to 1 million users and beyond, Litmos is highly secure, focuses on the end user, and provides time to value three times faster than conventional learning solutions. With Litmos, organizations can engage learners anytime through native apps for Android and iOS, and they can extend their ecosystem by using prepackaged connectors and REST APIs. Litmos also provides local US support during business hours to help organizations be successful. Headquartered in Silicon Valley and backed by public company CallidusCloud (NASDAQ: CALD), Litmos is still run with the nimbleness of a start-up. It continues to experience double-digit growth and has a customer satisfaction rate of over 95 percent.

A POWERFUL PLATFORM: LITMOS LMS, LITMOS CONTENT, AND LITMOS TRAINING OPS

Litmos LMS is a simple yet powerful platform. Most legacy systems are over-engineered solutions with a huge percentage of features utilized by less than 5 percent of users. Litmos LMS is built with learner’s experience in mind that makes it easy to implement, administer, and manage. The platform’s open API architecture and prepackaged connectors make it simple for organizations to connect Litmos LMS to their ecosystem. And the user interface is consistent across devices, which helps organizations to engage their mobile workforce.

Litmos offers more than 700 packages of content. In addition, Litmos Content uses an in-house course production studio— composed of specialists in instructional design, production, research, technical operations, and program support—to develop more high-quality, mobile-friendly courses that focus on healthcare, HR, OSHA, sales and marketing, leadership, and more. The design aesthetics for these courses ensure better retention through engaged learning, and all content is available through the course marketplace.

Litmos Training Ops is an end-to-end training-as-a-business solution, enabling organizations to grow revenue, build loyalty, and reduce costs by automating the business side of training. A self-service, cloud-based platform, Litmos Training Ops delivers a sophisticated, integrated set of tools that help organizations automate and manage revenue, expense, global taxation, training credits, and other business processes so they can improve the ROI of their external training programs.

ADVANCING CORPORATE LEARNING

Litmos’ mission and core value proposition is to advance corporate learning by providing a learning experience that doesn’t necessarily reside in one segmented location, but in the departments where administrators work and in the applications where users spend their time. With Litmos: >> Customers will get the perfect combination of powerful search and ease of use that learners love.

>> Customers can go live in 6 weeks— many in days or even minutes—rather than in 6 to 12 months.

>> Customers will achieve time to value in less than 6 months as opposed to 24 months.

CUSTOMERS

 litmoscustomersezineimage

WHAT CUSTOMERS SAY:

>> “The Litmos platform has enabled USIC to deliver targeted, timely and efficient learning and compliance tasks to our 8,000+ employees across the US and Canada.” Tim Gale, USIC

>> “We chose Litmos because it’s extremely user friendly, you don’t need a lot of training and we love the user interface.” Miriam Calvo-Gil, Kapco Global

>> “We liked that Litmos has the ability to easily upload content, build your own content, and create courses.” Rick Galliher, 1-800-Got-Junk?

>> “What I like most about Litmos is the easy and fast implementation without needing a team of people or specialized resources.” Cheryl Powers, Coca Cola

CONTACT INFO:

4140 Dublin Boulevard #400

Dublin, CA 94568

+1 (925) 251-2220

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

www.litmos.com

Published in Insights

For too long, employee training systems have been cumbersome and complex to work with. But the need to onboard employees, introduce programs, educate staff on updated policies, and offer training to external audiences has been accelerating. Organizations today do not have the time or the patience to spend months implementing clunky learning management systems. Litmos by CallidusCloud is changing that.

Litmos is the world’s fastest growing enterprise learning platform, supporting more than 4 million users in over 130 countries and 22 languages. The Litmos cloud-based solution unifies a learning management system (LMS), the extended enterprise, and prepackaged content in an engaging platform to meet any organization’s training needs. Built to scale from 100 users to 1 million users and beyond, Litmos is highly secure, focuses on the end user, and provides time to value three times faster than conventional learning solutions. With Litmos, organizations can engage learners anytime through native apps for Android and iOS, and they can extend their ecosystem by using prepackaged connectors and REST APIs. Litmos also provides local US support during business hours to help organizations be successful. Headquartered in Silicon Valley and backed by public company CallidusCloud (NASDAQ: CALD), Litmos is still run with the nimbleness of a start-up. It continues to experience double-digit growth and has a customer satisfaction rate of over 95 percent.

