SCORM Dispatch – First year of positive experiences

Posted by Robb Allen, LINGOs

July 19, 2011 marked the one-year production release of SCORM Dispatch.  If you’ve missed discussions about SCORM Dispatch over the past year, a little history regarding the driving force behind SCORM Dispatch might be helpful. This post provides an overview, and you can also read our August 2010 post on the topic.

LINGOs’ many course partners provide our members with an array of courses over whose content we must keep tight control.  We cannot simply provide our member agencies a full SCORM course package to install on an LMS not managed by LINGOs.  Therefore, up until the adoption of SCORM Dispatch, the only way for member agencies that wanted to access any of the courses in the LINGOs course library (one of the many benefits of being a member of LINGOs), was to use the LMS onto which we had installed the courses.

The LMS supplied as part of LINGOs membership meets the online learning needs for most of our members.  However, some of our member agencies — especially those that have matured past a one- or two-person training department — need features that aren’t available out-of-the box with the LINGOs-supplied LMS.  For example, custom on-the-fly reporting; single sign-on between an organization’s intranet and its LMS portal; and integration of human resource systems, talent management systems, and other systems with its LMS.   LINGOs is a small organization, the customization requests from member organizations were simply too numerous and complex for us to handle with a small IT department and would have been burdensome for the partner which provides our LMS.

Requirements Identified

We discussed this challenge with our member agencies at our October 2009 member meeting and sought a solution through which any member organization that needed features other than those available with the LINGOs-provided LMS could choose to install and manage on their end any LMS and still gain access to the courses in the LINGOs course library.  Our solution had to:

  • be LMS agnostic (as long as it is SCORM conformant), and
  • require little-to-no programming by LINGOs and our member agencies, and
  • ensure that LINGOs retained control of course packages and content to satisfy our partner relationships, and
  • ensure that LINGOs could shut off an individual course or entire set of courses for a single member or all members.

There were many other smaller must-haves in terms of reporting and tracking and quite a few nice-to-haves but the four items identified above were the most important to both member agencies and to LINGOs.

In November 2009, LINGOs contacted Rustici Software to discuss our needs and see if they had a solution.  True to their forward-thinking, the folks at Rustici Software were already working on product that sounded like it would meet our needs. They called it SCORM Cloud (we call it SCORM Dispatch).  We began working with them by test-driving the beta version and providing suggestions for improvement along the way.  In May 2010 we rolled out a beta test for our member organizations and in July 2010 released SCORM Dispatch into production.

Using SCORM Dispatch

We described how it works in our August 2010 post on SCORM Dispatch. Briefly, here’s the process a member agency must follow to use it.

Step 1: The agency goes through a testing period to ensure that its LMS and SCORM Dispatch are communicating properly. 

Step 2: Once the member is satisfied that SCORM Dispatch and its LMS are communicating properly, the member agency signs a license agreement to use SCORM Dispatch and identifies the courses it wants to access from the LINGOs course library.

Step 3: LINGOs sets up an account (destination) for the member in our production SCORM Dispatch environment and creates course packages (dispatches) tied to the member account. 

Step 4: The member installs each package on its LMS as it would any SCORM course created internally or purchased from a vendor. 

Step 5: The member agency staff members are informed about, can register and take courses as they would any other.  

LINGOs Member Experiences

SCORM Dispatch is indeed a welcome addition to LINGOs. The production roll-out and troubleshooting process in the first year have been almost error-free and we can’t say enough great things about the folks at Rustici Software.  As always, the LINGOs community provides great value to our members by sharing experience. Read on to learn about how two member agencies are using SCORM Dispatch.

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has been using SCORM Dispatch in conjunction with Cornerstone on Demand since October 1, 2010.  Cornerstone on Demand has integrated talent management, performance, succession planning, career support, and learning (LMS) modules.  As CRS staff evaluated Cornerstone on Demand, they knew that they really couldn’t pursue implementation without maintaining access to the LINGOs course library which had been an incredibly valuable and well-utilized resource to support their staff.

