Choosing eLearning Strategy Solutions: eLearning Styles

eLearning Development Incorporates Different Styles

When researching eLearning options, managers are not comparing apples to apples. There are various types of eLearning, just like there are many various types of apples. When choosing eLearning for your next project, remember the details are always important!

Here are some eLearning styles and how they are used:

Self-paced slides: These are usually a series of slides with information. Good for basic tutorials and a walk-through of basic info. Example: HR training on the company’s history.
Self-paced interactive: This is a bit more complex than a slide-show. Here there may be quizzes or exercises that demand the attention of the learner. This works best when you need to check for basic comprehension and test for basic competencies. Example: HR training on operational policies and procedures (how to ask for a day-off, how to address harassment, etc.)
Self-paced with asynchronous human interaction: Here participants learn at their own pace, but also interact with other learners in a threaded discussion board or blog. This allows for discussion of elements pertaining the course. There is  interaction with mentors, peers, and subject matter experts. This style works best with more complex information that requires deeper critical thinking skills and creativity. Example: Customer Service advanced training: handling the most difficult customer complaints.
Self-paced with synchronous human interaction: This style is interesting. It allows the learner to pick up most of the content on their own, but then they discuss the content with peers, mentors and/or subject matter experts in a live chat or even a face-to-face setting. This works particularly well when there are physical skills required as part of the competencies. Example: student nurse learns about the anatomy of the arm online and about the concept of inserting an intravenous needle, but learns with an instructor and a live participant how to insert a needle in the arm of the participant.
Instructor led: unlike the last two, this style is not self-paced. The instructor sets the pace and walks the learner through the content within specified time frames. This works best when the content is extremely complex and requires very strong guidance. Example: teaching of very complex theory (physics, chemistry, engineering, etc.)
Blended (aka hybrid): a mix of any or all of the above.

As you can see, the success of an e-learning strategy depends on the type of e-learning and how well it was matched to its objective.

Which strategy does your organization need?

Focus on Organizational Alignment, continued

From the observations of many managers we have learned that organizational alignment is linked to people’s perceptions.

That is why communication is a key success factor in the implementation of any organizational strategy.

Things to watch for

Technology Executive Gary Clarke reminds us to keep thing simple, and cautions us about pre-existing biases:

“In the past I have framed the “big picture” as simply as possible. I then meet with each manager, and if need be, with each person to link the big picture to their activities. I always use a whiteboard to help create a visual map.

I make certain that each manager can articulate the big picture. You can expect that each person’s version of the big picture will vary to meet either their bias, or limitation in comprehension.”

To better understand some of these biases CEO Eugene Rembor adds:

“There are people who can’t see colors while many others can. There are people who have no night-vision and there are people who simply will never see the big picture. I guess you have to accept it as a fact of live – otherwise every single employee would be a director, VP or CEO because they could see and comprehend the big picture.”

Program Manager Robert Jakobson offers the following suggestion for dealing with individuals who may have trouble seeing the big picture:

“Keep in mind, not everyone needs or wants to see the big picture to contribute to it. In fact many, find that a big picture distracts them from focusing on the element of the picture they’ve defined as their contributing portion. For these people – insure they understand their area of focus, and that it does in fact connect. So even if they don’t “see” the big picture they see how they connect to it.”

Communicating the big picture effectively

Business Developent expert James Potter suggests:

“Learn to paint really well, explain, draw, talk, telephone, engage and explain it again.

Show them the big picture, get them to draw it for you, get them to understand every action has a reaction and the potential chain of events that unfolds.”

Finally, be sure to communicate the big picture to your staff in a positive and memorable way. Web Development firm Owner Eileen Bonfiglio used the following exercise:

“The most successful and memorable meeting I held on this topic was a breakfast meeting in where I brought donuts. I asked everyone to focus on the center and tell me what was lacking or missing, tons of responses. I then asked them to look at the whole donut and tell me what they saw. They got it and remember it to this day – keep your eye on the donut, not the hole.”

Focus on Organizational Alignment

Alignment with the overall corporate strategy depends on a solid understanding of the big picture.

And this understanding starts with the leadership working toward organizational alignment. To put it succinctly, Florida Certified General Contractor Mark Ernest says “Understand it yourself.”

