SUCCESSFUL ORGANIZATIONS SEEK (AND FIND) EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT AND ENTHUSIASM WITH INNOVATIVE LEARNING PROGRAMS

BY JERRY ROCHE

In this day and age, it's not enough for employees to be well informed and well trained. It's increasingly important for learners at corporations, non-profits and in the public sector to be engaged and enthusiastic - and maybe even entertained.

Of all the commonalities in this year's Learning! 100 competition, employee engagement from training and development was a major driver of these organizations' successes.

The American Heart Association's vice president of HR and Corporate Learning Katherine Neverdousky says participants in the AHA's new mentoring program "are very excited. They appreciate the opportunity for them and the SMEs assigned to them, and they also get peer networking, which makes for great conversations and discussions."

Shaw's Chris Clement tells us: "We are constantly hearing from our audience" - meaning his salesforce. "We can’t design training how we want to deliver it, because people have different learning styles. So we've got to respond to their needs, or we'll be designing training that’s obsolete."

Vi Living's new open-enrollment benefits education program not only received rave reviews from employees, but it also drove improvements in business-related metrics: a 69 percent increase in flex spending account participation, a 40 percent increase in the enhanced vision program, a 7 percent increase in the medical plan, and a 9 percent increase in 401(k) program participation. "And employee satisfaction grew along with participation," Vi’s Judy Whitcomb tells us. "follow-up employee survey determined that 90 percent of employees had a good understanding of company benefits compared to 83 percent from the prior survey."

Like the AHA, the financial services company SWBC also has implemented a mentoring program. And, like the AHA, it’s finding increased employee engagement. "One hundred percent of the participants indicated their mentor/mentee was a good match," notes SWBC vice president of Training and Employee Development Mandy Smith. "The vast majority reported feeling more confident in their knowledge, skills and abilities. Six of the 30 participants reported receiving promotions during the program that they attribute to their mentor’s support and the mentoring program."

Learning! 100 applicants are evaluated across three criteria: Collaborative Strategies’ Collaboration Index, Darden School’s Learning Culture Index, and overall organizational performance.

But beyond those metrics, if there is one lesson to be learned from the 2015 Learning! 100 honor roll, it’s that engaged employees are informed employees are excellent employees. To find out more about how the leading companies are being so successful with their learning programs, review the list on the following pages and watch for upcoming sessions, Web seminars, articles and events hosted by Elearning! magazine.

Learning! 100

Published in Top Stories

BY GREG ROSE

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) is a big deal. In 2014 alone, it sanctioned more than 1,000 stock car races across 10 different series at hundreds of tracks in seven countries. An average of 5.3 million viewers tune into each NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event from February through November.

According to various independent economic studies, on average, each NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race adds nearly $150 million to local and regional economies.

Imagine for a moment the human capital and logistics required to successfully execute an entire NASCAR season. If you total up all the National Series race days across all 29 active tracks, NASCAR relies on more than 8,000 “day-of ” people to ensure that every race delivers the quintessential NASCAR experience.

TRAINING THAT STICKS

NASCAR breaks the total number of "day-of" resources into groups. About 7,800 of these individuals are employed by the tracks themselves and fall under the category of "Track Services." The remainder are track employees and volunteers who work in other areas or are NASCAR employees and race officials who have a multitude of race-day responsibilities. Both the Track Services workers and NASCAR officials have to be trained meticulously in preparation for a race.

"Safety is NASCAR’s highest priority," says Karen Masencup, director of Training & Development. "Each race requires a skilled group of fire, EMS and track operations professionals who are prepared to respond quickly to any number of potential incidents that could occur during NASCAR’s unique racing environment."

Stock car specifications and configurations change annually; tracks are designed to maximize speed and competitiveness; cars can achieve speeds of more than 200 miles per hour; and driver cockpit temperatures often creep past 130 degrees. As a result, NASCAR training initiatives must cover a wide variety of issues including vehicle specs, pit road speeds, fire suppression, driver extrication, vehicle roll-over processes, track clearing, cleanup, and proper transport of injured individuals to infield medical care facilities.

