mLearning Propels Generation X to the Top of Their Careers

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The Matures have retired; the Baby Boomers are easing their way into semi-permanent, semi-retirement; and the Millennials are texting their way through the company door. Now it’s up to Generation X to inherit the helms of business and industry. Gen Xers born between 1965 and 1980 have grown up and matured alongside technology. Many continue to be early adopters, easily upgrading their devices along with their technical acumen. Leading-edge businesses are already leveraging Gen Xers’ use of mobile devices and preparing them to take over the reins through career development programs that include mLearning.

Paging Gen X to the C-Suite

It’s a leap from the front door to the C-Suite, but continuing education plays a key role in preparing Gen X for senior management jobs. Experience and innate interpersonal skills help to propel careers, but without consistent and concerted learning, the employee will never make it to the top. We’ll look at two ways employers can ease the transition to the upper echelons through mLearning.

Method No. 1: On-Demand, Real-Time Access to Unlimited Knowledge

Smart businesses anticipate needs—their needs as well as their customers’ needs. These companies plan for contingencies rather than relying on crisis management. They groom junior employees to step into senior positions using mLearning in a dual role for career development—formal and informal learning that can take place anywhere, anytime.

Employees can seamlessly grow their technical skills by accessing a library of technical information when and where they need it—continuing on-the-job training. By compiling a library of on-demand leadership mLearning programs, self-starters will take the initiative to create their own career paths. In addition, management can encourage employees to explore options at Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) such as Coursera. When free time intersects with mLearning, businesses can create deliberate succession to the top.

Method No. 2: Leapfrogging the Competition through Social Learning

The Mad Men series introduced many of us to the world of the “good old boy network.” Some of us remember first-hand the attempt to figure out the difference between flirting and networking at Jerry Rubin’s Studio 54 network get-togethers in the ’70s. Today, companies can implement a robust social learning program where it doesn’t take long for natural leaders to emerge. Mentor/mentee partnerships can develop naturally, and those who exhibit self-motivation will set up their own Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) to direct their own career advancement. And that’s one clue that you have a budding leader to watch.

Does Your Onboarding Process Leave Employees to Sink or Swim?

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“Welcome aboard! Here’s your workstation. Sink or swim.” If that’s the sum of a company’s onboarding process, it could spell disaster for the employee and the company. A new employee who enters the lion’s den without proper onboarding can turn from gregarious and confident to shy and withdrawn, afraid of getting fired. The first-impression door swings both ways. The employee has already impressed the company. Now, the company must make a good first impression. Improper onboarding can mean a rocky and short-lived tenure for the employee and a botched opportunity for the company and the employee.

What is Onboarding?

Just as we socialize children, onboarding socializes employees into the corporate culture. The process transfers knowledge, skills and corporate behavior expectations to the new employee while increasing employee retention, productivity and effectiveness for the company. At the end, the employee should feel a sense of pride toward the corporate brand and culture.

Surf’s Up: Ramping Up for Success

The onboarding process begins with the interview. If the interview process assesses candidates for their likelihood to adopt the corporate culture as well as their skills and character, the new employee will more readily and quickly adapt to the workplace.

When developing an onboarding plan:

  • Set goals and objectives
  • Allocate human and technological resources
  • Create a checklist
  • Evaluate and tweak

Checklist for Success

  • Forms and paperwork. Everyone hates paperwork, so get it out of the way.
  • Corporate culture. Use a combination of technology, social learning, networking and mentoring, etc. to coach the new employee.
  • Job responsibilities. Instead of relying solely on technology, this is a good time to bring the manager into the fold.
  • Everyone hates rules and procedures but they’re the WD-40 of a well-oiled machine. Spend some time developing an engaging eLearning/mLearning program to cover all the do’s and don’ts as well as regulatory compliance and ethics. Add WWYD games, scenarios and interactive quizzes to lighten serious topics.
  • Follow up. In addition to following up with new employees, superiors should be available to the employee to ease the transition.
  • Assess and evaluate the employee and the onboarding process and make necessary adjustments.

Missing the Boat

Avoid these missteps:

  • Focusing on the negative instead of the positive. Do not, do not, do not… When everything is couched in negative terms, it shuts down the employee and stifles communication and creativity.
  • Hanging the employee out to dry. Here ya go; you’re on your own. When an employee enters the workplace for the first time and it becomes evident that the company is unprepared for his or her arrival, it signals, “You’re not important.”
  • Discouraging dialog. Effective communication requires input from both sides.
  • Conducting the entire orientation through manuals and eLearning. While technology plays an important role, it’s equally important not to forget the “human” component of human resources.

Finally, onboarding is an ongoing process. It doesn’t happen in a day or a week. Like a fine wine, it gets better with time.

