Take the Survey: How Does Your Organization Learn at Work?

LINGOs logoA recent survey by Jane Hart asked her blog readers to rate 10 different ways they learn at work.   As you can see here, the results of the survey are provocative, and challenging to Learning and Development (L&D) teams.  However, her results likely don’t represent the reality of the learners we serve in the development, relief and conservation sectors.  While 3,500 readers responded to the survey, very few were from the global South and over 50% of the respondents worked in HR/L&D.

So, let’s explore the different ways that development, relief and conservation workers learn!

Please share the link to this brief survey with your learners around the world.  We want to know how learners in your organization rate 10 different ways they learn at work.  We will keep the survey open for one month, and results will be published in the next LINGOs newsletter.  We will then use the data to:

  • inform a series of articles that outline the challenges of the new world of learning
  • identify models to evolve the traditional role of L&D teams, and
  • introduce LINGOs resources that help address the new realities of learning in the workplace.

Please share the link to the survey widely and often!  The URL is:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CYNVVSK

If you’re interested in learning more about the resources available to NGOs through LINGOs, sign up for our monthly newsletter here.

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Ten Tips to Increase e-Learning Usage

Guest post by Suziana Shukor, Learning & Development Coordinator, Islamic Relief Worldwide

Inspired by recent LINGOs webinar with Dawn Kohler of The Inside Coach on eLearning Effectiveness, Suzi did some research put together Guidelines on How to Increase eLearning Usage for her team of learning Champions and has shared it with the LINGOs Community. This post contains 10 tips from the Guidelines, built from her review of the literature and The Inside Coach session.

1.     Talk to your audience – and share the results

While it would be nice if there were a ‘magic bullet’ that would make hordes of learners flock to online courses, there is no one right answer to the question of how to get users more involved with e-learning.

In fact, the most consistent point that came out of research was the importance of thoroughly understanding your users before figuring out how to ‘sell’ e-learning to them. We must know our target audience before selecting or designing e-learning courses that will appeal to them.

Some simple questions to find out about your users and their needs:

  • What type of computer and internet connection do they have at work and at home
  • Which learning topics are most important to them
  • What time of day they prefer to learn
  • What is their IT proficiency level

Do

Research your audience before launching an e-learning initiative. Give users what they need. Then advertise the fact that they are getting exactly what they asked for.

 Don’t

  Assume you what users what without asking   them.

 

 2.     Pay attention to culture

Surveys and focus groups are good ways to find out what users need, but it’s equally important to understand something much less tangible: an organisation culture. And within a single culture, there are distinct subcultures, many of which develop around job titles. Project workers who are accustomed to competing in their jobs may respond well to games and contests – an approach that may fall flat with IT professionals.

Do

Think long and hard about your organization’s culture and the types of marketing approaches might work with different groups of learners.

Do users appreciate humour and whimsy, or do they want “just the facts”? Do contests and games motivate them, or are they more likely to respond to simple e-mail reminders?

Don’t

Market e-learning the same ways in a “command-and control” environment as you would in a more team-oriented culture.

 

 3.     Be specific in your marketing

One of the most common mistakes people make when marketing e-learning is that promoting the initiative as a whole, rather than what’s in it for them. It’s important to talk with target groups about specific offerings. Mass marketing delivers the strategic message; target marketing is for sending very specific messages.

Target groups based on more than just job titles. Other factors to think about: level within the organisation (e.g. entry level workers, middle managers or executives), location, the language they speak and the extent of their compute knowledge. For example, if you are offering a basic course on using the Windows interface, send an e-mail to a group of computer newbies across all job functions, not to everyone in the organisation.

Craft your messages to answer the “what’s in it for me?” question for each group. If you’re sending an update to upper-level management, include personal comments from other higher-level managers who have seen their employees’ productivity rise as a result of the e-learning initiatives. If you are targeting a group of IT people, include testimonials from IT workers who have received valuable certifications using e-learning. Show how e-learning can give different values to different learners.

