How to Launch Learning Technology Projects Successfully?

How to Launch Learning Technology Projects Successfully

How to Launch Learning Technology Projects Successfully?

Learning technology implementations are quite complex projects, especially on a larger scale. In addition to all the technical and design work that goes into a project, you also need to manage and communicate with multiple stakeholder groups. While all phases of the implementation are important, and good stakeholder communication is imperative in every phase, the launch phase is the one L&D professionals tend to be the most anxious about. To help you in the process, here are some different ways to launch learning technology along with helpful tips.

A ‘Big Bang’ Launch for big projects

The big bang launch – a simultaneous organisation-wide rollout – is perhaps the “traditional” approach to launching learning technology. Before the launch, the implementation team works the technology to perfection. All content shall usually be available from the outset. Essentially, it’s about trying to build the perfect product, and only then launching it.

This type of approach may make sense for large organisation-wide implementations, in which there’s buy-in from the top executives. The big launch creates momentum which is detrimental in bringing all the employees on board.

However, this approach to launching learning technology is also a very high-risk one. There will be a lot of nay-sayers (as people, in general, are against change) who will use any flaws in the product to prove its uselessness. While you’re very unlikely to have a perfect product from the get-go, there are measures you can take to mitigate the risk. Firstly, it’s important to know your stakeholders thoroughly. Secondly, it’s important to ensure accessible and direct channels of feedback and support.

A ‘soft launch’ for learning tech may be more user-centric

Whereas in the big bang approach relies on a ready product to be delivered as-is, the soft launch method takes a bit more risk averse approach. In a soft launch, the learning technology is initially rolled out to a selected user group. When it comes to launching learning technology, organisations may often choose to soft launch the platform to the HR team or a particular department. While the approach is much more low-key, it’s also a lot less risky.

Similar to the big bang approach, communication and feedback are important. In fact, the fundamental idea of a soft launch is to gather user live user feedback, implement changes accordingly and ultimately, build the buy-in for the technology through that collaboration. And to gather feedback effectively, you should ideally get as diverse set of user reviews as possible. Thus, it might make more sense to incorporate users with various roles and functions into the initial soft launch.

How about an incremental launch of learning technology?

A third potential alternative to launch learning technology is the incremental approach. You could view it as a bit similar to launching a beta-version of a product. The initial rollout doesn’t have all the features nor all the content. For learning technology implementations, the incremental progression of features comes somewhat more naturally. As we are using more cloud-based products, the vendors are also updating more frequently. Key features should of course be available from the start, but not giving out a too complex system at the launch might actually make it easier for the users to adopt it.

When it comes to content, the incremental approach requires a bit of careful management. Firstly, the progression and scheduling of content needs to be planned carefully, with the most critical learning activities taking priority. Secondly, you should make sure there’s something for all users. Inviting people to a platform with no content useful to them is a good way of disengaging the user base. Thirdly, you should ensure that the whole launch support a gradual change rather than disrupting existing workflows altogether, as that’s a fundamental ideology behind the incremental approach.

Overall, no matter which method of launching learning technology you choose, communication is the key. Feedback before, throughout and after the launch is important. Moreover, you should strive for a learner-centric approach to the development wherever possible. In the end, that’s the best guarantor of success.

Do you need help or advise in launching new learning technologies in the workplace? We can work with you as an implementation partner, guiding you through the implementation process. Just contact us.

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Should You Do Customer Training – the Whys and Hows

customer training why and how to do it

Should You Do Customer Training – the Whys and Hows

As we discussed last week on our article about extended enterprise learning, the scope of corporate learning is evolving. Training your own employees is no longer enough, as the importance of other stakeholder groups has increased. Interestingly, customers have become a major training recipient for many organisations. While training organisations are naturally accustomed to training their clients, traditional companies may not be. Thus, let’s look at customer training, it’s benefits and how to do it.

The benefits of customer training show on your top line

Everyone who has worked in sales, marketing or business development knows that getting new customers is more expensive than retaining old ones. Thus, customer engagement and retention (the churn rate) has become one of the most looked after sales metrics.

