U.N. Unites the World One eLearning Course at a Time

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When the U.N. offers a giant catalog of e-courses in many languages, it’s a certainty that eLearning is here to stay. The U.N.’s Institute for Training and Research is where diplomats, NGO employees, public policy bureaucrats, U.N. employees and others go to learn. The institute is also open to the public. Anyone willing to pay the price (starting at $800 per course) can enroll.

Why on Earth Would You Take a U.N. Course?

Suppose a company is considering negotiations for a joint venture with a company located halfway around the world? The “Financial Globalization” course would be a good starting point to help determine if the idea is feasible before sinking time and money into the idea.

Paging Emily Post

Etiquette and protocol are as important as what you bring to the table when negotiating internationally. Recall the scene in the HBO documentary Too Big to Fail when Lehman Brothers CEO Dick Fuld broke into the boardroom making demands of the Korean suitors. He sent his only hope of saving Lehman packing—right there, on the spot. Had he taken the course “Cross Cultural Negotiation,” the entire course of history might have changed. The course could help executives navigate through the maze of protocols and etiquette in advance of wading into unfamiliar terrain.

Evangelize a Brand

Author James Altucher classifies a company of fewer than 30 people as a tribe or a family. At 30 people, leaders can interact with everyone, building trust. At 150 people, stories build trust among the group.

When a company goes global, courses such as the U.N. course “Innovative Collaboration for Development” might fill the gap for directors and managers until the company can expand its eLearning offerings to encompass the new challenges of the global enterprise.

When a company needs to train only a few people to deal on the international stage, it makes sense to turn to the U.N. courses. Once established in the global marketplace, the company can rely to Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) and in-house social learning or Facebook @ Work until it can implement or update its in-house eLearning program.

 

Et Tu, Edinburgh? From Land of the Misty Cloud to Land of the MOOCs

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’Round about the time Europe was switching from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar and Newfoundland became the first English colony in North America setting the stage for the British Empire, the University of Edinburgh opened its doors in Scotland. Edinburgh is more likely to land in a sentence with “hallowed halls” than with “massive open online courses (MOOCs)” or “eLearning,” but hang onto your hat because the University of Edinburgh has gone modern and joined the land of eLearning.

Founded in 1583 (over 400 years ago for the math challenged), the University of Edinburgh is an ancient university—one of four in Scotland—a world-renowned center of higher education with an impeccable reputation. The university offers 300 degree programs offered in 21 schools and three colleges with an enrollment of 27,000+ students, 6000 of which are international students representing more than 130 countries.

The Road From Edinburgh to Coursera

As a major research center with an international outreach, it was a matter of when, not if, Edinburgh joined the digital revolution in education. In the age of ubiquitous technology and the move to educate the masses through digital learning, Coursera was a natural next step in Edinburgh’s journey. If Edinburgh is the pinnacle of learning, Coursera is the pinnacle of MOOCs, an educational platform that collaborates with top universities across the globe to make courses available to the public free of charge. It’s a perfect interim landing spot on the way to developing a corporate library of MOOCs for career development.

One Small Step for Edinburgh.. 

…one giant leap for MOOC credibility. Today, the University of Edinburgh offers courses ranging from “Critical Thinking in Global Challenges” to “Artificial Intelligence Planning” and everything in between including several veterinary, philosophy and clinical psychology courses. The most important course that portends the future of eLearning is their course “eLearning and Digital Cultures,” specifically designed for educators, learning technologists and anyone with an interest in digital learning. The course synopsis states, “The course is about how digital cultures intersect with learning cultures online, and how our ideas about online education are shaped through ‘narratives,’ or big stories, about the relationship between people and technology.”

A Sneak Peek Into the Future

With the University of Edinburgh acknowledging the importance of eLearning, we can disavow ourselves of any thoughts we might have had of the digital platform as a fad or some transient stop en route to the next educational fad. eLearning is here to stay and it’s spreading its wings into social learning. Get aboard or get left behind.

 

 

Extreme eLearning: Pavlok’s Electroshocking Wristband

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Emerging technologies can make it or break it based not on their contributions to our lives but on their shock value. Let’s look at a couple of extreme examples:

  • Google 23andMe—23 is the number of pairs of chromosomes that make up DNA. According to Bloomberg, 800,000 willing participants have handed over their DNA for Google to “store” for a mere $99 apiece—that’s 80 million smackers for the math-challenged.
  • SmartTV—It would be interesting to know just how many people bought SmartTVs without knowing that conversations within earshot of the TV are uploaded, stored and sold to goodness-only-knows whom.