SCORM Dispatch was a great option as CRS was ready to expand some of its learning programs.  CRS HR/Workforce Development staff were interested in rolling out curricula, targeting the audiences for certain offerings (by position, location, etc.) and minimizing the “high touch” in some areas (for example, providing automated emails and reminders to support staff in learning programs) to save that time for personalized support.  The team wanted to include levels 1, 2 and 3 evaluations with some CRS courses and programs.  In addition, they sought expanded reporting capabilities. CRS is using the Cornerstone on Demand LMS module to support face-to-face and blended events.  Staff can enroll online for a training or workshop and in some cases access pre-requisite e-learning, reading or assignments; take pre- and post- assessments; and then access an evaluation following the event.  Catholic Relief Services staffers around the world recognize the value in utilizing available resources to support their career development, to promote better knowledge management within the organization, to measure learning and look for evidence of impact in their training and learning programs.

Since the implementation of SCORM Dispatch, CRS’s workforce Development Team is pleased be able to link its competencies to learning options in the Cornerstone on Demand LMS module that staff members access through their online development plan.  While creating a development plan online, staff can review the competencies for their position, and with another click they can review some of the recommended options for supporting achievement of those competencies.  They can register and launch them directly from their development plan.  Additionally, Catholic Relief Services has enabled online CVs and career preferences that allow staff to express their career interests in the near and longer term, and to include details on their skills, experience, languages, etc.  Catholic Relief Services can use this information to ensure that its staffing pipeline is maintained for key positions.  In the future the information will also be used in emergencies or staffing situations for which CRS needs to quickly access skill sets, languages and availability to respond to a disaster or other rapid-onset staffing situation.

EngenderHealth has been using SCORM Dispatch in conjunction with Moodle since late June, 2011.  As part of its overall learning and development approach, EngenderHealth needed to offer a variety of eLearning resources including courses from the LINGOs catalog as well as in-house custom-created courses and training through a one-stop source, EngenderHealth’s Moodle LMS.

SCORM Dispatch provided an easy, seamless way to integrate the LINGOs courses into Moodle.  Together with their in-house courses, the LINGOs courses allow staff to expand their skills, knowledge and expertise in key areas, and ultimately enables EngenderHealth to achieve its mission.

EngenderHealth has received very positive feedback thus far.  They are already planning the next rollout with new course offerings and look forward to continuing to enhance the professional development of their staff.

What’s next?

Since the production release of SCORM Dispatch one year ago, LINGOs member agencies have launched nearly 4,300 course instances using Moodle, PeopleSoft Enterprise Learning Manager, and Cornerstone on Demand LMSes.  As three more member agencies are in the process of testing SCORM Dispatch with their chosen LMS, we expect this number to be much higher in another year.

Member agencies wishing to utilize SCORM Dispatch must be a Level 2 or Enterprise member of LINGOs.

For more information about SCORM Dispatch, please click here or contact Support (at) LINGOs.org.

If you build it, will they come? Creating awareness through a communication plan

By Marian Abernathy, LINGOs and Ruth Kustoff, Principal, Knowledge Advantage  

So, with your help, your organization has made a decision to provide your global staff with a learning platform or portal (or Learning Management System – LMS). You’ve planned it, branded it, launched it… and some of your colleagues from around the world have taken courses, acquired new knowledge and developed some new skills.  Are you ready to sit back, relax, and pull some reports? Think your work is now done?  Not so fast.

In fact, now that the learning portal is established, and courses are available to staff, there still is more work to be done. In fact, your awareness campaign is just starting. For example, after Coca-Cola® launches a new product , it doesn’t sit back… it starts the never-ending work of building and maintaining awareness of its products and ensuring that those who might enjoy a refreshing drink, are never far from a reminder of the refreshing taste of their product(s).

Watch Melinda French Gates TED Talk on What Non Profits Can Learn from CocaColain October, 2010. You’ll see from her presentation, that what we learn from the commercial sector is that we can’t launch a new product, or brand, and then let it sit. This is when marketing and promotion must follow. Your global audience needs to know what is available to them and how to access it.

Building Awareness with a Communication Plan

Now that your learning program is underway, you’re ready to start your internal “marketing” or awareness campaign.

First, identify objectives for your communication plan:

  1. Organization-wide knowledge of course availability – Inform everyone in the organization, including country directors and field staff that the training program is available with relevant courses available to interested staff.
  2. How the portal or LMS works – Explain where the courses are, how to access them, the registration process, and if there are learning expectations or requirements of anyone.
  3. Highlight specific courses - LINGOs provides members with a wide variety of courses, and the catalog is growing regularly. Create a short guide or “cheat sheet”  for staff that highlights individual courses available or recommended for specific staff categories.  Keep in mind that a short dated document offered electronically provides you opportunities to communicate with regular updates and provide “bite sized learning.”
  4. Communicate the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) - Identify how the training program generally will support staff growth and development, and on-the-job performance success.
  5. Ask for feedback – As learners begin to complete courses, provide an avenue for their feedback on course selection, and topics, and ask for input on how to make improvements to the learning program.  

