Tag Archive | technology

How do you solve a problem like content?

Successful e-learning is a combination of technology that works, great learning design and meaningful content. Content is often however the most difficult resource to obtain when developing e-learning.

In this short post, we take a look at how to source content, make the most out of existing content and ensure that the content is suitable for your e-learning programme or module.

What many organisations don’t realise is they are already sitting on a mass of existing content that can easily be replicated in to usable and effective content for their e-learning courses. Any company or organisation that is already delivering some form of training is actually ready with content.

Existing content can come in various forms:

  • employee handbook,content image
  • policy documents,
  • facilitator guides,
  • classroom training hand-outs,
  • presentations given on various subjects by senior managers at various forums.
  • company information

So what do you do with the content now that you have identified the sources?

As tempting as it may be to simply regurgitate those existing text based resources and assume that it can be deployed onto a web based progamme, you will be disappointed to hear that unfortunately it is not quite as straight forward as this. It is essential that you take a careful look at the content and determine whether it still has the same meaning in an online context. If not, you need to (re)organise it, paraphrase it and reproduce it as content plays a pivotal role in providing the structure of an e-learning programme.

The content for your eLearning programme needs to not only meet the learning needs of your organisation but also actively engage the learner, including interaction with fellow learners as without the right content, quite often learning points are missed and participants become disengaged.

When developing content for your e-learning programme, it is important to start with the basics – identify the content that is aligned with your organisational goals and developed within the context of your broader training strategy.

Please let us know your comments or share with others who you think may benefit from this. Follow us on twitter @aurionlearning for our latest blog articles and updates. 

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Learning Mission Critical Control: Corporate Compliance

complianceAlmost every organisation has to deliver some sort of compliance training. In some companies, it may be as simple as communicating the internal rules. In others, it can be a matter of life or death.

As one of the top 10 Most Popular LMS providers, Alex Poulos CMO of NetDimensions discussed the role of learning systems in compliance training in this blog article.

Compliance requirements for employees and organisations place new demands on learning systems that more traditional, developmental requirements do not. Our industry nowadays seems flooded with learning and talent management systems. But for such systems to succeed in a compliance-related role, they must be able to readily adapt to changing needs, operate at enterprise software level, and offer the requisite functionality around auditing, reporting, and security.

It is important that L&D and HR departments are up-to-date with the compliance requirements specific to their business. Here are a few suggestions to make this easier:

  1. Talk to your legal team and to your compliance officer to better understand who in the organisation is responsible for what.
  2. Define clear requirements and objectives for training and the technology implementation.
  3. Question your vendor and demand a software validation for the learning or talent management system. For the technical parts, don’t be afraid to ask your IT team to participate.
  4. Make compliance an on-going part of your business via well-defined workflows, checks and balances, and actionable reporting.
  5. When it comes to training, reinforce formal compliance learning with recurring programs. These initiatives may include informal collaborations (such as forums to discuss on-going compliance issues), on-the-job assessments (to better evaluate the effectiveness of the compliance training), and performance support (to provide easy access to compliance-related materials at the point of need).

This blog is an abstract from Learning & Compliance: Friends or Foes? – You can read the full article here.  You can find more blogs from Alex at the Work, Learn, Play blogs.

If your organisation struggling to meet government regulations, standards set by professional bodies, or obtaining and maintaining qualifications such as ISO 9000 or Sarbanes-Oxley?

You can downloadCompliance and your LMS – A Practical Guide to Make Compliance Easy by NetDimensions.

Aurion Learning is Ireland’s only accredited reseller of NetDimensions’ Talent Management Suite. For further information on its learning management system solutions, visit our website

To read more about the 20 Most Popular LMS study and how the results were obtained, visit the Capterra website.

Please let us know your comments or share with others who you think may benefit from this. Follow us on twitter @aurionlearning for our latest blog articles and updates. 

Checklist for choosing an e-learning vendor

By Glynn Jung

Glynn Jung

Glynn Jung

Whichever product or service you seek, an organised, comprehensive selection process is required – perusing websites of e-learning companies just doesn’t work. The selection process for a suitable e-learning vendor should be  guided by whether they are supplying:

  • technology,
  • off the shelf e-learning titles or
  • design and development services.

