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eLearning in China: Massive Growth and More Freedom

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The fact that eLearning is a growing industry isn’t exactly a secret: The North-American and European markets are moving at breakneck speed. But lately, all eyes have been on Asian–and particularly–Chinese growth opportunities for eLearning. With a potential learner pool well into the billions, expansion in China is pretty compelling.

Comparing the numbers for population versus eLearning participants identifies a gap which could be easily closed using prepackaged eLearning, better workforce training, and even the freedom for social networking as part of the learning process. Find out how China is growing, and what it means for the rest of the eLearning industry.

Chinese eLearning by the Numbers

Consider this: There are currently around 1.367 billion people living in China today, of which only 100 million users are actually participating in eLearning opportunities. That means only eight percent of China’s population has access to and participates in eLearning. Still, with 700 million Internet users, the room for growth is huge.

While the general population may not be using eLearning right now, Chinese students are participating in droves. According to a 2014 Docebo report, 26 percent of Chinese students have used eLearning in some way. Borne on the backs of these Chinese education revolutionaries, the eLearning industry is projected to enjoy a 17.3 percent growth rate, generating a health $11.8 billion by 2016.

eLearning Applications

Because of Internet restrictions in China, prepackaged programs are among the hottest sellers for learners there. But, with a dedication to high-quality eLearning, the Chinese government is authorizing more programs and delivery methods for learners, particularly in the professional development sector.

While China heavily censors the Internet for users, MOOCs have yet to be regulated, allowing students to participate in Western-style courses for everything from math to leadership development. It’s possible that in a rapidly developing and highly competitive professional market, the need for additional training from sources like Harvard, MIT, Coursera and EdX are seen as necessities to keep China current and on top of the professional market.

Actions and Reactions

The growth in Chinese eLearning opportunities doesn’t just affect professionals hoping to increase credentials: It allows individuals from rural locations to have the same access to education. More access to MOOCs, prepackaged courses, and one-off programs means that the 635 million people living in rural China can participate in the unprecedented growth and development happening in their own country.

It’s also possible that the growing dependence on eLearning could also open doors for social networking in China. While Facebook is allowed only for a tiny portion of residents, MOOCs and eLearning programs which are tied to social networking could pave the way for looser Internet regulations going forward.

China’s sheer population numbers represent massive growth in the eLearning industry, and it’s easy to see why. Historically heavy tech users, Chinese learners are looking for ways to increase their professional credentials, learn languages, and improve their chances on an international scale, and eLearning is the perfect solution. The freedom currently offered to Chinese learners is just the cherry on top of an extremely large eLearning pie.

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Oh, Snap! 4 Ways to Use Snapchat to Tell Training Stories

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At first glance, Snapchat isn’t the first medium you’d reach for when planning training strategy. After all, a social network which sends pictures to individuals to view for a paltry few seconds is hardly conducive to knowledge sharing. With the 2013 addition of the Snapchat Stories feature, however, the app gets a facelift that makes it more relevant and a favorite way to increase interest, share progress, and yes, even teach learners a thing or two.

Think beyond the memo, and you have an innovative new way to keep your team connected and your learners in the know, all from your smartphone.

Snapchat Stories 101

Before you can harness their eLearning power, you’ll need to understand how Snapchat Stories work. Unlike regular “snaps,” which are one-off pictures you send to an individual to view for a predetermined amount of time (up to 10 seconds), Snapchat Stories are essentially slideshows made up of both 10-second videos and pictures.

Created as a way to show followers a visual account of the day, you can add as much media to your Story as you want and it will be shared with your followers for 24 hours only. After that, the slate is wiped clean and it’s time to create a new Story.

Snapchat Stories offer a significant benefit for L&D applications: They show who on your friends list opened and viewed each Story. Therefore, if you want to ensure that everyone is getting your message, you can create a story and then monitor who is viewing that Story until it expires (viewers enjoy unlimited access to the content until the 24-hour timeframe is up).