A great customer training program can have multiple positive effects that are likely to contribute to your top line:

  • Increased customer engagement – people and buyers are interacting with you outside the immediate transactional scope
  • Improved customer competency – customers who know how to use your products or services to their full potential are happy customers
  • Increased brand engagement – buyers are nowadays looking for brands they can identify themselves with. Customer training programs give you a channel to communicate your brand and values.
  • Better conversion rates – nowadays many buyers base their decision on the level of support services offered. Training programs are a great medium of customer support, enabling independent and self-directing problem solving.

Overall, there seems to be a lot going for providing learning experiences to ones customers. And don’t just take our word for it – have a look around! Most technology companies and many traditional businesses have such training programs in place. Some have even developed their own separate business models around it.

How should you do customer training?

Naturally, training your customers is a slightly different than training your employees. While the same principles of learning still apply, the primary difference comes in motivation. The reasons why your customers take up on your learning may be quite different from your employees. To make things simpler, we can divide training into two kinds:

1. Customer onboarding and performance support

Whenever someone buys from a product or a service from you, you should strive to get them up to speed fast. Especially with complex products and solutions, developing the main users’ competency is important. Hence, a customer onboarding training might be a worthwhile consideration.

Regardless of the complexity, you should always provide your clients with performance support resources. These can range from training programs to newsletters to online communities and everything in between.

2. Customer training as a branding & sales tool

Whereas onboarding and performance support deal more with customer retention, training can be used in client acquisition too. Many organisations use free online training offerings, e.g. courses, webinars and videos to grow their pipeline. Every touch point is a chance to deliver more information that may lead to a buying decision. In an era of global competition, potential customers are much more likely to remember you after taking your course or attending your webinar.

Likewise, people like to buy from brands they can identify with. Training programs let your organisation to spread its core message and demonstrate its values. Training topics that could enhance your brand image may include e.g. sustainability, self-development and social responsibility.

How does training customers differ from training employees?

Like previously mentioned, the primary difference between employees and customers comes in motivation. Whereas your employees may sit through uninteresting training out of obligation, your customers won’t. Thus, it’s important to offer great user experiences and engaging learning materials. Thankfully, the learning technology space has a lot to offer in that department.

Are you looking to develop a customer training program but not quite sure how to go about it? Feel free to drop us a note, and we’ll do our best to help you.

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Benefits of Instructor-led Facilitation in Online Learning

Instructor-led facilitation in digital learning

Benefits of Instructor-led Facilitation in Online Learning

When transitioning from offline to online learning methods, organisations tend to overlook the role and value-add of the instructor. While the underlying reasons for digitalisation of learning are often related to scalability and flexibility, efficacy should not be forgotten. Generally, self-paced learning forms a major part of the online learning delivery. However, in many cases, the engagement rates and learning results leave a lot to be desired. Hence, we are seeing more and more blended learning and other hybrid approaches take form. In the interest of improving learning results while retaining scalability and flexibility, instructor-led facilitation is a great approach. Here are a few key benefits and ways of making the most out of instructor-led facilitation.

Instructor-led facilitation of discussions among learners

Just like in the classroom, a lot of the power of instructor lies in their ability to facilitate discussions among learners. As learning is fundamentally a social experience, discussions are very important. Not only do they seem to increase learning retention by a wide margin, but they also help learners to expose themselves to new thoughts. This consequently helps them to reflect and improve their cognition of the problem or topic at hand. Ultimately, this should result in increased social presence and more comprehensive understanding of the learning.

Thus, organisations should enable their trainers to become champions of instructor-led facilitation. Having access to different features of social learning platforms can help a lot in this regard. You may even adjust the mix of learning towards less content and more discussion. While this helps to avoid learners’ cognitive overload, it also helps to increase efficiency. Often in corporate learning, the problem is not the width but the depth. An approach like this helps in just that.

Delivering the right amount of ‘Push’ to keep learners engaged

While ‘pushing’ learning content may not usually be the best approach, a ‘push’ from a learning management perspective can prove valuable. From time to time, learners may drift away from the intended schedules and goals. In a sheep herder like fashion, one goal of instructor-led facilitation should be to bring these learners back to the fold. However, the approach should not be forceful. Rather, the facilitators should engage the learners and figure out why they’re not partaking in the optimal manner. Once you understand the root causes of why learning engagement is decreasing, you can adapt your delivery to solve those problems.