It helps if you develop a checklist, (indeed most purchasing departments demand this) so that you are consistent in comparisons. We recommend listing all the attributes of a perfect-fit vendor and deciding which features are must-haves, whether these are immediate needs or future growth and finally how important each feature is (“points”).

We also recommend that organisations adopt the “MoSCoW” method for determining their needs. This is based on agreeing:

  • ‘must-have’
  • ‘should have’
  • ‘could have’ and
  • ‘would be nice to have’ – most organisations concentrate exclusively on “must have”.

Below is a sample checklist that you might consider as a starting point for your own selection of a technology vendor.

In any e-learning vendor selection process there are generally a number of important criteria, such as pricing, technology, quality, service and so on. With regard to technology, ensure your vendors know what they will be dealing with in your organisation.

Attribute Must Have Now or Future Points
Vendor Qualifications
Does the vendor serve organisations similar to yours?
What do current customers similar to yourselves say
Is the vendor’s customer base sizeable enough to ensure continued operation?
Are customer references available?
Does the vendor support customer implementations with training and support?
Can the vendor assure you of a successful implementation?
Does the vendor have a proven plan for implementation of its system?
How long has the vendor been operating in the e-learning market?
Pricing
Is pricing in line with similar offerings?
Does the vendor rely primarily on revenue from its commercial system or is customization a large part of its income?
Does the vendor offer a base price that scales with volume?
Does the price include everything you will require to get started?
Can you see a relationship between cost and quality?
Quality
Does the vendor guarantee successful operation?
Is there a stated quality policy?
Are “bugs” resolved quickly or do they wait for a future release?
How easy is the system to use: How much training is required?
Does the system require minimal resources for administration?
How reliable is the system: How often and for how long does it go down?
Technology
Do the technical qualifications reflect our technology
Is the system’s technology up to date? State-of-the-art?
Does the vendor rely on outside support for its basic services?
Is the system capable of delivering current types of media?
Does the vendor provide multiple solutions for your needs?
Can the system support with various authoring tools?
Does the system support the browsers we need supporting?
Does the system support mobile devices?
Does the system support our compliance requirements?
Support
Are maintenance fees readily available?
Does the vendor require the purchase of periodic updates?
Does the vendor provide 24/7customer support?
Does the system support multiple languages?
Does the system support the accessibility we require?
Can the software be placed in Escrow?

Bespoke e-learning development

If the need is for bespoke course development or off-the-shelf titles many of the same technical considerations still apply. You need to ensure that any course content can be accessed and viewed using devices which your staff will be using. You further need samples of their work to compare but before you do this we recommend you identify:

  • who will be using the courses,
  • where they’ll be using them and
  • what you consider to be fit-for-purpose regarding design of content.

For example if your IT people operate a “no download, no plugins” policy that the course material requires no extra software, will operate properly on your LMS (if you use one) or as a web-playable course and on any special devices your learners may use.

Location of learning is significant – if it’s in a retail store, warehouse or factory audio is rendered virtually useless.

Your list may be modified as you start talking to potential vendors: the critical thing is to keep your absolute priorities and needs in front of you at all times and not be swayed by sophisticated marketing or sales.

Project planning and management.

Ensure the vendor provides a clear project approach which is logical and understandable – they’re the experts so they should be able to keep to plan, warn of any pitfalls and deliver on time, within budget and to agreed benchmarks.

Working relationships

The final thing I want to talk about is working relationships. Working with willing, supportive, responsive and flexible vendors can quickly develop into a true partnership: if you really solely on numerical weighting systems you run the risk of attempting to work with people who don’t fit your organisation’s or people’s style and culture.

Demand three personal referees similar to yourselves in their client base. Talk to these referees; don’t use a pro forma reference form: find out what they’re like to work with and what their strengths and weaknesses are.

Also find out who will actually be working on your project: assess them as people when you come to interview your shortlisted companies – have a get-out clause ready in case the sales time disappears after they’ve closed the business and there’s no-one to talk to in the vendor organisation who understand your needs.

What checklist do you use when selecting a vendor? Please let us know your comments or share with others who you think may benefit from this checklist.