Obviously, Snapchat Stories aren’t going to be the way you show learners a complicated new technique or send out information that needs to be saved, but Snapchat definitely has its place in L&D and team communication. Check out these ideas for adopting Snapchat Stories into your strategy:

  1. Time Sensitive. Is it time for your team to begin their annual compliance training? Is there a conference coming up? Use Snapchat stories to film quick reminders and then monitor which team members received that update.
  2. Increase interest. Whether you have a mandatory training meeting on deck or a voluntary lunch-and-learn scheduled, Snapchat Stories can help drum up interest for your events. Create a slideshow of some of the stuff learners can expect, from speakers to sushi.
  3. Work updates. Various departments can keep their team in the loop by creating Snapchat Stories to show what they’ve been up to. Project updates, new accounts, and a behind-the-scenes peek can help boost morale and teamwork.
  4. Learning preview. You can personalize learning by using Snapchat Stories to preview what you’ll be teaching during a training session. Learners can check it out and gauge whether or not they need to attend according to their knowledge and skill base.

Increasing interest in training–be it compliance or leadership–requires all the help you can get. If learners are already using Snapchat, it makes sense to add it to your arsenal for updates and reminders. Who knew that 10 seconds could be so effective?

 

 

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Why Instagram is Perfect for Learners with Commitment Issues

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It shouldn’t be a surprise that your learners are busy. Between their work responsibilities, family life, and side hustles, they don’t have enough hours in the day as it is. The idea of a long training session (especially if it isn’t mandatory) can make even the most career-driving individual suffer from commitment issues.

But the very same learner who cries “Uncle!” when invited to a training meeting might be the same person who stops to watch cooking and makeup application tutorials when scrolling through Instagram. Why is a total commitment-phobe willing to engage on Instagram, but not in the conference room?

It comes down to the precarious balance between time and effort. Instagram videos are quick, digestible, and buildable, so they’re perfect for learners who don’t want to invest a significant amount of time and effort into learning a new skill or brushing up on a topic. In fact, the very same social network you use for posting pictures of your adorable dog can become an excellent tutorial video delivery system.

Tutorials on the Fly

Even when compared to other social networks–think Facebook and Twitter–Instagram is a fairly non-committal medium. Users can simply scroll through pictures and even better, videos play automatically. Users can decide whether or not to engage via likes and comments, but still have the opportunity to experience a video as many times as they want.

Consider this in a training context: You want to teach a new technique or show off the features of a new piece of equipment. Sure, you only have 15 seconds to work with, but it’s enough to create a highlight reel. When scrolling through their Instagram feeds, learners automatically experience the material through autoplay, which loops continuously until the learner scrolls away. A 15-second video might just be enough to capture interest.

Quick tutorials are completely, which means you can break several tutorials into a few different videos. Users can watch the first video again and again until they’re comfortable enough with the material to move onto the next video–no pressure. For behavior-based learning, it’s a quick way to create a knowledge base, even if a learner doesn’t want to commit to a full session, a longer video, or a comprehensive guide.

Insta-Interaction

Instagram has one of the highest interaction rates among social media networks: Forrester compiled three million user interactions and found that the Instagram boasts an impressive 4.21 percent rate of user engagement (likes and comments) versus Facebook’s .07 percent.

Take advantage of the willingness that Instagram users have to like, comment, and engage with brands. Learners who would hang out at the back of a classroom might be more likely to speak up in a digital space. When he or she makes a comment, make sure to comment back and use Instagram as an open and low-risk forum for learners to ask questions and score feedback.

Social networks are ideal for connecting with learners, but it’s not just about who is following whom. Using Instagram as a low-risk method for learning can help even foot-dragging learners experience the most important, skills-based material without making a significant time or effort commitment. Hey, the right Instagram videos might take an “It’s Complicated” relationship into a full-fledged marriage of minds.

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Africa Rising: How eLearning is Elevating Education in the World’s Fastest-Growing Market

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Revolutionizing the way an entire continent thinks about education is hardly a one-size-fits-all solution, but eLearning is definitely coming close: As Sub-Saharan African nations set their sights on making education more accessible for everyone, learning applications such as MOOCs and online post-secondary schools are filling an obvious gap that has long since plagued the area.

A sudden push from legislators, educational institutions, and social vigilantes has highlighted both the need for developed eLearning programs and the opportunity for a previously untapped market. Learn how eLearning is poised to create an educational revolution in Africa and its North American influence becomes more apparent.

