Why you don't need an LMS

Learning Management Systems. A dreaded software category for most people who need to do eLearning. They're bulky, hard to use, hard to integrate, expensive.  And the cheaper ones just don't do what you really need them to do. 

LMS's have been poorly executed not because the software developers who create them are bad programmers, but rather because it's software that's trying too hard to be "off the shelf".

In many organizations, the whole online learning system has become so convoluted as to be unusable by any but the most dedicated. That's a problem. Unless you plan to have a dedicated resource who is going to do nothing but manage the LMS and its component parts, you should consider a different approach.

Let me explain.

Let's suppose you want to go deep sea fishing—a pretty complicated and expensive endeavor. How do you approach this pursuit? Do you buy a boat, purchase all of the fishing gear and tackle, plot out where you will fish and then set forth to go catch some marlin, ala Ernest Hemingway?

Maybe, if it's really the only thing you have to do.

 

But if not, it's more effective to charter with a captain who already knows the waters, has a ship, all the gear and knows where the best fish are to be found.  

We recommend the latter approach for most companies looking to be effective with their online training efforts. We call it Managed Learning Services.

It's easier and a lot faster to let a third party do the heavy lifting, things like implementing the LMS, building the courses, handling the tech work like audio and video and uploading and file formatting and creating custom reports and on and on. Preferably a company that spends all of their waking hours doing these things. They are going to do it better than you.

Why?  Well in our case, in addition to the experience, we also have developers on staff who have created and implemented learning systems for years. That means we can move very very fast in setting up your site, getting your users set up and your reporting exactly the way you want it.

It also means that we can do integrations like single sign-on and sharing data with other business systems that are all but impossible with off-the-shelf (supposedly) LMS software.

Let me give you an example of the type of advantage I'm talking about, a specific case.

One of our clients wanted to integrate sales data into a training performance report in order to see if there was correlation between sales training and sales results. We put together the technology to import the sales data along with the training data and formatted a report exactly as the client wanted to see it.  That took about three days to turn around.  Try that with your LMS and IT department.

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Here's another one.

We had a client that wanted to show a map of reports from the learning system that showed performance support data from a set of checklists. So we integrated Google Maps and voila, now you can see the reports geographically on a map.  Want those pins to be green intead of red?  No problem.

The list goes on and on. A company that has the capabilities to do custom programming from an existing system architecture, as well as content development and design is a very powerful animal.

Our clients appreciate it because they can focus on things like working with subject matter experts (SMEs), monitoring users, updating content and measuring the effectiveness of the eLearning effort.

If you're interested in offloading some of your online training burden, let us know!

5 Screencasting Tools You Need to Create a Great Microlearning Video

Screencasting software is a necessary addition to any video microlearning toolbox. The ability to capture what's happening on your screen is not only useful for software walkthroughs, but allows you to quickly and easily create simple motion graphics videos using presentation programs like Keynote and PowerPoint.

Why use a Screencast instead of built in video exporters?

Both PowerPoint and Keynote have video export built in, but you should still use a screencasting tool to capture your vids.  Why?  

  • You can capture your voiceover at the same time and control the flow of the program
  • You can easily edit the resulting videos
  • You get additional features like the ability to record video from your webcam at the same time—so your audience gets to see your pretty face too!

There is a wide selection of screencast software out there, both free and paid solutions.  Here are is a list so you can start getting your microlearning video content up and running quickly.

Commercial Software

ScreenFlow by Telestream 

With ScreenFlow you can record any part of your monitor while also capturing your video camera, iOS device, microphone, multi-channel audio device and your computer audio.  It also has a built-in editor which is invaluable if you don't want to use a third-pary video program like FinalCut or Premier.

Camtasia by TechSmith

Camtasia offers a similar feature set with the ability to record your screen, webcam and also offers a feature rich video and audio editor which allows you to export your content seamlessly. 

Free Solutions

Camstudio.org  is able to record all screen and audio activity on your computer and create industry-standard AVI video files.  Windows only.

