Harbinger’s Thought Leadership Forum – A Series of Podcasts With Leading Industry Professionals

Harbinger is proud to announce the launch of Harbinger’s Thought Leadership Forum, an unique place where learning and industry experts come together to talk about thought leadership, trends, challenges and solutions in the learning outsourcing business.

This forum is meant for all of us in the learning business. You can access blogs, case studies, white papers and podcast of interviews with the learning experts. It’s going to be an exciting place for knowledge sharing and thought leadership in the learning domain. We welcome you to connect with this forum.

In its first edition, the forum has taken up a topic that’s very relevant to all of us in the educational outsourcing business – What to do and what NOT to do in the educational outsourcing business. And sharing with us decades of knowledge and experience on this subject is Kim Sullivan, Senior Editorial Director of Words and Numbers, Inc.

Watch out for this first podcast in the series starting next week where you can listen to Kim Sullivan sharing her experiences with Bijoy Banerjee, AVP, Business Development.

Harbinger at the Training 2012 Conference & Expo

– An account by Mona Sharma, DGM – Projects, and Exhibitor at the Conference

Date: February 13-15, 2012

Venue: Atlanta, GA, at the Georgia World Congress Center

Visitor’s Profile: Professional trainers, consultants, and academics, HRD professionals and senior executives, Instructional designers & other related professionals.

Exhibitor’s Profile: Business Development Services, Training and Talent Development Services, Authoring and Publishing Platforms, Custom Content and Communication Services, Learning and Performance Services, Digital Literacy and Desktop Productivity Assessment Services, Train the Trainer Workshop and Consulting Services, Distance Learning, Employee Selection & Orientation, Ethics, Leadership Training, Motivation, Presentation Skills, Problem Solving, Project Management, Team Building & Performance, Videoconferencing, Writing Skills, Translation services, Training Documents Development Services.

The training 2012 conference & expo was an event designed for learning, training and performance professionals. It was a midsized conference with approximately 700 – 800 attendees. There were around 65-70 vendors exhibiting in the expo hall, a varied mix of vendors, providing content development services, transcription and translation services, technology solutions, train the trainer services, corporate training and corporate entertainment services too! It was very encouraging to witness that people worldwide were taking learning and training so seriously.

With the assurance that we were at the right place at the right time, we got busy with setting up the booth, the fun and creative part of the exhibition booth preparations, where we presented our eLearning Products and Custom Content Development Services.

We exhibited Raptivity, our interactivity building tool which allows you to quickly and easily create elearning interactions such as games, simulations, brainteasers etc. and embed them directly into your online courses. There are around 170+ interaction templates to choose from to make your elearning courses interactive.

Along with our products, Harbinger also presented its Custom Content services offerings. Visitors showed keen interest in experiencing our expertise in content development using Flash, HTML5, Lectora, Articulate, ToolBook and our own tools Elicitus and Raptivity. All our learning solutions got an overwhelming response.

 

Edumercials: One of our unique offerings was development of ‘Edumercials’- short for Educational Commercials, which are 5-6 minute self playing animations that are either story or scenario-based and put across a concept in an interactive way. Edumercials can be used as standalone just-in-time learning pieces or they can also be integrated within elearning courses to make the courses more engaging. Quite a few visitors signed up for the raffle to win a 5-minute free edumercial.

Single Source Solution for Mobile Learning: Our mobile learning conversations led us to discussions about the platform independent ‘Single Source’ solutions being offered for mobiles and laptops. The iPad demos and especially the interactive e-Book, was well appreciated by everyone. Many were surprised to see Flash based animations, video and audio integrated in an eBook developed in HTML5.

Interactive ILT: Some visitors who engaged in virtual classrooms or face to face training were interested in our Instructor Led Training services where in we offered to instructionally and visually enhance their presentations and develop facilitator and student notes for them.