ABOUT THE AUTHORGlynn Jung

Glynn Jung is Non-Executive Director at Aurion Leanring. He has over 25 years’ experience delivering innovative and cost-effective learning and process improvement strategies for a wide range of public, private and third sector organisations.

Performance Appraisals & PDPs

Continuing his series of guest blog posts on talent management, Steve Curtis, EMEA Channel Director at NetDimensions talks about performance appraisals and PDPs.

Person sitting on a correct tickPerformance Appraisals
So onto Performance Appraisals – I don’t know about you, but I think a lot of managers don’t really enjoy performance appraisals. In my humble experience managers in some larger organisations will complete a performance appraisal because HR tell them that they have to, but they will put as little effort into the thing as possible and in reality their views in the appraisal will be far too subjective. If they like the person, then the appraisee will get a good rating, and if they don’t it’s highly unlikely that that person will do well, irrespective of their ability to do the job.

So this then is the conundrum of HR – most HR managers understand this, and so want to achieve two things:

  • Remove subjectivity and replace it with objectivity.
  • Make the process as easy as possible for all concerned.

Every company I have worked for in the software world has used a different form for performance appraisals, and since I have worked for a number of companies for more than 5 years, I have seen performance appraisal forms change inside a company a few times as well. This is the challenge for the software business that wants to supply this functionality to clients – they will have one way of doing it, and often they will want you to replicate this in software – which is difficult to do without customisation.

Constituents of a Performance Appraisal
I’m not going to tell you in this blog what a performance appraisal is – I’d actually be quite worried if you don’t know this….however let’s for a minute consider the type of things that different companies might (or might not) want inside a performance appraisal.

  • A review of the past period – often 6 months or more often 12 months – including a competency review – has the appraisee got better in the competencies related to his or her job during the period?
  • A review of objectives and progress – most HR groups want their employees to be set objectives at the start of the period and then the performance appraisal is the formal assessment of progress against those objectives. Objectives can be personal in nature, or can be linked to department, business unit, or company objectives.
  • A review of the next period – setting and agreeing some objectives for the next period. These again can be supplemented during the period if needed.
  • An overall rating – some organisations want an overall rating for the appraisee.
  • A skills review – what skills does the appraisee have that do not directly tie to their current role?

Some organisations might have more than this, but some will have less. Some will separate the objective setting for the following year, and want to put this into a separate area and time. Evaluating a person’s performance in a given year may sound easy, but with management changes happening quite often in large organisations, and changes of role, these can make performance appraisals a complex area to try and handle in the real world, and to try and automate this in software can be even harder.


Benefits of Automating Performance Appraisal Management
For Talent Management what is the implication of a good process here – what are the benefits of automating this area?

  1. Automatic storage of a person’s potential improvement over time.
    Paper records in HR are an administration overhead and time consuming to manage.
  2. Automated management of the workflow process.
    Who does the appraisal or part of the appraisal need to go to and when?
  3. Conformance with regulatory requirements.
    Managing performance appraisals in this way means that the business can much easier conform with any government regulations in the area.
  4. An ability to look wider across the business and report on the critical talent much easier.
    Having this data across the business often means that it is much easier for the business to select talent pools – groups of people who can be accelerated and become the future leaders.
  5. An increase in objectivity.
    Software should allow other people to be involved in the appraisal process for more critical or senior people. This gives the business the ability to have a 360 degree view at appraisal time. Think about these things when you go to companies and talk to them about this.


The PDP and its Relationship with the Performance Appraisal
So now you understand what a performance appraisal is, what is a PDP? A PDP is a Personal Development Plan. At the start of a period (this may be for instance when the performance appraisal for the last year has just been completed), the business will want each user to know what he or she needs to accomplish in the next period. This goals setting can include goals that the individual wants to achieve (personal goals), department goals, business unit goals etc. Goals should be capable of being pushed down through the organisation hierarchy to the individual.

So why would an individual want or need a personal goal? Perhaps they want a promotion or want to move roles into a more senior position. It might be that some of the competencies required to be in this position are ones that the person needs to have training in order to improve his or her rating. Personal goals always need agreement from management but are often a critical element of the PDP.  The PDP is a living breathing and evolving document during the period, and the goals from the PDP then drop into the Performance Appraisal at the end of the period, and the user is formally rated against those goals at that time.

