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The Ground-Breaking Web-Based Organization Finds Corporate Learners Of All Ages Shun Time-Consuming, Non-Relevant Content.

By Linda Galloway

Personally, I’m sick of reading about the special learning styles of Millennials.

Of course, each workforce generation has different work attitudes, values and motivators — shaped by factors such as the economic environment and major life events. But, come on: Millennials don’t have special brains that somehow make them learn in ways different from the rest of us.

So when I see an article tying the use of social tools, video, curated content and other “new” learning approaches to Millennial workers, I want to hurl my Olivetti at the wall. (Just kidding, LOL.)

The truth is, corporate learning would be rapidly evolving even without the influx of young employees.

Rapid business change, with demands for faster time to productivity. Increased emphasis on value workers and customer service. Smarter, richer technology experiences at our fingertips. 24x7 connectiv- ity. These influencers impact the learning needs and expectations of all employees — from 25 to 65. They also impact the business’s perception of training and development.

The corporate “Millearnnial” audience is composed of technically savvy workers of all ages who shun page-turner content, clunky interfaces and irrelevant courses. They’ve got smartphones in their pockets and, most likely, a computer or tablet at home. They respond to consumer-like, media-rich, highly relevant learning experiences. And they want answers and guidance on the spot, just like they can get at home to figure out how to adjust bike brakes or find a hotel for an upcoming trip.

Learning and development organizations are affected by Millearnnials in two primary ways:

1) As learning consumers, Millearnnials are typically used to processing information in small chunks and having a variety of resources to choose from — from videos to discussion forums to Wikipedia.

Regardless of their age, Millearnnials place high priority on ease and conve- nience; they want information to be readily available on command.

2) Most business leaders share the above traits. Additionally, they likely see marketing and other departments rapidly churn out new Web content, video demos, and sales and service support tools. Therefore, their expectations for training are colored accordingly, to include: speedy, point-of-need delivery; cost efficiency; and high relevancy to business. Their tolerance for lengthy program development, big investments with long-term paybacks, and general lack of business understanding is low.

How L&D departments and their supporting vendors respond to Millearnnial expectations over the next one to three years will likely determine their long- term future.

Facebook: A Brief Glimpse Into Training's Future

Facebook epitomizes today’s relentless business change. In 2011 — eight years after its founding as a social networking site for college students — Facebook was one of the most visited websites in the world. When the company went public in May 2012, it was valued at $104 bil- lion, the largest valuation to date for a newly public company. As of January 2014, Facebook had 1.23 billion active users. But the company’s phenomenal growth has been accompanied by non- stop change. Shifts in user demographics, adoption by businesses, explosive smart-phone usage, and a string of technology acquisitions have opened the door to new markets and revenue streams, while requiring the company to morph at lightning speed to meet ever-changing market expectations. Needless to say, traditional training approaches just don’t cut it for a company moving this fast.

A quick look at how Facebook keeps up with training needs and how its learning professionals are adapting training to the company’s unique culture offers a preview of what’s in store for other companies.

Tom Floyd, global sales training lead for Facebook, has led corporate and sales training initiatives for approximately 15 years, primarily in high-tech Silicon Valley. His responsibilities at Facebook encompass sales skills development, coaching and communications training for the company’s complex sales organization.

Keeping up with the ever-evolving online advertising business is a challenge in and of itself. Floyd also must consider other key factors when developing Facebook’s training offerings and approaches: 

>>  A diverse and distributed workforce. Experience levels vary among the thousand-plus sales professionals located around the world. Some sales reps have years of advertising experience, while others are newer to sales. “Selling in Japan, the world’s second-largest advertising market, is different than selling into an emerging market,” says Floyd.

>>  Multiple vertical teams with very dif- ferent specialties, ranging from retail to entertainment to technology. Each requires extensive knowledge and up- to-date information.

>>  Time, or lack thereof. “Our employees are very busy. Every minute of training is time that could be spent doing other things, so we have to maximize the value of every training minute,” says Floyd.

>>  A company culture steeped in collaboration and sharing. “Our mission is to connect the world,” says Floyd. “Therefore, social networking is part of our company’s DNA.”

Floyd is part of a dedicated training team that includes Troy Avidano, the team’s LMS administrator, as well as a handful of contractors and several vendor partners to deliver all sales training programs. While the team may be small, its accomplishments push the boundaries of traditional training and technology. According to Floyd and Avidano, the team seeks out vendors who understand the company’s culture and its emphasis on innovation and are willing to go the extra mile to adapt their technologies accordingly.