Pavlov Revisited

The latest shock comes from a startup named Pavlok, an all-too-obvious play on words. The company crowdsourced $268,443 on Indiegogo for its electric shock bracelet that it claims can change a habit in five days.

The two-step setup consists of selecting a habit to break and then setting the strength of the shock (from “Pinprick to Pretty Friggin’ Strong”) to receive when reverting to the old behavior.

If you want to stop biting your nails, quit smoking, eating fast food, whatever, and you don’t have the patience to wait the normal 21 days required to develop the new habit, you can shock yourself silly with a Pavlok’s bracelet.

A Gaze Into the Crystal Ball—Extreme eLearning?

While these shocks may be dandy when you’re administering them to yourself, what if an employer were to require you to wear the bracelet with pre-programmed behaviors and shock levels?

As companies look to slash costs, some future version of a shock bracelet could fill the gap between a shrinking budget and the need for more eLearning. What if your company decides to replace the engaging “niceties” of eLearning—gamification, music and social learning—with a bracelet that sends volts of electricity streaming through your body? What if you received a shock for every wrong answer on the assessments or for learning too slowly—not advancing through the module fast enough? Would the bracelet make you so nervous that you couldn’t learn?

Efficiency vs. Decency

When is enough, enough? That’s a decision for each of us to make. Each of us is going to have to decide how far into this brave new world we’re willing to venture and then reap the consequences for “going along to get along” or for not playing the game. I’ve long since made my decision.

eLearning Rx for the Healthcare Industry 

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As more Baby Boomers approach retirement age, they continue to work. Most can’t afford to retire until a year after they’re dead, so they need to stay healthy. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) estimates that the healthcare industry will show the most growth through 2018. Houston, it appears we have a perfect storm.

The Intersection of Healthcare and eLearning

Electronic medical records, medical coding, evolving regulations and an aging society provide new employment opportunities while propelling the eLearning machine to greater heights. Certification courses have added eLearning components to their curricula, and hands-on healthcare is tapping into eLearning and incorporating it into a blended eLearning solution.

American Safety & Health Institute Cuts Costs for Providers

In 2011, the American Safety & Health Institute (ASHI) introduced eLearning into their Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) certification program in adult advanced cardiac life support for healthcare professionals. The program combines eLearning modules with hands-on, classroom training, reducing costs for healthcare providers. Today, ASHI offers community courses as well as lifesaving courses for professional responders.

Wiley Goes e-Wild to Offer Latest and Greatest Information

While still a leader in the textbook space, Wiley has added eLearning to their lineup with multilingual tutorials, live online workshops and multilingual user guides in evidence-based medicine, nursing, dentistry and healthcare. Imagine the savings in production time and costs, not to mention the ease of the update cycle. The publisher has also launched an open-access program for peer-reviewed authors, extending leading-edge research to professional researchers, practitioners and even the lay audience.

Convenience for Patients

U.K. based CoaguChek has brought eLearning to patients taking anticoagulation medication who use the CoaguChek XS meter to monitor their international normalized ratio (INR) levels. Before home monitoring, the patient had to travel to a clinic to monitor INR levels; today, they can self-monitor by taking a drop of their blood at home and using the meter to analyze it. While patients are more inclined to use a meter than to travel to a clinic, it’s important that they get a correct reading, and CoaguChek helps to ensure accuracy through eLearning.

As healthcare providers have to keep employees current on latest advances while navigating regulatory waters, they are using blending learning to save time, money and human resources while providing current information to healthcare professionals. Professionals can also tap into Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) and use their own mobile and wearable devices to receive on-demand, life-saving information.

eLearning Takes Off on JetBlue and Virgin America Flights

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Fasten your seatbelts because eLearning is taking off—literally. While the veneer of civility in airline travel is long gone and the airlines no longer feed your stomach, they are beginning to feed your mind. We’re not talking the usual mainstream drivel; second-rate, release-to-DVD; or other warmed-over offerings—we’re talking first-class eLearning selections at 35,000 feet.