We had an exclusive range of elearning samples for both desktop/laptop and mobile tablets ranging from Product, Process, Soft skill and Leadership and Management training to K-12 training. All these samples were also made available on our showcase so that they could be viewed at leisure. (https://showcase.harbingerknowledge.com/ ; Username: training2012-visitor; Password: password1!)

Visits by the Industry Expert: Well known speakers and thought leaders from the industry visited our booth and were impressed with our instructional approach and the apt use of interactivity in our courses.

The expo ended after two full days of meeting new people, interesting conversations and demos and assurances of exploring a new relationship with Harbinger! Through Harbinger I have attended other International Conferences in North America and visited customer sites for project discussions, however this was the first time I experienced being a presenter in the conference booth.

I would say I experienced a very different Valentine Day’s eve by connecting with many new people and prospects! I look forward to meet with them again in the next upcoming conferences!! Till then bye and enjoy the new ways of Learning!!!

Harbinger Makes an Impact with “Single Source” Mobile Learning Solution @ the Learning 3.0 Conference

In October 2011, Harbinger attended the Training Magazine’s Learning 3.0 conference in Chicago. Harbinger was a sponsor-partner in this event. Bijoy Banerjee, Associate Vice President – Business Development presented on Mobile Learning.

In a post conference debriefing, Deepali Tharkude, Associate Vice President – Content Development spoke with Bijoy about his take on the conference, state of Mobile Learning, trends, challenges and finally, how the audience perceived Harbinger’s emerging leadership role in Mobile Learning and its pioneering “single source” solution.

Here is an excerpt:

Deepali: So Bijoy, how was the conference and your sessions?

Bijoy: The conference was very good, Deepali. All got ample opportunity to exchange knowledge and network. I presented twice – 4th and 5th Oct. The session details can be viewed here.

On 4th Oct I spoke on: Single Source Content strategy – eliminating the eLearning / Mobile Learning divide.

On 5th Oct I presented: How to choose native app or browser based delivery for mobile learning – A hands on guide.

The audience turnaround in the sessions was highly encouraging on both days. In fact, combining both days, the turnaround was about 30% of the entire conference audience and that’s a lot!

Deepali: Wow! That’s a great turnaround, Bijoy. What were the reasons, you think?

Bijoy: I realized this high level of interest and turnaround for the sessions was due to the following reasons:

  1. Mobile Learning has grown from the exploratory phase to the actual implementation phase in many organizations. As a result, there is natural drive to learn ways, means and the innovations for successfully implementing mobile learning.
  2. There is a huge demand for the “right” knowledge about implementing mobile learning in the most efficient, scalable and risk-mitigated way. People are looking for expert guidance and support in the design and development of quality mobile learning solutions and delivery mechanisms.
  3. Solutions to: (1) running the same content across all mobile devices as well as desktop/laptop (i.e. platform agnostic content) and (2) decide when and how to go for WebApp or Native App.

Taking clue from the post-session followup chats, I realized that the sessions addressed these expectations.

Deepali: Excellent! Would you please share a bit on the “single source” topic you presented?

Bijoy: Yes, sure. With the exploding growth and acceptance of mobile devices for learning and education, new set of challenges have surfaced; most significantly, developing content to run on all mobile platforms, as well as desktop/laptop.

Creating content separately for each device, operating system and browser is not a viable option, as you can understand. Instead, the content should be developed once, and then push from the LMS, website or Apps, playable online or offline, should be track able, and finally, must be accessible by multiple devices and their browsers – a content that can meet all these is “single source”, also known as, platform agnostic content.

The audience was particularly impressed when I did a quick demo of an interactive on-boarding course we developed, purely in HTML5.

HTML5 content having visual richness and instructionally sound interactivities is not a very common knowledge, so the audience was pleasantly surprised to see example of a course that was seamlessly accessed from LMS and iPad, followed SCORM compliance and used variety of interactivities and multimedia assets.