For instance, in March 2014, the team rolled out an online training program for the sales organization. The program incorporates 40 customized learning courses in six areas specific to Facebook solutions. All content was developed internally or customized. Avidano worked with Intellum, the provider of Facebook’s corporate LMS, to support a unique approach to the learning. The LMS was enhanced to “serve up” quizzes in advance of courses, to reset the quizzes each time they’re taken by a specific employee, and to map quiz questions to Articulate- created learning resources. The result is a program that offers a personalized experience for each employee, regardless of his or her experience.

“As you’d expect, we’re a big proponent of tribal learning and capitalizing on our internal subject-matter experts,” says Floyd. “We want to do everything we can to help our people learn faster and have fun while doing it."

The Millearnnial Training Organization

“The major motivators for a learning organization today should be agility, speed and flexibility,” says Todd Tauber, vice president for learning and development research at Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting LLP. “All employees regardless of age are looking for bite-sized learning offered up in ways that align with their own learning styles.

“The only way a learning organization will be able to keep up is by shifting more toward informal learning, by leveraging internal subject experts, and by depending more on employees to share knowledge and provide peer guidance." Tauber points out that Bersin by Deloitte research shows that social and mobile technologies are factoring significantly into training investment plans.

“We’ll likely see a steady stream of innovation — both in terms of technology and in leading practices — over the next two to three years as organizations make this next shift, “ says Tauber.

It’s interesting to note that Tauber’s timeline neatly coincides with the entry of the next workforce generation, yet to be officially named. Regardless of what they’re called — 2Kers, Selfies, iGeners, Tweenials — you can be sure that these youngest workers and the technologies they bring to work will further influence the way the rest of us Millearnnials work and want to learn.

Published in Top Stories

Or, How A Small Team Dealt With Quadrupling Its Number Of Corporate Learners

By Linda Galloway

AT&T closed on its acquisition of Leap Wireless, the parent of the Cricket Wireless, on March 13, 2014. The company’s intent was to merge Aio Wireless, AT&T’s prepaid wireless subsidiary, with Cricket Wireless, which at the time of acquisition had approximately 5 million customers.

A few days later, Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and CEO, stated that he wanted the acquisition to be “the fastest and most successful acquisition AT&T has ever done." He set the goal of operating as one company within 60 days.

This story is about how a small team of training and communication professionals pulled off a massive merger training initia- tive that touched approximately 20,000 employees, contractors and third-party support personnel in less than two months.

The initiative was built around many of the latest learning trends —social learning, collaboration, performance support tools and ongoing reinforcements — as well as a solid understanding of the needs and interests of diverse learning audiences and a commitment to reflect and reinforce the legacy Aio business culture.

David Merges With Goliath

“The news of the potential Cricket acquisition was a bit overwhelming, given that the company was many times bigger than Aio," says Michelle Randolph, director of processes, training and communication for Aio Wireless and now Cricket Wireless. “The first thing we did was to sit down together as a team and look at our best practices. We talked about what could scale — and what couldn’t. We also spent a lot of time thinking about what we might want to do differently and better."

The Aio team came at the project with a very modern mindset, one that was fos- tered by AT&T. “When AT&T spun off Aio Wireless, it encouraged us to create a culture that was based on mobile access, emphasized self-serve learning, and supported ongoing business change. AT&T viewed Aio almost as a test lab, where new technologies and practices could be tried out,” says Randolph. 

Consequently, according to Randolph, the Aio culture also accepted well-intentioned mistakes as a part of “selling fast.”

“We know that being wrong is part of the process. When we make a mistake, we quickly pivot," she says

Prior to the acquisition’s official close, the team had limited information about Crick- et Wireless for planning. In any merger or acquisition transaction involving public companies, the SEC prohibits the sharing of operational details until the deal is final. “In order to get started on planning as soon as possible, we made many assumptions. It turned out that many of them were wrong, so of course, that set us back a little."

Aside from the aggressive timeline, the team’s training and communication plan for the merger was influenced by these pri- mary factors:

>>  Most Cricket employees work out of small stores with only one or two co- workers at a time. Therefore, store reps have to be highly self-sufficient.

>>  Cricket employees didn’t have corporate email addresses; in the store, most had access only to mobile phones.