Your Head in the Clouds

Flight attendants have always struggled with the best (read easiest) way to pacify their captive audiences, and today it’s harder than ever, since passengers have to fork over additional money for meals of mystery meat and unrecognizable sides, and in many cases, a bottle of water. Today, JetBlue and Virgin America, two innovative leaders in the airline industry, have found a way to engage discerning minds above the clouds—by offering the best of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) to their inflight audiences.

JetBlue Mines Coursera

JetBlue and Coursera are cooperating to offer passengers access to some of Coursera’s most popular lectures. Fly-FI Hub, Jet’s Blue’s inflight entertainment center, hosts the lectures through a “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) system where passengers access the lectures through their own devices instead of through airline headsets. The Fly-Fi Hub offers 10 selections per flights, including selections from The Wharton School, University of Edinburgh and Berklee School of Music.

Virgin Goes Intergalactic

Well, not yet, but while we wait, passengers can take advantage of selections from The Great Courses, a catalog of more than 14,000 lectures, on Virgin America flights. With diverse offerings such as Neil deGrasse Tyson’s “Inexplicable Universe” from the course, The Inexplicable Universe: Unsolved Mysteries; “Becoming a Spy” from the course Espionage and Covert Operations: A Global History; “Cook Like a Pro Chef: Lessons From The Culinary Institute of America” from the course, The Everyday Gourmet: Rediscovering the Lost Art of Cooking; and many more; passengers will find something to while away the hours while enriching and expanding their minds.

MOOCs for the Rest of Us

Why limit MOOCs to inflight enjoyment? Businesses can leverage their eLearning dollars by augmenting their enterprise-specific eLearning courses through the MOOC universe. Leadership training and soft skills are two areas ripe for the pickings. For companies just transitioning from traditional classroom training, a combination of MOOCs and social learning can bridge the gap until the company implements an eLearning program.

FB@Work: Facebook Time Wasting Costs Employers $650 Billion per Year

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Employers lose 650 billion (with a B) big ones each year thanks to the workforce’s obsession with social media. Blocking, banning and bullying hasn’t worked to turn off the spigot, so does it make sense to harness the medium by adding a new Facebook platform to the corporate mix and requiring, or at least sanctioning, its use? Is it possible that things could be different this time? What could possibly go wrong (or right) with this scenario?

FB@Work—a Millennial’s Dream Come True

Last month, Facebook rolled out a soft-launch of Facebook at Work (FB@Work), the enterprise version of its product that targets companies with more than 100 employees. Pilot partners get first crack at the new collaborative suite, which Facebook hopes to propel to the de facto standard for corporate communications.

Facebook is familiar. Most employees will encounter a zero learning curve, and fellow employees are the only friends on the @Work account. Communications are limited to corporate collaborators with a firewall existing between Facebook and FB@Work accounts.

The user experience is nearly identical to Facebook’s except that it is limited in scope, with no apps or ads for now. The news-feed will contain items newsworthy to the enterprise. Collaborators can network, plan projects and events, share news and documents and use FB@Work for social learning, providing education beyond the eLearning classroom and encouraging career development among natural leaders.

FB@Work’s strength is its user profiles. Suppose, for example, you need to locate someone in your company with expert knowledge in a particular area. Facebook’s in-depth profiles allow you to pinpoint individuals with that expertise.

Show Me the Money

The question about monetization looms. How will Facebook finance this venture? Several possibilities exist: a membership fee, monetization via ads, a tiered approach or a free service. Even with a membership fee, this could make sense for some large enterprises—they wouldn’t have to run social media on their intranet, and it would reduce server space needed to archive emails when most communications move to FB@Work.

EYE Spy

The showstopper for some enterprises would be the issue of who owns the data, how it is used, and confidentiality. Until these issues are nailed down in an airtight TOS that can pass an enterprise’s legal department, look for companies who guard their secrets to turn their backs. When FB@Work rolls out in full, it will be available in iOS and Android apps as well as a desktop version.

 

 

OJT Gets an eLearning Makeover

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On the job training is no longer the exclusive purview of the trades. Our test-heavy, secondary-education system contributes to the need for OJT in every sector of the economy. For example, we learn that T. Rowe Price offers remedial writing (effective communication) to their new hires. And now for the punchline—the remedial-writing OJT is aimed at MBA’s.

eLearning OJT Infiltrates Business and Industry

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), the fastest growing industries include health and education, professional and business services, and government. eLearning can bring employees up to speed quickly while reducing the costs of training and the compensatory and punitive costs associated with lack of proper knowledge.