Screencast-O-Matic is a  Java-based screencasting tool that requires no local software. Works on both Mac and Windows.

QuickTime is included with every modern Mac and allows you to do screen recordings without any additional software. If you want to edit your screencast or add audio you'll need additional editing software.

Sending your Microlearning

Once you've got your microlearnin videos set up, you need to send them out to your audience and track their performance.  Check out ExpandShare to see the easiest way to use your microlearning videos for refresher training or outbound learning.

 

 

All About Microlearning

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Microlearning is all about the small, and it appears that small is the next big thing.

Tiny bursts of elearning in video (or any other highly digestible media) is defined as microlearning, and it usually means that the short subject of the training can be learned in a very short period of time.  It's a completely different approach than long-form training or macrolearning. 

 

Here are the defnining characteristics of microlearning:

  • It's narrowly focused
  • It's presented in small chunks
  • It's designed to have a minimal time impact on the learner

All of the above make microlearning perfect for mobile.  It's also ideal for refresher training, and for training on the most important topics.  Why would you use microlearning for your most important topics?  Because you can keep these key topics front and center without infringing on your students' time.  You could hit them up every day with the same key topic if it's mission critical.

Microlearning, when done well, can have the same enagagement and impact level as advertsing.  Ads have a HUGE impact in a very short span of time. The car companies don't need 12 hours of online learning to explain why you should buy their car. These types of messages are carefully crafted to make their point quickly and impactfully (a disclipline sorely lacking in the eLearning space).

Many have claimed that microlearning is the natural outcome of the millenial generation and their short attention spans.  There's some truth to that.  But it's also true that humans digest information in short "chunks" natively. It's our natural way of understanding things. We actually can't comprehend long form training as well as we can these microbursts.

In fact, microlearning has been used for ages for memorization: flash cards, cliff notes, mnemonic devices are all examples.

And all of the many one or two minute single-subject videos on YouTube.  How to fix your faucet, etc.  These are microlearning for the modern age.

Of course, in this busy day and age, attention spans are shorter.  And that makes microlearning perfect for learning on your phone while you're on the train to work in the morning. Or just getting started with your day—especially when you know it's not going to take an hour of your time.

It's not likely that microlearning will replace long-form training.  In fact, just the opposite.  

With its natural tendencies toward isolated chunks of learning, micro-learning is not so great at providing a framework, or the big picture of the training material, and be able to connect disparate elements of it into one coherent picture.  

Microlearning is just another tool in the toolbox. It's really ideal for refresher training and follow up training.

And it's particularly good when it's active, not passive. What I mean is, when the eLearning is sent to the student as opposed to the student having to go seek it out.

Passive microlearning is great for topics where the user is highly motivated to research and discover the information (the YouTube broken faucet example).

But what if you are trying to push information out to a set of learners. Wouldn't it be great to be able to send it directly to their inbox or text them on their mobile phone?

In this new landscape, microlearning will be a wonderful new tool for modern eLearning, as it hits all the sweet spots:

– It’s short  and therefore engaging
– It's natural because it's the way humans learn
– It's mobile and can be done on-person anytime

Small is the next big thing!

 

If you're interested, check out ExpandShare to see how your program can be an epic success.

 

5 Steps to Scripting Great Microlearning Videos

Video is used all over the place for educational content. You're going to find it one of the most effective media in your toolkit because it's engaging, multimedia and easy to do. You don't need to be a videographer or video expert to create great content.  In fact, your smartphone has pretty much everything you need. Video is great for m

 obile platforms as well—all smartphones support it. Major video sites like Wistia report that half of their viewers are mobile.

So, here are the steps to designing great video content.

Step 1: Be Focused

Make sure you have just ONE learning objective for your microlearning video.  You should be able to ask just a single assessment question to verify whether your learner has got it. Break things down into their most discrete chunks. 

For example, if you are using a microlearning video to retrain some restaurant employees on washing their hands, focus tightly on a small chunk of information. One of the best ways to do this is to start with the assessment question.