>>  Cricket store reps would be the merger’s primary “customer ambassadors.” Therefore, it was critical that they could positively present the acquisition’s benefits to customers, answer their questions fully, and handle required transactions smoothly.

>>  Training had to be cost efficient. Cricket dealers would not be charged for any merger-related training.

>>  Training also had to encompass approximately 1,500 Cricket customer support representatives employed by multiple call center providers.

The Role Of Social Networking

Since the subsidiary’s inception in 2013, Aio’s culture had always emphasized the importance of mobile technology as part of day-to-day business. Cheryl Milejczak, communications manager for Aio Wireless and now Cricket Wireless, knew early on that she wanted to introduce a two-way communication channel into the company, a channel that would allow people to offer feedback, ask questions, and directly help co-workers.

Milejczak and the Aio team evaluated several networking options. Critical requirements included Android compatibility, excellent support, cost efficiency and an easy-to-use, familiar interface. Employees also wouldn’t need an email address in order to use the tool.

In November 2013, the Aio team launched a pilot of Shout!, a social networking tool based on Intellum’s Tribe offering. Shout! was launched enterprise-wide in January 2014. The team used it for a variety of field-related communications, from breaking news on network outages to product updates and sales promotions. Employees were encouraged to use it to ask questions and to share helpful hints and resources that colleagues would find helpful.

Milejczak admits she was a little nervous prior to the network’s launch: “I was pretty sure our employees would use the network in a professional way while still having fun. But, we didn’t know for sure. Also, I wasn’t sure my team would be able to support the volume of traffic.”

As it turned out, the adoption of Shout! went very smoothly.

The positive Aio rollout gave the team confidence to make Shout! an integral part of the Cricket merger initiative. Cricket employees and other personnel involved in the merger were given access to it almost immediately after the acquisition.

“Because Cricket dealer employees had no way to receive direct company communications before, Shout! was immediately seen as a positive resource,” says Milejczak.

“Usage exploded. Shout! lets us push out important communications and materials to all employees in the field. It’s immediate; there’s no delay and no risk of the information being filtered or perhaps not delivered at all," Milejczak continues. “Plus, it gives employees a way to ask questions and provide feedback, which is especially important for remote workers.” When the team has an important message that needs to be highlighted for a period of time, a “sticky note” can be pinned to the top of conversation for as long as needed.

As part of the merger initiative, Shout! tribes were set up for Cricket store reps, third-party customer support personnel, training contractors, managers and other groups in order to customize communications and encourage collaborations among different audiences. Most of these remain active and widely used for ongoing communications, information sharing and team collaboration.

Some tribes were global and open to anyone involved in the merger. For instance, the “Launch Q&A” tribe was cre- ated to specifically address questions and answers related to the launch of the “New Cricket.” This tribe was monitored from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET for approximately 60 days following the acquisition close. While the Aio team members had overall responsibility to ensure questions were answered, very often Cricket and Aio employees would jump into conversations to help their colleagues. In fact, Milejczak says that this tribe largely became self-sufficient within a few weeks.

Today, approximately 20,000 people are members of various tribes on Cricket’s Shout! social network. It has emerged to be an essential communication and collaboration tool for Cricket’s diverse and distributed workforce.

Training For Quick Success

The Aio team identified five primary audiences for merger-related training: employees of company-owned stores, employees of dealer-owned stores, Cricket customer support reps, Aio customer support reps, and other Aio employees. Tad Kozak, sales training strategy manager, and David Dayton, customer support training strategy manager, recognized immediately that the only way to approach the training initiative was by developing core content, tools, and resources that could then be easily customized to meet the needs and interests of these diverse audiences.

The merger’s success largely rested on the shoulders of employees (the face of the new company) to present the benefits of the business change to millions of customers. Therefore, the merger training had to help employees quickly get up to speed on the differences between the AT&T and Cricket networks, learn how to migrate customers from one network to the other, and handle all associated transactions. But, just as importantly, the training had to address questions and concerns regarding the merger and introduce employees to the new company culture, inherited from Aio Wireless.

“Everyone on our team had been through multiple AT&T mergers before,” says Kozak. “We took lessons learned from each and combined them with new, mobile technologies to tackle this training challenge.”