There is so much at stake that simply making training materials available and hoping students utilize them is not enough. The trick is to significantly improve the training, or the trainee’s, experience. This allows NASCAR to ensure that the training sticks.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT PARTNER

In some way, shape or form, NASCAR has been training personnel to address the unique challenges presented by the sport since its inception in the late 1940s. Historically, much of this training was individualized and "hands-on" -- directed, delivered and assessed by a direct supervisor.

As the sport grew in popularity and the modifications and complexity of the cars and the events continued to increase, so did the depth and complexity of the organization’s training needs. By the 1990s, individualized training had been enhanced with group focused classroom sessions that were followed up by specialized (and localized) function area break-out training events. As an early adopter, NASCAR even began to experiment with online training courses for officials in the 2000s.

"Our NASCAR officials live in different parts of the country," says Masencup. "In the past, we brought them to the Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C., to attend the classroom training. We thought we could give more in-depth training with online courses that people could take at their leisure when it was convenient for them."

Leveraging those early successes, NASCAR launched a bold online training campaign in 2012 that was aimed at the significantly larger Track Services audience. The rollout secured high levels of participation and received such positive feedback, NASCAR increased the number of online courses in 2013. It then recognized a new hurdle: its existing learning management solution (LMS) was outdated and incapable of scaling to meet the demands of the new initiative and its audience. So the hunt began for a technology partner that could help deliver a better employee training experience.

THE CHALLENGES

"With multiple departments involved in the selection process for a new learning management system, we first had to determine our short and long-term goals for it. Then we researched and vetted many companies," says Masencup. After extensive review and consideration, NASCAR chose Atlanta-based Intellum and its Exceed Learning Management System. "There were several larger LMS providers in the group of finalists, but Intellum’s approach to technology stood out, and they really demonstrated that they wanted to work with us and be our partner. We soon discovered that, even after they won our business, the high level of customer service and sense of partnership would continue."

NASCAR realized that the success of a new LMS would ultimately be determined by user engagement. The organization also knew that driving user engagement would require an extremely positive user experience, for both the trainees and the employees tasked with administering the solution. To secure that engagement, NASCAR and Intellum put their new partnership to the test, working closely together to tackle five unique challenges.

The rapidly approaching start of a new season

"Our first challenge was timing. From an internal employee standpoint, our NASCAR officials typically do a large amount of their training in January and February before the race season kicks off with the Daytona 500," says Masencup. "On the Track Services side, online training may begin in early December in order for their hands-on training to begin immediately after the first of the year." NASCAR made the decision to go with Intellum in the fourth quarter of 2013, which required a small window to transition. But rapid implementation is a key offering for Intellum, a company that relies on 15 years of industry experience to implement most clients in less than four weeks — and NASCAR had a tremendous amount of historical data to roll into its new system.

Incorporating years of training and certification data

"Any time you move a large amount of data, it can be challenging," says Masencup. "We had about nine years of data to import, including many courses that were no longer active in our system. But it was important to us, and to our students, that we retain that history. Intellum worked hand-in-hand with us during the implementation process and we were able to import all of our previous student data into Intellum’s Exceed." Now, utilizing a feature called External Credits, an individual can scan and upload an external credit, further reducing administrative backlogs. "This critical feature means our students and our learning team are now able to view all of a specific student’s training history," says Masencup.

Tracking a large number of external and remote

Even though NASCAR provides training for all Track Services workers like they were FTEs, the Track Services team members are employed by host tracks. These team members fluctuate, creating a complicated external audience scenario that requires a solution tailor-made for NASCAR.

"Tracking and reporting was previously a challenge, given our often-changing, remote learning audience," says Masencup. "Now it’s easy. Learners present their NASCAR I.D. card, which has a barcode that ties directly to that learner’s profile in the LMS. Training coordinators simply scan I.D. cards to automatically record on-site course credits in the learner’s account."

By introducing customized data import and mapping functionality, NASCAR and Intellum simplified and improved the process of tracking the external and remote trainees. While this leads to better NASCAR insight into training initiatives, it also significantly improves the experience of an often overlooked audience: the employees administering individual training events.

