From Instructional Design to Experience Design – The Corporate Learning Paradigm Shift

Corporate Learning

The evolution of technology in corporate learning has been rapid yet transformative, giving more power to learners at each step. Today, organizations aim at bringing learning to where employees are. It could be on their smartphones, their tablets, laptops, and even on their smart watches. Giving a learner exactly what they want, and where they want, is the only way to win in this disruptive digital landscape. All this calls for solutions that are employee centric. To design such solutions, the focus needs to shift from instructional design to user experience design on a whole.

If you are thinking about what would constitute impactful user experience design, well, for starters, learning and information support systems should be extremely easy and intuitive to use. We are already so accustomed to the Google and YouTube experience in our lives. Say you are seeking a quick tutorial on how to apply an appliqué patch on your denims. Without even wanting to check with the person sitting next to you, you just type in your query on the Google toolbar or the YouTube app on your phone, and there are thousands of results available in a second. There are videos, infographics, articles, and much more. You choose to view based on your reading and watching preference. And if you don’t like what you see, you quickly move to the other results. So quick and easy, Right?

Consider another case, you need a cab, all you need to do is press a search button on your Uber app, and the app shares information on all cabs available nearby, with the estimated wait time as well. Who could have thought of such a technology sorted life, a decade back! Today, all information is available at your fingertips, and the user experience is constantly improving.

We need to design the same experience for corporate learning. But there is a small catch. The corporate learning experience, because of its formal nature, needs to be a lot more controlled; a lot more guided, whilst appearing as independent as it regularly is. Since there is an explosion of video and instructional content over the internet, it is really difficult to filter out the right information for your employees.

Here are some ideas on how to achieve this:

  • Personalize the experience

They key here is to track employees’ digital footprints at the workplace and based on them, guide the employee into an appropriate and personalized learning flow. Every employee’s learning needs and learning style varies from others. Automated systems powered by artificial intelligence can be used to detect what is best suited for an employee. They can be used to act as gatekeepers to filter the right information from the internet to the company intranet.

  • Categorize content

For easy searching, content can be categorized into multiple types   Informative Instructional, Advanced, Compliance Related, etc. These categories may totally depend on the workplace requirement and make it easier for employees to locate the right module or video depending upon their requirement. Uncategorized content will only lead to more confusion and less learning.

  • Specify learning format

Learning formats could be segregated into two types: Macro-learning and Micro-learning.

Micro-learning is just in time, delivered in small, very specific bursts. Two minute videos could be micro-learning. A short game could be micro-learning. Even a small eBook that takes ten minutes to read through could be micro-learning. We, as users, consume this kind of material all day. This could prove handy when an employee wants to learn a quick thing, or read up on a quick policy, Content curated distinctly as micro-learning lets a user know what to expect.

Macro-learning, on the other hand, is something that covers detailed information related to a topic. It comes in handy when an employee wants to learn an entirely new process or function. For instance, it could be all about social media marketing, or automation testing. Macro-learning can be instructor led, or a series of videos and podcasts, or an entire interactive eBook.

  • Enable ratings

When there is abundant information available to be consumed within an organization, it makes sense to learn from other’s experience too. Courses, videos, or other learning objects need to have a provision where employees can rate them. It makes more sense to view a video course with 5 stars on ‘Retargeting’ than a 1 star video. An ‘Effective Sales Strategy’ podcast liked by 50 employees stands a higher chance of being heard than a similar one liked by only 12.

  • Add pre-assessments

Assessments added prior to an important course or module make learning much more controlled and better guided. Such exercises can give a sense of what the employee already knows and what s(he) still needs to learn.

The above steps can ensure that employees can find the information they need wherever they are. Such a design replicates the massive YouTube or Google like learning experience into your corporate learning. The key is to step into the user’s shoes and focus on the user experience design.

Thoughts?