Do

Make sure your marketing messages are directed at specific groups of people. Let each group know what’s in it for them.

Don’t

Put all your effort in to mass marketing, leaving learners overwhelmed by a mountain of courses.

4.     Find e-learning champions

One of the keys to increasing e-learning usage is having a few strong advocates who will talk up your initiative. Again, the identity of these champions depends on your organisation’s culture. But no matter who your champions are, they should have the following characteristics:

  •  A genuine, passionate belief in the value of learning. Don’t ask disinterested executive to say a few words at the organisation meeting simply because of his or her rank within the organisation. If your organisation dictates that you must have specific individuals speaking on behalf of the e-learning initiative, do everything you can to bring them on board before they begin promoting the programme.
  • In some cases, your e-learning champions might simply be a talented entry-level employee who’s friendly, articulate and respected by his or her colleagues. If this individual takes an online course and spreads the word about his or her positive experience, it becomes a powerful incentive for the co-workers.

Do

Put some of the marketing onus on users and managers. If they believe in the programme, it’s to their advantage to tell others about it.

 Get users’ stories of how the learning initiative helped them to do their work better to achieve your organization’s mission.

Don’t

Count on e-learning champions to come out of their own without any effort on your part.

 Identify which groups or individuals are most likely to benefit and make sure they understand how online learning will help them.

 5.     Get learners’ managers involved

The most powerful champions or resistors of e-learning are often the learners’ own managers. E-learning may be supported at the highest levels within the organisation and employees may be clamouring for it, but your initiative will go nowhere if front-line managers don’t buy in.

Do

Make sure managers understand the benefits of e-learning so they recommend it to the people who report them.

Provide data from your LMS on employee learning to the learner’s managers.

Share announcements and information on course availability to managers.

Let managers know how their department is doing compared to others in terms of learning resources.

Don’t

Direct your marketing efforts only at learners.

 

Assume managers don’t want to be able to check in with their staff on their learning progess.

 

 6.     Brand your programme

Any company that’s launched a product or service knows that one of the keys to success is branding. When consumers have a positive experience with a certain brand, they’re likely to remember it and to buy it again and again. A branded programme will help learners remember it and go back for more. It’s also likely to give staff the impression that the learning is supported at the highest levels of the organisation.

Do

Brand your e-learning effort – or your training programme as a whole with a logo/animated character and/or consistent typefaces. You’ll provide users with a visual trigger, reminding them that this new flyer or Web Page is related to the one they saw last week.

Don’t

Haphazardly send out communication pieces that look and feel different from each other.

 

 7.     Don’t stop with the launch; keep communicating

While a launch party or other kick-off even can help generate excitement for a new e-learning initiative, that’s only the beginning. Other types of communication methods include: newsletters, e-mails, events etc.

  •  Refresh users’ memories of what they learned at the launch of your program
    • Send a series of emails or
    • post pamphlets/fliers around the work place
  • Send personalised email messages with updated offerings every couple of weeks or once a month, to specific groups.

Do

Keep people engaged long after the kick-off party by regularly informing them of new courses, certifications and services. Also, communicate in a variety of ways, including e-mails, pamphlets, posters, and lunch-and-learn sessions.

Don’t

Overwhelm people with too much e-mail. Weekly or biweekly messages give just enough information without being perceived as “junk.”

 8.     Link learning to outcomes

Research shows that most companies are using a variety of incentives to encourage employees to learn online. However, it usually takes more than a gift or certificates to turn employees into repeat e-learners.  Some ways to add accountability include:

  •  Talking about training expectations during performance appraisals. Many managers already require their employees to complete continuing education or upskilling courses as part of their professional development plans. Build eLearning resources into this education plan.
  • Making e-learning a prerequisite to classroom learning. If your online library includes a course that complements an instructor-led class, require people to take the online class before signing up for the in-person event. Not only does this bring everyone up to speed on the basics before they come into the classroom, allowing you to make the most effective use of the valuable “face-time” with the instructor, but it reminds employees of the valuable eLearning resources available to them 24/7.
  • Offering certification. Offer online courses that lead to highly desired (or required) certifications that will allow the motivated learner to advance within your organization.

