Learning Technology Integrations – A Quick Guide

Learning Technology Integrations

Learning Technology Integrations – A Quick Guide

Often, a challenge in using information systems in complex organisations is that the systems don’t talk to each other. Information is scattered and outdated, transition between different systems is not easy and it’s hard to get a unified view of what’s going on as data is spread across multiple silos in different formats. Hence, system integrations have become important. As more technologies emerge in L&D, the topic has become important here too. Therefore, we put together a quick guide on the most relevant learning technology integrations you should know. Take a look!

Single Sign-on Integration

Single sign-on (SSO) is a basic learning technology integration but a handy one. With SSO, your users are able to login to the different learning technology systems by using their existing company accounts. For instance, say you have Microsoft accounts that employees use for identifying themselves. Instead of having to remember a new set of login credentials, employees are able to login to other systems with them.

The benefits of SSO integration include user experience and security. Moving between different systems is much easier when you don’t have to login separately. Also, less credentials means more security. Furthermore, as the company controls the original credentials, security interventions can be swift. Also, as soon as an employee’s account gets terminated, they lose access to all the other systems too.

HR system integrations

While you’re using learning technologies, you also most likely have some kind of HR system. Another important learning technology integration happens between that and the learning technologies. The goal of such integration is to update information at both ends automatically. For instance, the learning tool pulls personnel data from the HR system, and assigns the user learning based on that information. Thus, whenever there’s a role change, you don’t need to manually assign new learning tasks. Also, the learning technology tool can push back information to the HR system. For instance, whenever an employee finishes a learning path, the tool sends information to the HR system.

The benefit of this type of learning technology integration is the elimination of manual administrative tasks. There’s no longer a need to retrieve and upload e.g. excel files between different systems. Furthermore, with good initial configuration, employees can e.g. automatically get access to learning resources based on their role, seniority, business unit, geography etc.

LRS Integrations

Learning Records Store (LRS) is a powerful tool based on the xAPI framework. It enables the collection of data from multiple systems under the same roof. For instance, you may have multiple LMS systems that all feed into this same data archive. Or you might feed in face-to-face training records, mobile app and performance support tool data. While it may require data operations, it’s also possible to pull in data from non-learning systems, such as performance management system or that HR system to an LRS.

With this kind of learning technology integration, you can have all your training-related data, and much more, in the same format, in the same location. This makes effective learning analytics a lot easier. Hence, you’ll be able to get a better understanding and bird’s-eye view of what’s happening in the entire organisation. All the LRS tools also become equipped with powerful dashboards and data tools.

Webhook Integrations

Finally, webhooks are a type of integration that can sometimes prove handy. The fundamental idea is that a webhook notifies you when something happens in a system, for which you can then create an automated response. In the context of learning technology integrations, there can be several use cases. For instance, whenever a learner does something in App 1, do something in App 2. Or, as a group of learners have finished a learning experience, send an automatic report to their line manager.

Webhooks are a good way of integrating certain things and automating workflows. When running multiple systems and platforms, it’s easy to get lost in the administrative work. Designing these types of integrations and reactions in a smart way enables you to decrease that workload.

Final words

Overall, the future of learning is integrated. The different tools we use have to talk to each other. Otherwise, it all quickly becomes inefficient and redundant. Learning technology integrations are an important thing to consider whenever bringing new technology into the fold. Good integrations and automation protocols can significantly reduce the administrative workload that goes into managing learning tools or other systems.

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Virtual Classrooms in Workplace Learning – Do They Add Value?

Virtual Classroom in corporate learning

Virtual Classrooms in Workplace Learning – Do They Add Value?

As organisations have been digitalising learning and training, we’ve seen many opting for largely asynchronous methods. While self-paced learning can be a great value-add, it requires a certain degree of learning culture in the organisation. However, it’s unlikely that any organisation is able to cover all its training needs via these methods. Some topics do need active facilitation or down-right training. In such cases, organisations again face the challenge of scalability. Initially, companies employed webinars to solve this challenge, but conventional webinars have been challenging as a medium. However, as the technologies have matured and we’ve refined the methods, the concept of the virtual classroom has come about.

What’s a virtual classroom?