Digital platforms provide a lot of opportunities in delivering the discreet ‘push’. At large organisational scales, you can automate a fair bit of it, and even deploy artificial intelligence tools to aid. However, there’s value in the personal approach too, which should not be blindly dismissed.

Instructor-led facilitation as a medium of learning support

Finally, the third major benefit of an instructor-led facilitation approach is support. Like in traditional instructor-led settings, learners clearly benefit from the ability to ask questions. This means providing a platform for learners to engage with the instructor when having problems; not understanding content, goals or responsibilities. All learners are not comfortable in posing questions publicly. Furthermore, many learners may rather just leave it be, rather than going out of their way to ask the trainer. Hence, it’s important to provide a seamless and fluid way of teacher-student interaction. This way, you’ll ensure that learners don’t give up too easily.

Here are a few examples of learning support tools and mediums that may help you.

Do you need help in enabling social interactivity in your digital learning delivery? We can advise you on technological tools as well as methods of incorporating instructor-led facilitation in your online learning. Just contact us here

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How to Get Started with Just-In-Time Learning?

just-in-time learning

Implementing Just-in-time Learning – Here’s How to Get Started

Learning in the corporate context has become very time-agnostic in recent years. Due to the drastic speed of change in the technological and business environments, knowledge and skill sets are evolving faster than ever. This requires employees to constantly update their knowledge just to stay on top of the tasks at hand. With the amount of knowledge and the complexity of tasks people undertake each day, we can no longer expect to be able train them everything prior to the work. On one hand, the amount of knowledge required is cumbersome for any L&D department to administer. On the other hand, getting employees to digest it all is impossible due to the problem of cognitive overload. However, a just-in-time learning strategy provides a good alternative to support the employees. Here are some tips on putting it to practice and starting to learn on demand.

Just-in-time learning combines well with mobile

If you had to choose one medium for accessing training content to rely on continuously, that would most likely be mobile. Our mobile (smart) phones are always with us, regardless of where we are. Therefore, mobile learning provides a great medium for just-in-time learning. In fact, a lot of the behaviour has been baked into our routines already. When we need to solve problems, we turn to our mobile search engines. If that doesn’t help, we might instant message our network for help. All this is essentially learning on demand, we just don’t recognise it as such. Hence, mobile is the best platform to power us up to learn just-in-time.

Here are a few things to remember about mobile learning design.

Learning content should be quick-to-consume – insert microlearning

When delivering just-in-time learning, two factors are of great importance: the speed of accessing content and the speed of consuming it. Mobile learning helps a lot with the ease of access. But to add to that, you should make your content easily searchable as well. Providing a mobile gateway to the content is not enough if the learner cannot find the information they need quickly.

Microlearning, on the other hand, can help a lot in the speed of consuming the content. When learning at the point of need, your employees don’t have time to go through traditional long-format courses. But they do have a few minutes to watch e.g. a microlearning video on the topic. There, you should chunk your content into easily digestible, concise pieces with a single learning objective.

Here are a few tips on building effective microlearning content. 

Using social learning to address the needs the L&D department cannot

As mentioned, the amount of knowledge needed for the purposes of just-in-time learning is potentially enormous. And let’s face it, it’s highly likely that your L&D department doesn’t have the resources to respond to every need. However, embracing the natural behaviour of “phone a friend”, you could leverage social learning tools. Whenever an employee encounters a problem that there’s no documented answer to, they could ask the experts in the organisation. In an internal, public forum-like setting, all these problems and answers could be recorded. Therefore, employees facing similar problems in the future would already be able to find solutions and best practices.

Overall, just-in-time learning is a very natural way of learning things. In the VUCA world of today, it’s also required to keep in pace with the change. If there’s no structured approach in place for it, it will happen on employees’ own terms. That effectively gives away the organisation’s control and understanding of what kind of learning is happening and further needed in the workplace. Therefore, organisations should consider formulating a strategy for learning on demand. These tips  provide a good baseline for starting the process.

Are you looking to implement just-in-time learning in your organisation? We can help you formulate a structured approach and strategy for it, as well as provide tools and methods for the implementation and execution. Just drop us a note and we’ll get back to you. 