Deepali: Yes, Bijoy. In fact, I hear the same ‘WOW’ from our customers! Now, for our reader’s benefit, would you please describe how Harbinger is positioned in single source?

Bijoy: Actually, Harbinger is one of the pioneers in the design and development services of single source content and today, Harbinger commands a leadership position in this domain.

Back in early 2010, when Flash-based development was still the de-facto trend, Harbinger envisioned rapid growth in platform agnostic content and the role HTML5 would play.

Though it was new back then, but Harbinger invested heavily in R&D and developed cutting edge competencies in HTML5 based content development. Soon pilot projects followed for various customers, and by the end of 2010, Harbinger had several success stories of HTML5 based interactive content that were accessible from the LMS, App, desktop, laptop, tablets, smart phones, online, offline and were track able as well.

Till date Harbinger has executed several large scale “single source” projects and continues to find great traction from customers. I realized that Harbinger stands distinctly differentiated in the single source domain due to the following:

  1. Early knowledge and R&D: Harbinger got on the boat much earlier and had spent considerable time in R&D and pilot process. As a result, Harbinger has passed through the learning curve, has first-hand knowledge of the challenges in HTML5 based content development and has found solutions.
  2. Demonstrated success: Success talks! After developing hundreds of courses as single source on variety of topics and interactivity levels, Harbinger has mastered the HTML5 technology and its effective use in interactive content development.
  3. Quality like Flash, but no Flash: Many a times you must have heard that HTML5 has limitations in creating the visual richness and interactivity compared to Flash; that’s not entirely wrong actually, but through rigorous R&D and project experiences, Harbinger has been able to explore HTML5 to the extent that unless you are told, you will not be able to make out whether the content is developed in Flash or HTML5!

So yes, Harbinger indeed has a great early mover advantage and has already acquired concrete experience in cutting edge HTML5 based single source / platform agnostic content development.

Deepali: Can our readers access your presentations and review the HTML5 examples? 

Bijoy: Absolutely! The presentations are available in the below links:

  1. Single Source Content Strategy: Eliminating eLearning / Mobile Learning Divide – http://tinyurl.com/Single-Source-Mobile-Learning
  2. Native App or Browser-Based Delivery for Mobile Learning – A hands-on Guide – http://tinyurl.com/Native-or-WebApp

And for examples, readers are welcome to reach me at bijoy@harbingergroup.com. I would also encourage readers to visit the mobile learning page in Harbinger website.

Deepali: Excellent, Bijoy! Thank you very much. Look forward to more on single source.

Bijoy: Thank you, Deepali. Yes, I will keep the readers posted.

How to Make Simulation Based Courses Engaging

It can be a real challenge to “engage” your learners in a simulation-based course. Traditional “Show me” and “Let me try” simulations, which are supposed to be guided learning methods are more like spoon-feeding rather than guidance. At the same time, you can’t really do away with the simulations, can you? So how do you make them more engaging and retain learners’ attention so they don’t just click-click-click through the course and get their completion certificates?

However I do believe that the same basics apply to all types of courses as far as “engagement” and “involvement” of the learners is concerned – and that is that one of the best ways to engage learners is to use context.

A typical simulation-based elearning course will have “show me” and “let me try” simulations with guidance at every step. However, once you have shown learners how to complete different tasks in the application, you could try including scenario based exercises instead of step-by-step ‘let me try’ simulations. Give the learner a scenario that they can relate to from their regular work-life, give them a task to complete and all the information they would need to complete that task in the application and then ask them to actually perform the steps to compete the task in the simulated environment. This will be much more engaging than giving them a step-list and asking them to perform the steps one by one!

Another way of engaging the learners is to have them do the “let me try” exercises within a game. So, once you present the learner with the information they need, and tasks they have to complete using that information, get them to use the “shortest possible route” within the application to complete the tasks. The more tasks they complete using the shortest route, the more the points!

