Hail to the Chief: Why the CCO Needs eLearning (and Vice Versa)

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Chief Learning Officier

If a company is evolved enough to even have a chief culture officer in the first place, that organization already sets itself apart as one that is sensitive to work environment, tone and morale within the company. Basically, it’s a step in a highly sensitive direction.

A CCO is typically tasked with boosting morale and setting the tone for a work environment, but without the use of e-Learning, the CCO might not be working with a full arsenal of tools. In fact, the CLO and CCO should be working hand-in-hand in a highly symbiotic relationship that helps them both achieve their roles efficiently – and with panache.

The Chief Culture Officer at Work 

A CCO’s role may vary from organization to organization, and may actually be fulfilled by a CEO if a CCO isn’t already in place. At his core, the CCO is the champion of all that is good in an organization. Whether it’s philanthropy efforts, a commitment to high ethical standards, community outreach and even sustainability programs, the CCO creates a workplace of which employees can be proud. By promoting causes and working to improve an organization’s image, the CCO propels the employees themselves to a higher standard as a way to improve work environment for everyone.

Of course, the CCO’s efforts only work if employees are just as engaged as he is. It’s fairly impossible to improve community outreach when employees aren’t all that interested in reaching out. That’s where eLearning and the CLO come into play. The culture and the education for an organization are so closely related that the CLO and the CCO should be working closely together to improve both of their initiatives.

Creating an eLearning Culture

Think about it: Who better to improve employee engagement than the person most responsible for grabbing employee attention during training? The CLO is a valuable partner to the CCO, helping to create interactive materials, events and setting the general tone for communication between the CCO and the employees. Add that to the CLO’s unique ability to ensure presentations are on point and prioritized correctly. And, who better than the CCO to ramp up interest for an upcoming training conference? By utilizing eLearning tools and programs, the chief culture officer educates about new programs and improves the tone of workplace communication.

The CCO and the CLO work together to create a work culture that centers around improvement, whether it means a program to create a greener workplace or voluntary leadership succession courses. By supporting each other, both the CCO and CLO create a stronger case for their roles within an organization.

Whether you have a dedicated CCO or the CEO is fulfilling the role, it’s clear that the role becomes more effective when done in tandem with a CLO’s learning and training initiatives. Using eLearning and the CLO as part of a well-rounded arsenal means a CCO’s goals are even more effective in creating a conscious, kind and driven workplace.

The Single Best Way to Use eLearning for Sales Training

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It was the cosmetic sales queen Mary Kay Ash who said “Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, “Make me feel important.” Not only will you succeed in sales; you will succeed in life.” At first glance, sales training may not always seem like a natural fit for eLearning; how can you effectively teach natural sales instincts using Powerpoint?

The real answer: You can’t. While you might be able to use presentation software to teach sales protocol or compliancy, true salesmanship comes from knowing how to act and react in sales situations. What happens if a client asks about a product? How do you make a less-interested party into a lifelong customer?

By swapping out traditional training for simulation-based learning scenarios, you offer sales training that gives employees a chance to sharpen their skills and hone their natural sales instincts to create a sales team that is seriously a force to be reckoned with.

Simulating Sales

Sure, some of the best salesmen were born that way, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be taught. By creating eLearning modules that allow your sales team to practice pitches and answer questions in a low-stress environment, you prep them for the real world of sales.

Take a typical sales cycle: First, it starts with learning more about the potential customer. The would-be salesperson can do some research on the customer or organization, gather general intel or check out the latest news. When ready to move onto the customer outreach or meeting, a simulation allows trainees to practice common questions and even learn to read verbal and physical cues, all while receiving real-time feedback from trainers and instructors.

Simulations offer the best of both worlds for those hoping to learn to be one of the greats: The ability to practice in realistic situations without the high stakes of actually working with a customer. Once that confidence is gained, your newly minted sales force is ready and willing – but most importantly, able – to work in actual sales situations.

High to Low

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that elearning simulation automatically require a huge eLearning budget. You can choose practice scenarios that are as high or low tech as your budget allows. Working with a shoestring budget? Call-outs for various role-playing scenarios can help get your sales team’s feet wet. And, with a larger budget, you can actually use 3D simulation tools that read body and verbal language while issuing feedback for a more confident and informed sales force.

The best salespeople might be born, but with the right training, they can be forged in the conference room, too. By harnessing the power of simulations, you can ditch the boring training and give your sales team something they can really sink their teeth into.

Sticky Situations: Increasing Simulation Retention in Learners 

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Honeybear

What do you get when you combine an international luxury goods manufacturer and a workforce made up of employees who have various levels of compliancy training? In typical scenarios, the same training is applied to all employees; after all, no one is exempt from workplace ethics. But, when using simulation-based training, forcing all employees to experience the same module would be a huge mistake.