The team designed an aggressive, three-stage training strategy, which was presented to the Aio executive team prior to the acquisition close and to the Cricket executive team immediately after. After fine-tuning the content, the team tested the training with pilot audiences in early April. The merger training components, all of which were tailored to different audiences, included:

>>  One day of instructor-led training focusing on the new Cricket brand and culture. To supplement its small internal instructor staff, Aio worked with an outside vendor to hire 38 contract instructors, many of whom were associated with Wounded Warriors. “We wanted instructors who would really connect with our audiences and had the personal experience to present this change in a positive light,” says Qioni Green, associate director of training. To provide ongoing support to contract trainers, the team scheduled conference calls, set up a telephone help line, and created a Shout! tribe to reinforce key points, answer questions, and share best practices and successes.

>>  A mobile performance support tool designed primarily for employees to use on the sales floor to rapidly access (within three clicks) the information and guidance needed to handle real-time customer questions and issues. The tool provided high-level product and network information and step-by-step guidance for all major system transac- tions. Since the merger, this tool has been modified and enhanced for use as an onboarding support tool.

>> A library of WBTs, simulations, and detailed documentation covering compliance and privacy issues, network and device training, point of sale system guidance, and customer support. All of these detailed training resources are housed and managed in Cricket’s Knowledge Base (built on Intellum’s Exceed LMS technology). All content is also optimized for mobile access. During the merger initiative, employees were directed to these resources through postings in Shout!, which is seamlessly integrated with the Cricket LMS. Employees could simply click on a link and they would be automatically directed to the appropriate resource in the Cricket Knowledge Base.

As the merger training rolled out, Aio team members closely monitored Shout! to see where training reinforcement might be needed. “The postings and questions on social media gave us valuable insights. For instance, if we saw recurring questions regarding a particular topic or issue, we could jump in and schedule an ad hoc webinar to provide more guidance,” says Dayton. “In my world, it’s common to look at metrics such as call durations, first-call resolution, and overall satisfaction and indicators of training success. But Shout! was an excellent, real-time indicator of how the merger training was working.”

COLLABORATION  STARTS AT THE TOP

Randolph is quick to praise the teamwork for all involved in the merger training. “We’re a small but mighty team,” she says. “Because we work so closely to- gether, we’ve never developed silos and we naturally keep each other informed and aligned.”

Interviews for this article surfaced many specific examples of teamwork: taking turns monitoring Shout! during off hours for urgent problems; proactively working together to ensure a product update is accurately reflected in all training resources; collaborating to create content and tools that could be easily and efficiently customized for sales or customer support.

“Collaboration has to start at the top, Randolph says. “You can’t expect employees to collaborate and support each other if you don’t set an example for them. We’re proud of contributing to the building camaraderie we’ve seen throughout Cricket nationwide over the last few months.”

—Linda Galloway is president of insidHR Communications.

 

Published in Top Stories

Adobe’s new Captivate 8 elearning authoring software recognizes the realities of today’s device-abundant world where authors are expected to cater to the learning needs of mobile users. The software drastically reduces the authoring effort by allowing trainers and educators to create once and deliver multi-screen responsive content without programming.

“While the demand for mobile learning content is growing exponentially, usage is low,” notes Tridib Roy Chowdhury, general manager and senior manager of products for Adobe. “In part, this is because of the effort and programming skills required to make a course suitable for mobile devices. Captivate 8 aims to solve that problem by making it easy for authors to create great looking, interactive e-learning content that plays appropriately on any device.”

With Adobe Captivate 8, developers can leverage devicespecific capabilities such as GPS and gesture-based navigation. Additionally, Adobe Captivate 8 enables device-aware e-learning.

“Adobe Captivate 8 is a game-changer,” says Josh Cavalier, president of Lodestone.

“Tablets and smartphones have become the primary way we consume information, and the new responsive design capabilities allow e-learning developers an innovative way to easily create engaging content for different form factors.”

Key features include:

>> Create multiscreen, responsive e-learning content: Authors don’t need to change how they create content. Content will rearrange itself for new tablet and mobile views based on the selected theme. Content can be tweaked for a specific device by moving, resizing and editing objects. Content and layout integrity is maintained across devices by positioning objects relative to screen borders or other objects. Using the Captivate 8 Preview feature allows authors to see how projects appear on various screens. Content can be published as a single project and be automatically delivered as the most appropriate experience for a learner’s device.