 

Note: This blog has been drafted based on inputs from the following members of Harbinger’s Industrial Advisory Board:

  • Patti Evanosky, Director of Training, Chicken Salad Chick
  • Paul Meek, Director, Solutions Training and Advisory Limited
  • Jayant Kulkarni, Chief of Sales, Harbinger Interactive Learning

Five Crucial Aspects to Address While Repurposing Your Legacy Courses

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Modernizing legacy courses is the need of the hour for organizations that have been into the course development business since long. While making the decision to repurpose legacy content, what are some aspects one should consider? It is not about simply converting Flash or old technology courses to HTML5 but meeting the current and future business needs as well. We, at team Harbinger, have been involved with various organizations to help them repurpose their legacy courses.  Based on our experience of working with these organizations, here are top five aspects people look into, while defining their modernization strategy:

1. Impact on Customer Experience

Since some; or all your legacy courses are still part of your course catalog, and learners are subscribing to it, modernizing would have an impact your current customer experience. Learners would need to spend quite some time figuring out aspects like which browser to use, how to enable flash player in a browser, and go back and forth with the support desks hoping to start viewing the course. This means that the number of support tickets at your service desk will be on the rise and there is every possibility that your support teams will be overworked in order to improve the customer satisfaction score.

2. Strategic Alignment of Goals

Aligning the repurposed legacy courses to the business strategy is crucial. For e.g. if your business is dependent on millennial learners, then micro-learning enabled courses would be an important consideration during redesign. If you are looking to comply with federal government laws, then WCAG compliance would be significant, or if you are thinking of white-labeling courses for your customers then having that kind of flexibility at design level would take precedence over other factors.

3. Future-Ready Enhancements

Another important aspect is to ensure that you are thinking ahead of time and making these courses future-ready. Since you are investing so much time and efforts today to fall in-line with the latest technology and trends, it shouldn’t be the case that several years down the line, you are forced to think about making more changes to them, which means, more investment.

Features like metadata tagging, content chunking into logical micro-nuggets, make the content easily reusable and give you the flexibility for easy updates.

4. Resource Management

As leaders of the content development team, you could also be in a dilemma about managing the whole spectrum of your resources for this specific spike in volume. This would be a tricky situation as you might need to ramp up your content development team size for very specific periods to meet the volume demands and the go-to-market strategies.

5. Weighing all pros and cons against the bottom line

Eventually when it is time to take a decision, you will have to weigh the pros and cons on what will be the impact on your bottom line. If you have a huge catalog of courses, instead of a blanket implementation, you could bucket the courses and select a different approach for each bucket. For example, for top performing courses, you could do a complete revamp. For courses which are not being sold or used a lot, may be a simple cost-effective solution with small fixes to ensure they work on latest browsers could do the job.

Do these aspects sound familiar, have they popped up during your strategy meetings too? If you have been working around some of these, we would happy to hear from you and share our thoughts.

 

Wondering What To Do With Your Legacy Courses?

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It’s that time of the year when we look at the year gone by and put together the charter for the coming year. One of the questions that would have consistently popped up in our minds throughout this year would have been – what should be done with the legacy courses? But, like every year, some other (read ‘more significant’) business need would have taken priority and legacy courses would have gone on the back burner.

In the past few months a couple of announcements are making organizations rethink their decisions and redefine some of their priorities for the upcoming year in terms of handling legacy courses. The first one is the Flash sunset announcement for 2020 and the other one is the United States deadline for conformance to worldwide WCAG 2.0 guidelines. With both these advancements, the only feasible solutions seems to be repurposing legacy courses to make them relevant and appropriate in today’s context.

Here are 5 more reasons on why repurposing needs to be considered sooner than later:

1. The content is still relevant and instructionally sound but with the advent of new devices and browsers, these courses might not just work going forward.
2. The learner profile is changing considerably. Forget about millennials, Gen Z seems to be getting into the workforce as well, and the way these two target audiences would want to learn is different – bite sized, mobile and just-in-time.
3. Repurposing enhances your learners’ user experience and reduces the stress on your support teams and troubleshooting staff.
4. It helps strengthen your course catalog portfolio.
5. It could positively impact your bottom line.

We’ll let these thoughts sink in till we come up with the next blog in this series. In case you would like to have a discussion on this, write to us at info@harbingerlearning.com .
With this note here’s wishing you a very happy and spirited holiday season.

eLearning Trends to Watch Out For in 2018

2018

I recently participated in two significant eLearning conferences – Learning 2017 and DevLearn. The key purpose of my participation in these conferences was of course to bring Harbinger’s offerings to the forefront. But apart from that, I wanted to network with like minded professionals and also get some insights into the current and forthcoming eLearning trends. Based on my interactions and experiences, I decided to pen down some interesting trends and technologies that were discussed the most. It will be interesting to look out for them in the year 2018.