While the actual technical tools between corporate virtual classrooms and webinars or video conferences are rather similar, the difference comes from the methodological side. Conventionally, webinars for instance have been quite a passive and one-way medium, resembling a lecture delivered to a large audience. However, virtual classrooms are more collaborative in nature. They are designed to facilitate all the different levels of interactivity and are more learner-centric in nature. The instructor is not there just to go through content and provide a live voice track to a powerpoint, but rather to facilitate discussions and prompt the learners to engage in different ways.

In addition to just displaying content and video, these virtual sessions may be structured around different kinds of activities like user polling, discussion boards, group chats, sharing of user-generated content or smaller, private breakout sessions.

Different corporate use cases for the virtual classroom

Now, there are a lot of different use cases for these kinds of tools. Here are a few that we picked that might provide further value-add in corporate use.

Collaborative learning experiences

Often the real value of getting people together is in the possibility to collaborate. Thus, once you have that, it doesn’t necessarily make sense to use the virtual face-to-face time for lecturing or going through content. Rather, a virtual classroom session is a good opportunity to do more collaborative learning activities. For instance, you can use the time for discussions and reflections to develop shared understanding of the topic in question. Hearing your peers’ reflections on a topic or the way they’ve executed it in practice can be very valuable. Furthermore, you could also extend such collaborative approach to solve real business issues through problem-based learning.

Expert-led sessions

It’s hard to get people in the same place at the same time, especially when the people are busy and sought after experts of their own field. However, a virtual classroom approach may give more opportunities for that. For instance, an expert panel discussion or a fireside chat would be quite convenient to organise in such format. On the other hand, the approach might be useful for e.g. senior leaders in a global organisation to communicate vision and strategy and open themselves for discussion and elaboration on such topics. While we don’t think that these can ever totally replace e.g. company town halls, for some uses they might be the conscious, smart option.

Virtual coaching

Coaching is arguably one of the most powerful modalities of learning. It’s intimate, it’s personal, it’s supportive. However, conventional coaching can be expensive and faces the same challenge as other face-to-face formats when it comes to scheduling. Again, virtual classroom could help to solve some of that. Coaches could engage both groups and individuals remotely and interchangeably. For instance, a coaching session could consist of the coach delivering general level advice to a group. Then, the session could break into 1-on-1 sessions to provide personalised advice and support. Digital tools can also help coaches in managing their students and their progress.

Final words

Overall, there’s probably still a lot of value in synchronous learning methods such as the virtual classroom. However, smart organisations should try to use that face-to-face time in meaningful manner, leveraging on the opportunities to collaborate rather than lecture. In global organisations, this can not only provide major cost savings, but also help to connect people and develop shared understanding across different cultures. If you’re looking to leverage virtual classrooms, or struggling to get your trainers to shift away from lectures, we may be able to help. Just contact us here.

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Corporate Learning Apps – Native or Web-based?

Corporate Learning Apps - Native or Web-based?

Corporate Learning Apps – Native or Web-based?

Many companies are shifting more and more attention to mobile learning. As a result, we’ve seen the number of mobile applications (or just apps) skyrocket. Commonly, an app tends to refer to one of those that you download to your phone from an app store. However, there are also web applications in addition to these “native” apps. When choosing a deployment method for the mobile, the type becomes important. Hence, we compiled this quick guide on native vs. web-based corporate learning apps, and the pros and cons of each.

Native vs. Web app – what’s the difference?

The main difference between the two is that native apps are downloaded to one’s device and accessed locally, whereas web apps are deployed on remote servers and accessed via the browser of the mobile device. While responsive web apps can be quite powerful in features, people often don’t see them as apps, but rather websites, which doesn’t necessarily do them justice.

Besides this main difference, there are a lot of smaller things that differ between the two. Also, when talking about corporate learning apps in particular, there are a few other things that L&D professionals may need to consider.

Pros and cons – native apps

Let’s start by looking at native corporate learning apps and the functionality and capabilities they offer.

ProsCons
Fast, not as much dependent on internet speeds, as content is often saved locally (may also be offline accessible)Locally saved content may be an information security consideration.
Ability to use full functionality of the operating system and device (e.g. camera, microphone)Different operating systems require their own apps, which increases development and upkeep resources needed.
You may be able to build more intuitive user experiences specific to mobileSomeone needs to install the app, either the employee or your IT team

Overall, native corporate learning apps probably come down to costs. Are you able to use the specific benefits of native apps in a way that warrants the costs?

Pros and cons: web apps

Now that we’ve looked over web apps, here are some pros and cons for web-based learning applications.