>> Leverage device-specific mobile capabilities: Authors can utilize geo-location support to deliver timely, location-aware content and take advantage of gesture support to allow learners to tap, scroll, pinch and swipe their way through courses.

>> Use one tool for all elearning needs: Authors can easily create show-me product demos in HD video, let-me-try simulations, and test-me compliance training materials. They can transform Microsoft PowerPoint slides into HTML5-based e-learning content, include eye-catching quizzes and interactions, and publish projects to desktops, You- Tube, leading learning management systems and to mobile devices as apps.

>> Maximize productivity with out-of-the-box assets: Authors can enrich courses with customizable outof- the-box assets, such as actors, drag-and-drop elements, themes, responsive themes and more. Themes can be saved and reused across different projects. Further, content creators can choose from a variety of interactions, including Millionaire, Hangman, Jigsaw, Pyramid and Accelerometer- based interactions and augment e-learning content with in-course YouTube videos and Web pages.

Published in New Products

A How-To Guide On Creating E-Learning Content Without Programming

By Dr. Allen Partridge

For many learning professionals, initially creating content for computer-based training presentations is an adventure that they didn’t sign up for — that they were sort of “roughed” into. So it’s incredibly common that some of the most successful e-learning authors and developers are people who didn’t necessarily train for education or train for instructional design. In fact, many trainers excelled more at being face-to-face communicators, learning from others on specific topics in their field.

So for these people, it is usually an unexpected surprise to suddenly become the individual who’s responsible for creating training content — content that is often persistent, because the materials are lasting, and people will be exposed to them for a long time.

The moment comes where, before you take the plunge, you ask the question, “How do I do this? How do I make a decision about which kind of e-learning tool is right for me in my situation?”

There are many different kinds of e-learning content that can range from a simple application capture (like imparting information) to the complex (like scenario-based training where you’re trying to create a representation of the real world with the hope of changing people’s behavior patterns).

It’s really a wide-open world where you can create all kinds of different e-learning content that will allow you to address the varying needs of the people in your organization who are trying to learn the topics that you’re trying to teach in that specific area. So the basics as you’re getting started with your first project are really the same basics that you must confront with any project.

The confusion is that the overall course itself suggests that it’s meant to help you make your e-learning “legendary,” one that’s a great experience for both: you, as a trainer and, most importantly, for your learners.

Begin With The End In Mind

One of my first education teachers told us that it often helps to invert the whole paradigm; to think about what should come last.

As you begin to build your project out — as you begin to think about what your project should be — it can be quite helpful to focus on the end objective, whether you’re a beginner or an advanced creator of e-learning content. Focusing on the objective will help ensure that the opening content you create will be successful in the end for different users. We trainers often try to help people understand information by just dropping it on them. But if we ultimately want to achieve a goal of changing the behavior or changing the way that the learner actually performs his or her job function or performs some duty, then a more sophisticated approach is required.

Audience And Content

Whether you are making the transition to e-learning from in-person instructor-led or webinar-type training or you’re new to elearning development altogether, there are two things to keep in mind:

1. Never lose sight of your training audience and their learning needs.

2. Be the master of your content — don’t let the content own you.

Creating e-learning is not just about the mechanics of importing a classroom slide presentation into a design program and publishing it for mobile. You must consider how your learners will access and consume the content, how much time they can spare on learning, and what they need to eventually get out of the training. Your responsibility as an e-learning author is to consider these needs when presenting the content — and no tool will do that for you. Once you take care of these things, you can move forward with creating your course.

The Design Stage

Your first problem is how to very quickly deliver tight little messages to learners who need some kind of overview instruction on a basic concept. And if that basic concept can be represented by videos on a screen, or by looking at a piece of software, or by looking at a slide deck that supports the information, then Adobe Presenter might be a good option. It comes as a plug-in that you install into your Microsoft PowerPoint. One of the tools in Presenter is a creator of clean, quick videos of subject-matter experts giving instruction that can be dropped into the training package as an MP4 video.

Another hint: Try to avoid putting big positions or placements of logos within the master slide, because you often want your presentation to be slightly different from slide to slide. The biggest tip that I can share with you about creating these background experiences with slides is that it’s much more effective if you think “simple, simple, simple.”