Does this Have an Effect on Compensation?
A pretty obvious question, but one you need to be aware of in software terms. Compensation is often directly or indirectly tied to ratings and scores from performance appraisals. Objectives set for the period often have bonus pay linked to them, and so if you remember the Gartner diagram from my second blog in this series (Talent Management 2: Competencies, Ratings, Scales & Pitfalls) compensation management is a part of Talent Management, and you will sometimes get request from businesses to link the performance appraisal process through into a compensation product.

There is a lot more to Performance Management but that will do for now. A lot to think about – but think of it from the viewpoint of the person who is wanting to buy – what the HR director wants will be different to the CEO, and different to the business unit manager. We’ll discuss that a little more next week.

GRAPHENE vs Microchips – Your Days are Numbered

by Glynn Jung 

Grapene carbon monolayer.

Grapene carbon monolayer. The discovery of graphene results in a Nobel prize for Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov in 20

Now here’s an admission: when I joined IBM’s Research Labs back in the autumn of 1969 we were designing the next generation of computers on valve computers the size of a Town Hall. Some of the machines I worked on had 10 printers, each the size of a Ford Ka. At an astonishing pace we exploited each latest machine to design the next technology, ever smaller ever faster and typically designed to do things that people didn’t know they wanted to do.

Smaller, lighter, faster … at the heart of this was chip technology, firstly silicon chips, then by 2005 carbon nanotube technology (silicon proving too expensive and generating dangerous levels of heat.

We regularly see startling results of chip technology on News programmes, not just computers, cameras, iPhones and iPads, car computers, airplane systems etc., etc…..  implants to help people operate prosthetic limbs, to help the blind see (currently blurry) images, to operate in hospitals with micro-surgery and non-invasive techniques.

So it’s pretty startling to find that in 10 years’ time the use of chips may start to decline, along with the technology currently used in touch-screen devices – INDIUM.

Here’s the story … Indium stocks will run out within 10 years and there’s manufacturing limits for chip technology. Imagine if you can, a material, 2 molecules thick, which can conduct thermal energy, contain the same logic and electronic functions as chips, is very strong, lets light through it (so can be used in windows, spectacles – whatever. Picture if you can this material being so versatile it can be embedded into both the finest and the most rugged of clothing.

This stuff (that’s the technical word) exists and it is called GRAPHENE.

In a special research facility, with the catchy name of “Centre for Graphene Science”, the combined knowledge of the Universities of Exeter and Bath have stirred up the scientific community with the release of their technology “GraphExeter”. Maybe they could use some help with branding?

Here’s what people have been saying:

http://www.globalscientia.com/article/united-kingdom/nano-materials-technology/new-graphene-based-material-could-revolutionize

http://www.gizmag.com/graphexeter-ito-alternative/22344/

http://www.ecouterre.com/graphene-based-conductive-material-could-revolutionize-wearable-tech/

http://www.computescotland.com/silicene-and-graphexeter-5243.php

Now, despite all the hyperbole about interactive books, mobile learning, ePub, Augmented Reality, Virtual worlds the way people learn hasn’t changed a great deal over the past 50 years.

Some of the techniques used in digital classrooms – High Definition IWBs with student polling, with visualisers and 3D modelling (e.g.  Virtalis and AutoDesk) – are gradually being looked at by corporate trainers (adopted is too strong a statement) but there are infrastructure issues, portability and cost concerns. If we can imagine a fully interactive version of an IWB that you could roll up or fold, which could be made from multi-layer Graphene (essentially reconstructed graphite …. the stuff in pencils) it could change the scene of learning. Having just seen how Google hope to use Augmented Reality in their “Project Glass”, I wonder about the ability to provide Graphene- coated glasses (or clip-on lenses) for training or enhanced safety in dangerous environments… using Augmented Reality and QR codes.

What about diagnostic manuals and study guides made of paper with Graphene sheets, so you could have interactive tutorials, links to resources like the ones you’ll find in the Khan Academy, tutor hotlines etc…..

So I’ll leave you with one final news item:

http://www.psfk.com/2012/05/wearable-electronics.html

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