When using simulation-based training, you’re not guaranteed success. Sure, simulation training can be effective, engaging, and positive for training ROI, but if it’s not adaptive, it can also be a huge turn-off for more experienced learners. Find out how we addressed the issue of different levels of experience and how you can make your simulations stickier for your learners, too.

Been There, Done That

When building a new compliance training module for the brand, simulations were a must. Ethics and compliancy can come along with a lot of gray area. Contextual cues, body language and “what would you do?” scenarios are especially effective for learners who need to put their knowledge into action.

But when there’s a large range of knowledge among the learners, it’s not fair to apply the same experience to everyone. If you cater to lower-level learners, you risk losing those who already enjoy a firm grasp on the material. Cater only to high-level learners, and those who haven’t caught up could feel left out.

Adapting to Learners 

Adaptive simulations are always the best bet for better retention. When moving through the module, those learners who continually experience the simulations and are able to correctly choose the answer can speed through the course and skip to new, possibly unfamiliar chapters. Those learners who struggle with choosing the right answers may experience the simulation again, or experience the same type of simulations until they have a better grasp on the concept.

Adaptive simulations work because they – above all – respect the learner as an individual. When an organization has a huge range of understanding, from brand-new employees to those who’ve been there for years, it’s nearly impossible to apply the exact same training across the board. Creating intelligent training modules that adapt to a learner’s level of understanding and expertise makes simulations more applicable – and stickier.

How did it go for our luxury goods client? Exactly as described. By creating training that utilized simulations and adapted to the individual learner, they were able to clarify much of the gray area that was giving employees pause. By putting those with higher levels of understanding on a “pro-track” to new information, they stayed engaged and the simulations were more impactful. And, catering to those who needed extra time finally received the attention they needed.

Adaption is what makes the difference between yet another case study and an engaging and interactive scenario. By treating learners like individuals, they get exactly what they need from the module – understanding that really sticks.

The Art of Chunking: How Content Organization Affects Learner Comprehension

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In our society, chunky can have both positive and negative connotations. Chunky babies and peanut butter: Great. Feeling chunky after the holiday season: Not so great. But when it comes to eLearning content, chunking won’t leave you feeling guilty and scrabbling for a diet. Instead, it’s an excellent way to group together information for the best chance at comprehension.

When working with an SME, you’ll probably find that TMI is the name of the game. After all, your expert has a ton of knowledge that she wants to share with the learner. But all of that information can be completely overwhelming, especially when presented in a stream-of-consciousness format. The concept of chunking allows you to logically group chunks of information together so learners can better experience, absorb and remember. Here’s how.

Why Chunk?

Not only does chunking information result in better comprehension, it also offers some pretty unique organizational benefits, particularly for an instructional designer.

First, let’s face it: The information you get from your SME might need to go on a diet. When there’s simply too much, the most important parts can become drowned out in white noise. Setting up your module or program in chunks helps you and your SME identify the most important information as it pertains to your specific learning objectives.

Second, chunking is a comprehensive way to identify gaps in learning information. Say your SME wants to chunk a concept using three key points. She has a ton of information, media and insight on the first two points, but doesn’t really have enough evidence to support her final opinion. Chunking gives you a chance to identify those learning gaps and either find enough supporting material – or scrap the section altogether.

Chunking also makes for a vital evaluation tool: When information is logically grouped together, you can automatically identify which sections are fulfilling their objective and which ones are completely falling flat for your learners.

The Chunking Matrix

Convinced that chunking is the way to go? Start by implementing a matrix during the design portion of your custom eLearning program. That’s where you can most effectively see which groups of content play well together and where you could use some supporting information.

Here’s a quick and dirty way to chunk your content: Put all of your learning goals and objectives together and then start sifting through your information. Begin grouping chapters or sections together and label each chunk with the goal or objective that it fulfills. By the end, you should have clearly matched the right information with a section and an objective.

Bulking up your eLearning modules with a chunking strategy streamlines your strategy and helps organize total information overload. By putting the SME’s thoughts, media and material in comprehensive sections, your training makes more sense to the learning brain – and helps you better match objectives to each chunky chapter.

The Fine Line Between Fun & Flippancy in eLearning Efforts

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You’ve heard it again and again: eLearning needs to be fun to be engaging. But before you build a quiz show around harassment training, you might need to take a breath and think about injecting too much lightheartedness into your program. Hey, it’s all fun and games until someone stops taking your subject matter seriously.

eLearning Should Be Fun…To a Point

There’s a pretty fine line between making eLearning fun and engaging, and making eLearning a joke. To avoid making your training into a punch line, you’ll need to use elements like humor, games and fun judiciously – and in the right places. Use these guidelines to avoid learners who are all “funned” out.