Managing Quality Control by Harnessing Systems

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“Time is on my side…,” or so the song goes? Actually, time is never on your side when you’re responsible for the quality control of an eLearning project. Chances are you’re working on a rapid eLearning development project, in which case there is little time to waste. When “push the training out” is the corporate mantra, it can mean quality control takes the hit. It can mean additional, after-the-fact development time or a project that doesn’t meet the stated goals.

As a project manager, planning time throughout your project cycle for quality control and making corrections earlier rather than later can save you time, money, resources and aggravation while enabling you to meet your training goals. Sure, it would help to have an eLearning company running the show, but for those in-house project managers running the eLearning development cycle, it is important to keep a few things in mind. We’ll examine three tips for managing the quality-control process through applying systems.

System 1: Build in Time

The eLearning development cycle is similar to the software development cycle. Would software companies release untested software full of bugs, AKA features? They shouldn’t, and that’s why you receive frequent updates. Wouldn’t it make better sense to plan for contingencies and to build in time for quality control throughout the project cycle instead of leaving it until the end? Do whatever it takes to convince the project manager to build in time for quality assurance.

System 2: Templates to the Rescue

Templates serve as the foundation or the bones of most eLearning projects. “Create once, use many” has the added feature of working out the bugs once and building on a bug-free foundation. Just as the template saves the developers and writers hours of work, the quality assurance (QA) is conducted once, not every time the company creates a new eLearning project based on the template.

System 3: Keeping Records

How boring, right? But, can you spell productive? Some people spell it “Excel.” Others have proprietary methods. Whatever your method, keeping records of problems and fixes (notes, dates, whatever else you want to note) can actually save you time. Document your QA efforts for a few programs, and you’ll begin to detect a pattern. Certain writers and developers tend to make the same mistakes repeatedly. Through your record-keeping, you’ll determine who falls short when validating data, who requires grammatical cleanup and who consistently sends you broken interactions and gamification.

Even on a short timeline, quality assurance doesn’t have to suffer. The trick to turning good QA into great QA is more than building in time at the beginning of the production cycle—it’s trading time for systems—whatever systems work best for you.

Blended eLearning to the Rescue

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If you’re still providing the same old, tired learning experience, you might have noticed the dull roar of, “OMG, NOT AGAIN,” growing louder with each training or eLearning announcement. Productivity advantages from “tried and true,” vaporize over time as boredom creeps in. Shaking up the delivery format can breathe new life into your lop-sided training or eLearning programs and increase effectiveness. Experiment with a blended eLearning approach, and watch the dull roar return to a few whispers of displeasure from the usual suspects.

3 Benefits of Blended eLearning

Taking a blended eLearning approach to training allows the learner the most flexibility when answering the questions of how, when and where learning takes place. But the student isn’t the only one who benefits. Organizations are making the switch for the following three reasons:

1. Cost. In-class training may seem like a cheaper option when compared to eLearning development, but consider the true cost of face-to-face sessions: Time away from work, paying instructors and flying in remote employees can eat up a significant amount of the L&D budget. A blended eLearning approach cuts down on travel costs and can be used again and again, which reduces instructor time as well.

2. Reach. Global organizations face the challenges of making learning universal, no matter the branch location. Language interpretation and travel can also be concerns, both of which are easily addressed by blended eLearning that brings the same training to all employees, whether they work in another country or from home.

3. Personalization. If all learners have different levels of understanding and expertise, then why force them into the same training program? Blended eLearning creates a buffet-style approach to training, allowing learners to lead and choose how and when they interact with the material. Being able to test out of a familiar topic or listening to the same podcast a few times means each learner gets the training they need (and want).

From Traditional Classroom Training to New-Fangled eLearning…

eLearning launched from relative obscurity to a bona fide trend with the dot-com crash as department heads took hacksaws to their training and T&E budgets. Budget-friendly eLearning makes the best use of time and resources—on paper anyway—and “time away from the job” decreases. Self-paced learning frees trainers for other projects.

…And Back Again

But, when the silos turn into skyscrapers, and retention of material doesn’t last through the weekend, a partial return to a more structured type of learning—the classroom—can help reverse those trends. No classrooms? No problem…

Learn more about our Blended eLearning solutions by contacting us today!

Putting Blended eLearning All Together

Interactive webinars combine the interactivity of the classroom with the cost-saving benefits of eLearning. Use the webinar as an intermediate step to bridge the classroom and self-paced format. Encourage collaboration between the design and training teams when designing blended eLearning programs, especially when creating interactive webinars.

Beyond the Webinar into Blended eLearning

Use your in-house social media to further blended eLearning by setting up peer study and review groups as a precursor to working groups. If you’re moving from the classroom to self-paced format, it encourages the use of technology. If you’re blending from the other direction, it encourages reaching out to humans.

Just as cross-pollination of people sparks fresh ideas, a cross between training and eLearning can reignite dying embers in the learning space.