ProsCons
Need to develop only one version, which essentially works on any device with a browser. Access to mobile devices internal capabilities is slightly limited.
Easy to update content, everything can be done remotely and instantlyPerformance is dependent on network speeds
Easy to deploy, users don’t need to download anything on their devicesNeed to ensure all functionality is equal on different browsers.

As an option, web-based corporate learning apps tend to be the cheaper one. With current mobile browser performance, they are well able to cater to most general mobile learning needs in organisations.

Which one should you use for your corporate learning app?

In general, we can’t say that one type of app is better than the other. Rather, both have their advantages and weaknesses. Also, it’s perhaps worth to note that apps are as good as the developers who build them. We’ve seen web apps that wiped the floor with native ones in all aspects, but also ones that don’t do very basic stuff all that well (and vice versa of course!). Hence, when it comes to corporate learning apps, take your time to familiarise yourself with them. Just the fact that someone has developed an app doesn’t necessarily mean that the app is of high quality and contributes meaningfully to the learning.

Ultimately, it comes down to what you need the app for, i.e. suitability. As organisations, we also operate with different types of constraints, e.g. budgets, resources available and company mobile device policies just to name a few. Therefore, it’s important that you spend time carefully considering what you need, before starting to develop on any platform. And if you need help designing or prototyping solutions, we are happy to help. Feel free to drop us a note here.

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How to Use Chatbots in Corporate Learning? 3 Value-add Cases

Chatbots in corporate learning

How to Use Chatbots in Corporate Learning?

In today’s efficiency-driven business environment, organisations are looking to automate whatever functions they can. Consequently, corporate learning and development teams also face similar pressure to do more with less. Hence, we’ve seen a surge in both AI technologies and robotic process automation (RPA). One particular technology that has become highly popular is the chatbot. While chatbots don’t have to be artificially intelligent, most of them are. Powered by machine learning functions, these bots have the capability to learn from all interactions and refine their output accordingly.

But what are chatbots in corporate learning good for? Here are 3 ideas for delivering better learning experiences with the help of our virtual friends.

Using chatbots to reduce administrative workload

To enable effective learning, it’s important that an organization has a good learning support infrastructure in place. From answering learners’ queries about topics to technical assistance with digital learning platforms, there’s a lot to take care of. Often, these functions are neglected or are not capable of handling queries rapidly enough.

Bring in the bots. A corporate learning chatbot is a great way to handle most of this workload. A trained chatbot can easily answer most of the queries your learners come up with. Furthermore, it can also help on things like finding and locating learning content from within company systems and learning portals. It can also help to learners to enrol in relevant activities to them by presenting data-driven recommendations.

Using chatbots for onboarding and HR-related queries

Similar to the previously mentioned functions, organisations can also use corporate learning chatbots for onboarding and HR related purposes. Traditionally, onboarding is a process where organisations dump all the information they can assemble on their new employees. A lot of it might be totally irrelevant, and most of it will definitely be forgotten by the time the onboarding is over. So, how about delivering slightly smarter onboarding with a bot?

Instead of the usual information dumping, which results in a cognitive overload, a chatbot could deliver this information much more seamlessly – and at the point of need. Whenever a new employee encounters a problem, they could simply consult the chatbot. Whether it’s HR policies, compensation and benefits or even simpler questions like where the office water cooler is located, the bot can answer it all. Quite frankly, this type of virtual personal assistant could be of use to everyone, not just the new joiners!

Using chatbots in workflow learning

While the other two use cases concern primarily administrative functions, bots do have applications in the actual learning as well. Currently, a lot of the traditional type of corporate learning is becoming obsolete. Without the capability to demonstrate performance improvements, employers are less and less willing to lend their employees to sit through hours or even days of learning activities. Thus, learning is increasingly going into the workflow and that’s where chatbots are at their natural habitat.

Generally speaking, the most effective learning experiences are those where you can apply the newly learnt immediately. With just-in-time learning happening in the flow of work, that’s a natural occurrence. We query information rapidly, get information and execute. Hence, the memory effect generated is a much more significant one. Furthermore, this is a naturally occurring behaviour already. Without dedicated learning chatbots, we would do the same with our mobile phones on platforms like Google, Youtube or Quora.