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Learning in the Flow of Work – Steps Towards the Future of Learning

Workflow learning - learning in the workflow

Workflow Learning – Taking Steps towards the Future of Learning

The corporate learning and development community is quite unanimous on one issue: most of our professional learning happens in the context of our daily jobs. Just like the adult learning theory captures it, humans learn by building on their experiences in a high-context environment. However, acknowledging the existence of workflow learning is soon no longer enough. In the hyper-connected and real-time corporate environment of the future, organisations need to start nurturing learning in the flow of work. Traditional corporate training approaches are not fast nor effective enough to respond to the constantly changing environment and evolving skills requirements. Instead, we have to embed learning as a process to our daily workflow as well as corporate culture.

Luckily, what has changed within the past few years is that nowadays we have the technology available to support this new type of learning. To lay out the concept and required change of mindset further, here’s how we at Learning Crafters see the evolution of workflow learning.

Workflow learning will force us away from course-centered design

An aspect where corporate L&D shown a great lack of imagination over the past decades is the innovation of new learning modalities. It is, it has been and unfortunately will likely continue to be all about courses for many. Do you have a skill gap in your organisation? Develop a course! Do you need to overcome a performance slump? Develop a course! Developing a course – or a formal training activity of other kind – seems to be the first and often only solution learning professional can think of. Yet, this solution will quickly render itself obsolete when we need to embed learning in the flow of work. Courses and formal activities are dramatically too slow, cumbersome and inefficient to respond to the workflow learning needs of the future. Organisations can no longer afford the productivity lost by subjecting their employees to lengthy training interventions.

Now you’re probably thinking: “if not courses, what’s the new ‘unit’ of learning?”. A potential answer to that is performance support resources.

Performance support resources will be at the core of workflow learning

The new era of learning is all about performance – finding ways to keep the organisation performing at its maximum efficiency. In a fast-paced environment, learning in the flow of work is about incremental, yet constant updates and refreshed to skills and capabilities. To enable this kind of incremental development, we need to shift our mindset from courses to resources. Instead of large courses abundant with content, we need to curate a library of performance support resources to support experiential learning in the flow of work.

Performance support resources are concise and specific curations of knowledge that learners can access and query quickly. After a quick query at point-of-need, the learner can then go on to applying the new knowledge immediately, hence translating the newly learnt concept into a positive use experience. Furthermore, there are number of different easy-to-use technologies to support the process. This is a natural and powerful helper for behavioural change, as the application and impact is immediate and visible.

This type of learning might sound familiar. And you’re not alone. In fact, we’d argue that this is how most of our personal learning takes place today. Whenever a problem, need for new knowledge or learning arises, we do a quick query (e.g. Google) to a library of resources (Internet) and solve the problem on the spot using the new knowledge. Unfortunately, organisations tend to limit this type of learning due to a variety of reasons (security, compliance etc.). However, in terms of existing resources, many companies have already taken a perhaps unacknowledged step towards this.

Microlearning is a good way of approaching performance support content

Many organisations have implemented microlearning initiatives in the past few years. By doing so, they’ve also created a good baseline of content for performance support resources. After all, performance support in workflow learning is all about accessing knowledge in a compact format fast and conveniently. However, microlearning doesn’t just mean cutting the longer course into smaller fractions. Rather, you should design each activity with a very specific objective in mind.

For more on building effective microlearning, read our tips here

Another reason why microlearning works so wonderfully for performance support is the ease of content curation. Rather than delivering long-format courses, you’re addressing specific problems. You can even leverage on a lot of free resources available. The key is to keep it concise and accessible, however the greatest emphasis being on searchability. If your learners cannot find the resources they need in a very short amount of time, that’s not much of “support”, is it?

In conclusion, while we see the movement towards more workflow learning -oriented practice, it’s important to remember there is no one-size fits all. There will still be need for “formal” learning activities. However, the possibilities of integrating learning into the business processes at a more fundamental level brings about interesting performance considerations.

Are you experimenting with learning in the flow of work? We would love to hear your success stories! You can always get in touch with us through here

 

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3 Digital Approaches to Facilitate Informal Learning

Informal Learning Digital Approach

3 Digital Approaches to Facilitate Informal Learning

Informal learning arguably makes up a large majority of all workplace learning. According to the 70:20:10 theory, informal learning accounts for up to 90% of all learning. Yet, the corporates often focus and drill down on the 10% – formal learning. As informal makes up such a large part of the learning mix, it’s important that we try to facilitate it in our organisations. It starts by doing more ‘pull’ instead of ‘push’ and creating channels for open communication, collaboration and internal influencing. Here are three easily implemented digital approaches to support informal learning in your organisation.