Another common problem for beginners is how to obtain the appropriate “art” (photos, charts, illustrations, etc.) for your new presentations. Stock photos are almost always going to cost some money — but be very aware that it would cost you a lot more if you use photos illegally. Your digital camera is also a great option. You can get great photos on-site, in your space. You often can get a more appropriate photo (to the content) than you would have gotten on a stock site, anyway. So never hesitate to grab your camera and just try for a photo, which may be of people or places that are immediately recognizable to learners.

One other thing that a lot of professional trainers are just beginning to understand is that very clean, consistent color palettes make a big difference in how effectively the content is regarded by learners. It’s one of the simplest tricks in the world, but it works.

About Scenarios

The content itself should be broken down into a series of “decision points,” so scenario-based training can give you an opportunity to effectively deal with managerial content that requires thinking about how people relate and interact. It helps you, the trainer, to approach content in a way that learners are challenged to think more deeply about what is being communicated, to evaluate, and then to make complex decisions. The nice thing about scenarios is that they play a little bit like games, so learners often feel compelled to try it again and again and again until they get it right. So learners are actually learning a lot, both by seeing the correct answers and by seeing the incorrect answers and evaluating why one might be right or wrong.

Build Engagements

Taking this kind of content to the next level involves making it interactive and having discussion, comments and tweets for your learners. And that’s really that next step of adding social learning to the mix: computer-based “conversation,” working within an environment, sometimes working with discussion threads, and getting people immersed in more collaborative kinds of decisions. We know, because the research shows us that this sort of learning approach — especially when you add in the ability to converse, discuss and debate what the right answers were and weren’t — will have the most long-term impact, the most staying power. Such content will be remembered the most clearly, and it’s the most likely to create a behavioral change in the learner.

So simulations or scenarios should be similar to real-life situations. Of course, the scenarios should not be taken to extremes. Aliens are in no way similar to real life, but prisoner-of-war camps can be. The point is that you can have some fun deciding what kind of scenarios to use. Ideally, the best solution is one that is the most directly parallel to the life experience of your learning audience.

Add Interactivity

A piece of content that lets the learner interact with it always works better than a static piece of content. When you allow your learners to interact, they are automatically more interested and eventually more engaged. You can add interactivity such as drag-and-drop games, quizzes, characters in different postures, learning interactions such as jigsaw, hangman, etc., to make your content come alive. You can add these interactions using either Adobe Presenter or Adobe Captivate.

The Responsive Design

A responsive course is an online class module that will reshape and resize itself dynamically to fit on virtually any screen, either horizontally or vertically. Let’s face it: there is a huge difference between looking at a course on a Web page in a laptop browser and looking at the same course on a tiny mobile phone screen.

With the proper tools, instructional designers can create multi-page, multichapter, multi-display resolution courses from a single, intuitive interface. By using page breaks, similar to other responsive design tools, you can influence and tweak the design of content as it is displayed for desktop, tablet and mobile phone displays, adding the dimensions of interactivity and time by including both custom and built-in learning interactions.

You can give your users native support for natural gestures, enabling things like pinch and zoom, click to view the table of contents, and swipe to navigate to next and previous pages. And thanks to GPS/location- based learning, your e-learning can deliver the most appropriate content, at the best possible time, to the person learning in a specific location.

Combined, all of these mobile learning enhancements are staggering, as they give developers the first-ever opportunity to create authentic mobile learning content and courses without any need for programming.

If you’ve been building e-learning for any length of time, you’ll be familiar with the idea that we can control the onscreen position of images, text and interactions by choosing that position — with a reference to the number of pixels the item is to the right of and below the upper left corner of the screen. But responsive projects change their layout dynamically — even sometimes change them on the fly as people resize a browser. Because of this, responsive projects have different ways to describe where something is on the screen. A typical example of this is that if something is in the middle, you might instruct the item in responsive design to set the horizontal position of the item to 50 percent. This would cause the item to display at about halfway, regardless of which device you were using to view the course.

By itself, that would be an easy new idea to master. Unfortunately, tablets and phones and desktops aren’t just different size variations of the same rectangle. They are all different screen ratios (meaning that the width and height of each screen rectangle is different; they aren’t boxes that could just be scaled; they are different shape boxes).

On top of that, sometimes the boxes are horizontal, and sometimes the boxes are vertical. In short, this means that you cannot simply shrink or grow the course to fit different devices; you need to create variations that fit different box types and orientations.

An added feature of advanced design tools is that they can deliver the right version of the course automatically. It doesn’t matter if your learners are using your courses on desktops or mobile devices, it can take care of the content delivery and report to your learning management solution — even if learners change from one device to another while working their way through a course.