A POWERFUL PLATFORM: LITMOS LMS, LITMOS CONTENT, AND LITMOS TRAINING OPS

Litmos LMS is a simple yet powerful platform. Most legacy systems are over-engineered solutions with a huge percentage of features utilized by less than 5 percent of users. Litmos LMS is built with learner’s experience in mind that makes it easy to implement, administer, and manage. The platform’s open API architecture and prepackaged connectors make it simple for organizations to connect Litmos LMS to their ecosystem. And the user interface is consistent across devices, which helps organizations to engage their mobile workforce.

Litmos offers more than 700 packages of content. In addition, Litmos Content uses an in-house course production studio— composed of specialists in instructional design, production, research, technical operations, and program support—to develop more high-quality, mobile-friendly courses that focus on healthcare, HR, OSHA, sales and marketing, leadership, and more. The design aesthetics for these courses ensure better retention through engaged learning, and all content is available through the course marketplace.

Litmos Training Ops is an end-to-end training-as-a-business solution, enabling organizations to grow revenue, build loyalty, and reduce costs by automating the business side of training. A self-service, cloud-based platform, Litmos Training Ops delivers a sophisticated, integrated set of tools that help organizations automate and manage revenue, expense, global taxation, training credits, and other business processes so they can improve the ROI of their external training programs.

ADVANCING CORPORATE LEARNING

Litmos’ mission and core value proposition is to advance corporate learning by providing a learning experience that doesn’t necessarily reside in one segmented location, but in the departments where administrators work and in the applications where users spend their time. With Litmos: >> Customers will get the perfect combination of powerful search and ease of use that learners love.

>> Customers can go live in 6 weeks— many in days or even minutes—rather than in 6 to 12 months.

>> Customers will achieve time to value in less than 6 months as opposed to 24 months.

CUSTOMERS

 litmoscustomersezineimage

WHAT CUSTOMERS SAY:

>> “The Litmos platform has enabled USIC to deliver targeted, timely and efficient learning and compliance tasks to our 8,000+ employees across the US and Canada.” Tim Gale, USIC

>> “We chose Litmos because it’s extremely user friendly, you don’t need a lot of training and we love the user interface.” Miriam Calvo-Gil, Kapco Global

>> “We liked that Litmos has the ability to easily upload content, build your own content, and create courses.” Rick Galliher, 1-800-Got-Junk?

>> “What I like most about Litmos is the easy and fast implementation without needing a team of people or specialized resources.” Cheryl Powers, Coca Cola

CONTACT INFO:

4140 Dublin Boulevard #400

Dublin, CA 94568

+1 (925) 251-2220

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

www.litmos.com

Published in New Products

 

After seeing the many AI-powered toys, consumer products and smartphones at CES this month, it is important to ask about AI's future and security. This week, tech billionaires from LinkedIn and eBay are donating $20 million to the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Funds to “protect” society from AI. The Fund will distribute money to researchers working on the tough ethical problems raised by AI.

“There’s an urgency to ensure that AI benefits society and minimizes harm,” said LinkedIn’s founder, Reid Hoffman. “AI decision-making can influence many aspects of our world – education, transportation, healthcare, criminal justice and the economy – yet data and code behind those decisions can be largely invisible.”

Last year, Elon Musk and other technology leaders invested $1 billion in OpenAI.org, a non-profit artificial intelligence research company whose mission is to assure safe and secure use of Artificial Intelligence.  OpenAI’s mission is “to advance digital intelligence in the way that is most likely to benefit humanity as a whole, unconstrained by a need to generate financial return,” according to their website.

Musk has been critical of AI and its potential harm.  “I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I had to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that. So, we need to be very careful,” said Musk. “I’m increasingly inclined to think that there should be some regulatory oversight, maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish.”