Health and Education: Tens of thousands of regulations were added to Obamacare after its passage, and it’s impossible to keep up with the changes. Healthcare providers need on-demand information, often through mLearning. Without up-to-date information, the likelihood of lawsuits increases. As states adopt (or drop) Common Core (standard testing and reporting curriculum), educators learn how to implement new standards through “In-Service Training,” occurring several days throughout the school year and a week during the summer, sometimes out of town. When teachers learn through eLearning and social learning, administrators can divers the summer week of expenses toward teaching students.

Professional and Business Services: Obamacare has spawned a tax code that few understand, including accountants, CPAs, and tax attorneys. With tax season approaching and the forms recently released, eLearning provides the quickest way for tax preparers to get up to speed. MOOC’s have led to a rise in online legal education, and in Australia, some have proposed a combination of MOOCs and apprenticeship (what we used to call “reading for the law” to replace standard legal education.

Government: Throughout 2015, FDA will implement the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that will affect every facet of food production from farm to table. Government is providing online tutorials for those in the affected industries, and industry is pitching in with a MOOC series called FSMA Fridays.

OJT Is a Journey, not a Destination: OJT begins with onboarding, the first opportunity to make standards crystal clear. Thanks to mLearning and social learning, employees can take advantage of on-demand learning without interrupting their workday, saving significant outlays in training costs and improving efficiency and effectiveness. Further, they can identify go-to individuals through social learning. Jumping aboard today’s OJT bandwagon is a matter of changing paradigms and shifting resources, and its adoption rate is accelerating.

 

 

 

 

Bridging the Gap: Face-to-Face Social Learning

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Many employees existed before computers, the Internet and social media. Back then, televisions had knobs instead of remotes, rabbit ears instead of cable cords. People used to wait anxiously for the mail in the hopes of receiving a letter, and people ate meals with one another and got together for Happy Hour instead of texting each other while driving home. Course studies involved face-to-face interactions with an instructor and other students. Imagine that!

Once the Internet took off, learning moved quickly from the classroom to the computer. We learned the term “social learning” once we realized that social media opened up a world beyond Facebook likes. Learning moved from the computer to our smartphones, and today, we’re in a state of constant connectivity. It’s hard to believe that centuries ago all knowledge was handed down by word of mouth from person to person.

Is it still possible for people to learn through human interaction?

Pixilated Learning

Learning from thousands of pixels on a screen has become the norm, but instructional designers still abide by the four principles of social learning put forth by Albert Bandura, Professor Emeritus of Social Science in Psychology at Stanford University: attention, retention, reproduction and motivation. His social learning theory states that people learn from one another just as they have done through the ages through a process called modeling. First they observe others’ behaviors, attitudes and results, and then they imitate them. It’s similar to the doctor’s mantra “Learn one, do one, teach one.”

Back to the Future

Bandura’s social learning theory dates back to the 1970s, so the question isn’t, “Can Bandura’s four principles exist outside of the eLearning environment,” but more accurately, “How can we get people to learn outside of the electronic laboratory?” His theory names how we learn—by modeling. There’s no doubt that education has benefited from eLearning, but have we benefited socially from a steady diet of pixilated learning?

Finding a Balance

Blended learning is a mix of classroom training and electronic learning, and that’s one way to bring the human element back into learning, but it’s not the only way. If your company has moved entirely to eLearning and mLearning, there are much easier ways to supplement pixilated learning without redeploying classrooms, instructors and equipment.

Socializing Learning

Based on Bandura’s principles, enterprises can use in-house social media to bring the human element to learning. Peer pressure is a wonderful motivator, and when we reach for excellence and someone notices our efforts, we begin to self-motivate. Natural leaders (mentors) step forward to offer help, and people begin to form networks. When we reinforce formal eLearning through social learning, we retain what we’ve learned, and we can more easily reproduce results in the workplace. Through social learning, partnerships can form, collaborative learning can flourish, and workplace friendships can form.

But social learning is only the beginning, a bridge between eLearning and face-to-face interaction. If social media can topple governments, then social learning can bring us together.