Shared Actions

There are a couple of great new enhancements to shared actions in the new version of Adobe Captivate. They’re fairly simple to understand. You now can take the shared action directly from the library and drag it onto a basic button. Start by going to “Project” and then pulling up the “Advanced Actions.” Save your Advanced Action as a Shared Action, and rename it so you know that it’s the Shared Action.

Next, you have the option to actually allow the use of these parameters. You can use this function to do things like store flags and pass them across projects so you don’t have to recreate them. All of these parameters are things that you can store inside your Captivate project.

Finally, once you’re done, hit the little Return key on the edge of each, and then click, “Save.” What you’ve done is to create a shared action based on an advanced action — and it includes all of the materials, even the parameters that were in the original. In order to apply that, find it in your library and just drag it over and drop it on the button.

Just like that, you’re ready to create your variable and/or pull up any other variables that exist in the system. You can change them and/or reset them.

The resulting shared action(s) can be used and reused throughout all of your projects.

—Dr. Partridge is a senior e-learning evangelist for Adobe Systems. He has written several books and articles on e-learning, immersive learning, games, 3D and simulations.

Published in Top Stories

Can massive open online courses (MOOCs) work in a corporate setting? Of course they can, and here are some good reasons:

1 They cost less than paying for employees to attend a college course, up to and including master’s-level courses.

2 More employees can have access to this type of training (instead of a select group that might attend a corporate university or series of seminars).

3 According to Udacity’s vice president of business development Clarissa Shen, MOOCs can offer a certain efficiency in terms of time and relevancy.

4 With fast-evolving and/or maturing industries, MOOCs can save employees from becoming obsolent.

5 And as businesses are becoming more interested in MOOCs, platform vendors like Coursera and Udacity are finding ways to cater to them.

—More info: www.techrepublic.com/article/how-moocs-are-flattening-corporate-training-and-education/

Published in Latest News

By Frank Russell

If you were a child of the ’60s, you probably recognize the beginning words of this Bob Dylan song that became a battle cry for generational change. Indeed, the quote, “Don’t trust anyone over 30!” was also coined during this turbulent era. I believe we are on the cusp of another generational transformation that could be even more profound. Today, the largest age group in America is 22 years old, which means the youngest workers are just beginning to enter the workforce. Many organizations are ill-equipped to manage Millennials, and older workers are delaying retirement while struggling to transfer knowledge to this younger workforce. These demographic changes mean new approaches are needed for mentoring and talent development systems.

Research has shown that effective mentoring programs can yield significant ROI for organizations. However, traditional programs have encountered serious roadblocks for the following reasons:

>> They are challenging to set up and administer.

>> It’s difficult to manually match up the best mentors with mentees.

>> It’s time consuming and inconvenient for busy participants to meet.

>> And often, because of costs, they only reach the top level of employees.

Fortunately, technologies such as mobile apps, social collaboration and virtual mentoring tools are changing the way organizations provide this necessary capability.

These new technologies:

>> Make coaching programs easier to implement and manage;

>> Provide auto match-up features to link the best mentors with mentees;

>> Use a variety of synchronous and asynchronous communication features for convenience and global reach; and

>> Significantly reduce costs, enabling more employees to participate and benefit.

As a bonus, these technologies can also help bridge the communication gap between the generations.

The traditional coaching model, which usually pairs an experienced senior executive with a junior employee, is typically one way, top-down. However, as coaching consultants, we’ve observed that mentors can actually learn a great deal from their mentees as well. This “reverse mentoring” process allows senior coaches to gain valuable insights from new employees who have grown up with social media and mobile apps.

The most significant productivity gains, however, come from systems that are set up for “democratized mentoring,” where anyone who has knowledge or expertise in an organization can contribute, collaborate and share with others.

Studies are now showing that these new social approaches can provide a number of additional benefits to organizations, including:

>> Increasing an employee’s speed to competence;

>> Finding and enabling hidden talent;

>> Providing a global platform for employees to collaborate; and

>> Improving employee retention and engagement.

While not a panacea for all mentoring challenges, social collaboration, combined with virtual coaching tools, certainly can reduce many of the problems that once existed for traditional mentoring programs.