Management Consultant Octavio Ballesta expands on this thought adding:

“Be sure that you have a comprehensive and accurate knowledge from the corporate “big picture”, that includes corporate Mission, Vision and Strategy; corporate goals envisioned in the strategy; projects that are being developed to meet the strategy and relevant metrics to measure effectiveness of corporate strategy.”

The Big Picture Is About Them

Next comes communicating your view of the big picture to staff. VP of Marketing Rajesh Mehta believes communication of the company’s goals is a task of empowering your staff to make them a reality.

Part of empowering staff is to help them realize their own role in the big picture. Leadership Development Consultant Drew Bishop contributes this comment:

“When working to help staff pay attention to the bigger issues, it is important for them to understand how the big picture impacts them, personally, and, more importantly, how what they do impacts the big picture.”

When should you communicate the big picture? The approach by Energy Expert Ray Miller is one of constant open communication: “I communicate it all the time. Hold nothing back.”

How much and how deep you want to go in your communication depends on the situation and the person or group you are talking to. Terry Seamon suggests that at minimum you and your managers ought to communicate

 

  • How the business is doing
  • Where the business is heading
  • The opportunities the business has
  • The challenges the business faces

According to Ballesta, you should plan meetings where you include as much detail as appropriate:

“When the progress of the corporate strategy can objectively measured do not hesitate in sharing the financial performance, operational improvements, technologic enhancements and market positioning achievements that are derived from proper strategy execution. Sharing this information will helpful to align to your staff around the practices that should be followed to achieve the corporate goals in the future.

Schedule periodic meetings with your staff to explain about other business cases where having executed similar corporate strategies signified outstanding financial outcomes; an improvement in the market positioning; a better business agility; operational excellence and/or innovation based culture.”

Knowing the Job Doesn’t Equal Training Skills

Staff Training is a Specialized Skill

The situation is all too common. An organization, in this case a call center, wants the senior associates to coach and train the less experienced employees. So the mandate comes from above that each one of the more experienced staff should plan to do a series of presentations for their units.

Is this a good idea? Let’s be brutally honest with ourselves for a minute. Not everyone is a good presenter. Even with training, there will be those who will stick to reading every word off each slide of a PowerPoint presentation. Others will be long-winded lecturers, and others will simply resent the fact that they are being forced to speak in front of a crowd.

It is true, seniority often means more experience and skill at doing one’s job, but the fact that one can do one’s job well does not immediately translate into being able to train someone else the job. To force staff training on senior staff may lead to conflict and frustration.

Before we send out global mandates like these, let’s remember some of the basic rules of employee engagement. If people are not properly outfitted with the tools for the job, they are likely to fail. If you plan to have your senior staff become the training and coaching body of your junior staff, make sure that you follow these steps

First we need to assess the capabilities of the individual. Perhaps the person is not a good public speaker now, but with training and support he might become one. Or perhaps public speaking is not this person’s strength. Instead this person may be a great coach.  See who is best suited for different staff development tasks. Some will be better presenters than others, some will be better coaches, etc.

Then support them by offering them training and resources to become better at their given task (coaching, delivering training, etc.). Finally, continue to assess their skill level and continue to support their growth and development as part of your staff development strategy.

If you need assistance developing a training strategy for your organization, feel free to get in touch with us. We’ll be happy to help you develop the best strategy for your situation.

SWOT App for Android

New at Google Play: SWOT Analysis App

Check out our newly updated Android App: SWOT Analysis. Now available in Google Play (formerly Android Market).

http://learning4managers.com/SWOTAPP2

Developed by Albert S. Humphrey in the 1960′s, SWOT Analysis is a strategic planning method, and the fist step in formulating a plan. It helps you assess the value of your initiative or goal. Created by Learning4Managers.com. You can learn to apply the concepts of SWOT Analysis.

The updated app contains new examples and an updated SWOT template in PDF format.

Multi-platform Learning Development

An Approach for Holistic Learning Development

A balanced view of learning requires us to recognize and understand that we do not learn in a way, we learn in many ways .

I recall a situation where a director of a marketing organization requested my assistance with a problem. Some of her employees kept running into problems with the clients due to seemingly unforeseen events. She wanted to know if there was some kind of training to resolve the problem.