When Fun Doesn’t Work

A good instructional designer knows that while fun elements such as gamification at work and other activities can be engaging, they can also distract from the original message. When your bid for fun and games makes it harder for learners to understand the subject matter, it’s time to do a little sobering up. Avoid human, fun and games when:

  • It’s distracting. Don’t let your brand-centric version of Monopoly derail learners’ understanding. When fun is distracting and takes away from the original objective of the module, it might be too much of a good thing.
  • It’s annoying. Respect your learners’ time. While you might think a five-minute spoof video is hilarious, your time-pressed learners might not be laughing. Don’t waste time trying to squeeze fun in when your learners just want to get it, finish the module and get out.
  • It’s forced. Some topics just aren’t funny. Don’t try and force fun and games into something that doesn’t really lend itself well to a lighthearted approach. When you’re covering serious material, it should receive the respect and decorum necessary for learners to understand the breadth and seriousness as well.

Knowing when to hold back on the humor means you create the right learning atmosphere for your learners. It’s vital that you match the level of seriousness with the topic at hand and avoid too many bells and slide whistles.

Walking the Line

Of course, just because a topic is serious doesn’t mean it must automatically be boring, too. By walking the line between mature humor and obscene silliness, you can still get encourage user engagement without diminishing the tone of the message.

When developing a course, knowing how and where to gauge just how funny you can go may be best left to soft launches, pilot programs and focus groups. You could spend weeks working on a fun game show format, only to find that learners are dropping out halfway through the game because it’s simply too time-consuming.

Before you release a “fun and games” version of your module, whether it fits within the realm of corporate gamification or just an engaging overall strategy, test it on those who will actually be experiencing and completing to program. When the humor becomes distracting white noise compared to the module message, it might be time to head back to the drawing board to tone it down – just a little.

If you’re just exploring e-Learning for the first time, make sure to check out our e-Learning blog for more articles on eLearning strategy and thought leadership.

Lighten Up! How to Deal with Serious Subject Matter

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SunHorizon

Like a knock-knock joke at a funeral, sometimes eLearning methods can be downright inappropriate for certain topics. When discussing serious matters like sexual harassment or legal topics, it’s best to stay away from anything that could portray a loose attitude to the rules. But just because the subject matter requires a certain amount of decorum doesn’t mean you have to bore your learner into submission. Ignite engagement by using respectful, yet interesting ways to get learners to think, reflect and leave the experience with better understanding.

Gray Areas

You might be tempted to dress up a serious topic in a fun way, but tread lightly: The most serious topics often involve a lot of gray area that needs to be crystal clear for the training to be considered a success. Take sexual harassment training, for example. If your module cracks jokes, uses sarcasm or even incorporates games, that gray area addressing what’s OK and what isn’t suddenly becomes even murkier.

You never want to sacrifice clarity for humor when dealing with serious topics. Sure, a funny jibe might make learners sit up and take notice, but it might also set a mood inconsistent with the seriousness of the subject matter. Instead, try engaging in thoughtful ways that encourage learners to consider what they’re learning on a contextual plane.

Contextual Clues 

Putting your learners into a “What would you do?” situation may be one of the most engaging ways to practice and evaluate. Whether learners read through case studies and choose from appropriate courses of action, or even watch a video and then choose how to respond to certain behaviors, getting to practice their new knowledge in a low-stress setting can engage while still offering strict clarity. Learners can predict outcomes and consequences from a safe space.

When you rely on contextual learning to engage learners when dealing with serious topics, you also have the unique opportunity for real-time evaluation. You could discuss the right course of action as a group, or offer a scoring system for questions answered throughout the module. This instant feedback means you’re better able to nip misunderstanding in the bud for near-perfect understanding of often complicated and murky topics like compliance, legal issues and harassment training.

Game On?

If you’re still wishing for a traditionally “fun” element to a module, remember that any games or jokes should be – first and foremost – tasteful and appropriate. But any games you do incorporate should be strictly an accessory and never the main feature of a module. Instead, a “WWYD” game or quiz works well to test knowledge, so ditch the cheesy graphics and stick to a more serious tone.

Remember that your eLearning programs don’t necessarily need to be funny in order to be engaging. You want learners who are thoughtful, prepped and prepared; not learners who are laughing (and confused). Erring on the side of caution and clarity can help learners get exactly what they need from the training.

4 Instructional Design Tips You Need to Know

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In instructional design, more often than not the devil is in the details. What sets apart a mediocre program from an engaging experience boils down to the little things: A graphic here or an interactive feature there. Therefore, when designing your e-course, it might be the small things that make the biggest difference. Don’t make the mistake of creating a course or speaking with an instructional designer without first considering these need-to-know tips.