Let's say the main thing you want to teach is how long employees should wash their hands.  Here's the assessment

How long do you need to wash your hands before returning to work?

  1. 20 seconds
  2. 30 seconds
  3. 40 seconds

This makes the content you create in order to teach this object very easy to create. You are now focused on the "timing" part of the process.  

Step 2: Think in Pictures

It's easy to get caught up in scripting and voice over, but remember, this is video.  You need to show the user what you want them to learn. Reinforce that with text on screen and voice over, but the main avenue for training in video is motion. Show the process, the procedure, the information.

Here's an example

 

 

 

Step 3: Write it Down

Unless you are an improv artist, you'll want a script. Preferably one that includes the visual story as well as the dialogue or voice over. Keep it short, engaging and direct. With microlearning, you have time to tell a story, but it's a very short story.  

30 second advertising is a good place to look for inspiration—short ads are a form of micro marketing, if you will.  We can use the same sort of engagement techniques and micro storytelling that good TV advertising firms use.

Step 4: Delete the Fluff

If you're just trying to convey information, then avoid distractions.  Stick to your story and make it straight to the point. Your audience will appreciate the fact that you're not wasting their time with extraneous fluff.  So much of long-form elearning is wasted time.  Here's your opportunity to cut to the chase!

Step 5: Review and Test

Try your material out on a test audience. Have a couple of takes which you can take a look at later. Or better yet, use a sample group of your audience to see which content is more effective at reaching your learning objective. A good microlearning system will have analytics which you can track and use to verify competency before and after.

So, there they are, five steps to great video microlearning 

  • Focus on a single objective
  • Think visually
  • Script it out
  • Delete any fluff
  • Test and Review

If you're interested, check out ExpandShare's eLearning Services to see how your program can be an epic success.

The Compelling Case to Connect Learning to Organizational Performance

Organizations have the power to determine whether training programs have the impact they’re supposed to, but the majority of them still rely on outdated measures of lesser value. In this post, we’ll discuss why it’s so important to measure a learning program’s impact on performance, why it can be hard, and some tips for getting started.

Connecting Learning and Performance...What Does That Mean, Exactly?

Training followed a typical path for a long time. When someone is new to an organization, they learn about the mission, the importance of their role, and how to perform it correctly. As they mature in their role, additional training may be provided as circumstances warrant; new software, systems, techniques or protocols are all common drivers of training.

This approach to training is based more on what we think people should be trained on, rather than what individual and organizational performance data is telling us. L&D is experiencing a shift to include more of the latter: looking at results to tell us where and what kind of training is needed.

Slow Adoption of Data-Driven Learning Strategy

Brandon Hall Group’s (BHG) recent webinars and articles have focused on the need for organizations to connect the learning function to business performance, and the rather surprising number of organizations that still aren’t doing it.

We’re excited to see this topic brought to the forefront by an industry leader and think tank, because it’s one we’ve focused on for several years in the development of ourlearning management software, ExpandShare. It’s a passion of mine.

We want to share some of BHG’s findings from the recent The State of Learning & Development research report, as discussed during a November, 2015 webinar:

  1. Researchers separated “high performing organizations” from the overall group of respondents and found an interesting trend. High Performing Organizations,  as defined by BHG researchers, had a year-over-year increase in key performance indicators. Experiencing growth in areas like revenue, customer satisfaction, and market share, these organizations are also more likely to employ today’s learning and development best practices.
    • They are more likely to build a learning strategy to guide activities.
    • They are more likely to base learning strategy on organizational performance goals.
    • They are more likely to use advanced measurement types beyond Kirkpatrick’s Level 1 to determine the impact of learning activities and strategy.
  2. When asked about connecting the learning function to business performance, the results were, again, quite telling:
    • Just over 80% of high performing organizations indicated they’ve tied L&D to business outcomes to a “moderate or high degree”.
    • That number dropped to about 65% for all respondents.
  3. When asked why learning and performance should be connected, survey respondents offered the reasons listed below. Note the primary focus is ensuring the training department delivers what is most needed by the business to drive success.
    • “To align learning strategy with business needs” (65.3% of all respondents)
    • “To develop strategies for addressing L&D needs” (33.3% of all respondents)
    • “Analyze L&D needs” (33.1%)
    • “Promote strong financial management” (24.5%)
    • “Strengthen ethics and government” (22.1%)
    • “Evaluate L&D” (17.4%)
  4. Respondents were also asked about how they measure learning programs. About 50% of survey respondents claimed they measure the majority (75-100%) of their learning programs at Kirkpatrick Level 1 - Satisfaction. 40% are measuring none of their learning programs at Level 4 - Results. Let that one simmer for a minute. Assuming respondents are a representative sample, 40% of organizations have no way of knowing whether their training programs have any impact on business results, and they’re not even attempting to find out.
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Look For Meaningful Data to Inform and Guide Your Learning Strategy