Do

Let learners know how important e-learning is by tying courses usage or completion to performance reviews and access to certification.

Don’t

Assume people will take online courses without a “push” from managers.

 

 9.     Give learners enough time and space to do e-learning

In a classroom session, it would be unusual (not to mention rude) for a learner’s manager or co-worker to barge in and ask a quick question or borrow a pen. But when an employee is sitting at his or her desk, quietly staring at the computer screen while typing or clicking, the person’s co-workers don’t know – and, in some cases, don’t care – that he or she may be in the middle of a class. These constant interruptions, as well as, the resulting perception that e-learning is somehow less important and therefore easier to disrupt than classroom learning may discourage people from taking or completing online courses.

One of the best ways to increase e-learning usage is actually one of the simplest. Make sure learners are able to concentrate while they’re taking an online course. There are several ways of doing that, including:

  •  Setting up a separate area for e-learning. Ideally, this would be a designated room for quiet learning. If there is none in your organisation, give some time e.g. afternoon session to enable your staff to learn;
  • Posting visual reminders that someone is “in class”. If your organisation isn’t able to set aside separate e-learning areas away from learners’ desks, make sure people have some way of communicating that they’re taking a course and should not be interrupted. For example: tape a sign “Learning in Progress” to the back of your chair.
  • Forwarding e-mails and calls. If someone is taking an instructor-led course off-site, they wouldn’t be expected to check their e-mail every five minutes, nor would they be required to take phone calls during class. The expectations for e-learning should be no different.
  • Offer your employees an option to take eLearning courses off-site (from home, or another location with internet, either during work-hours or on their own time).

Do

Minimise distractions to learners as much as possible, either by creating a separate learning section or by posting visual symbols in e-learners’ offices to let their colleagues know they’re busy learning.

Don’t

Expect e-learning usage to increase in situations where learners are constantly interrupted by phone calls, e-mail messages and colleagues.

 

10.     Make it easy

From our experience, easy access is crucial because if it is difficult to access to e-learning, staff will be put off. If they have to jump to 10 loops and have to get multiple approvals and long delay, they won’t bother. As such at Learning & Development we have designed a very simple process.

We have also developed a three-piece ‘Managing e-learning courses in your office’ for   e-learning champions which comprise of:

1) Enrolment process for learners

2) Approving courses as LMS Order Manager

3) eCornell process (this resource runs on a separate platform)

Do

Make easy access to learners – don’t make them have to jump over 20 loops.

Make approvals easy for learners – don’t take 3 months to approve one course! Ideally, your local learning champions should be able to do this. So train them.

Limit the number of courses learners can take at one time – if not, you will find 20 courses on your LMS for each learner. Again, local champions will be able to advise learners what courses they should prioritise.

Don’t

Require multiple approvals – remember easy and open access

Assume learners don’t want to learn – if some learners or Country Offices have a low e-learning take up, find out why. Never assume staff is lazy!

Lump all the hundreds of courses on the LMS and expect them to work wonders because you need to “sell” them.

Assume that the best learning technologies can lead to the best learning because they won’t. You will still need to engage with your learners. And that means, folks, sometimes you need to sound less clever so that others can sound cleverer (get rid of that hubris!).

For more insights and tips, read the full Guidelines on How to Increase eLearning Usage.

 

                                                              

Watch the recorded webinar with Dawn Kohler of The Inside Coach

    

Attend the LINGOs 2012 Member Meeting – it’s all   about Engagement

Review   the preliminary agenda

    

Check out the gold medal tips from a learning champion, posted on the blog last summer

LINGOs 2012 Member Meeting: Increasing Engagement

LINGOs members who participate in the LINGOs 2012 Member Meeting November 28 and 29 will be engaged  through interactive plenary and concurrent sessions led by invited experts, the LINGOs team and fellow  LINGOs members, in addition to several “un-conference” sessions based on evolving discussions and requests.