However, the competitive advantage of the learning chatbot in workflow learning is the ability to deliver curated and highly contextual answers. When you do a google search, you’ll get millions of hits. But a company chatbot is able to tell you a specific way that the particular task should be executed. The answers may of course be included in your formal learning materials, but the problem is that employees can’t generally access them seamlessly enough. This type of chatbot-powered performance support resource is unmatched in accuracy, speed, scalability and user experience.

Final words

Overall, chatbots are a great tool to support many different functions in corporate learning. Firstly, the performance improvement possibilities and improved efficiency alone are compelling, but the bots are also a powerful source of data. For instance, analysing the interactions between your bot and employees could provide valuable input for a truly data-driven training needs analysis.

However, the best thing about chatbots is that they are flexible. Generally, chatbots can be implemented on any platform, as you’ll just need to feed them data. This makes them a low-entry-barrier addition even if you’re running expensive legacy learning systems. If you’d like to explore the possibilities chatbots or other digital learning solutions offer, we are happy to arrange a discussion. Just contact us here.

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Learning Experience Platforms (LXP) vs LMSs – What’s the Difference?

Learning Experience Platforms and LMS differences

Learning Experience Platforms (LXP) vs LMSs – What’s the Difference?

Over the past few years, we’ve seen a new product category emerge in the HR technology market. With the predicament that learning management systems (LMS) have not been very successful in delivering learning impact, the Learning Experience Platforms (LXP) have emerged to fill a need. However, from corporate L&D’s point of view, these two categories might seem very similar (an interesting observation on that later!). To clear some of the ambiguity, we decided to write up our own view on the differences between the two. We’ll also tie those differences back to potential use cases, depending on the state of your L&D ecosystem.

What is a learning experience platform?

First, however, let’s quickly define what the term means. In our book, LXPs constitute personalised open online environments with the capability to aggregate resources across a variety of sources to facilitate both formal and informal learning. They are also social platforms, leveraging on the employees’ intrinsic motivation and autonomous learning rather than a top-down “push” approach.

How are LXPs different from LMSs?

Although all the definitions of the product categories are slightly ambiguous, there are a few distinguishable key characteristics with the two.

LXP

  • Employee-driven
  • Open system, can accommodate outside resources
  • Personalised, adaptive learning paths powered by recommendation algorithms and AI
  • Enable participation and contribution by employees
  • Often enables curation-focused content strategy

LMS

  • Administration-driven
  • Closed system, difficulties in accommodating outside content
  • Defined, often linear and limited learning paths
  • Managed by the L&D, with little freedom for users to share their own knowledge and expertise
  • Often requires design-heave content strategy

Whereas the real appealing use cases of LMS may be limited to compliance training, LXPs enable a more holistic approach. These platform providers often invest heavily into user experience, which nowadays can be a detrimental factor in adoption. Furthermore, the platforms are much more learner-centric, focusing on the employee’s individual needs and learning requirements. This type of personalisation often helps to engage the users beyond the scope of mandatory training. Finally, LXPs also enable more curation (rather than design) focused approach to content, which enables L&D teams to do more with less.

Are LXPs going to replace LMSs?

Yes and no. While the problems of traditional (low engagement, difficult to manage) LMS systems are clear, they are still going to be around for a while. However, the advent of the LX platforms should be a wake-up call for many professionals. User experience, personalisation and learner-centricity are things that you can’t just brush off. These are, in fact, things that you should require even from your LMS providers.

However, LXPs don’t always allow for crucial things such instructors/trainers/coaches tracking, managing and assessing employees. At the moment, the offering for situations requiring complex set of business rules (certifications, expirations) is not quite there yet (although some companies are coming up with good solutions). Furthermore, as learning is going more into the workflow, it’s questionable whether these types of systems are the best to be deployed at such level.

Thus, the LXP often doesn’t yet replace the LMS but rather works in conjunction with it, e.g. by pulling internal content to the platform and passing on data. Some vendors are adding more LMS like features to their products (which is sometimes ironic, as the data capabilities of these platforms have often been far better than those of LMSs) to overcome the need to run multiple systems. For organisations who are making their first learning technology investments, it might actually make sense to look at some of the LXP providers who also deliver the required features for administering e.g. traditional classroom training activities.