Marketers have been through what L&D departments are going through now. For a long time, many marketing tactics weren’t very measurable, and if they were it wasn’t terribly meaningful information. The number of people who could potentially have your television ad broadcast in their home isn’t super helpful. It was hard to determine an ROI. Digital marketing, big data, and platforms that power entire marketing strategies, like Marketo and HubSpot, have allowed marketers to track all kinds of metrics and make swift tactical adjustments to maximize results.

Similarly, training departments have relied on “smile sheets” and quizzes to gauge the success of a course. While interesting, these measures aren’t terribly meaningful. Just because someone says they enjoyed a course doesn’t mean they will perform better at their job. Just because they score 100% on a quiz doesn’t mean they will have retained that information a month down the line.

Training departments need data to tell them whether training activities are impacting on-the-job performance and moving the needle. The figure below lists some of the KPIs Brandon Hall’s survey respondents indicated were good measures of success. Some others may be:

  • Increase in Sales
  • Point-of-Sale Behavior
  • Equipment downtime
  • Problem Resolution
  • Customer Complaints
  • Inspection Results
  • And more, depending on your organization’s unique KPIs

Brandon Hall Group: The State of L&D: Trends in Learning Technology, Strategy, and More (2015)

Why Isn’t Everyone Measuring the Impact of Learning Programs?

Talking to folks at organizations of all shapes and sizes, we hear a lot of the same challenges when it comes to implementing these practices. In short, it’s hard. If it weren’t, everyone would be doing it by now.

  • It often requires pulling data from multiple systems within the organization, and that’s not always a piece of cake. It requires buy-in from the necessary departments and, of course, the IT work to import or export relevant data.
  • You may find you need another platform or external resource that’s a difficult sell internally.
  • If your internal analytics team is already swamped, getting help crunching data can be tough.

While Not Always Easy, It’s Worth It

Armed with the right results-oriented information, L&D teams have the ability to createneeded learning programs and deliver them to the right people at the right time. They will know how much their work contributes to the meeting of organizational goals.

But What If Our Training Programs Aren’t Making An Impact?

This isn’t something you should worry about. First, that’s highly unlikely. Second, even if you start taking a deeper look at the impact of training and don’t like what you see, the data will also help you design an improvement plan. It will make your job easier, not harder.

 

If you're interested, check out ExpandShare's eLearning Services to see how your program can be an epic success.

What’s the Role of Informal Learning in Modern Learning Strategy?

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Hilarious examples can be found all over the Internet and in everyday life of kids mimicking adults. They overhear us at our best and worst moments and turn around and repeat what they’ve heard, often to hysterical effect.

Learning through observation is the very first type of learning we experience as children. It helps babies start to become more self-sufficient. Young kids learn how to solve puzzles or beat the next level in a video game by watching their siblings or friends.

As we grow into our teens and adulthood, a greater percentage of our learning is structured, but that doesn’t stop experiential - or informal - learning from occurring. It’s a learning modality as old as the human race itself. Older, even, as we could surely studylearning behavior of non-human species and the role it’s played in biological evolution.

We’re most interested in informal learning in the learning & development space. It’s been a hot topic in recent years as we put our collective heads together and try to better understand the informal learning our training audiences experience and how it impacts our work.