The theme of this year’s member meeting is engagement. Learning and capacity building professionals who analyze needs, design, develop, implement and evaluate learning and development programs know that learning programs that meet defined learning needs are not enough. Transformation of practice requires that programs also be engaging: attention-getting, attractive, pleasing, and inspire the learner to change behavior and work practices.

Please see the member meeting site: http://bit.ly/LINGOs2012 for updates to the schedule and speaker lineup!

  Christopher Pirie, General Manager, Microsoft Sales, Marketing & Services Group Readiness, and Chairman of the Board of ASTDChristopher Pirie serves as General Manager of Microsoft’s Sales, Marketing and Services Group Readiness (SMSG-R) organization, delivering field readiness and training for 42,000 field employees worldwide. After joining Microsoft in 2004 as Senior Director of Learning Product Development, he went on to serve as General Manager for Microsoft Learning where he led the worldwide marketing and sales team to drive reach, revenue and increased customer satisfaction across all markets. Chris also serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors for ASTD (American Society for Training & Development) the world’s largest association dedicated to workplace learning and development professionals, and a LINGOs’ Partner.
  Martin Baker Founder The Charity Learning ConsortiumMartin Baker has been involved in eLearning for more than 20 years and is passionate about the benefits of collaborative working. He is the founder and CEO of The Charity Learning Consortium – the largest group of UK based charities collaborating to make eLearning affordable. He is also the Managing Director of the newly formed Corporate eLearning Consortium – bringing the benefits of collaborative working to the corporate world.

Martin is regarded as being one of the top ten most influential people in eLearning in the UK and works to raise the profile of the industry, regularly contributing to publications and presenting at conferences. He is a founding ambassador to the highly regarded learning technologies benchmarking organisation Towards Maturity, is an ambassador for LINGOs and sits on the eLearning Network board.

 

Ashley Brown, Director, Digital Communication & Social MediaThe Coca-Cola CompanyAshley Brown, a member of the LINGOs Board of Directors, leads digital communications and social media for The Coca-Cola Company. In this role he leads the development and execution of the Company’s digital strategy, expands the company’s ability to amplify the Coca-Cola story online, and guides the development of digital and social media policies and training. He also works across the System to equip employees to be effective brand ambassadors, and advises customers and partners on their digital and social media efforts.

Prior to joining Coca-Cola, Ashley led international public relations, consumer campaigns, and issues management for Microsoft’s Windows group. While working on the agency side, he managed media relations for Gilead Sciences, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the World Health Organization. Ashley has also worked for Population Services International.

  Tom Kuhlmann, Vice President of Community at ArticulateTom Kuhlmann, author of widely popular “Rapid e-Learning Blog” with over 93,000 readers is an eLearning Rock Star. Known throughout the industry for his practical, no-nonsense approaches to e-learning, and tips for making PowerPoint do things its creators didn’t envision, Tom’s core focus is on helping people succeed and grow. In addition to leading an Engaging Session during the meeting, Tom will lead a one-day workshop on Storyline, Articulate’s groundbreaking new rapid eLearning Authoring tool, on Friday November 30.

Insights Team

 LINGOs’ newest partner, Insights is a global people development organization. Insights partners with organizations to achieve their  goals by helping  improve the effectiveness of their people and their performance.

Insights’ unique programs are simple, yet deeply insightful, providing immediate impact and offering endless possibilities for positive, lasting change. 

All meeting participants will receive access to a personal Evaluator Survey and the resulting customized, personal profile which identifies strengths and areas for development, communication preferences, value you bring to the organization, and leadership style.

