Bringing Organization Culture into Online Training

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“Think about the advantage of a place where talent wants to stay 25 years. Your turnover is lower, you don’t have as many people you have to train every year, break in every year, you don’t have as many mistakes. A seasoned workforce does a better job – and they cost you less money.”

David Rodriguez, CHRO, Marriott (Source)

Every organization has a culture that is unique to itself; this is what differentiates it from others. Organizational culture is an underlying aspect that has a significant impact on retaining key talent.

Being an eLearning development company, we create corporate training programs for many of our clients. We noticed that most companies tend to ignore organizational culture while developing online training. Since it is such an important consideration, we now attempt to capture the organization’s culture in its online training. Let me explain this with two interesting customer stories. Read on!

Online Training Module for a Restaurant Chain
A well-known restaurant chain (Name confidential) needed to frequently train new hires in multiple locations. It was a challenge for their trainers to travel to each franchise and train new hires on regular basis. There was a clear need for an online training program and hence this organization approached us. Realizing that their organizational culture was important to the company, we decided infuse the brand’s culture into the online training.

Here are few things we did that made this training program much sought after, both by the organization and its employees:

  1. We used caricatures of their key employees as mentors in the courses. The caricatures ranged from the owner of the restaurant chain to representatives from each work delivery. This included employees at the point of sale, to the ones preparing the order, to those delivering the order. This helped new employees establish a connection with the people in the organization.
  2. We used real voices of the owner and the employees instead of voices by professional artists. We also used actual photographs of the restaurant and its customers and inserted them at relevant places within the course to create a familiar look and feel.
  3. We also included real-time videos of various activities performed in the restaurant such as cooking, cleaning, customer service, etc. to help make the training more impactful.

Interesting, isn’t it? It helped us bring the complete restaurant environment right into the course. And as you must have imagined, it wasn’t even too expensive or time-consuming to make this happen. But the results were amazing!

Values Based Training Module for a Non-Profit Organization
Another example was for a non-profit organization, for the organizational values were central to their everyday work.

Diversity was an important value for the organization and by using employee photographs we were able to convey the organization’s value in our course. Employee photographs also accompanied narrations of real-life stories of how they have included the organization’s values-based culture in their work situations. This helped convey how the values can be practiced by learners on their jobs.

This course too, like the previous one, incorporated voices of employees to create a connection and lend a feel of authenticity.

Such courses tend to have a strong impact as each course is unique to the organization. It also helps bring in the feel of the organization into an online learning course and creates an engaging and rewarding experience for the learners.

An added advantage of this approach is that these courses turn out more cost-effective too

  1. Since the voices used in the course are of employees, the organization saves on professional recording cost.
  2. By using various on-site photographs of locations, real employees, in-house videos, there is no need to purchase any kind of stock images or videos.

Have you seen or come across such courses that capture the organization’s culture in interesting and cost-effective ways? I would be happy to know your thoughts on the same through comments below.

eLearning for Medical Education

The Medical Industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, with new research, technologies, and techniques being developed almost daily. However, along with the development of new medical technology, the industry of medical education is being hard-pressed to keep up. Traditionally, medical education has relied on experienced faculty training, student-patient interactions, and internships. However, considering the pace of development of medical technology, it’s only a matter of time before direct physical learning and interaction may become prohibitively difficult to employ.This isn’t exactly comforting for the patients, or even for the students themselves. However, interactive clinical case studies and surgical simulations in eLearning, are quickly gaining popularity as an efficient and cost-effective means of imparting education on new medical technologies.

As a matter of fact, medical students are themselves more interested in virtual systems and interactive case studies than in traditional methods of medical education. Case in point, systems such as the Dental Anatomy Software allow a dental student to explore accurate tooth anatomy and detail at their own pace of understanding, instead of having to look at 2-dimensional drawings and imagine it in 3 dimensions! This saves a lot of time and energy for both the student and the teacher, and also results in the student gaining a much more solid base of fundamental understanding. Virtual surgery simulations and virtual patients are helping to provide the same understanding-through-experience at a more advanced level of medical education as well.

That isn’t to say that medical technology is best learned through virtual experimentation alone. Hardly! The importance of watching a star surgeon performing a difficult operation is invaluable. However, with eLearning, the student can watch a video of the surgery being performed anytime they want to rather than having to depend upon the luck of the draw to be picked as an assistant for that surgery in real life. Every student gets an equal opportunity to watch the operation, learn from it, and if needed, watch again – as opposed to waiting for an almost exactly similar surgery to be performed again!

Watching videos of a surgery can only help so much, and cannot match the experience of performing the procedure yourself. Let’s face it – nobody’s that perfect! Like most humans, even medical students sometimes have to learn from mistakes. However, medical students have no margin for error in real life. With interactive virtual patients and virtual surgeries come the inevitable new trend of the eLearning industry – gamification! The instructional technique may be called ‘gamification’, but don’t be fooled! It has been proven that with the proper controls and environment, this technique results in an exponentially higher assimilation of content and performance as against application of the instruction learned through traditional methods.

To summarize, the medical industry is one of the few industries in the world with many bleeding-edge technologies being developed. Instructing students about these technologies needs to be done in a bleeding-edge manner as well – and that is what eLearning and ‘gamification’ accomplishes with ease!