What Is (And What is Not) Informal Learning

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In order to understand how informal learning fits within the greater scope of organizational training, we need to have a clear understanding of what is, and what is not, informal learning. And, well, it depends on who you ask.

For our purposes, we define informal learning as learning that happens without intent or structure. It occurs naturally, on- or off-the-job. It happens through observing others, participating in water-cooler conversations, overhearing a discussion happening down the hall or in the next check-out line over, visiting your daily Internet news sites...by simply going about your day, you learn things. Those things might be applicable to how you do your job. You didn’t plan to learn anything, but you did.

 

Non-formal and self-directed learning are two other terms commonly thrown around and mixed into discussions about informal learning, and we need to be sure to differentiate. Non-formal learning differs from informal learning in that it’s intentional and at least somewhat structured or orchestrated, though clearly less so than formal learning. Self-directed learning is intentional on the part of the learner, and not necessarily structured or orchestrated by a third party, such as a training department.

Now that we’re clear on informal learning’s definition, let’s talk about why it’s great. Informal learning comes with a lot of upside. The lack of intent or structure leaves the individual somewhat unaware that knowledge transfer has taken place. It doesn’t feel like work and occurs entirely on the individual’s terms. It’s not something they’re forced to do, and this can make the individual very receptive to new information.

A Framework for a Holistic Approach to Learning

Created in 1994 by the Center for Creative Leadership, it’s hardly a new idea. But as technology has made rapid changes to the learning and development space, analysts from the Brandon Hall Group and others have emphasized the 70:20:10 framework as part of ongoing discussions about learning strategy.

The model offers a guideline for developing a successful, blended learning strategy, which should include approximately 10% formal learning, 20% social or collaborative learning, and 70% informal learning. Those who have historically directed all L&D resources toward a formal learning strategy should consider a blended approach, using modern technology to its fullest potential.

Starting down this path leads many to wonder how informal learning can be accounted for, tracked, or leveraged in the execution of a learning strategy. Does the learning function only have access or control over formal learning, i.e. only 10% of the audience’s total learning experience?

What Should L&D Do With Informal Learning, If Anything?

It’s important to try to understand what happens during that 70%. What is your audience learning on their own? Understanding this will help you improve your formal learning offerings and tailor them better to meet the audience’s needs.

If informal learning is largely considered unintentional and experiential, is there a way we can support it or somehow be involved? There is, and it’s all about creating a culture of learning.

Jane Hart, Modern Workplace Learning Advisor, Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies, suggests several ways we support informal learning:

  • “Help managers understand the importance of everyday learning and the part they play in it.
  • Help individuals extract learning from their daily work.
  • Help individuals carry out a planned daily learning workout.
  • Help individuals share what they learn with one another.
  • Help managers measure the effectiveness of everyday learning.”

You’ll note that her advice isn’t so much about L&D participating in the informal learning itself. It’s about helping participants and others impacted make the most of everyday experiential learning; to be aware of new opportunities, recognize it when it occurs, and embrace it.

The opportunity exists to empower the formal and informal to enhance one another, which will only lead to a happier, more knowledgeable audience.

If you want to read more about informal learning, EdutopiaBrandon Hall Group, and Learning Solutions Magazine have published great resources.

Embed Learning in the Workflow for Greater Results

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There have been so many studies done and results published insisting that one-off training isn’t very effective. We use that phrase—one-off training—quite a bit on this blog. For new readers (hello, thanks for joining!) we use that phrase to describe training that’s done with zero follow-up or accountability. The audience participates in the class whether in-person or online, and then they’re done. These courses are created and delivered with the expectation that the participants will not only retain the entire heap of information that’s been dumped on them, but be able to execute that new knowledge on-the-job.