Musk will be co-chair of the non-profit with technology venture capitalist Sam Altman, who has backed Reddit. Similar initiatives are being funded by IBM, Google and Apple.

 

Published in Ideas

We are now embracing an era when both enterprise and personal technology options are improving almost by the day. So several important considerations must be taken into account to help decide how our organizations will respond and benefit from new HR and learning technologies. Among them: how overall strategy, corporate culture and existing technology will play into future plans.

STRATEGY:

Strategy is both a key component when it comes to a technology environment and a significant opportunity; for instance, more than 40 percent of organizations are looking at improving or developing a new enterprise HR systems strategy this year. This is a key issue for most organizations.

For large organizations (more than 10,000 employees), the goal is most often to transform the technology environment, creating a more modern architecture that can support new user experiences, mobile access, and full-data analysis requirements. Research has shown that organizations are taking multiple pathways forward and are leveraging this opportunity to rethink their enterprise view of HR technology.

Among mid-market (2,500 to 10,000 employees) and small businesses, HR technology adoption has become a key to success. Organizations with higher-than-average HR technology adoption in these categories saw almost double the revenue per employee, and a 12 percent increase in their overall HR, talent and business outcome metrics. These organizations also are 75 percent more likely to be viewed as strategic partners by their business leaders, and they are 10 times more likely to be in the top 10 percent of organizations when it comes to social responsibility initiatives.

CULTURE:

Three specific HR outcome models — talent-driven, data-driven, and topperforming organizations — can alter decisions. In a world of constant digital change, organizations need to completely rethink their perception of technology investments. In today’s Cloud-based environments, organizations have shown that continuous change management models improve decisionmaking across the entire organization.

Cloud-based technologies also allow organizations to develop more valuable relationships with their workforces, clearly defining their expectations and the employee value proposition in a tailored employee experience.

TECHNOLOGY:

Now that there has been a shift both from vendors and buyers toward Cloud/SaaS HR solutions, foundational technology questions are refocusing. This year’s survey shows a 25 percent increase in organizations evaluating Cloud solutions for non-HR technology, and an increase in large organization initiatives to integrate both HR and non-HR technologies. The key questions for many organizations come down to cost, security and long-term value propositions for a full Cloud solution.

The new non-negotiables are focused on user experience, roadmap strategies, and tailored relationships. For instance, there has been a 40 percent increase to 66 percent of organizations that identify “poor user experience” as their primary reason for giving vendors a low satisfaction rating.

The next generation of technology is meant to be invisible and ubiquitous in our lives, and it’s expected to perform as an intelligent system. More than 5 percent of organizations are already using some form of machine learning, wearables and sentiment analysis tools as strategic parts of their HR systems strategies.

Now for some specific facts and figures, based on Sierra-Cedar’s most recent research:

SPENDING PATTERNS

This year, just 42 percent of organizations believe their spending will increase in 2016–2017, while 7 percent feel their spending will decrease. That represents a slight slowdown in spending plans from last year, but it’s still very healthy when compared with 2013’s spending plans following the recent recession.

Small organizations are the fastest growing segment of “new” HR technology buyers, so vendors will need come to the table with a compelling reason for them to increase spending next year; 57 percent of small organizations are on target to simply maintain their existing HR technology spending. However, each year, smaller and smaller organizations invest in HR technology.

HR SYSTEM EXPENDITURES

On average, total HR technology costs can range from $100 to $500 per employee annually. These numbers change dramatically based on the number of systems implemented, amount of internal resources versus outsourced resources, global scope of an organization, and the complexity of an organization’s service and support needs. These global numbers are generally helpful only as a ballpark figure, but do provide us with a lens through which to review year-over-year annual expenditures per employee — and it might be surprising to note that the total overall HR technology costs have seen a slight decline over the last few years.

HR TECHNOLOGY RESOURCING STRATEGIES

Knowing that spending doesn’t provide the only indicator of what an organization can accomplish when it comes to its enterprise HR systems strategy, a new question was added concerning an organization’s plans to increase or decrease certain roles across their HR function over the next year. Immediately, corporate learning and development initiatives claimed the top position for increased hiring plans for 37 percent of the organizations that responded to the survey — and only 5 percent plan to decrease these initiatives.