Many medical schools and healthcare centers are now more than willing to adopt these modern educational techniques. Some of these early adopters of eLearning are now refurbishing themselves by moving the learning modules on mobiles devices like tablets and smart-phones. Harbinger has been working with several medical centers to transform conventional medical courses into interactive online modules.

Please mail us to setup an online meeting with Harbinger and experience the advances in medical education.

Designing a “Dual-Mode” Course!

When dealing with K12 providers, one of the common issues we need to address is the need to have teaching aids in the course. Most of the time, we create two versions of the course – one for the learner, without the teaching aids, and one with the aids, for the teacher. We recently completed a course for a K12 provider who needed to teach kids a chapter of history using World War II photographs as a medium.

We used a neat trick in this course that helped us to identify exactly what features needed to be stripped off for the student version of the course – We simply created a dual-mode course! All the teaching aids for the course were accessible through a button, so the student version simply had that button disabled!

We didn’t need to create the same course twice, and we could easily identify what information needed to be given as teaching aids. This also allowed the teacher to concentrate on going through the course using the teaching aids alone, while the students focused on the content that was being taught. You may ask, how can the teacher ignore the content being taught? They don’t!

Curious to learn more? Write to info@harbingergroup.com.

Using Course Interface as an Engagement Tool!

Course interfaces tend to become a bit monotonous these days. This has become even more common with the use of rapid interaction authoring tools, where the Graphical User Interface (GUI) is only customizable as far as their colors. The form, the shape, and method of interaction are all features that still need to be individually programmed and created from the ground up when they are needed.

We recently completed a course for a K12 provider who wanted to teach kids a chapter of history through the use of World War 2 photographs. Most of the solutions available had interfaces featuring Back and Next buttons, maybe fancy page number panels, or perhaps a spin-wheel with the various pages on them. There was nothing that could be used to blend into a story and give a more environmental connection to the content that was to be taught in the course.

Then it hit me! I remembered the old View-Masters we used to have and how we used to spend so much time as kids looking at various places or photographs through them, and thought to myself “Why can’t kids today experience the same thing?” Right there was the interface we were looking for! What better way to have attention focused on the photographs that were to be used as a medium for teaching this chapter on history? We created the course with this vision, if you’ll pardon the pun, and needless to say, the kids loved it!

We created a GUI that made it look like the learner was viewing the photographs on a View-Master, with the tip of the circular view-disk peeking out from the top. Clicking buttons on either side of the disk allowed the learner to move ahead. The content to be taught is accessed through push-buttons built onto the View-Master frame, allowing the learner to view the story behind the photograph as well as the things to be discussed regarding the photograph.

Want to share any such “WOW” moment in your course design? Post your comment here or write to info@harbingerknowledge.com.

Presenting Boring Content…

We often talk about “making” a course interactive or engaging, but how can we approach content that is not engaging in itself? “Converting” flat and uninspired page-turners into something that actually engages and retains the learner’s interest is not as easy as it seems, and we learned this the hard way. This would be best demonstrated by explaining how we worked on one of our courses.

The job seemed simple enough when it first came to us – a course explaining company policies. A drab page-turner made in Powerpoint, the content was capable of putting even the Instructional Designers to sleep! The content was vital and important information, to be sure, but if it failed to interest the teacher, how would it ever engage the learner?

The content that came already used some interactivities created in Articulate Engage, and was published using Presenter. But those interactivities were as engaging as pressing a “Next” button that appeared in different places on the screen. Let’s face it – Tabs and Process interactivities are still page-turners of sorts. Do we add more of these interactivities? Maybe turn some of the content into interactive diagrams or a “click-and-reveal”? That would only serve to reduce the number of screens in the course, not make it any more interesting than it was. The solution had to be much more radical.

We were eager to try out some branching scenarios, but the scenarios given didn’t leave room for much engagement, and neither did the final seat-time of the course permit us to use some creative stories or building up and elaborate atmosphere. Using Articulate Storyline, we managed to hit on a solution that gave a most beautifully interactive way of navigating through the course. Since we couldn’t use branching scenarios with what we were given, we decided to turn the entire course into one big scenario!

We used a scenario where it’s the learner’s first day at the company (which it very well might have been in real life), and they are being given a tour of the office. This allowed us to place each module in a separate virtual location, each one in a different “room” in the office. Just like an office, the learner is free to move between the various rooms, creating a non-linear navigation for the course.

We often use mentors or guides to better engage the learner, but with the scenario of several rooms, we managed to get closer to creating the office environment – we had no less than 5 different mentors in our course! Each mentor guided the learner through a different set of rooms, creating an effect of that person having expertise in that area, just like a real office!

The content itself was presented as a visual treat. The various “rooms” allowed to us have different backgrounds for each module, and have the content appear in styles that was similar to what you would find in that “room”. We created “click-and-reveal” interactivities on non-Engage screens, with various visual effects, giving some more interactive opportunities for the learner.

Where the original course was interactive with “sit-and-stare” Powerpoint screens in between, the new course tied them together into a beautiful bundle that was engaging and interactive even on non-Engage screens.

The crowning glory of this whole project – it was done in less than a month!

Interested to learn more? Write to info@harbingerknowledge.com.