Let’s look at one very telling statistic discovered by three different sources:

  • Up to 80% of new skills are lost within 1 week of training if not used (ASTD)
  • 87% of new skills are lost within a month of the training (Xerox)
  • Without reinforcement, learners will likely forget 80% of training material within 90-120 days. (Sales Readiness Group)

Edgar Dale’s Cone of Experience tells us that people remember 90% of what they do, which means on-the-job learning is much more effective than, say, classroom-only training.

Furthermore, what these numbers tell us is that we absolutely must do more to help people apply new knowledge. The whole point of training is to help people be better at something, and only teaching them once is doing them a huge disservice.

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We can make training much more effective by extending the learning beyond just one session. It’s even more impactful when it’s broken into bite-sized chunks and embedded into the workflow, so that’s readily available and consumed at the highest point of need, i.e. while on-the-job.

Is Embedded Learning Different From Performance Support?

With so much terminology flying around in the industry, it can be hard to know whether terms represent different concepts, or if they’re actually addressing the same thing.

Embedded learning and performance support, while related, are not quite the same thing. Performance Support can include job aids, procedural checklists, diagrams, instructional photos or videos, and is a subcategory of embedded learning focused specifically on the successful completion of a task or process. Embedded Learning is a broader term that includes performance support materials, but also social/collaborative learning between peers or with supervisors, coaching tools, microlearning, or even training reminders and memory jogs delivered by email or SMS. The key is that embedded learning breaks down the silo between work and training.

Why Learning Should Be Embedded in the Workflow

  • As the training and work silos are broken down, you’ll be able to take advantage of the vast amount of knowledge that already exists within your organization. Getting buy-in and support from subject matter experts for a training course can be tough, but empowering them to share knowledge as part of their typical day is easier.
  • Once audience members experience the added value of on-the-job learning that helps their performance, they should embrace it and help spread additional knowledge themselves.
  • Impact can be immediate. If someone finds a resource that helps them complete a task better or faster, their performance has been improved and will continue to improve each time they perform that task.
  • Embedded learning improves the effectiveness of formal training by providing reinforcement and coaching. It reduces the retention problem we addressed at the beginning of this post.
  • It may reduce the need for formal training, or at least give an organization flexibility in determining the best modality for delivering training based on subject matter. Resources can be allocated in a smarter way.
  • The contextual nature of embedded learning makes it effective and impactfulright away. It’s better absorbed and retained when put in context of day-to-day work.
  • It lends itself to a broad spectrum of multimedia, allowing users to access learning on mobile devices on the go or at their workstation. Everything from printed materials to wearable device applications can work.
  • With the right measures in place, we should be able to determine the impact on desired outcomes.

You’ve decided you want to give this a shot. Now the question is, where can you embed learning items?

The best solution will vary depending on role. For example, something accessible from a mobile device might be necessary for some teams, while others are fine to have desktop access or even printed materials they see every day. Give consideration to the following:

  • An employee intranet
  • An organizational social collaboration tool
  • A corporate training or employee management portal
  • Work systems
  • A custom mobile app
  • Email or text message
  • Procedural Checklists - we’re big fans of electronic, interactive ones
  • And more...what ideas do you have?

Before You Begin, Know the Potential Challenges

Implementing any new learning program will come with a set of challenges. Plan to address hurdles before they appear. Some you might encounter are:

  • Embedded learning could, at least initially, increase “time-on-task”. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, because you’re trading speed for effectiveness. Track this over time and watch for improvement.
  • Be sure you’ve thought through how to organize the learning tools in a way that makes it easy to find, easy to use, and readily available.
  • Embedded learning is very different from formal learning, and can’t be managed the same way. L&D teams should expect an adjustment period.
  • You will need to get managerial support so that employees are encouraged to use it. Adoption can be slow at first, as with any new system. The less the employee has to adapt (the better you can truly embed the learning into their day) the better results you’ll see.

If you're interested, check out ExpandShare's eLearning Services to see how your program can be an epic success.

2015 In Review: Top eLearning Trends of the Year

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The learning and development technology industry evolves every year. Like many industries, ours is impacted by technological advances that allow for greater creativity, more powerful solutions, and deeper data analysis. Every year, we watch as some trends remain strong, some fade out of fashion and others ignite a craze that might just be “the next big thing.”