Final thoughts

Overall, the direction of the market is clear. All the vendors have recognised the needs for more open systems and better user experiences. The inertia and the need to integrate with legacy systems will slow down some of the bigger players, whereas totally new entrants are able to develop truly innovative solutions from scratch. Besides the technology aspect, the marketing and sales departments of pretty much every vendor out there have taken up on the language. Unfortunately, we also see many companies who over-promise a fair bit (e.g. by introducing a barebone LMS with modernised UX as an “LXP”). Thus, a potential buyer needs to be careful when evaluating the different offering. So, vet the technologies carefully, and don’t buy all the promises of better tomorrow at face value.

If you think you need help vetting or selecting learning technologies, we are happy to help. Our experience with technology vendors enables us to cut through the clutter and find what works for your organisation. Just contact us here.

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How to Use Learning Analytics? 3 Value-add Cases

How to use learning analytics?

How to Use Learning Analytics? 3 Value-add Cases

As corporations become more data-driven in their decision making, learning & development has to follow suit. To make better decisions, you naturally need to collect a lot more learning data. But that alone isn’t enough. You also need capabilities to analyse the data to understand what it means. While there’s a lot of ambiguity about corporate training analytics and some organisations intentionally try to make it sound extremely difficult, it’s not entirely true. To clear out some of that ambiguity, here are 3 different use cases for learning analytics that are applicable for organisations of all sizes.

1. How to use learning analytics to increase engagement?

One of the bottleneck issues in corporate learning today is engagement. It’s not always an easy task to put out learning experiences that resonate with the learners and keep them engaged. Naturally, your content has to be of good quality, and you should likely use a fair bit of interactivity. But once all that is said and done, you should unleash the analytics.

Through learning content analytics, we can get a much better understanding of our users. We can see what are the pieces of content that are used the most or the least. We can also get an understanding of ‘when’ and ‘where’ learners tend to drop off, which then enables to start figuring out ‘why’. Furthermore, we can drill down to each interaction between the learner and content/instructors/other learners to really understand what is working and what is not. All of this (and a fair bit more!) enables us to constantly develop our learning experiences based on real information instead of gut-feels and opinions. And when we can make our content to be more relevant and to-the-point, a lot of the engagement tends to come naturally.

2. How to use learning analytics to personalise learning experiences?

Our professional learners – the employees – come with various skills, degrees of experience, education and backgrounds. As they certainly don’t represent a one-size sample, we shouldn’t be putting them through one-size-fits-all learning experience either. As organisations have understood this, the hype around personalised learning has grown significantly over the past few years. But it’s not just hype, there’s real value to personalisation that learning analytics can help us to unlock.

First of all, learning analytics help us to understand the different individuals and groups of learners in our organisation. By being able to drill down all the way to the level of individual’s interactions, we can understand our learners’ needs and challenges much better. This enables us to cater to their various strengths, diverse learning history and varying interests. Instead of providing a simple one-size-fits-all learning experience, we can use this information to design personalised learning paths for different groups or even up to an individual level. These learning paths can branch out and reconnect based on difficulty of content, experience, current job and various other factors. The learning experience thus becomes a spider’s web instead of a straight line, and you’ll be able to catch much more of your learners.

3. How to use learning analytics to prove the impact of learning?

Proving the impact or the ROI of learning is something that L&D professionals often struggle with. One of the reasons for struggle is not using learning analytics. For learning results in terms of knowledge acquisition, a data-driven approach beats out the traditional multiple choice testing or feedback forms by a long shot. Furthermore, it enables a much more formative way of assessment, thanks all the data points collected and available.

But simple knowledge acquisition isn’t simply enough to demonstrate corporate learning impact. After all, what’s the learning good for if no one applies it? Thus, it’s imperative that we combine learning analytics with performance metrics and indicators. By doing this, we’ll get a lot closer to real learning results. E.g. how did the sales training affect the sales staff routines, behaviours and performance? How much of the risky behaviour did the compliance training help to eliminate? Is our training on team management actually resulting in teams being managed better? By enabling this level of analytics, you can answer a lot more questions. Furthermore, you can also start asking questions that you were not even aware of.

In our work, learning analytics and data-driven approaches play a big part. While technology plays a big part, there’s obviously more to it. For instance, you want to be sure that you’re setting your corporate learning objectives to enable this. If you’re looking to move into more data-driven learning strategies or understand your training impact better, we can probably help you. Just reach out to us here.

