Three Ideas to Jump Start Mobile Learning

The demand for mobile apps within the enterprise is pervasive and training departments are already feeling the heat. Employees expect access to online training content from their personal devices. According to Gartner, Two-Thirds of the mobile workforce will own a Smartphone and by 2016, 40% of the workforce will be mobile with Tablets being the  key accelerator to mobility.Gartner estimates that purchases of tablets by businesses will reach 53 million units in 2016.

Most of the contemporary LMS products and authoring tools supports mobile devices. However, if you intend to go beyond making eLearning content, that is primarily designed for Desktops, be available through mobile devices and tablets, the existing tools are inadequate.

Projects involving the roll-out of a custom mobile applications for delivering learning or performance support don’t ever take off for the following reasons:

1. Training Departments don’t know where to start and if the ROI justifies the investment

2. Lack of technical skills within the organization or organizational politics that preclude the usage of vendors

3. Budget (lack of it)

The best answer to these challenges is to roll-out an app as quickly as possible without spending too much time and without requiring technical expertise. Here are some ideas that make use of inexpensive (and sometimes free) cloud-based tools to give you a jump-start.

1. Messages, Calls and Podcasts

Why not share periodic updates with your team by sending them text messages or voice messages direct to their Smartphones or Tablets? If you have a little more time, you can even broadcast Podcasts that could summarize key training concepts or reinforce important points. One Call Now, Phonevite, PodBean, Train by Cell, and Evoca are some of the tools you can explore. These tools support mobile devices out-of-the-box and you don’t require training to use or deploy them. And most importantly, tools like PodBean provide analytics about content popularity and the devices your employees are using to access the content. This information will help fine tune your content strategy and also gather real world data to justify further investments in building custom mobile learning applications.

Podbean Podcast App

2. File Sharing and Collaboration

Tools like Box, Dropbox for Business, Google Apps for Business provide interesting options for the training departments to push documents and multimedia content to mobile devices. These apps provide administrative control (some of them are more “enterprise” friendly than others) and track users, manage permissions and manage users. Goggle Sites is a simple yet powerful tool for creating training portals that are mobile friendly right off the bat. Here is one example. CautionTalk to your IT team about corporate policies that restricts the use of cloud-based file sharing tools. Many of my customers use Accellion and they seem to have a much wider acceptance among IT teams.

Box App

3. Social Collaboration Platforms

Social collaboration platforms like Yammer, Mzinga, Jive, Salesforce Chatter and SocialText provide rich mobile enabled features for sharing updates and letting your employees share knowledge / insights or collaborate with their team members. Features like activity streams, shared workspaces, rating and comments are well suited for mobile use cases. In fact, you can even use free version (Yammer has a free version for limited users) to test your ideas.

Yammer App

So what’s stopping you from getting your mobile learning initiative off the ground? Comments are welcome.

Srinivas Krishnaswamy

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Posted in eLearning, Learning, Mobile Learning, Smartphones

eLearning Course Completion Rates – Do They Matter?

Tracking course completion rates through the LMS is one of the most widely used methods to verify if the training content was consumed by employee(s). While this seems logical and necessary, it is high time we take a step back and ask some fundamental questions about course completion rates.

Been There, Done That!

Certain courses invariably tend to have 100% completion rates. These scenarios are typically seen with professional certifications and compliance courses in regulated industries. I have personally seen that, in an environment where budgets are constrained, compliance courses are accorded the least importance when it comes to the time and effort that goes into creating the course. The focus is on launching a course quickly and making sure everybody completes the course. On the other end of the spectrum, compliance courses become extremely important and lot of money is poured into such courses as a direct result of adverse litigation and external pressures (i.e. Government or regulatory fines). In any case, 100% course completion is a great first step in meeting the business objectives and is by no means a reflection of the usefulness of the course.

Ferrari on a Cart

Access to online courses through the LMS is a major factor that can impact course completion rates. Poorly designed LMS interfaces and poor connectivity infrastructure can also impact course completion rates adversely. I have encountered situations where the training department rolls out a very interactive and instructionally sound course only to find that a majority of the user population has a tough time accessing all the features of the course or it takes a long time to even get access to the LMS due to IT bureaucracy.