Concurrent Sessions: Decisions, Decisions

Members may find it beneficial to send several staff members to the LINGOs 2012 Member Meeting to be able to take advantage of more than a dozen concurrent sessions with sector-specific, interactive content on topics related to engaging international staff in learning for global results:

  • Designing eLearning for a Global Audience
  • Scaling up Blended Learning: Managing for Scale
  • Learning Platforms: Features and Approaches that Strengthen Engagement
  • Communities of Practice
  • Designing a Leadership Development Program in International NGOs
  • Building Organizational Capacity in Project Management
  • Planning for organizational Knowledge Management: Sharepoint Stories
  • What works: Strengthening Global Employee Engagement
  • Scenario-based learning
  • Leveraging the LINGOs Membership: Session for Newer Members

Optional Workshops

Another reason for sending more than one person is to be able to attend to be able to participate in more than of the three optional post-meeting workshops.  On Friday, November 30, Member Agencies have access to three exclusive, limited-space workshop opportunities:

1.     Project Management in INGOs: How to develop project management capacity in your international non-governmental organization

 If you are interested in looking at what it means to build your organization’s capacity to manage projects more effectively, this day-long workshop with members of the LINGOs Project Services Team, can help you to identify some next steps.

Ideal for participants who are familiar with the concepts and vocabulary outlined in PMD Pro1 , but certification is not a prerequisite.

2. Insights: Speed the Delivery of Results & Enable Success in your INGO

In this interactive workshop, exclusively available to LINGOs Member Agencies, we will explore who you are and how you interact with others with the aim of helping you speed the delivery of results and enable success—personal, professional and organizational. You will learn practical skills so that you can become more effective in your role, whether you are an individual contributor or in a leadership position.

Participants will receive a customized, 20-page personal profile which identifies strengths and areas for development, communication preferences, value you bring to the organization, and leadership style. We will explore how this Profile can be used for your personal development and possibilities for implementing this program within your organization.

3. Articulate Storyline: Advanced E-learning Made Simple for LINGOs Members

In this session with Tom Kuhlmann, staff from LINGOs Member agencies will learn how to use Articulate Storyline to build engaging, interactive courses. We’ll review the core authoring process, introduce you to key Storyline features, and then practice creating interactive content using the Slide Layers, Triggers, and States features in Storyline.  Participants should come with a laptop with Storyline installed.

Register for the Meeting and Optional Workshops

Staff from member agencies may register for the meeting and optional workshops through a convenient registration site. Participation is exclusively for staff of member agencies.  Http://LINGOs2012.eventbrite.com

Hotel: Courtyard DC/Dupont Circle: Located across the street from the FHI360 Conference Center, LINGOs’ special meeting rate is $183 plus taxes and fees. This block is reserved through Oct 25 or when the hotel fills.

The meeting and workshops take place across the street from the Courtyard at FHI360’s Conference Center on the north side of Dupont Circle (on the DC Metro’s red line). For those flying in from out-of-town, Washington’s Reagan National Airport is on the Metro’s Blue/Yellow line; Baltimore Washington Airport has public transit to connect to the metro (US$6 for a 20 minute bus ride to the end of the Metro’s green line); and Dulles International Airport (US$10 for a 25 minute limo/bus service  to end of the Metro’s orange line).

Not a Member Yet?

If your organization is thinking about joining LINGOs, there’s never been a better time.  Organizations that join by October 1 are eligible for staff to attend the LINGOs 2012 Member Meeting. Click for the online membership application form, or contact Marian Abernathy for more information.

See a list of LINGOs Member Agencies

Grameen Foundation’s LMS Launch Story

The Grameen Foundation joined LINGOs as a Level 2 Member at the beginning of October, 2011, just in time for its newly hired Talent Management and Engagement Manager, Astha Parmar, to attend the LINGOs member meeting. Astha leveraged the work that colleagues had done before she came on board, her own knowledge and skills, and the resources from the LINGOs membership incredibly well and fast.