Most importantly, these new tools and approaches can break down some of the bureaucratic barriers that continue to support glass ceilings and perpetuate exclusions for many groups. It can bridge the generation gap, as Millennials and Boomers help to develop each other, and embrace the title of Dylan’s song, “For the Times They Are a’ Changin’”!

—Frank Russell is the CEO of Prositions, Inc., a company that provides consulting and technology-based mentoring solutions for organizations. Contact him via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit the website www.prositions.com.

Published in Insights

By Joe Didonato

This is a question that everyone usually gets asked when they set out to build an e-learning course, but it’s not an easy one to answer. It really depends on many factors:

1. The number and types of media objects used;

2. The level of interactivity planned;

3. The amount of instructional design time required;

4. The amount of SME (subject-matter expert) time required;

5. The overall length of the e-learning course; and

6. The people assets needed.

And of course, within each of these four main categories, you’re going to be faced with choices. So let’s take each of these areas and rank the relative cost involved from low to high, as shown in the chart below.

The Overall Length Of An E-Learning Course

Once you have a handle on the above categories, the next factor that can impact your overall cost is the length of a course. If the topic matter is readily available or well-defined by clearly written laws or mandates, and the amount of material to be covered is limited, then your costs are going to be pretty low. As the topic matter gets more complex, highly specialized and more technical, then the course duration is going to need to be extended to cover that broader range of complexity.

The People Assets Needed

These assets can vary from a single person effort to a complex team of e-learning professionals; a project team; SMEs; graphic artists; programmers; quality-control specialists; multimedia personnel; video, audio, or animation crews; and project managers. As the scope and complexity of the e-learning course grows, so too will the costs. These costs then have to be weighed against the size of the population that has to be trained to determine whether this is the most cost-effective approach.

Published in Insights

New Technology Is Making Quantum Leaps In 21St-Century E-Learning.

The motion picture “Gravity” won seven Academy Awards and was nominated in three other categories in 2013. Watching the outer space epic, you would never guess that 95 percent of what you see on the screen is computer-generated. Only the faces and some body movements of stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are real life. Yes, it took the production staff four years to integrate live action with CGI (computer-generated images) and many terabytes of computer memory. But they did it, and the end result is nothing short of amazing.

How does that relate to e-learning? Simple: Creative tools in the hands of creative developers can do almost anything.

Inside this issue, you’ll find the results on the 2014 E-learning User Study that shows the great strides our industry is making in developing highly engaged, virtual and collaborative experiences. E-learning as an industry is seeing steady growth, with predictions that it will reach $220 billion by 2017, a 23 percent CAGR, according to Research and Markets. But how e-learning is created and over which platforms is the real shift.

Prime industry-specific examples of “Legendary E-learning” are offered in this issue’s cover story. Whether a beginner or advanced user, you will find helpful advice and video tutorials here. Going mobile is also critical to the workforce. To that end, a feature on mobilizing learning offers tips and techniques to use when publishing across multiple devices.

We close this edition with Learning! 100 Award-winner Carrington Mortgage Services.

Meet, network and share with this year’s Learning! 100 winners at the Enterprise Learning! Conference, being held, Aug. 25-27, 2014, in Anaheim, Calif. Focused on “The Business of Learning,” the conference offers you the chance to meet thought leaders, executives and technologists in a professional, intimate business setting, so make plans to attend now.

With advanced computer systems and software playing a growing role in our lives and businesses — as attested by “Gravity” and the pace of technological advances— now is the perfect time for you to sharpen your skills and start taking advantage of them.

—Jerry Roche, editorial director

Published in Insights

 The ADL (Advanced Distributed Learning) Initiative’s third annual Learning App Challenge is now accepting nominations. This year, app developers are invited to submit mobile learning apps designed to support education, training or performance. The targeted learners can be adults or students in grades K-12.

The objective of the Challenge is for contestants to create an app that will help students/learners acquire knowledge and understanding by manipulating tasks, simulations, or situations that require students to critically evaluate what they are learning.

Winners will be based on:

(1) how well the app provides a learning solution to a stated problem;

(2) technical quality; and

(3) user experience and usability. Extra points will be awarded to apps that integrate with an existing ADL project, capability or research focus.

Submission deadline is Sept. 2, 2014. There is no cost for entering.

—More info: http://www.adlnet.gov/learning-app-challenge/

 

Published in Latest News

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

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

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

—Source: www.astd.org

 

Published in Trends
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