Addressing function area and location-specific concerns

With 8,000 fluctuating track services workers across three national series, understanding how an individual fits into NASCAR Training’s big picture, and effectively managing that individual’s learning experience, was another historical challenge for the organization. Training courses are consistent between all tracks, but training requirements for specific function areas may vary. Some elements of training at a short track, for example, are different than that at a superspeedway.

Then consider the fact that some individuals move between job responsibilities, or work at multiple tracks throughout a given season. NASCAR needed not only the ability to assign Track Services workers to various groups based on specific criteria, but a way to recognize and avoid training overlaps when an individual transitions between job responsibilities and locations.

So the organization now leverages the dynamic auto-enrollment functionality of Exceed to overcome this hurdle. When NASCAR builds a new group with deep profiles on members, adds new team members or adds new training requirements, the system automatically identifies the individuals who meet specific criteria based on these profiles and can auto-enroll them in the correct groups. Users see only the learning opportunities that are germane to them. As for team members who move from group to group or track to track, the LMS now also recognizes potential training overlaps and automatically "completes" the student in courses shared by groups or locations.

Significantly enhancing the NASCAR student experience

Together, NASCAR and Intellum redesigned the NASCAR LMS user experience, presenting students with a more modern learning environment that is visually appealing and easy to navigate.

The way the catalog presents "featured" and "recommended courses", for example, is based on a user’s profile and group membership. It seems familiar to the student — more like an app store or a streaming music service than a clunky enterprise software solution. By focusing on the experience the student has with the LMS itself, NASCAR has witnessed improved engagement and is even beginning to think about the learning experience on the individual group level.

"We are now using multiple groupspecific branded landing pages, so that different people in different groups can have customized experiences when they log in," says Masencup. The flexibility of the system also allows NASCAR to rethink content. "We are designing our courses in smaller, bite-size pieces," she adds. "Gone are the days of hour-long courses where people sit in front of their computers and complete the course. Now, they need easier to download, shorter courses that can be taken anywhere." The LMS is also mobile optimized, allowing students to complete courses on their own mobile devices as well.

INVESTING IN THE FUTURE

NASCAR is a sport that heavily relies on technology and innovation. You can see it in NASCAR’s new pit road technology that utilizes a state-of-the-art camera-based video system to identify pit road infractions. A move to a fully digital rulebook and streamlined inspection process has given NASCAR and the teams the opportunity for back-end data analysis. Sprint Cup cars will even utilize digital dashboards next season. Leveraged technology and innovation is also now present in NASCAR’s approach to the student learning experience.

"In 2014, NASCAR Track Services team members alone completed 84,000 courses through Exceed," says Masencup. And even higher engagement numbers are expected this year, with 53,000 course completions through the first five months. "The great thing about the Exceed LMS is that it is limitless," she notes. "It can grow as needed with users and content, which is a real plus in our world. As we continue to increase our course offerings and look at ways to address training needs, we know Exceed can meet the challenge."

Published in Top Stories

 

Marshall E-Learning, an equality and diversity specialist consultancy, has launched a tool to help businesses and their employees to better understand unconscious bias in the workplace.

Developed in partnership with the Employers Network for Equality & Inclusion, the free tool enables managers to ask staff to reflect on their own biases and help businesses achieve a clear understanding of how best to manage their employee’s personal biases professionally, which is imperative for creating discrimination-free, fair, inclusive and commercially competitive organizations.

A trial of the tool is available, giving businesses a taster of the training with up to 10 of their own team. The taster helps employers to assess the business case for investing in unconscious bias training for their whole organization, from the boardroom to front line staff.

—More info: www.marshallelearning.com/unconscious-bias-tool

 

Published in New Products

 

Talent management practices should be more transparent, according to a new study. In a survey of 518 directors, managers and employees, 71 percent of respondents said their organization should be more open about which employees are in their company’s talent pool.

Seventy-three percent of respondents said it is apparent that some individuals get treated differently in terms of career development and progression opportunities within their organization.

Fifty-four percent of all workers surveyed said that their organization doesn’t recognize their full potential, and even 38 percent of those who are in a talent pool said their full potential is not recognized. Thirty-six percent of all respondents said their company does not track or manage their personal or career development.