1. Creating communities for Social Learning Experiences

As with so many other things, communication is always the key. For informal learning to happen, you need to establish peer-to-peer communication channels within your company. These can be totally unstructured, like employees using their own social media tools to exchange information. However, it is generally advisable to adopt a semi-structured approach, whereas the company provides the platform for social collaboration and knowledge transfer. As such, the company also controls the knowledge being exchanged, and is able to intervene in problematic situations. With proper learning data tracking, you’ll also be able to pinpoint who are the internal influences and key opinion leaders within your own organisation.

In these communities, whether online or offline, employees can collaborate, exchange ideas and provide peer support. The approach is supported by the social learning theory, according to which students learn by mimicking and following others.

2. Curating accessible ‘Pull’ learning resources for on-demand needs

While corporates have generally adopted a ‘push’ model of learning, whereas content is authored by the company for to fulfil certain learning objectives, a ‘pull’ approach might is required as well. Instead of engaging in time consuming instructional design processes, companies should make the best use of free resources. The internet is full of free videos, documents and knowledge bites to use. Instead of designing content from scratch, corporate L&D professionals should focus some of their time on curating these types of content. A ‘course’ is less and less frequently the best solution to individuals’ learning needs.

Resources in various bite-sized formats, on the other hand, provide informal support at the time of need. Providing a library of curated supporting resources based on observed business needs provides a good basis for informal learning. Learners don’t have to waste time on searching the open internet for alternatives, as you’ve already curated the best resources for them. Furthermore, it’s much more easier and agile to produce curated resources than author formal courses! Hence the L&D team can save a lot of time as well.

3. Enable learning ownership and user-generated content

With a ‘pull’ approach to learning, you’re enabling individuals to take ownership of their own development. To take it further, you could also encourage them to take ownership of the organisation’s informal learning by allowing user-generated content. This type of sharing of best practices, tacit knowledge and tips and tricks is nothing new. Yet, in the age of social media, you can reap the benefits of it by providing a collaborative social learning platform. Therein, the employees can create their own content (e.g. videos) or share external resources (lectures, blogs, etc.). Even simple discussions and comment chains can provide valuable knowledge nuggets to others in the organisation.

Realistically speaking, the L&D team no longer has the best knowledge or the time to develop formal courses. Due to the speed of the economy, they might not even have time to curate all the necessary resources. By enabling users to be a part of the learning content development process, you’re able to scale up much faster. Meanwhile, you’re encouraging a more collaborative culture and letting employees to take ownership of the learning process, which should increase engagement by quite a bit. That’s the power of informal learning.

Do you need help facilitating the informal learning needs within your organisation? We’ll be happy to share you more in-depth insights, best practices and tools. Just contact us

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5 Quick Tips on Giving Learning Feedback

Learning Feedback

5 Quick Tips on Giving Effective Learning Feedback

Feedback is an integral part of any learning process, whether instructor-led or self-paced. With effective learning feedback, you can increase engagement, motivation and growth in your learners. With the plethora of digital tools available today for seamlessly giving feedback, there’s no excuse in doing so. Furthermore, feedback is not difficult to incorporate into eLearning courses either. Most of the content authoring software come with easy tools for feedback. Also, modern digital learning environments increasingly support creative ways of feedback, such as gamification. However, even with all these tools, it’s important to remember what constitutes good learning feedback. Here are 5 quick tips on it.

1. Feedback needs to be continuous, but not interfering

Ideally, every learning activity, whether a video, storyboard or a classroom session, should have feedback. Continuity in giving learning feedback helps to guide the learning process. However, you should give feedback at natural milestones, such as the end of an activity. If you start giving out feedback midway, you have a risk of interfering with the learning flow of the employee.

2. Learning feedback must be about the activity and performance

Naturally, when giving feedback, you should focus on the activity and performance, not the learner as an individual. This is more of a problem in instructor-led sessions, where instructor may fall subject to attribution bias. Understand that everyone can improve through effort, and performance improvement is the thing that matters.