Getting to Know You Through Instructional Design

If you tailor your course toward the wrong type of learner, you’ve lost from the get-go. Part of the instructional designer’s purpose is to not only build the experience learners have, but first assess the learner and the subject matter to come up with the most effective delivery method. Sure, videos and multimedia typically offer solid levels of learner engagement, but if your subject matter lends itself better to a flipped classroom model and discussion questions, you could be missing out.

Make sure you understand your learners and their motivation before you begin laying out your course and its components.

When in Doubt, Simplify. Then Simplify Again.

There can be too much of a good thing. Just ask anyone who has taken an eLearning course stuffed with graphics, quizzes, multimedia and other goodies. When designing a course, it’s always better to strive for quality over quantity. As a designer, it’s tempting to pack all of your information and goodies into a course, but doing so can lead to total information overload.

Try this tip: See if each of your chapters or parts could standalone as a five-minute lesson. If it drags on or requires tons of extra instructor input, you might be trying to do too many things at once. Simplify.

Consider Joining Motivation and Instructional Design

All learners have their motivational factors: For some, it’s the ability to take in new information. Unfortunately, for others, it’s the chance to click the “next” button. Consider learner motivation as a way to move them along and promote better engagement. Adding informational value or a performance-based reward to your course helps give learners the extra push the need to keep going. A chapter quiz, a quick game or even a discussion question can help keep learners glued so you don’t lose them.

Test Instructional Design by Testing Your Tests.

Before you push your course out to potential learners, eLearning design isn’t complete until it’s tested… and tested again. While you might think everything is perfect, seeing your subject matter and components in action can alert you to potential issues. Ask colleagues to run thought the course and offer their honest opinions on functionality, engagement and of course, the subject. What seemed like a great feature to you could fall flat for actual learners. eLearning courses should be designed to educate and engage, and the only way to know if you’ll succeed is to test until it’s perfect.

Whether you’re the designer or you’re hiring an instructional designer, it’s up to you to keep your eLearning project on track. While you definitely want to keep the big picture in mind, don’t forget that the little details will make the biggest impact on your learners and their experience.

New in Town: 10 Reasons Why eLearning Works

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eLearning

While you might still consider it the “new guy” on the training and education scene,  eLearning offers results that are quick, effective and offer higher retention rates than traditional training methods alone. And while on the outside, eLearning and face-to-face training are the same in the sense that they both deliver information to the learner, eLearning is fundamentally different in its delivery and results. Dying to know what makes eLearning tick? It’s more a question of why it works – rather than how.

Multimedia.

One of the main reasons that custom eLearning is effective is that it’s the perfect delivery method for multimedia. Where else can a learner check out a graphic, watch a video, or share a clip online while learning? Rather than pages of text or the spoken word, multimedia gets learners engaged and excited about the material.

Sensory Learning.

It’s a well-documented truth that the more senses engaged while learning, the better the recall later. When eLearning engaged a learner’s eyes, ears and hands during a course, sensory learning enhances what could have been a lackluster experience.

Individuality.

Learning is not a one-size-fits-all experience – and eLearning understands that. By creating a unique and individual experience for each learner to discover, read, watch and interact at his own pace, eLearning creates an educational atmosphere more conducive to learning and retention.

Freedom… to Fail.

When in a traditional classroom setting, a student might be less likely to raise a hand and risk failure. eLearning gives learners permission to explore, test and yes, even fail as part of the learning process – no judgment here.

Speed.

Who wants to sit through hours of class time to get a few minutes worth of new information? eLearning speeds up the process for those learners who go at a quicker pace, saving time and resources for the ultimate in efficiency.

Learner Satisfaction.

If you really want students to retail what they learn, you’ll need to aim for high satisfaction rates. If your learner has a bad attitude, you could wind up with a disengaged class. eLearning increases learner satisfaction and promotes a better attitude, so new info actually sticks.

Variety.

They say that variety of the spice of life, but it’s also the main ingredient for eLearning. In fact, a study published in a 2010 issue of the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that a wide variety of material and delivery methods resulted in an 11 percent bump in efficiency over traditional classroom-based methods.

Crowdsourcing.

Getting a quiet class talking can be an instructor’s biggest nightmare, especially when you get more crickets than input. eLearning allows learners to connect outside of the classroom, thanks to forums, social media and a flipped classroom model. The result? Learners who are actually willing to talk.

Millennial Methods.

New-school learners require more innovative methods and delivery system. With an ever-increasing millennial workforce, eLearning, embraces technology and new ideas for younger learners.

Retention.

The efficiency of eLearning could be argued in a number of ways, but it can be simply boiled down to one component: Retention. Learners who are engaged, who are excited about the course material, who actually want to experience the concepts through games, quizzes, discussions and more actually retain information better. Check out our resources page for more information.

eLearning offers both instructors and learners a better way to convey and share information. Whether it’s a training course on a new concept or onboarding new employees, eLearning works by engaging learners and increasing knowledge retention rates – not bad for being the new guy, right?