Archive for November, 2012

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Since June I have been working with a client to determine their requirements for transitioning from an internally created external facing learning management system to an off-the shelf one to satisfy many of the current systems’ deficiencies. This engagement also included the organization’s needs for internal learning management, which in turn resulted in many discussions around performance and talent management, and succession planning. Throughout this process it has been amazing to see many individual’s appetite for more sophisticated and actionable-based systems directing everything from on boarding through learning and performance management to a complete picture on the organization’s talent pool and where they maybe deficient, have flight risks or are okay for tomorrow’s workday. Understanding that these needs exist from business units, IT, HR and executives only reinforces what has been happening lately in the HRIS, HCM, HRMS, or “whatever you want to call it” world. The convergence of many systems into a single offering from a given vendor is the current trend. Many in this space are acquiring their “missing pieces” to offer an end-to-end solution comprising core HR functions and associated modules including recruiting, talent, performance, learning and succession. Consider the latest happenings and tell me convergence is not occurring at a rapid pace:

  • Success Factors (Talent/Performance/Recruiting) acquires Plateau(Learning) and now Success Factors is acquired by SAP(Core HR)
  • Taleo (Talent/Performance/Recruiting) acquires (Learning) and now is in the process of being acquired by Oracle(Core HR plus a lot more….)
  • SumTotal which started off as a pure training company many years ago has evolved from Asymetrix to Click2Learn, to a merger with Docent to now a company with a complete HCM offering with individual modules supporting Core HR and Talent/Performance/Recruiting
Convergence is happening in this SaaS world with vendors creating a complete solution with modules that can be turned on/off for their clients based on their current needs with the goal of every client using all modules with the vendors’ suite. Where does that leave the LMS vendors that are still independent and focused on just learning and or learning/talent/performance? Maybe it leaves them ripe for acquisition, or ripe for death. However you look at it, it is a very interesting time for those of us in this space who are waiting for the next domino to fall. Is that domino Workday and if so what is their plan? I can guarantee you it is not to be acquired by Oracle……..

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Well another year has come and another mLearnCon has passed, leaving each of us attendees, presenters, exhibitors and wanderers with more excitement than ever. This year’s show had about twice the amount of registered attendees (approaching 800) and more than 25+ exhibitors/vendors who have been instrumental in gaining awareness and attention to the space. With over 100 focused learning activities spread across 4 days there wasn’t a topic that didn’t get its due respect and attention from this crowd. Combine in interactive learning zones and the “Mosh Pit” and there was something for everyone from those just hearing about mLearning, to those planning on implementing, to those trying to understand the technology, those needing help creating an RFP and even those already looking for success stories. Some of the cooler apps I had a chance to see where the:

  • EventPilot Mobile Conference App which let you see the schedule, presenters and also real time updates of what was happening now and where.
  • Qualcomm Mobile Browser app that enabled an employee anywhere in the world to see scheduled classes based on his/her proximity to the location where the class was taking place, and even a link to the LMS for registration.
Most importantly what I saw as a whole is that this industry is starting to mature as authoring tool, LCMS, and mobile distribution system providers are working together as one to build awareness, integration capabilities and “real” offerings that will support adoption. Keep an eye out for new product launches in the next few weeks from OnPoint Digital, Xyleme, Articulate and Brainshark. From what I saw of the demos they provided, HTML 5 is alive and showing very well on mobile. If you attended the conference please comment to provide your thoughts.

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So you have a formal learning plan in place, your LMS has been up and running for years and you even have a certification program in place for your new hires, employees and 3rd party partners. Your company can be considered a “learning-based organization”, so now what? For the past couple of years the idea of implementing new technologies that have arisen out of the consumer world have intrigued the training professional. Everything from social networking to blogs, wikis, instant messaging and mobile have shown promise to extend the formal learning environment but has anything truly succeeded to provide ROI and benchmarking to continue its use? Let’s think here….I have an LMS that has social learning aspects built in (forums, interactive messaging, etc.) and we use portals for document management, knowledge transfer, wiki’s but how do I leverage this infrastructure and investment to today’s world, the world of remote workers, some of whom are disconnected? learningManage_clip_image002_0000Mobile is the answer! It is not just the next fad or technological wonder, it is ubiquitous and always there. The more important questions that need to be addressed are: What to deliver? How to deliver to all the various devices? Each of these questions have many sub questions and branching options which I will get into in subsequent posts but the one thing to remember for now is that more now than ever in the past, the end delivery device and its uses and limitations must be taken into account.

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Based on some articles I have recently read from Learning Solutions, Float Mobile and Kaplan, making things that don’t seem to be a game into a game is growing in popularity within the learning world. Game mechanics, scoring, points, badges, time elements, pattern seeking, item matching, content ratings are quickly working their way into almost every element of life from web site rankings and Thumbs Up/Down to rewards in social games like Farmville and Mobsters. Gamification, as it is now called can also be called the “new thing” within the training community. As we all know, if there is new technology, processes, tools, methodologies available someone will try and implement it into a new program. While Gamification is somewhat new in our world it has been gaining steam in “micro games” online and more specifically in social networking sites where individuals try and acquire an elite status, receive badges and outdo their competitors. To add some clarity, Gamification is only somewhat new in regards to the accompaniment of newer social and mobile technologies. Training designers & developers have been creating learning programs for decades with these same very principles entrenched in the instructional methodologies. How about an on-boarding program given by an instructor that asks new hires to perform certain tasks in order to achieve a certain level, or how about automotive sales reps performing walk-around tours that are then graded by their peers? These training programs enable games withing a learning construct, this engaging users in a different way. learningManage_clip_image001

Courtesy: OnPoint Digital

How do we incorporate games today using newer technologies? What about using games to satisfy both the learner’s desire to be engaged and the company’s training professionals desire to have high fidelity and viewership? These questions can be answered by many different approaches and solutions but a couple ideas a learning professional can use and build upon are: ♦ Developing a game within a mobile app that requires a user to view certain content, pass the associated quiz and then be able to move on to a new or different level utilizing prerequisites. Levels and points will be achieved based on predetermined scales and a leader board will be available to show all participants where they stand amongst other game players. This game can communicate back to the LMS to track the training. ♦ Creating a bracket/challenge for sales representatives in retail/automotive


Courtesy of Growth Engineering

industries. Users would take videos of themselves performing their sales technique/strategy and this video would be uploaded to colleagues in the same organization so that they could vote or rate their peer. A bracketing system similar to college basketball is used to determine who moves on to the next round. Participants of the challenge are able to communicate with one another through forums and commenting and are motivated by prizes for certain levels of achievement. While these ideas are not necessarily novel, the way you can use today’s mobile, social and web application technology to implement them just very well be….

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