This was not the first, nor last time I have heard the same request. Not only is there an assumption that the problem’s solution is in training alone, without considering other factors. Many managers have in their mind that when facing a problem, the solution may be in some sort of training program. Mind you, the manager is not considering a long-term process here. They are looking for the silver bullet. The magic pill. The cure to the problem that will in fix it all in just one single instance or intervention.

Fortunately, learning does not work that way. I say fortunately, because if learning was this simple, we probably would have never developed critical thinking skills, nor would we be able to learn from our experiences. We need to face the fact that learning is a complex process composed of many complex sub-processes.

Let’s assume our manager’s problem was indeed one that could be solved with training. You have seen this before, what happens 30 days after the workshop? Studies reveal we will have forgotten most, if not all, of what was taught. That is unless we take some countermeasures to avoid this loss.

Learning requires a Multiplatform approach. If we are thinking of a workshop, immediately we need to also think of supporting the content so it is not forgotten. One vehicle could be ongoing reviews with the individual’s supervisor. Or an informal monthly quiz.

By using several platforms to support the same content over a period of time, we help the individual internalize this knowledge. Once this happens, the person will be able to use the new knowledge more efficiently.

Systematic Approach to Training SAT

Who Does What in the Systematic Approach to Training SAT?

SAT is essentially a blueprint that we use to walk organizations through the design of their training solutions. The most widely used model of SAT used in designing a learning initiative is a process named ADDIE. ADDIE stands for: Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, Evaluation.

But who does all this? Who should be involved at each step of the process?

Each organization will have a different way to approach SAT depending on the project, available staff, resources, and timelines.

Here is a suggested approach and guidance:

Analysis

In this phase you determine the need, the goal, and the gap in-between the two. To this end, it is good for you to establish a project advisory board.

In this board it is a good idea to include someone at the highest appropriate level of management to champion the project and who will keep everyone accountable for the end result of the learning initiative.

You may also want to include feedback from prospective learners and Subject Matter Experts (SEM’s), so make sure their voice is represented in the board. Finally don’t forget the end-user, the recipient of whatever results the training may bring.

To make things run smoothly, we strongly suggest you appoint a project coordinator or Project Manager (PM) to oversee this stage.

Design

Here you will begin the work of developing a learning solution. For this phase you will need the help of an Instructional Designer (ID), and SMEs who will work together with the PM .

Here we have to answer another question: What is an Instructional Designer and what do they do?

We’ll cover that in Part II.

Connecting Customer Education & Staff Training

In business, these are two simple truths we often ignore:

  • If your customers don’t understand how to use your product or service, they’ll leave.
  • If your employees don’t know how or what to communicate to customers and peers, their productivity will be poor.

Either way, your bottom line suffers because of lacking knowledge. Your most cost-effective solution: Customer Education & Staff Training.

Customer Education

Your customers need to know about you, your products and your services.

  • Marketing and branding: Your customers need to know who you are and what you do.
  • Products: Your customers need demonstrations or user-friendly instructions.
  • Services: Your customers may need presentations or a walk-through.

Here are some ways to increase customer knowledge:

  • Educational Games and Activities: Feature a product or a service online by using an interactive game.
  • Friendly Challenges: Invite your customers to a friendly competition and to test their skill and knowledge with an online pop-quiz.
  • Product guides and tours: Provide CD-Rom or web–based tutorials, product guides, and virtual tours.

Staff Training

Skills required to make your business a success:

  • Communication : Essential to working with customers and peers. Only people with above average skills will be successful.
  • Leadership : There is only room for people who demonstrate solid leadership skills. Help your staff improve.

Here are some ways to improve staff training:

  • Self-paced training: Build a CD-Rom or Web-based training library that staff can access at their convenience or on-demand.
  • Just-in-time training: When launching a new product or service, broadcast a presentation over the Web and showcase new features.
  • Orientation: Reduce cost by converting orientation and other training into cost-effective online modules.

For an assessment of your situation and possible learning solutions, contact Learning4Managers

Keys to Organizational Learning

Examining What Drives an Organization to Improvement Through Learning

Recently I was asked question in a forum about the three most important elements, processes, or systems which drive organizational learning. In my reply, I stated that this can be analyzed from multiple angles; however, the most elemental pieces include

  • In the right organization: strategy
  • In a mediocre organization: someone’s impetus or impulse
  • In the wrong organization: reaction to a problem or crisis.