These objectives will show staff the value of the learning program, the courses, and that it is easy to access and complete the courses. Your second level of marketing is to reach the end learner at an individual level.

Marketing to the End Learner

As you build on your marketing campaign, you’ll want to highlight the WIIFM aspects of learning, knowledge and course completion. Working with managers and supervisors is important. Managers need to convey to their staff their belief in, and support of continuous learning, and the value the current online courses offer.  Staff needs to get the message that acquiring the knowledge and skills from certain courses, if not a job requirement, is strongly recommended.

 Additionally, you want to help staff to identify and determine which courses are “right for them”by role, job function or competency. Not everyone needs all the same courses or content. You’ll also want to promote success stories of individuals, by showing how completing courses can align to positive outcomes. Highlight how individuals have put their own learning into action, and achieved results that contribute to the organizational global mission. Finally, you want to ensure course choices remain fresh,

with updates to course selection, adding new courses, and managing updates of current courses as information changes.

Building a Liaison or Learning Champion Program into your Marketing Efforts 

If you launched a Liaison program during the planning phase of your overall program, these staff learning advocates can also help during the communication phase. The liaisons are one or several staff leaders who create a team of people from multiple offices who become points of contact across the globe. These liaisons ensure information is distributed to, and received by everyone.

The liaison program may also identify individuals who want to become champions of learning, if they have a special interest in, or are oriented toward online learning. These champions can be trained to become Power Users – individuals who “test” elearning courses prior to roll out, and are given time in their work schedule to do so. Power Users then become identified as individuals others can go to for help.

Building on the liaison program creates a strategy to identify and include local people as learning champions – – similar to Coca-Cola® with its large network of local distributors. As Coke knows, it’s not possible to manage large distribution of products, while keeping interest and demand high, all from the home office. It’s important to recognize the need to work at the local level – to establish central messaging – again, using the Coke analogy – it’s the same recipe for Coke, but packaging may vary and the messaging may be slightly different – depending on the local distributors who are pushing it. The local liaison for your organization, is close to the end user, in this case, the learner, and advocates are needed to be sure local learning needs are understood and met through programming that comes from the home office.

 Ten ideas to build awareness of your learning programs:

  1. Email – blast or individual messages to learners about new courses, offerings – demonstrating alignment with your organizational mission, objectives, projects and themes.
  2. Internal Learning Fairs/Conferences –food or other enticements encourage staff to stop by and see what’s available, sample a course, view posters, and talk with others who have used the resources. These physical space events can be held annually, semi-annually, or more often.
  3. Learning websites with detailed info about courses – such as a conference might have
  4. Informal video testimonials about learning offerings – viewing can be tracked via YouTube or similar.
  5. Radio-style podcasts, conference calls or webcasts about learning opportunities. Some organizations interview fellow staff members who are internal opinion leaders about specific courses or learning assets they want to market.
  6. PDF posters/flyers or brochures with fresh messages that are sent (or emailed to be printed in) each office. Many organizations post info in places where staff is sure to see them (on entry doors, elevators, stairwells, even the restrooms!).
  7. Postcards for each person you want to reach with a certain message – ie, for supervisors prior to annual performance reviews with a reminder of a course or job aid on the topic.
  8. Build the information into performance planning/annual reviews: show individual contributors and supervisors that learning is highly valued in your organization and include reminders and access information into the performance process.
  9. Leverage organizational social media: Yammer, intranets/sharepoint – highlight your self-paced, and instructor led training offerings/resources.
  10. Short videos from your Executive Director, Country Directors or internal opinion leaders: about new learning resources, the importance of staying up-to-date, aligning learning with your mission.

What other approaches have you seen used, used in your organization or want to try? Add to the discussion on the LINGOs group on LinkedIn. Communicating Learning seems like a topic worth of a Virtual Coffee Break or discussion at the Annual Member Meeting in October.

Be part of the discussion: Make plans to attend LINGOs’ 2011 Annual Member Meeting

  • Hosted by PATH in Seattle October 11 and 12, 2011
  • Reception at SightLife evening of October 11
  • Optional Workshops at PATH October 13

For information on the member meeting, please click here.