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Understanding Corporate Learning Technology Needs

Corporate learning technology needs

Understanding Corporate Learning Technology Needs

Whenever organisations start looking into implementing learning technologies, they should carefully examine what is needed. Unfortunately, we often encounter organisations who choose technology based on “best practices” and seemingly for “keeping up with the Joneses”, rather than carefully analysing and understanding their own organisation, employees and stakeholders. To help to clear the clutter, here’s a rundown of the different types of learning technology implementations and what fuels them.

The different types of learning technology implementations

This type classification is based on the concept by Donald H Taylor.

Learning technology implementations can be divided into 4 different types based on the needs, goals and motivations.

  1. Updating organisational infrastructure
  2. Increasing L&D efficiency
  3. Increasing learning effectiveness
  4. Facilitating organisational change

Now, let’s look at all of these in more detail and try to understand some of the underlying corporate learning technology needs.

1. Updating organisational infrastructure

The first type of learning technology implementations focuses on supporting the business as usual. Needs related to e.g. risk management, compliance and formal assessments often result in this type of implementation. While all important goals, the focus is often not learning itself.

2. Increasing L&D efficiency

The second type of implementations focuses on making learning more efficient. In practice, this generally means cost savings, increased scalability, reduced administrative burden and shorter time requirements to roll out learning activities. While most implementations seem to fall into this category, they may not necessarily address the real corporate learning needs or the efficacy of learning processes themselves.

3. Increasing learning effectiveness

The third type of implementations are probably the hardest ones to manage. The real effect of learning on performance is not easily measured by conventional means, making the returns harder to prove. However, a data-driven approach to corporate learning and proper learning analytics help tremendously. The return doesn’t have to be strictly financial either, although understanding the business impact does help a lot. Also, if you can demonstrate impacts on retention or time to competence, you’re more likely to get buy-in.

4. Facilitating organisational change

Finally, the fourth type of implementations is evidently the most impactful one to the organisation. Often, these are cases where organisations use learning to support a cultural change. If you’re struggling to measure learning effectiveness on its own, good luck measuring that in connection to organisational change. As a results, thanks to the sheer difficulty of tangible metrics, these implementations are initiated from the top. However, as the buy-in from the senior management is in place from the beginning, L&D might have a much smoother sailing!

Overall, every organisation has different corporate learning technology needs. Consequently, the implementations and their goals are going to be different as well. With this classification, you’re hopefully able to recognise where you and your project stand and act accordingly.

Are you implementing learning technologies but not achieving success? Or are you planning to but don’t know where to start? We at Learning Crafters can help, just contact us. We primarily manage and facilitate type 3 and 4 implementations, but are open to providing advise on other kinds of projects as well.

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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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Learning Technology Implementations – 3 Mistakes to Avoid

Learning technology implementation - 3 pitfalls to avoid

Learning Technology Implementations – 3 Mistakes to Avoid

When it comes to learning technology implementations, a lot can go wrong. If not careful, you might be investing a lot of time and resources into something that ultimately doesn’t work. Sometimes, it might be that the vendor has oversold you and fails to deliver. But equally often it might be due to lacklustre internal preparation for the project. Here are three common pitfalls to avoid when implementing learning technologies in the workplace.

1. Not choosing the right technology

The first step to get right in a learning technology implementation is the technology selection. Unfortunately, it’s also a step where a lot of organisations get it wrong. Sure, the market is a big one (you can choose from more than 5-700 different products) and it may be hard to navigate through the aggressive sales pitches of the vendors and to really understand the capabilities on offer. It’s also very easy to resort to systems that someone in the company has used before, but that type of thinking doesn’t really set you out for the long term.

So, when it comes to learning technology implementations, the first thing to understand is your own organisation. What’s the business problem you’re trying to solve with the technology? Who’s going to be using the solution? How? Once you’ve carefully defined the problem, it’s a lot easier to see the potential solutions among all the rest.

It’s important to get the technology right, but it’s also important to find the right expertise to support the project. Technology vendors may sometimes lack a holistic understanding of the use of learning technology, as they’re solely focused on pushing their own product out there. In such situations, it might make sense to bring in an outside learning consultant. The consultant can provide the much needed expertise in digital learning, which helps to get to actual learning results.

2. Believing in “build it and they will come”

The “build it and they will come” belief is one of the longer standing myths in learning technology implementations. However, the belief that once a system is out there, users will automatically engage with it is just utter nonsense.