Who pulled the Trigger?

What triggers an employee to take the trouble of logging into the LMS and sitting through, say, a 20-minute course followed by an assessment? An email that announced the launch of the course or a reminder email, forgetting key concepts needed to complete a task, reminder by the manager are some of the triggers. But, as identified by BJ Fogg, ability and motivation are two other elements that impact course completion in addition to triggers. Focusing just on the triggers without paying attention to ability and motivation will invariably result in poor completion rates or it gets to a point where people are completing the courses to stop the triggers! Ability denotes how easy it is to access the course (having the time to access the course and the infrastructure to access the course). Motivation refers to fear, urge to do better, peer pressure among others.

Does Course Completion Rate Matter?

Yes, it does. However, course completion rates should be analyzed in the context of the employee’s work and the business objectives. It is more important to see how course completion rates are related to behavior changes, performance improvements and post completion course access rates. It is also important to see how course completion translates into engagement on the topic by tracking the company’s social collaboration platform (if available) or even tracking offline conversations on specific topics through formal or informal surveys.

Srinivas Krishnaswamy

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Posted in eLearning, Learning, Training

Sify at CEdMA – 8th and 9th April

CEDMA

I will be representing Sify at the Computer Education Management Association Spring Conference this week (Tuesday, Apr 8th and Wednesday, Apr 9th).

Event Online Registration Link: Click Here

Event Location:

Brocade Communications
130 Holger Way
San Jose, CA  95134

See you there!

Srinivas Krishnaswamy

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Get the Baby Boomers to educate the Millennials in your Workplace

I enjoyed reading this article from Inc. So here is the concise version for your reading!

As Baby Boomers leave the workplace for the comfort of retirement, their decades of accumulated expertise leave the workplace with them;  much to the detriment of the business world. If you’re nearing the end of professional career, consider taking one of your Millennial colleagues under your wing. Here’s how.

1.  Make the First Move

Young professionals want help, but they might not know how to ask for it; especially in the intimidating workplace. The generation known for overbearing helicopter parents has rarely been without someone looking over their shoulder. Advice has always been readily offered, whether they wanted it or not.

To reach your Millennial colleagues, avoid coming across as patronizing. Rather than offering unsolicited advice, older professionals should look for common ground with their younger peers and use that as a lever to open a dialog.

2.  Be Prepared to Mentor as a Team

Recognize that the Millennials in your office may not follow the same career path you once took. They’re much more likely to change their careers often or start their own businesses. And contrary to popular belief, they work hard at it. In fact, a 2011 study by Buzz Marketing and the Young Entrepreneur Council found that 36 percent of recent college grads had started a side business in addition to their full-time job.

With their varied interests, entrepreneurial spirit, and lack of faith in the current state of traditional career paths, Millennials need more than one mentor. If, say, you’re an experienced sales executive, you can provide a lot of sage advice on your areas of expertise. But don’t be offended if the Millennial you’re mentoring looks elsewhere for advice about hiring, taxation, compliance, technology and more.

3. Teach Workplace Patience

Whatever it may be, Millennials want it now. After all, they’re the “Always On” generation who have had access to their every question with the click of a Google search. Keep in mind that a generation raised on instant access to communication, entertainment and information isn’t known for its patience. This expectation of immediacy doesn’t stop with their personal lives; it extends to the workplace, as well.

Learning to wait – to put in the work and learn the ropes slowly with no expectation of an immediate reward – is a necessary skill that many Millennials are lacking, which can help their careers both in the short- and long-term.

4.  Help them Cultivate Relationships

Millennials often have enough social media connections to fill a stadium, but to truly advance in the professional realm, today’s young professionals should network the old-fashioned way: in person. Unfortunately, they’re not very good at it as it’s a fairly foreign concept when digital communication has been their main mode of communication.

Baby Boomers, famous for their zealous approach to building relationship capital, can teach their young colleagues a great deal about the value of face-to-face relationship building.