At the close of each year, our team reflects on emerging trends we’ve observed, and what we think may take hold in the next 12 months. Let us share what we’ve been chatting about during 2015. Of course, we’d love for you to join the discussion and leave your thoughts on the last year in the comments below!

This time last year, what did we expect to see in 2015?

How well did we predict major trends for 2015? Let’s review and find out.

Ongoing Coaching and Mentoring via Learning Campaigns - It’s well-documented that, in order for information to really stick and change behaviors, it needs to be taught more than once. It requires follow-up and ongoing coaching. We’ve experienced growth in performance support and have worked with clients to develop coaching and mentoring tools to make sure participants are still learning after the initial training.

Personalized Learning Experiences - As eLearning technology advances, it’s become unnecessary to make everyone sit through the same training courses. Training curricula can be customized for the individual user based on role, geography, experience, and other criteria.

eLearning Will Grow in Developing Markets - Analysis from Ambient Insight suggests the regions that will see the most growth in eLearning adoption over the next five years is Africa and Eastern Europe, but notable growth is occurring worldwide outside of North America, where the market has matured.

Big Data & Robust Reporting - In working with our SaaS customers, we built some of the most powerful reports we’ve ever designed. Beyond knowing that a participant completed a training and successfully answered some quiz questions, we’re now able to track KPIs and determine whether training is impacting business performance. Brandon Hall Group’s recent webinars covered extensively the importance of measuring training’s impact on performance, and shined a light on how few organizations are doing it well. So, while we saw forward motion in this area in 2015, there remains a lot of room for adoption and growth.

Ongoing Growth in Mobile Adoption and Custom Apps - Arguably the biggest trend in 2015, our dev team has taken to a “mobile-first” approach to building eLearning solutions for clients. Our customers have come to expect solutions to work on mobile devices of all sizes.

When polled, what did our employees say were the biggest trends of 2015?

Wearables Start to Penetrate the Market - While we can’t be certain how soon wearable devices will take root in learning & development, the possibilities are endless. Already, smartwatch wearers are receiving SMS and email messages on their wrist. Imagine if performance support, training reminders or quiz questions could be delivered on a watch, embedding knowledge items even more seamlessly into the workflow? Speaking of...

Embedding Learning in the Daily Workflow - With ever-improving technology solutions, we think we’ll see organizations looking to move a greater percentage of learning from a classroom to the daily workflow through desktop, mobile, and, eventually, wearable devices. Training content can have the greatest impact when it’s helping people complete a task in real time. Similarly...

Continued Migration From ILT to eLearning - On-the-job training and performance support is most powerful when delivered electronically. eLearning makes it easier to revisit training, send reminders, distribute new or updated content and allow participants to only access the training the most need. Recent insight from Brandon Hall Groupindicated instructor-led training remains the most popular modality, but we’re expecting that to shift in the new year.

Industry-Specific Growth - Some industries move faster than others, so we’ll continue to see eLearning and learning technology advancements gain traction at different rates depending on industry. We’re seeing an increase in the franchise and retail industries and expect that to continue.

Connecting Learning to Results - Organizational leaders are finally starting to ask, “How do we know the training program actually worked?” Greater emphasis is being placed on learning analytics and connecting training to business results. Are salespeople selling more after completing a training? Are maintenance teams responding to equipment downtime faster? Armed with results-oriented data, training teams can make the right adjustments to training content.

Stay tuned for our next post. We’ve dusted off our crystal ball to anticipate what will be the trends to watch in 2016.

 

 

If you're interested, check out ExpandShare's eLearning Services to see how your program can be an epic success.

Holiday Gift Guide 2015: What Topped Our List?

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Ready or not, the holiday season is upon us and Christmas is just around the corner. If you’re in the thick of the annual gift-buying frenzy, we’re here to help. After an annual survey of the Expand team, we’re back with another list of ideas for your favorite tech lovers.