Improving Post-Secondary Attendance Rates

Africa suffers from the lowest post-secondary attendance rates of any inhabited continent: Only 7 percent of residents attend college or university. And of those, only a small portion actually graduate. The problem isn’t strictly limited to knowledge and skills, either. Bakary Diallo, director of the African Virtual University (AVU) attributes some of the area’s most fundamental problems to a low post-secondary education rate. “Poverty, violence, extremism,” he says, “I think the root of these problems is lack of education.”

Even those who make it to post-secondary schools aren’t guaranteed a diploma. According to The Anderson Group of Harvard, certain areas are hit hard by skyrocketing attrition rates in STEM subjects. The Central African Republic, for example, experiences a 95 percent dropout rate for post-secondary mathematics. These high failure rates in vital STEM subjects creates a worrisome shortage of professionals such as engineers, researchers, and medical professionals in an area in desperate need of them.

Solution: eLearning

It’s not hard to see why eLearning has emerged as the solution for high dropout rates, low STEM participation, and a general lack of post-secondary education in Sub-Saharan Africa. It effectively addresses the majority of limitations faced by residents. As long as an Internet-ready device is available, students can participate in programs from all over the world; from a basic math class to obtaining a degree using eLearning exclusively.

Self-paced eLearning products and programs have the most promise for African applications. Because of the unique circumstances surrounding students, being able to take courses when and where they want is a priority. Still, the area suffers from a high rate of withdrawal, so there is still work to be done in not only delivering eLearning, but ensuring that students complete the courses for which they register.

As an industry in Africa, eLearning is expected to enjoy a 15.2 percent growth rate this year, making eLearning a $512.7 million dollar industry there by 2016. Effectively, it’s the highest eLearning growth rate in the world. From better-educated to health care workers to a rehabbed post-secondary attendance rate, eLearning has the power to break down some of the barriers that have prevented the continent access to high-quality education in years past.

Imagine what it could do for you.

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3 Reasons We Love Informal Learning Culture at Work

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Stodgy cubicles; domineering execs; cowering employees; is your workplace set up for collaboration or a redux of Office Space? It’s official: Informal workspaces are the next big thing in employee satisfaction, especially where L&D is concerned. And while you may be hesitant to employ a decidedly casual tone around the office, it’s worth considering the benefits before pigeon-holing employees into a nearly immovable hierarchy. For our part, we here at eLearning Mind recommend an informal learning culture that encourages collaborations and breaks down the barriers that stand between employees and their full potential. Here’s why:

Informal Culture Encourages Multitasking

When learning is just another item on a to-do list, it can slow down progress. It probably looks something like this: Every six months or so, employees must attend mandatory training as a way to check off compliance requirements or fulfill training hours. Employees are pushed into a room where said training is delivered, taking up the precious resources of time. Once returned to their desks, employees promptly forget whatever they’ve learned, going back to their old habits and techniques again.

When learning is organic and informal, however, it encourages employees to make training and knowledge gain as part of their everyday schedules. Instead of checking training off of a list, they make learning a priority by feeling free to ask questions, brainstorm solutions, and collaborate with colleagues without the boundaries of formal L&D efforts. Employees learn to multitask and are motivated to stay sharp.

Informal Culture Breaks Down Barriers

If the C-suite is studiously ignoring what’s happening downstairs, they could be risking some of the best ideas and improvements. When employees are invited to share and collaborate in a more informal learning culture, it breaks down the hierarchal barriers that can stifle creativity. Unfortunately, too often an employee’s only chance to be heard is during a performance review, in which his main motivation isn’t to improve, but to not get fired.

Whether it’s an informal learning lunch where execs pick the brains of a handful of employees or a virtual “suggestion box” forum online, employees work best when they feel heard. The breaking down of formal learning and once-a-year opportunities naturally makes employees feel more comfortable in sharing with not only each other, but supervisors and execs, too.

Informal Reduces Fear and Increases Creativity

Want your employees to feel like they’re a stakeholder in an organization’s success? Listen up. When informal learning and collaboration is something that happens daily, employees are less fearful of sharing and more confident and creative.