Of the 23% of respondents surveyed who are currently in a talent pool, 81 percent said this motivates them to perform their job better. Meanwhile, 35 percent of those who are not in a talent pool feel demotivated as a result, reinforcing the need for clearer communications and enterprise-wide career and personal development strategies so that everybody feels supported and valued, regardless of whether they are in a talent pool or not.

—Download the full report: www2.kallidus.com/Talent-SecretSociety-SM

 

Published in Latest News

The global mobile learning market is to grow from $7.98 billion in 2015 to $37.60 billion by 2020, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 36.3 percent. North America is expected to be the largest market in terms of market size, while Europe and Asia-Pacific are expected to experience an increase in market traction during the forecast period.

This information is contained in the report “Mobile Learning Market by Solution (Mobile Content Authoring, E-books, Portable LMS, Mobile and Video-based Courseware, Interactive Assessments, Content Development, M-Enablement), by Applications, by User Type, & by Region - Global Forecast to 2020.”

The report also notes that communication and learning have been an integral part of the education and training process. These, reinforced with technological advancements such as mobility, real-time content delivery and others have resulted into the genesis of the mobile learning market.
Mobile learning solutions enable educators and trainers to provide real-time interactive training and instructions to the end-users through the medium of smartphones and mobile devices. This not only helps to provide an interactive learning experience but also makes learning not restricted to a classroom or a training room.

Furthermore the applications such as video lectures, audio & video course material, e-books and others allow the access to information on the go which further bridges the time and distance gap between educators and students/employees.

—More info: http://www.marketsandmarkets.com/Market-Reports/mobile-learning-market-73008174.html#whatech.com/75640

Published in Latest News

The 2015 FGDLA Call for Awards supporting the 2015 GV Expo (www.gvexpo.com) has been posted to the main Web page of the Federal Government Distance Learning Association (FGDLA). If you would like to nominate an associate, co-worker, or anyone deserving, the organization invites you to submit a nomination.

The award categories and description:

Five-Star: In recognition of an organization for demonstrating excellence in providing continuous support of video production and delivery of distance learning in the federal government.

Innovation: In recognition of an organization for demonstrating excellence in the innovative use of technology supporting video-based content development and delivery of distance learning in the federal government.

Pioneer: In recognition of an individual for demonstrating excellence in teaching or content development of video supporting distance learning in the federal government.

—More info: www.fgdla.us

Published in Latest News

Katherine Archuleta, the embattled Office of Personnel Management director, resigned last week amid a cascading scandal over her handling of a massive breach of federal employee records that included security-clearance details dating back 15 years.

Archuleta, who has been at the helm of OPM since November 2013, faced pressure from a rush of lawmakers who called for her firing, including the top three House Republicans and Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Most recently, sensitive information from at least 15 years of background investigations of 21.5 million employees, contractors and job applicants seeking security clearances, and their families, was compromised. That was in addition to another theft, first revealed on June 4, of personal data on 4.2 million employees, including Social Security numbers.

According to the Washington Post, "confidence in her was shaken beyond repair." Beth Cobert, OPM's deputy director for management, will take over Archuleta's job. She will now be tasked with implementing changes already underway, like boosting the use of two-factor authentication and reducing the number of "privileged users" on the agency's networks. She will also oversee the benefits provided to those affected by the hacks, and the selection of a contractor to deliver those services.

"I believe it is best for me to step aside and allow new leadership to step in, enabling the agency to move beyond the current challenges and allowing the employees at OPM to continue their important work," said a prepared statement by Archuleta. "I am honored to have led this organization and to have served alongside the incredible team at OPM. I have complete confidence in their ability to continue fulfill OPM's important mission of recruiting, retaining and honoring a world-class workforce to serve the American People."

Published in Latest News

Google has announced the official launch of its Government Innovation Labs, which can institutionalize innovation practices to make those practices the default for government problem solving using technology as a support.

Google Apps costs less than $5 per employee per month, providing cost savings of as much as 50 percent annually for many government organizations. And with modern email and collaboration applications, agencies can potentially dedicate more time to their critical missions.