For the Designer

iPad Pro

At first glance, the iPad Pro just looks like a giant iPad. We can’t help but laugh as we’ve watched our tech devices get smaller and thinner, only to turn around and get bigger. (Looking at you, iPhone.)

The iPad Pro is practically a different device with a different audience and a different purpose. With its huge screen, higher resolution and greater processing power than any iPad before it, the Pro is ideal for the design professional. Adding the $99 Apple Pencilmakes it even more artist-friendly.

Where to get it: Apple.com, Apple Store or certified Apple retailers |$799 for 32MB with Wifi

For the Movie Lover

TV

Sometimes, you just want a new TV. But television isn’t as simple a category as it once was, so it pays to do your research. There are TVs that have built-in streaming and gaming capability, and there are others that just have a really, really good picture. Both can run the gamut in price. Different reviewers will have different opinions, too, so make sure you read more than one source. Get started here and here.

Where to get one: We’ll assume you know where you’d want to buy a tv, but bear in mind that price and availability will vary by brand and unit.

For the kids

Toy Drone

No matter your stance on drone ownership, toy drones are at the top of many kids’ Christmas lists this year. It made the Expand team’s list for the second year in a row. There are many to choose from within a reasonable price range and availability at your local big box store, but like any piece of technology, do some research before deciding which one to get.

Our dev team’s favorite is the Syma Quadcopter.

Where to get it: You can get the Syma X5C on Amazon for under $50.

For Kids of All Ages

Raspberry Pi 2

If you, like me, wondered what on earth this was, you can read more about Raspberry Pi here.

It’s described as “a low cost, credit-card sized computer that plugs into a computer monitor or TV, and uses a standard keyboard and mouse” that’s powerful enough to do most everything you’re used to doing with a computer. It was created to be an educational tool to teach kids how to use programming languages like Python. Kids are encouraged to share their creations on the company’s website.

Anyone, from kids to computer hobbyists, could have a lot of fun with this nifty little computer.

Where to get it: Raspberry Pi 2 (and prior models) are available through the website for $35.

If You’re Not Techy, but are Buying a Gift for Someone Who Is

Laptop Bag or other accessories

If you have a tech geek on your gift list, you may hesitate to research and buy the latest newfangled contraption. But every tech product needs accessories and peripherals, and those can make great gifts that are truly needed, appreciated and easier to buy.

A laptop bag is just an example. Laptops shrink in size every year, so there may be someone on your list who’s schlepping a bag to work every day that’s twice the size of the laptop they use. Find out how big their laptop is and look for something streamlined, but sturdy.

Where to get it: Zappos has a great selection of bags ranging from fashionable to functional and everything in between. Plus, they have fast, free shipping and free returns.

For the photographer

Sony Alpha 7r ii

Sony describes their new professional camera as “...taking image resolution, sensitivity and speedy response to new heights. The Fast Hybrid AF system’s dense extra-wide focal plane phase-detection AF coverage keeps a subject in sharp focus entirely throughout the frame, while 5-axis image stabilization reduces blur which otherwise tends to affect handheld shots. High resolution is further enhanced by 4K movie recording featuring full pixel readout without pixel binning.”

If you know someone on your list would find that exciting, and you have the extra cash lying around, you can buy one of these fancy cameras for around $3000.

Where to get it: Sony includes a list of on-and-offline retailers on their website.

For the History Buff

Letters of Note (book)

Published last year, Letters of Note began as a Twitter account of the same name. Curated by Shaun Usher, the book contains a collection of letters written by notable people in history. A second addition, More Letters of Note, is set to arrive in the U.S. in 2016.

Where to get it: The first edition of Letters of Note is available on Amazon for around $25.

For the Philanthropist

Charity Choice Gift Certificates

Charity Choice allows you to give the gift of a charitable donation. Buy a gift card, and your recipient can choose from an extensive list of participating charities to send the funds. As the purchaser, you are able to designate the amount of the gift card and it’s fully tax deductible.

 

If you're interested, check out ExpandShare's eLearning Services to see how your program can be an epic success.