Astha built on the knowledge shared in the community, and documents many of those ideas and tips (including many shared in last week’s superb virtual coffee break in which Conservation International’s Catriona Moriarty shared her agency’s experience in the first year of building engagement and marketing learning through Conservation International’s eCampus).

 In the spirit of community resource, LINGOs asked Astha to share her experience and approach, which she kindly does here.

 Guest post by Astha Parmar, Manager, Talent Management & Engagement, The Grameen Foundation

 

Hi Marian,

Thank you for (last week’s) thoughtful post– you really hit the key points here. As you pointed out, we did launch in two weeks (and actually in week 3 of me joining Grameen!)

Here are a couple of thoughts on our approach.

 

Pre-Launch

  • Talent Strategy: Our VP of Human Resources actually did a great job prepping us for the launch. We’ve done a lot of ground work in terms of having a talent strategy, seeking feedback from our employees and collecting data on key learning needs. So when I walked in, we had a couple of pieces in place: topic areas that would interest employees and leadership excitement/ commitment to pushing learning.
  • Community: My ability to attend the LINGOs Conference was just such a huge plus in getting me started. The connections I made and the understanding that LINGOs is not just a portal—but a community deeply committed to helping international development organization’s build capacity—was invaluable. Plus between you and Joey, I really walked out feeling like I knew what I had to do to get set-up.
  • Helpful skills: Finally I do want to add that I have launched LMS’s before and worked in the world of online course development. Which helped.

Launch

  • Branding: Folks can see the branding of our portal here (http://gflearning.org). Getting a URL that was super easy to remember and consistent with our brand was important. The look and feel is deeply aligned to our mission and overall org branding.
  • Usability: I used shadowbox to create the in-page pop-out effect. My goal here was to make the main page actionable and draw the learner in. You actually don’t need super technical skills to make this happen—but a working knowledge of html helps. Or unwitting friends who are software engineers and will trade help for food—that will work, too.
  • Selecting Courses: A couple of thoughts on picking the courses:
  • We aligned the launch with an organizational initiative. So we were just launching a new online project management tool, and we rolled out GFLearning with PM courses as a support for this initiative. A couple of advantages— the employees saw this as supporting their day-to-day work needs; and instead of me doing demos, the person heading the PM initiative stumped for the our portal (goes to credibility)
  • It’s daunting to review and pick the courses that are right for your organization. But I have found that between the course completion reports published by LINGOs and the feedback on the PSI University catalog—you can get to a good shortlist fairly quickly.

Keeping the momentum going

  • Bite sizing releases: Instead of launching too many courses from the get-go, we have chosen to launch courses in bite sized chunks. So we launched with the Project Management Courses. Next we did a mini release in which we responded very quickly to initial employee requests that came in after our portal launched. Folks loved this. Now we’re doing topically focused releases, our next one being on Management Skills.
  • Organization-Created Content: Almost all LINGOs members I have interacted with emphasize the importance of creating and hosting organization specific courses. Since we don’t have the bandwidth to do this upfront, we have used some short cuts to get there. We host a lot of online brownbags, and I have started importing these into Camtasia, editing these out and aggregating them on GFLearning. Encouraging departments who need to share process/program info with employees to use the platform has also worked for us.
    Also, most people think of online courses as an actual training. I have created some very quick resource aggregations with Articulate and published these on our portal as a quick fix to get some info out.
  • Impact stories: we have only been launched for about a month now and folks have busy schedules—so to incentivize people to share, I sent out a ‘share your feedback’ email with some targeted questions. The pay-off? Everyone who got responses in by a certain date was entered into a $15 book credit, for a book of their choice that would further their learning. Worked!
  • Email updates, leadership support and field calls: ..all the usual suspects!

Initiatives we’re working up to: a new employee orientation/learning plan and more sophisticated Grameen authored training courses. Last thing I would emphasize is that we follow the 70-20-10 principle of learning, so all my Lingos effort is in context of an on-the-job and people supported learning strategy that’s geared to further our mission.