The U.S. General Services Administration is finding the program extremely valuable. It is the first federal agency to successfully migrate its employees to a Cloud-based email service using Google Apps for Government, saving millions in taxpayer dollars annually. The GSA expect the Cloud-based system to reduce email operation costs by 50 percent over the next five years and save more than $15.2 million for the agency in that time. Additionally, the new email environment provides our agency with an easily accessible suite of services including email and collaboration tools that help GSA employees become a more mobile and more efficient workforce.

Security is not a problem, according to the City of Pittsburgh: "While the city still retains full ownership of our data, we can count on Google for data safety and security. Our data is more secure with Google than with the previous system."

On the state and local government level, Google's James Waterman says the program will provide officials access to Google's suite of enterprise apps, developers and experts for consultation on beneficial services both inside and outside of Google.

On local levels, leadership teams will be sent through a six-week journey to identify what innovation means for their jurisdictions. Afterward, Waterman says, they'll paint a picture of possible solutions using a palette of different technologies. These could translate to data visualization tools, search functionality, mapping, or open data solutions with such companies as. Once the tech choices are decided upon, Google developers will be tasked to implement projects within roughly 90 days.

—More info: https://www.google.com/work/apps/government/

Published in Top Stories

Virtual Conference Offers New Free and Premium Access Registration, Plus Advanced Online Features, Games and Interaction

Corona, CA June 2, 2015 - Elearning! Media Group will hold its second Virtual event of 2015 at the Enterprise Learning! Conference Online on July 16-17th from 7 am PT to 5 pm PT. The Virtual event will host live sessions only on July 16th. The event's new platform will offer two registration types: free access and premium. Attendees selecting free registration can access all live sessions on July 16th. Premium access attendees can view not only the sessions on July 16th, but also new sessions on July 17th and gain On-Demand access to all sessions and content for 90 days after the event through October 15th, 2015.

Both registration types allow attendees on the July 16th live day to visit sponsor booths in the virtual exhibit hall, interact live "avatar-style" with booth reps and download hundreds of documents and information in the resource center. New to this virtual event is the application of games which allow attendees to earn points or badges on the live July 16th event day. Virtual games range from trivia challenges and memory matches to opportunities to earn badges for prizes.

"In our second Virtual event of 2015, we are giving industry professionals choices, variety and greater convenience," says Catherine Upton, Publisher and CEO of Elearning! Magazine. "The new options available during our July Virtual event provide greater opportunities for learning, HR, training and talent development professionals to gain access to and learn from the speakers and experts participating in our event."

The Enterprise Learning! Conference Online 2015 will feature six live sessions on July 16th and new content on July 17th plus virtual exhibits, online chat, social media elements allowing attendees to tweet and post throughout the event on July 16th. Registration is now open at Enterprise Learning! Conference 2015.

About Elearning! Media Group
Elearning! and Government Elearning! magazines, e-Magazines, E-newsletters, Alerts, Web sites and Summits are produced by B2B Media Company, LLC. Elearning! Magazine is one in the family of 12 media products serving the $220 billion enterprise learning market. In combination, these brands reach up to 2 million executives and professionals who plan, evaluate and deploy enterprise-wide learning solutions across their organizations each year. To learn more, visit: http://www.2elearning.com.

Enterprise Learning! Events
In our seventh year, Enterprise Learning! Events bring onsite and online live audiences together to learn, network and share. Enterprise Learning! Summit 2014 hosted industry thought leaders, analysts and up to nine sessions, on March 20th, 2014. Watch these sessions On Demand at www.2elearning.com.

 

Published in Latest News

Availability isn’t the only factor driving the adoption of video for online training. Equally important are the opportunities that video provides for greater trainer/student engagement and flexibility, for less logistics in the planning realm, and for lower costs.

However, regardless of how video training is used, there are several distinct features that online training must be able to provide for a wide range of potential learners including employees, business partners, and even customers:

>> Equal access for remote and on-site learners

>> Better access to more trainers and subject matter experts in more locations

>> Greater convenience and availability with live and on-demand instruction

>> Comprehensive performance tracking and reporting

>> Ability to register users and/or charge for training

—More info: www.gototraining.com

Published in Latest News
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