Can a Positive Workplace Environment Overcome Poor Output?

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It’s early Monday morning, and statistically you have a better chance of having a heart attack or facing sudden death than at any other time. Many people hate their work, and the dread starts the minute the alarm rings. Their chest tightens in anticipation of the commute to work. Once they arrive at work, they’re ensconced in a cocoon of negativity. Worse, they have five full days before their next reprieve. This is no way to live a life, and it’s no way to run a business.

Down the Productivity Drain

Too many workplaces operate like prisons. Minor infractions carry grave consequences. What used to be considered normal behavior is now deemed aberrant and/or unprofessional. When an employee has a family to feed, the last thing he or she wants to do is “step out of line.” Many employees have long since had the creativity beat out of them, and they more closely resemble potted plants than vibrant human beings. Without a clearly defined path of advancement, employees are little more than worker drones. As high as the toll of a negative work environment is on employees, the cost to companies is even greater when productivity swirls the drain due to employee dissatisfaction.

Diagnose the Problem

A sustained drop in productivity, creativity and employee attitude is likely an environmental problem, and we don’t mean the paint job. Something’s rotten in the workplace, and it’s likely the corporate culture.

Flip the Switch

It’s time for a corporate culture makeover. Forget the cries of the 1980’s MBAs; start putting people first. That’s how to flip the productivity switch almost instantaneously. It’s not about the money—unless employees are grossly underpaid and overworked. People want to feel appreciated, they want to feel they’re making worthwhile contribution, and they want to know that if they do a good job, the ladder to success is within their reach.

Propel Career Advancement with eLearning

Career development is probably the most important and most underutilized area for eLearning. It’s expensive to recruit and train employees, and it’s costly to recruit management from the outside. By offering eLearning modules on technical and soft skills and using career advancement courses as incentives, a business can create loyalty while it creates an educated workforce.

While it might sound counterintuitive, a solid career development eLearning program can also put the soul back into a workplace. Social learning can break down silos, ridding the working of the “we vs. them” mentality that permeates mature companies. An employee can find mentors, set up a Personal Learning Network (PLN), and advance his or her career while helping others to advance theirs. What better way to advance a career than by tapping into the expertise of others. And what better way to reward current employees than by giving them the tools to advance their career.

It’s a clear win/win with a minimal investment. Showing appreciation for employees and making them feel valued by rolling out a career development program can help to put the workplace on a positive path.

 

Will e-Books Overtake Print in 2018?

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If you’re thinking, “Nah, no way,” allow me to refresh your memory. Do you remember when we collected music CDs? How about cassettes? Eight tracks? Vinyl? Remember when going to a movie theater meant parting with a boatload of money—even before hitting the concession stand? With On Demand, Netflix and Amazon, we can watch a digital movie at home and save enough money to toast the occasion with a bottle of Dom Perignon. That’s progress.

Just the Facts Ma’am

According to the BBC, a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report predicts that consumer e-books will outsell print by 2018. The firm forecasts e-book revenues to grow from £380 million to £1 billion ($590 million to $1.56 million). The New York Times confirms the trend in the U.S. and the U.K., with the rest of Europe lagging behind.

BYOD Is the Game Changer

When do you find time to read? On vacation? On the airplane? Who carries a book when they travel? Your smartphone, tablet or phablet is all you need to cover the entire spectrum of entertainment and education. Today, when you Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), the world is your oyster. BYOD is catapulting eLearning into mLearning.

The Ugly

Publishers can update digital textbooks on the fly, but can they tweak history with a few subtle word changes? Can they make sweeping revisions to history? There’s a new and improved, sanitized version of Huckleberry Finn in print, so just imagine what can be done digitally. In a stunt right out of Orwell’s 1984, Amazon remotely deleted copies of 1984 off users’ Kindles in 2009.

The Impact of Digital on Business

Just ahead of Thanksgiving 2014, the White House released its Unified Agenda for fall—3,415 new regulations, many of which encompass numerous rules. Will business prepare for these changes by printing tomes for their employees and then subjecting them to classroom training? Of course not. It’s not economically feasible because the Unified Agenda is released quarterly. Business will rely on digital forms of communications to disseminate regulatory information—eLearning, mLearning and social learning—forms of communication that can be updated at the same clip as government add new regulations or change existing ones.