Following just behind L&D was 33 percent of organizations planning to invest in hiring HR data analytics personnel. Twenty-nine percent of organizations also plan to increase talent management headcount this year.

IMPLEMENTATION PLANS, TIMELINES, MODULES

Fewer organizations (17 percent) are planning to make solution changes in the next 12 months as compared to previous years, but more are planning movement over the next 24 months. Organizations with low user experience scores are four times more likely to have near-term plans to replace their current vendor.

Once an organization has decided to either replace or upgrade an existing solution, the next focus becomes timelines and costs. Implementation timelines have been a constant challenge for organizations dealing with on-remise solutions, particularly for large global organizations. Two- to three-year implementation timelines for enterprise-wide HRMS environments were not uncommon for organizations, especially when these solutions were implemented alongside other enterprise-wide solutions.

In the last few years, we have seen a decrease in overall implementation timelines, particularly for licensed environments, but also for Cloud/SaaS solutions. Less customization, greater access to APIs, and pre-developed connectors for integration, along with more adequately trained implementation partners, have all led to a reduction in overall implementation timelines over the past three years.

At this point, there are fewer onpremise implementations than Cloud/ SaaS implementations, since very few organizations are aggressively selling their on-premise solutions.

LEARNING APPLICATIONS

Because of complex learning needs, large and medium organizations are much more likely to have high levels of learning application adoption over small organizations. Sierra-Cedar anticipates continued shake up in the learning space over the next few years as enterprise software packages continue to invest in their new learning solutions, and many niche learning players coming out of the consumer learning space (like Degreed) are trying the change the concept of who owns an employee’s learning record.

Although Cornerstone OnDemand focuses heavily on its talent management modules, it continues to be one of the largest providers in the learning space and holds the highest level of application adoption at 19 percent; for large and medium organizations, Cornerstone OnDemand sees an increase forecasted adoption in the next 12 months. Other companies that are expected to grow substantially are SuccessFactors Employee Central, Saba, Health Stream, Oracle HCM Cloud (which is being rolled out separately from the Oracle Taleo/Learn solutions). Moderate growth is likely to come to NetDimensions and SilkRoad.

SumTotal and Skillsoft — now combined organizations — continue to hold large adoption shares in learning across all organization sizes. It is likely that many organizations use Skillsoft as a secondary learning solution along with their primary learning management system (LMS), but decreases are projected in adoption rates for this vendor for both applications.

—Research for Sierra-Cedar conducted by Stacey Harris, vice president of Research & Analytics and research consultant Erin Spencer. The “Sierra-Cedar 2016-2017 HR Systems Survey White Paper, 19th Annual Edition” can be found at www.sierra-cedar.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/12/2016/10/Sierra-Cedar_2016-2017_HRSystemsSurvey_WhitePaper.pdf

--By Jerry Roche

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

Imagine if a technology came along that allowed your students to transport themselves to any time or place, real or imagined. Imagine if this technology could be used to create a “flight simulator” for any skill, where students could practice and learn under the same conditions where they will use their skills. And imagine if this technology could also allow students to step into the shoes of a customer or a colleague of different gender, ethnicity, or culture. That technology is here. It’s virtual reality.

The world you experience when you strap on a virtual reality (VR) headset might be virtual, but the learning results are real. Football quarterbacks have seen decision-making skills improve by 30 percent. Fear of public speaking has been reduced by 20 percent. Unconscious bias has been reduced in study after study. All after just a few sessions in virtual reality.

MARCHING WITH MLK

The virtual reality learning revolution has already begun. “We have purchased 360-degree cameras and virtual reality headsets and empower faculty members to create their own VR video,” says Robbie Melton, Ph.D., Associate Vice Chancellor of Mobilization Emerging Technology of the Tennessee Board of Regents. Her list of virtual reality use-cases is already long: “One of our educational professors shoots wrap-around video in the classroom to transport future teachers to real-life teaching situations.”