For the “show me” demonstrations, try to use edumercials instead of just “Show me” simulations. Edumercials are 5-6 minute self playing animations that are either story or scenario-based and demonstrate the use of different features within an application. The demonstration is woven into the story or scenario to make it engaging.

So just a simple trick, like adding context to the simulations can make them more engaging. Does anyone have any more ideas on this?

Instructional Design for Mobile Learning

Ever since it made its presence felt, instructional designers have been coming up with innovative ideas to create effective mobile learning. Is it sufficient to just convert existing online courseware to a mobile platform or does the real challenge lie in designing courseware from scratch for the mobile platform? With smart phones and tablet PCs also entering the mobile learning foray, and thanks to the new possibilities that come with these gadgets, these questions have risen anew: what makes for good design when developing mobile learning courseware? How do we use the mobile platform so that it plays a meatier role in mobile learning than just a display device?

Let’s take a look at some strategies that are being used in mobile learning:

1. Keep it short and just in time: One of the catch phrases going around eLearning vendor workplaces especially is ‘just-in-time learning’, which involves learning modules that you can access just when you want them. For example, viewing important information on new product updates while you’re on your way to an important sales meeting; receiving the right information at just the right time can help you clinch that deal! Does that mean learners are willing to spend an hour going through a course on their smart phones? Not necessarily! Learners prefer accessing courseware over their mobiles in short bursts. Shorter learning modules that deliver key messages in a short time span work better for consumers of mobile learning. So, tell your learners exactly what they need to know and give them only important information they can use.

2. The mobile’s part in learning: When planning the high level design for a mobile learning venture, think about how you would want your learners to use their mobile devices. Do you just want them passively browsing through your course pages or could their mobile devices be used more interactively? For example, your learners could click photographs or shoot short video clips or audio interviews, which could then be used as part of responses to online group discussions or even to initiate discussions with other participants. Essentially, get your participants to do more with their mobile devices than just viewing text on the screens.

3. Make interactivity more meaningful: To make interactivity more fun and meaningful, it should leverage the inherent features of the mobile medium. I recently came across this TED talk, wherein Mike Matas demonstrates an interactive eBook created for the iPad and iPhone. Not to come across as biased toward the iPhone and iPad, but what really grabbed me during this talk were the different possibilities for making content interactive. At one point Mike Matas interacts with a conceptual animation of how a windmill works by blowing across the screen of the iPad to make the windmill turn! That’s interactivity at its engaging best!

4. Apps for Learning: Apps are becoming an increasingly important part of the learning experience on tablets and smart phones. This is especially true of a growing number of iPad owners who define their iPad experience by the apps they use. An example here is the app created by the American Museum of Natural History, which provides visitors with additional information on over 140 displays in the museum. And this is in addition to offering visitors customizable tours, directions to different exhibitions, theaters, restaurants, shops, and restrooms in the building! Another example is NASA’s Visualization Explorer app, which is available for the iPad. This app provides users with high-resolution movies and stills and written stories about advanced space-based research.
When designing mobile learning courseware, instructional designers could look at how best to weave apps into the design strategy. Rather than designing courseware to be deployed in the traditional course interface, the design strategy could revolve around using apps that give learners more opportunity to learn through practice.

5. Mobile and Social Learning: Needless to say, mobile learning and social collaboration go well together! I experienced this first hand at a blended learning program conducted for mid-level management in Harbinger. The blended learning design included twitter feeds that participants could access over their mobiles. These feeds played an important role in the learning design because they contained information that the participants would need to successfully complete a mobile assessment at the end of the session. If you hadn’t been accessing these tweets, not only would you miss out on an important modality in the blended learning program but you would also find it difficult to get a good score on your assessment.

Both the apps described in point 4 (the American Museum of Natural History and NASA’s Visualization Explorer) allow users to connect to and share information on social networking websites.

These are just five different ways of ensuring engaging and effective learning design in mobile learning courseware. I’m sure there are a lot more out there, but these five should get instructional designers thinking and looking out for more creative ways to make learning mobile.