I find that the best organizations manage their learning initiatives as a very important part of their business strategy and objectives.

In order to support the organization’s strategy, the best organizations will put into place these three key elements:

  • The people (they come first). Get the right learning champion first, then give that person the right staff, and let them Identify the right learners. If they are the right people they will be smart enough to know how to identify the right business objectives and how to put together the right programs for the right people.
  • The infrastructure. People need the right tools to do their job, otherwise even the best people are doomed to fail.
  • Finally, the support. From money to time, someone has to support the learning operation with real assets. If not, you hired a lot of good people and bought a lot of nice equipment and software, but rendered the team impotent.

Learning4Managers is a staff and customer training and development service by Accolade Institute, Inc. Although we are based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, we offer services to clients worldwide. We help with projects of all sizes and complexities. Beyond simply putting a curriculum or a course together, we will help you think through the entire strategy, from training development to content delivery, course marketing, and more.

See what Learning4Managers can do for your organization

Six Thinking Hats, Instructional Design, & ADDIE

Applying the “Six Hats” to the Analysis Stage of ADDIE

Edward Bono in his book “6 Thinking Hats” presents the metaphor of wearing different hats that represent different styles of thinking. Each style gives us a different perspective, which helps us gain a deeper understanding of the project at hand.

Let’s take a closer look at how we can apply Bono’s six hats to the Analysis stage of the ADDIE Model.

  • White Hat: Data and Information

While wearing the White Hat you will focus on information and data alone. In the Analysis stage, this is where you begin your consultation with your client by gathering as much information as you can about the current state of affairs. While looking at data, try to identify  trends. The ADDIE  Analysis Form Template can guide you in the data collection stage.

  • Red Hat: Emotion and Intuition

When you wear the Red Hat you’ll want to seek out feelings and intuition. Ask those involved in the process how they feel about current performance, and how they would feel if desired performance was achieved. Try to identify what people feel strongly about, and what their gut tells them. Strong emotions can be great allies or formidable rivals, and we should not ignore them. At this stage you may also consider using Kirkpatrick’s first level of evaluation as a way to get to the emotional reaction from those involved in the process.

  • Black Hat: Obstacles and Challenges

The Black Hat keeps us grounded by taking a closer look at possible challenges. Here we analyze everything that could go wrong. By addressing the bad news during the Analysis stage, we can create plans for contingencies upfront . Not all contingency plans need to be created in the Analysis phase, we only need to identify what needs to be addressed. The contingency plans themselves can be developed in the Design and Development phases. The ADDIE Analysis Form Template includes a section for challenges.

  • Yellow Hat: Advantages and Benefits

The Yellow Hat brings our focus back to a vision of success. Vision is what guides our Goals, and our  goals direct our Objectives. These VGOs need to be aligned, and they need to be positive. VGOs need to point to an Advantave and Benefits statement that clearly identifies how the learning intervention will make things better. In the ADDIE Analysis Form Template, in the Vision section, make sure to include an Advantages and Benefits statement.

  • Green Hat: Innovation and Creativity

The Green Hat is primarily used in the Design and Development phases because it relates to innovation and stands for creativity. In the Analysis phase, you can use the Green Hat as a reminder that not all problems are to be taken at face value. Often, a performance gap is the result of deeper issues. Keep an open mind as you develop your Analysis. The Green Hat also gives us an opportunity to find new and creative ways to address performance problems.  Some times your clients have pre-determined ideas as to the kind of learning interventions that should be used, only because they may not be aware of other alternatives. During the Analysis phase you may be able to introduce your clients to new technologies or approaches.

  • Blue Hat: Direction and Control

The Blue Hat is the one that provides structure, methodology, and decision making processes. You may have noticed that in the ADDIE  Analysis Form Template we included room for leaders, champions, and stakeholders. In the Analysis phase you want to establish an early structure of reporting duties, responsibilities, and a decision-making structure.

As you can see, this adaptation of “The 6 Thinking Hats” by Bono can help organize your thinking during the Analysis stage, and helps you gain a deeper understanding of the projects you work on.

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