The Tennessee Board of Regents supervises 47 campuses with 173,000 students and has a strategic plan for virtual, augmented, and mixed reality and holograms. Several professors use free virtual reality assets. “One of our professors is transforming his Humanities Curriculum so that when students study about Martin Luther King’s Washington March, they can now experience the march through the immersive technology of virtual reality” says Melton. The Tennessee higher education system is not just using virtual reality as a consumption tool, but a creation tool as well. “HTC Vive brings hand controllers so we can now do art projects in VR and AR,” exclaims Melton. Virtual reality painting programs like Google Tilt Brush can be used for everything from 3D sculptures, to whiteboarding of calculus assignments; and from prototyping of new products, to architectural design. Virtual reality has been particularly empowering for students with disabilities, according to Dr. Melton. “Someone in a wheelchair can experience going down a virtual ski slope or swimming in an ocean.”

This sixth-largest system of public higher education in the United States is launching a major longitudinal study to research the learning retention impact and rate and performance achievement and outcomes of virtual and augmented reality after six months. “Our assumption is that VR/AR are going to beat video or any other medium by 75 percent,” says Dr. Melton.

FACEBOOK BETTING THE FUTURE ON VR

The fervor for VR could easily be dismissed if it only came from educational leaders and smaller technology startups. But when Mark Zuckerberg is betting the future of Facebook on the new technology, there’s reason for learning leaders to pay attention. Zuckerberg was so impressed by the possibilities of VR that Facebook spent $2 billion to get a piece of this growing market, acquiring virtual reality headset maker Oculus VR. While the first generation of VR is aimed at the gaming and entertainment markets, Zuckerberg argues that VR is “the next major computing and communication platform after phones.” When Facebook launched it was mostly used for text-based updates. Today the newsfeed is filled with pictures and self-playing videos. The next step is to capture entire scenes, in 3D and 360 degrees. Most of the other digital media giants, including Google, Apple, Samsung, and Microsoft are pouring billions and jostling for leadership in the nascent virtual and augmented reality market. Would you bet against these tech titans?

Perhaps not. But learning organizations are not yet jumping in with both feet. Anthony Rotolo, Courseware Manager at the Defense Acquisition University cautions that, “We’re still in the hype cycle, we get enamored with technology solutions in search of a business case.” He doesn’t think VR is a panacea. “It has an obvious role to train a bomb squad, but I have a hard time seeing it used to teach something like an earned value management formula.” Rotolo is taking a wait-and-see approach for now. “I’d want to see a couple of years of performance before the government applies it to e-learning. It’s prudent to wait until VR is more mature and proven.”

Other organizations are piloting VR in small scale. Lehigh Valley Health Network, a hospital group with seven campuses in Pennsylvania, looks for low-risk, highreward VR projects. “We’re trying to prototype and find correlations between VR training applications and performance improvements. We have to prove that we can change metrics,” says Virginia Cooney, Senior eLearning Designer, adding: “If I can reduce error rates with catheter insertions through VR training, that would be a big win that we can build on and get funding for larger VR programs.”

VR SIMULATIONS

Technical skill training like this can be a good start for a virtual reality pilot. “You use the same criteria as any simulation: Is it too expensive, is it too dangerous, or is it otherwise too impractical to practice in real life?” Argues Anthony Rotolo of the Defense Acquisition University. “VR has to pass that test of suitability.” Emergency response, product installation or repair, and healthcare procedures are usually good candidates for virtual reality learning.

Lehigh Valley Health Network has a large physical simulation center where actors play patients, but it’s a limited resource with a schedule filled to capacity. Virginia Cooney doesn’t think that will be replaced any time soon, but says: “as we keep acquiring new clinics further away we need to look at virtual solutions.” Her team has run 3D immersive multiplayer training programs on the desktop for years. They started in Second Life and have transitioned through several 3D platforms. “The most recent project is a 3D immersive orientation for nurses,” says Cooney. The new challenge is to transition from the desktop monitor to virtual reality headsets, where a student can experience full body immersion. “The advances in haptic feedback are important for us too, recreating the sensation of cutting into a body, for instance.”