Think about it: If an employee gets just one shot to make a great impression, she might just clam up when asked for her opinions during a meeting. If, however, a culture is created through which employees are constantly asked for ideas and input, it removes the barrier of fear. Gone is the “one shot” rule and instead, informal learning culture fosters an environment of share and share alike–without the fear of missing the only opportunity to make a big impression.

It doesn’t happen overnight: If you’re making the switch from a rigid and informal workplace to something looser and more creative, you may need to take baby steps to create a shift in process and thought. If you’re willing to take on the challenge, however, your informal approach could be rewarded with a more creative, collaborative, and knowledge-hungry workforce.

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Does Your Organization Need HR or L&D?

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Some might mistakenly believe that HR and L&D are a straight-across trade. After all, both oversee onboarding and training, right? But it’s not a one-size-fits-all scenario, and while they may seem the same on the outside, the inner workings of HR and a dedicated L&D department are vastly different.

Not all training is created equally, and the function for which you rely on HR may not pan out for all methods. Instead, understanding the key differences between the two is your first step in deciding just what your business (and your employees) need.

Human Resources at Work

When you think about human resources, chances are that you think of stuff like paperwork and training videos. Human resources can act as a liaison between management and employees: It teachers new hires what is expected of them and how to succeed from day one. Human resources might oversee anything from compliance training to holiday pay.

But a clear pattern emerges when examining just how HR functions: All of the tasks that HR oversees can be compared to items of a list. They need to be “checked off” precisely for HR to be doing its job effectively. Every employee or role undergoes the same training to ensure that they’re properly prepped, which may include mandatory certification, software training, or departmental training.

Human resources doesn’t always allow a lot of room for the individual, since it’s primarily concerned with mandatory functions. There really aren’t any overarching topics or training opportunities past what must be done.

The Value of L&D

Contrast HR’s function with the design of a dedicated L&D department. Instead of must-do checklists, L&D is tasked with better aligning training with an organization’s mission while catering to the individual. In order to be effective, L&D must trigger a cultural shift within the organization: Not just items on a checklist, learning opportunities should be a daily occurrence for those who want to be successful.

Instead of a mandatory compliance training, L&D might be something like assigned in-office mentors, a voluntary weekend conference, online course opportunities, and even using social media as a medium for information-sharing. Rather than being on a departmental level, L&D is a general consensus for all employees, offering more than just basic training; it’s extracurricular.

Human resource-based training makes sense when employees must fulfill specific requirements to keep their jobs. It’s easy to track and check off when finished. Learning and development, on the other hand, should be much more organic than HR functions. It’s an evolving process and should be seen as a journey, rather than a destination. Transitioning from HR to L&D is very doable as well.

So, what’s best for your organization? It depends entirely on the type of training necessary for your employees to succeed. A combination of HR functions and a dedicated CLO or L&D department might be the best combination of both compliance and individual talent management. Use HR and L&D together and you’ll get the benefits of highly trained employees who strive for way more than just a paycheck.

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Which LMS Should You Choose? 3 Questions to Ask First

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Your learning management system is your ally in L&D applications. It’s a jack of all trades that, if chosen properly, can do everything from aiding your course development to reporting on how your learners are doing. The only caveat? There are literally hundreds of learning management systems to choose from when you take SAAS, custom development, and Web-based programs into consideration.

How do you know which LMS is right for your organization? It depends on what exactly you need your LMS to do for both you and your learners. Various features stand out depending on how you’ll use your LMS, so always ask yourself these three questions before you decide.

  1. What Kind of Reporting do I Need?

Reporting is an integral part of eLearning and development, but the type of reporting you need varies depending on the type of training. Some industries (think healthcare) only need learners to finish the course for compliance purposes, and don’t need more information than that. Their reporting needs would be much less than an organization focusing on mastery and technique. Some systems, like Edmodo, allow real-time reporting, so instructors can offer feedback for topics and courses that require learners to demonstrate knowledgeability or technique before passing the course.

  1. What’s the Level of the Typical Learner’s Existing Knowledge Base?

Most learners come to the table with an existing bank of knowledge, which should be respected when choosing an LMS. Think of how you’d react if you had mandatory, one-size-fits-all training that didn’t adapt to what you already knew. Pretty boring and frustrating, right?