3. Use Effort Praise in your learning feedback

Effort praise vs. intelligence praise is a Growth Mindset concept. By verbally structuring your feedback for effort (e.g. “You worked hard, but it wasn’t quite enough yet. Could you find another way to do this?”) instead of intelligence (e.g. “Perfect. You’re are the best in the group”), you are developing a mindset that embraces challenges and risk and is creative and innovative.

4. Provide reasoning and guidance, not only scoring

When designing learning feedback loops, it’s important to explain the reasoning for a particular type of feedback. Instead of just telling the learner whether they got it right or not, explain why. Why was the answer wrong? Why was the solution to the problem not appropriate? In fact, it’s often good to explain even why the answer was right! From the reasoning, you can also move forward to guiding the learners to try again with a different approach.

5. Embrace making mistakes

Another concept from the realms of developing a growth mindset and learning feedback, embracing mistakes, is important. Mistakes are a natural phenomena and we learn through them. Hence, you shouldn’t punish your learners for making mistakes. Learning activities should be the de facto risk-free platform where they can make those mistakes. Furthermore, you may consider that others in the organisation may learn from someone else’s mistakes too – so share them!

Are you supporting your learners through adequate feedback in classroom sessions as well as eLearning? If you need help getting started, just drop us a note

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3 Great Tools for Digital Learning Support

Digital Learning Support

Digital Learning Support – 3 Great Tools for Real-time Problem Solving

The last years of constant connectivity and rapid technological development have solidified one specific behaviour. People expect and want things to happen now rather than later – they seek instant gratification. This has resulted in e.g. customer service functions in many industries improving their accessibility by introducing hotlines and online channels. This phenomenon is making its way to the corporate world as well. It’s no longer acceptable to leave emails or inquiries for weeks or even days without a reply. This also affects L&D professionals, who are tasked with supporting the learning infrastructure of the company as well as the learners. Hence, we introduce you three great tools for providing effective digital learning support.

1. Chat modules provide a basic level of digital learning support

A simple chat module is a great way of providing real-time responses to rudimentary learning inquiries. You can find many different systems quickly, some of them even free. You can often easily incorporate these to a company website, intranet or a digital learning environment. This creates a help desk for the employees to go to when they encounter problems with their learning. The problems will not get buried in email boxes and you can solve them faster. This results in less downtime for the learners, which translates to better efficiency. Also, you can easily configure and manage the chat systems to enable small teams cater to large user bases. All of the modern chat modules come with mobile interfaces as well as support ticket management. These help the L&D support staff to support queries on the go and keep track of all the activities.

2. Using Video Chats to provide quick, real-time learning interventions

Going a bit further, we can add picture and sounds the text based chats. Result: a video chat! Video chats provide a great way to provide quick interventions or guidance to the learners. If verbal explanations and support are not enough, staff can easily share screens to show how they do things. Furthermore, this can also help the L&D department to troubleshoot issues with the learning systems, as they are are able to access live footage remotely. Also, video chats can be used to provide virtual instructor-led training and virtual coaching.

In terms of usability, lighter systems which can connect people with just 1-2 clicks work the best. Effective real-time digital learning support requires effortless accessibility, which traditional video conferencing software sometimes fails to provide. Also, video chats, as well as normal chats, work best when integrated with your own learning systems. This way, you can easily pool the data from them with your overall learning data. This helps to provide better learning insights and single out situations where you need to intervene.

3. Using AI-powered chatbots to reduce manual labour

Thanks to the adoption of the previous tools, chatbots are also becoming increasingly available to reduce the amount of manual labour that goes into support functions. For L&D, chatbots can effectively be used the same way as traditional chats. People can communicate with chatbots, who with a bit of training will be able to answer basic queries related to learning. This AI powered technology can help to alleviate a lot of pressure from the L&D staff by handling the low-value-add inquiries. Hence, the learning professionals are able to put their time where it matters – in the high-value interventions.

Furthermore, you could easily incorporate chatbots into the learning content as well. Employees could engage the chatbots when faced with subject-matter specific enquiries. This type of use provides a great way for doing on-demand performance support. Also, you can easily configure chatbots to become interactive, engaging and even funny FAQ portals. Just type in your questions and let the bot do the rest!

How do you handle learning support in your organisation? Are you making sure that learning downtime stays at the minimal? If you’d like to find out more about these digital learning support tools, just drop us a note or chat with us!

 

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