EMPATHY MACHINE

For all the excitement about using VR as technical skills training simulator, there might be just as many opportunities to use it for soft skills training. Virtual reality has proven to be the most visceral approach to experience the world from people with different gender, race, age, or nationality and reduce bias against them. Stanford University’s Director of Virtual Human Interaction Lab, Jeremy Bailenson argues that, “For about 12 years now, we’ve been running study after study showing that feeling discrimination firsthand while walking a mile in someone else’s shoes [through virtual reality] is a better way to change attitudes and behavior.” Bailenson and his team have validated the so called “Proteus Effect,” in which the behavior of an individual, within online virtual worlds, is changed by the visual characteristics of their avatar.

Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab has even conducted experiments simulating the feeling of being a cow in virtual reality. Subjects donned a VR headset, got down on all fours, and when the simulation was turned on found themselves in a virtual pasture. The scene transitioned to the holding pen of a cattle truck, where a haptics system simulated the vibrations of the moving truck as it took them to the slaughterhouse. The study found that people felt more connected to the animals than those who simply watched the simulation play out on a screen and ultimately might be less likely to eat meat. This ability to be embodied as a different person or even a different species is why virtual reality has been hailed as “The Ultimate Empathy Machine,” by film maker Chris Milk. Imagine the opportunities to build this kind of empathy in sales and service training, coaching skill development, and diversity and inclusion programs.

VR HEADSET MARKET

The current generation virtual reality headsets range from a cardboard box for a few dollars to a $3,000 computerheadset bundle. If you’re a New York Times subscriber, you might already own a VR headset. It recently provided over a million subscribers with a fold-your-own cardboard box, including plastic lenses, magnets, and Velcro. Just drop almost any smart phone into the “Google Cardbaord” box and experience VR for yourself. If you own certain models of the Samsung Galaxy, you can get a $99 GearVR headset, which offers a step up in comfort and quality from the cardboard box. With the new Google Pixel phone, you can buy a similarly priced Google Daydream headset. These mobile headsets provide a good entry point to virtual reality. They work well for shorter and more linear experiences, such as a 360-degree spherical video.

At the high end of the virtual reality market, Facebook’s Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are locked in race for market leadership. The HTC Vive comes with laser cameras and a very long cord connected to a PC that allows you to roam around a room up to 15 times 15 feet large. Using hand controllers, you can see representations of your hands in the virtual space. A clever visual overlay in the virtual scene indicates where the real-life walls are to keep you bumping into them.

Both Microsoft and Oculus Rift have announced headsets that will occupy the middle ground between mobile and PC tethered headsets. These devices will have trackers built in, rather than relying on external laser cameras, making them easier to set up and use. They are expected to hit the market sometime next year.

Which virtual reality headset will be the winner? Or will we see a balkanized Mac vs. PC-style war of competing standards? Only time will tell. My advice would be to keep an open mind and not put all your chips on one system, yet.

AUGMENTED REALITY

On the heels of virtual reality is its cousin “augmented reality” (AR) or “mixed reality.” We all got a taste of a crude form of AR via the explosion of Pokémon Go. Virginia Cooney at Lehigh Valley Health Network is already plotting a Pokémon GO-style game for orienting new med students to her campuses: “They will get to know the new campus by walking around and finding the equivalence of poké balls and answer questions.”

But, the real breakthrough with augmented reality will be eye wear that projects holographic images on top of the real world. “Augmented reality is the real game changer,” says Robbie Melton of the Tennessee Board of Regents. “We have three HoloLenses in our classrooms already.” The Microsoft HoloLens is a see-through headset that projects holographic images on top of the real world. “The HoloAnatomy is unbelievably impactful, it revolutionizes anatomy and physiology teaching”, Melton said.

Melton is an industry veteran who puts the new technology in perspective. “I’ve been in the learning industry for 45 years, I hail from the time of chalkboards; virtual and augmented reality is by far the biggest technology revolution of my career.”

–Anders Gronstedt, Ph.D., ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ) is president of the Gronstedt Group, a digital training agency that custom develops learning games, simulations and online video

Published in Top Stories
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