Choosing an LMS that allows you to toggle course material and delivery based on learner knowledge base and personal preference means happier learners. Systems like Grovo (which allows microlearning) and Absorb (which is highly customizable) allow you to develop training that caters to individual learners. That can result in more engaged, more motivated employees.

  1. How Will Users Complete the Course?

Depending on the type of course and learning, learners might need to pass a chapter to move on. For some topics, a simple completion will do. Others may require a certain grade to demonstrate mastery. An administrator needs to decide how learners will move on, and it’s not always the same for every topic—even in the same organization.

If your topics vary and require different methods of advancement, you’ll need to choose an LMS that allows excellent tracking abilities so you can see all of your learners’ progress. An LMS like Halogen is highly scalable and can give you feedback to assess your learners and plan for their advancement accordingly.

Choosing an LMS is a big deal, but don’t let the choices overwhelm you. By dialing into what your learners want and need, the choice becomes clearer. Whether you opt for a Web service or choose LMS software, the learner always comes first.

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Wax On, Wax Off: How to Make Mentoring Part of Your L&D Strategy

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Some of the greatest heroes of our time owe their success to the attention and advice of a mentor: Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Dior; Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson; The Karate Kid and Mr. Miyagi. Mentoring is for more than literary figures and fashion powerhouses, though; it’s a method for increasing satisfaction for both the mentor and the mentee. When mentoring is applied to a blended L&D approach, it adds a new depth to go far beyond training by rote. Could mentoring be the piece your strategy is missing?

Why Use Mentors?

If you already have a successful L&D strategy in place, you might have trouble seeing the true need for mentoring within your organization. But it’s not just glorified babysitting: True mentoring occurs when two compatible colleagues are able to share and grow together, offering benefits for both.

For the Mentee…

The person on the receiving end of the mentoring can expect significant benefits in professional growth. Having a mentor effectively shortens almost any learning curve. Head of Digital Learning at Adobe, Justin Mass, considers the onboarding process to last up to two years, including an extensive mentoring program between employees. By making mentoring part of the lengthy onboarding process, Adobe ensures a high rate of new hire success while offering the tools necessary for even brand-new employees to feel comfortable.

Mentees also enjoy a speedy rate of professional growth when compared to employees who strike out on their own. Mentors show them the ropes, make the right introductions, and act as a sounding board for ideas. This increases employee confidence, giving them the opportunities they want for growth.

For the Mentor…

It’s not a completely one-sided relationship. Mentors also score huge benefits by willing to lend a listening ear and help out someone new. Just the simple act of getting to share knowledge and expertise is hugely rewarding and can push a mentor to go above and beyond at work. Being a mentor also fosters crucial leadership skills to contribute to a plan for leadership succession and professional growth.

Both the mentor and the mentee can expect increased job satisfaction, which means better retention rates for the organization.

Implementing a Mentoring Program

There’s more to a mentoring program than pushing a couple of colleagues into a shared lunch. It takes careful planning to decide which mentors work best with which employees. And, since 80 percent of learning is informal, setting up both casual and formal opportunities for the mentor and mentee to spend time together is a necessary task.

Whether it’s a monthly lunch, an offsite conference, or weekly check-ins, a mentor needs to be dedicated to helping the mentee reach goals and increase chances for success. At the same time, the mentee needs to be willing to listen and then give feedback to supervisors to ensure the program has the desired results.

Mentors can make all the differences–just ask the Karate Kid. Even the most successful L&D strategies can benefit from the addition of face-to-face conversation, professional advice, and making connections at work.

The key to any successful eLearning course is the creation of custom based eLearning modules, with great design and development. At eLearning Mind we specialize in taking a company’s existing content and transforming it into custom and ready-made solutions for employees, with a focus on engaging them with educational course materials through various methods. Whether it’s corporate gamification, multimedia and audiovisual, social and mobile learning – we are disrupting the e-Learning industry with our unique ability to transform any corporate learning material into a successful e-Learning course for companies. Definitely check out our eLearning blog, as well as our comprehensive eLearning resources page.