Srinivas Krishnaswamy

 

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Posted in Knowledge Management, Talent Management

Demystifying Mobile Learning

Earlier this month, I had the privilege of presenting a Training Magazine webinar with Lance Dublin and my colleague at Sify, Shailesh Joshi. This webinar was aimed at providing clarity on how to go about building mobile learning solutions for enterprises. With so many tools and vendors out there in the market, it can be quite daunting for the training department to separate the marketing spin from the facts and best practices.

Specifically, I covered topics around low-cost approaches to mobile learning using tools that are not primarily meant for mobile learning! I recommended this strategy as a means to get the project off the ground and gather valuable user feedback on the relevance of mobile learning. Shailesh always tells me that mobile learning should evolve and should not be treated as a project with well-defined boundaries and I completely agree with him.

I also spoke about using principles of Rapid Prototyping (check out Scott Klemmer’s course on Human-Computer Interaction available free on Coursera for some clever approaches to rapid prototyping). Click the Like button if you find it useful!

Srinivas Krishnaswamy

 

 

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Posted in Learning, Mobile Learning, Smartphones, Social Learning

Ideas on Behavior Changes

This week enjoy this video by BJ Fogg who teaches at the Stanford University and also runs the Persuasive Technology Lab, to create insight into how computing products (websites to mobile phone apps) can be designed to change people’s behaviors. It is interesting to have an expert reveal the mechanics of behavior changes and draw parallels to the principles of gamification. Watch out for an article on this topic.

Srinivas Krishnaswamy

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Posted in Gamification

Employee Training at Facebook and Twitter

Here is a summary of an article from Quartz. Worth reading to find out what drives powerhouses like Facebook and Twitter.

Training employees and managers is essential at any company but particularly for startups. Yet many avoid it because it seems too hard or expensive. “A lot of companies think their employees are so smart that they require no training,” Andreessen Horowitz co-founder Ben Horowitz writes in his recent book. “That’s silly.” Horowitz told Quartz that two companies that do some of the best training are, Facebook, on the engineering side, and Twitter for management. (Andreessen Horowitz has invested in both companies) .

Check out the Time Magazine slide show on Facebook’s headquarters. Click on the image below.

facebook headquarters

Facebook

As of 2007, the company didn’t really train people, Horowitz says. “It caused a lot of misunderstandings in the product architecture, which caused performance issues, which caused a pretty large crisis in the company,” Horowitz says.  The following year, Facebook began a program led by engineer Andrew Bosworth called Facebook Bootcamp. It’s a seven week on-boarding program for new engineers and project managers. They’re immersed in the company’s code, and start working on projects that end up live on the site within a week of their start date.

Uniquely, engineers aren’t hired for particular teams at Facebook. Bootcamp connects engineers with teams by exposing them to different parts of the organization. That way they can find a problem or project they like working on that also needs them.

Twitter

Horowitz had a direct hand in the beginning of Twitter’s management training program. It began with a conversation between Horowitz and Twitter CEO Dick Costolo in Sun Valley, Idaho shortly after he got the top job in 2010. Here’s how Horowitz remembers it:

When Dick Costolo took over, he took over from Jack Dorsey and Ev Williams. They’re both better managers now, but neither of them really knew anything about it then. They’re both, if you talk to them, fairly embarrassed about how they ran the company. You had a culture of management that was really dysfunctional.

I had a conversation with Dick and he said: “You know what really annoys me? We’ll sit in a meeting and all agree on something, then some managers will walk out and say to their people, ‘Well, here’s what got decided, but I don’t agree with it.’” I said, “Yeah, that would annoy me. Have you trained them not to do that?”And he said, “What do you mean?” I said, “What is your management training like?” “We don’t have management training.”

Well there’s only one way to fix that, you’ve got to tell managers what you want. Then, you’ve got to enforce it. Performance management without training isn’t worth anything. If you’re not training people, what benchmark are they performing against?

The management training program that resulted, taught by Costolo himself, is considered the best in Silicon Valley, Horowitz says. Costolo consulted with Horowitz on the curriculum, which was based on a similar class he taught at his company, Opsware. The program teaches managers to set clear expectations for their employees, prevents them from “managing by trying to be liked,” and trains them to take an approach that’s uniquely suited to Twitter rather than transplanted from companies like Google. 

Srinivas Krishnaswamy

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Posted in Training

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