1. Course Modernization of Legacy Courses

The Flash sunset has been announced for 2020, and with that, it has become crucial for catalog companies to convert legacy Flash courses to HTML5. This entails a huge volume of work to be handled rapidly while following latest design styles, maintaining quality and learner demands. It is critical for every CLO and content director to strategize the successful enablement of this transition while satisfying the customer too.

Talking about Harbinger’s readiness in this regard, we are fully prepared to work with catalog companies to meet their needs of course modernization – HTML5 support on mobile, micro-learning, latest design styles, accessibility support – and all this, regardless of the availability of legacy content source files.

2. User Experience Design as a Part of the Standard Process

Learners expect the same experience while taking up an eLearning courses as they have with their intuitive day to day applications – engaging, gamified and search friendly. eLearning courses are now expected to be designed considering these parameters, to make the overall experience smoother and relevant. The development teams need to focus not just on the project stake holders; but also on learners.

Harbinger’s ideology and approach has always been learner centric. Our user experience design aims to make the learner’s experience engaging, smoother, and impactful.

3. Long Term Vision while Designing Current Courses

CLOs and content directors are looking for solutions which can not only address their current needs but future requirements as well. Activities like addition of analytics to understand user preferences and usage pattern; are becoming significant. Solutions addressing easy course maintenance, flexible upgrade to new technology are being considered and embraced by one and all.

eLearning partners who can provide such end-to-end solutions and also understand backend technology to generate analytics and relevant reports; are the ones you should look out for.

4. Augmented reality (AR)

With iPhone supporting augmented reality, organizations are moving towards embedding AR based eLearning programs in their curriculum for on-boarding modules, value based training, mechanical training, safety training etc. It would be interesting to see how eLearning companies use this technology, which is now available for masses.

Harbinger has also forayed into the implementation of this technology and our highly innovative learning experiences based on Augmented Reality can give a new dimension to your learning and training.

5. Artificial intelligence (AI)

Using Artificial intelligence for improving the eLearning experience would be something interesting to watch out in 2018. This could involve the usage of chatbots where the system learns and responds based on user actions.

Harbinger has also been working on a solution to make the eLearning development process better and faster using AI. We got a chance to showcase this solution at DemoFest 2017, which garnered lot of interest from various product managers and L&D heads. If not mainstream, I am sure we would see lot of progress on companies trying to play their hands with this technology.

Those were my top 5 picks for 2018. What are yours?

What keeps CLOs awake at night?

Every new financial year brings on audits for the last year. Measuring the ROI for eLearning / training programs implemented throughout the year is a daunting task for CLOs.

There iLearning Effectivenesss enough literature available to read about how companies conduct ROI and audits. Recently, an interesting discussion with a friend gave me an insightful thought. What better way to share it, so writing about it, and solicit your experiences too. Here it goes.

“How did eLearning come into picture?” One of my friends wanted to know during an interesting discussion. Like any other elearning professional, my answer to him was “due to technology growth where things could be accessed independently online”. To this, his reply was spot on; I realized it on hind sight. “NO! eLearning came into the picture because of compliance training.” Measuring compliance of processes, legal aspects was a very compelling need of many businesses. So it turned out that eLearning assisted to measure if a certain course was taken by everyone and if they completed it successfully or not. And SCORM tracking complimented these eLearning needs well where it gave CLOs exactly the required information.

With time, the compliance angle of training has reduced in many businesses. CLOs increasingly have to answer questions on effectiveness and ROI. These questions have to be answered tactfully as there is no standard like SCORM where one can find easy answers to these questions. Additionally, measuring effectiveness gets further complex when different businesses want to measure divergent parameters based on the results they are trying to achieve.

For example, in a sales training program, the number of sales closed with a handy just-in-time learning guide is more important vis-a-vis whether the sales person has gone through the product training program. Similarly, for an enterprise software, how much time does a person take to successfully fill a long form using just-in-time video help is more important compared to a software training program. In these situations the metrics to track the success of training programs should be the number of orders closed or time taken to fill the form successfully.

Such metrics should be thought of at the design stage. It always helps to have a healthy brainstorming discussion with the internal stakeholders and the team working on developing the program. Only post this discussion should the program be designed using the right learning technologies like LMS, xAPI, plug-ins like Google analytics, tools which can provide flexibility of tracking custom variables and so on.

What metrics do you use to measure learning effectiveness of your training programs? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.