In reality, you first of all have to know your users; how the technology can help them, save their time, make them more efficient and so on. Naturally, if you haven’t known this already, you might have ended up with a wrong technology altogether. Secondly, it’s important have engaging, interactive and interesting learning content (here, here and here are some tips for that). Thirdly, getting your employees or users to adopt a new system will take a good amount of internal marketing and communications.

3. Locking yourself into a vendor relationship

As mentioned, a lot of learning implementations fail – and many for reasons not even listed above. If a project fails and you’re not getting the results you want, you should probably look at cooperating with other providers. Thus, the worst disservice you can do to your own organisation is to lock yourself into a vendor relationship. Lengthy, often fixed contracts are obviously what the vendors prefer, and in exchange you may score a discount on the license fees. However, if you want to switch providers after a year of failed efforts but are committed to five years, you’re out of luck.

Thus, we would encourage companies to work with vendors who appreciate flexibility, and that their product might not always be the best. Cloud-based systems and software-as-a-service (SaaS) models are very commonplace nowadays. In fact, if vendors insist on long, fixed contracts, that should perhaps be a sign of caution. As in if the product is as good as they describe, a flexible SaaS solution would be more profitable for them as well.

Overall, there a lot of ways a learning technology implementation can go wrong. Here are some of the usually overlooked ones. Hope they help you in your learning technology projects.

If you think you could use outside expertise in your learning technology implementation, we are happy to help. Our engagements cover both technology selections and digital learning advisory. Just contact us to set up a meeting.

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Corporate Learning Webinars – Are They Still “In”?

Corporate learning webinars - are they still in?

Corporate Learning Webinars – Are They Still “In”?

When the technology for live video streaming first took off, we saw webinars emerge as a concept. For learning, webinars were the first attempts to mimic face-to-face training in a digital environment. Ever since then, we’ve witnessed and incredible surge in popularity of video as learning content. But where does that leave us? Is there still a place for corporate learning webinars?

The problems with corporate learning webinars

Webinars are no longer the technological breakthrough they were back in the day. With the surge in content delivery technologies throughout the spectrum, we’ve become to notice a few problems with webinars.

The quality of video, and especially audio, are the first noticeable problem. With the advent of ever-better cameras and studio tools, we’ve grown accustomed to high quality videos, especially with long-form content. While we can utilise some of that tech for webinars, the challenge is the live aspect. For instance, the audio tracks are not edited (since it’s live!) and can thus become quite painful to listen, especially if the presenter’s microphone is not properly placed.

When it comes to corporate learning webinars, engagement is also a problem. Yes, the learners might be logged in to the session, but they space off just as easily. Overall, webinars are still quite a passive medium of engagement, where there’s limited interaction from the participants. As the learners are not interacting, they’re not retaining as much either. Furthermore, the benefit of instructor-led training should be the ability to interact with the trainer and fellow trainees; to ask questions and share opinions. That benefit doesn’t often realise in corporate learning webinars.

Solutions to the problems

Naturally, developments on technological fronts have, and continue to, enable us to solve some of these problems. Microphone technologies are becoming better and better, helping to filter out background noises and unwanted extras. Cameras have also improved tremendously, and many of them even have integrated live streaming capabilities.

While there has been progress with the hardware, the major developments have happened on the software side. First of all, webinar tools have become much more user friendly. Secondly, they have introduced a lot of possibilities for interactivity: live polls, live quizzes, chat rooms, whiteboards, document sharing and engagement monitoring are just a few examples. These have enabled us to bring the needed three levels of learning interactivity into the webinars. Thus, the audience is no longer a passive listener, but rather an active participant. For learning purposes, that makes a whole world of difference.

Should you still use corporate learning webinars? Is there a future?

Learning webinars may have that slightly outdated connotation. But if they work for you, there’s no reason to stop using them. However, do keep in mind some of the problems with webinars, and engage with your users (learners) to find out how they see your offering. If your webinars lack interactivity, you might consider delivering through some of the newer technologies on the market (we are happy to provide recommendations).

In the future, webinars will be challenged by the rise of other technologies suitable for instructor-led training, such as augmented reality. However, webinars will continue to provide the required scalability for the time these technologies are still developing. In terms of digital instructor-led training, live video is not the only solution though. Many organisations are trying out things such as instructor-led facilitation in online environments – with good results!

If you’d like recommendations for good webinar tools or help with refining your approach to digital ILT, we can help you. Just contact us to set up a meeting – even a virtual one!

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