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The E-coach Blog
By Alison Bickford on March 8, 2012
What’s an effective and efficient way to develop training of a new system that won’t break the bank?
If this was a question for broad use systems training, such as Microsoft Office 2010, then the answer may have been to:
- use the performance support tools that the systems provider offers (Microsoft support has improved)
- purchase an off-the-shelf e-learning package (e.g. from Skillsoft or InterAction)
- look at Lynda.com as a viable option for performance support in video format
In this case it is not a broadly used system, and the vendor does not provide e-learning for it’s product because it is largely customised. So, what are the options? If possible, consider creating e-learning solutions for three kinds of learning outcomes and learner states:
1. Present the concept and key messages
The first thing employees need to know is “why the change?” Be sure to sell the benefits of the new system truthfully – what it will do for employees, customers and the organisation. Address the “why” both in the e-learn, and with comprehensive corporate communication.
Create an e-learning course that introduces employees to the system as a whole. Introduce the concept of the system and how it fits with current processes – what changes, and what stays the same. Use real case studies to contextualise the new system in daily activites. You may wish to track this course on teh LMS to ensure everyone is across the change.
2. Provide bite-size topics in reusable form, at the point of need
This is about creating training solutions to address the ”how” – the ”how do I” user questions. Use a screen capturing tool (e.g. Camtasia) and export to video format. Be sure to script the topics for video first, to gain agreement on what’s important and what’s not. Publish the videos in places that are searchable and make sense to the end users, such as inside the system’s help function, on the intranet, or on in-field laptops via a synchronised mechanism. Make sure the videos are short (2-4 minutes) and address discrete topics.
A FAQ online user forum is another cost effective way to manage questions associated with specific topics. Allow everyone to contribute to user questions – this is called user generated content.
3. Provide a mechanism for ongoing support
This is about demonstrating that you will provide personalised support – that there are no excuses not to become a proficient user of the system. Scheduled webinars are a good way to provide ongoing support. For example, during systems roll-out you can offer training on specific topics or ad-hoc support via webinar between 3-4pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Of course, providing employees with ways to access system “Superusers” is another great way to tap into the social network of organisations to get upskilling across.
The Bottom Line
- Effective change management is about a) communication, b) education and c) modelling behaviour. The three approaches outlined above ticks each of these boxes.
- Effective training requires both context and detail. Be sure to engage hearts and minds, and the practicalities of using the system.
- Don’t put “how do I” content in Learning Management Systems (LMS). LMS are too far away from workflow, and this kind of content does not need to be tracked.
- Look for creative ways to assess that your training approach has worked, such as a drop in Helpdesk enquiries, a drop in users accessing FAQs, and a audit of content being entered into the system.
- Don’t train the system in isolation. Ensure real case studies and processes are used to create context around the system.
By Alison Bickford on June 18, 2011
New systems are being implemented into organisations constantly. They are often tailored to local requirements and so the “how-to” guides that come with the system are often redundant. Yet, we know that change management requires us to educate our staff, as well as communicate and model the new behaviour.
Here are a few observations and thoughts to consider.
The text heavy “how to” guides embedded in the help function of many system platforms are often overwhelming for the mainstream user, and full of jargon. We know YouTube is the second most search platform after Google. One reason for this is because people love short, visual explanations. Lynda.com is another wonderful example of the power of short video tutorials to answer “How do I…” at the point of need.
I personally don’t think e-learning courses that demonstrate systems belong on the LMS. They are best broken down into small sequences of functions and embedded as close to employee workflow as possible, such as the corporate intranet, wiki or the systems help function. However, if you do want to track an employee’s completion on a systems orientation e-learn, then consider using video screencasts embedded in the e-learn instead of static screen shots. These video screencasts can be reused multiple times in multiple locations such as an intranet page, embedded into the system’s help function and saved into media servers.
For example, consider the Camtasia Studio 7 Learning Centre video demonstration layout, and how this could correlate to an intranet page dedcated to the just-in-time training of a system. Of course you can also add a video address from the system owner or a superuser, describing the change and providing some context for the system as a whole – how it will benefit the organisation.
Camtasia is one screencast tool with multiple outputs, enabling different video size, quality and file type.
Ensure to script the screencasts succinctly. Break screencasts down to descrete functional processes. Where possible, use narration as it reinforces the visual and provides some additional context for staff. Use click sounds and call outs to reinforce functional actions on the screen.
Where possible, create XML feeds to enable the RSS aggregation of screencasts into different functional areas of your overall systems architecture. FeedForAll is a useful RSS creation tool for developing these specific feeds.
Make sure your organisation involves you early in the systems planning, so that you can conduct a needs analysis and adequately scope the effort required to create and embed the screencasts. Ensure to create a prototype so that stakeholders can understand yoru proposed solution.
Remember to keep file sizes small for 3G users. You may need to teach people how to ‘toggle’ to enable them to switch from system to intranet page (for example) to watch a demonstration.
A couple of other suggestions:
- Webinar screen sharing is a great way for superusers to share with remote users how they use the system.
- Consider setting up a discussion forum for superusers to share observations, issues and workarounds. See the Camtasia Studio forum as an example.
By Alison Bickford on September 12, 2010
I’m often asked what e-learning authoring tool to buy. There are many on the market, and it depends upon 1. content type 2. who will be doing the authoring 3. LMS standards requirements.
Content type: Systems training requires screen capturing functions (e.g. Camtasia, Captivate), so as to demonstrate how a system works. Consider whether the tool can provide different learner modes i.e. show-me, try-me, test-me, let me print off. Simple content can be treated with simple authoring tools, but you need to know what you are compromising on in terms of visual design and quality. Keep the course succinct and contextual to employee needs, and often the unsophistication of the authoring tool will be overlooked. Soft skills requires the employee to learn about subtlties and ambiguity. Use an authoring tool that will allow for scenarios (branching) and video of case studies or expert opinion.
Who will be doing the authoring: This is an important question, as practitioners who are creating only the occasional e-learn need a simple tool that they can master quickly, such as Articulate Presenter. Dedicated e-learning develpers should be provided access and training on sophisticated tools such as Adobe Creative Suite and Lectora Pro. An ideal way to manage e-learning develpment is to have a tool that enables collaboration. This enables the SME to enter and edit text, the visual designer to manage the visuals and the person charged with sign-off to make any last adjustments. A web-based collaboration authoring tool (e.g. Composica) can enable organisations to work with an external vendor who can make final design adjustments to help ensure a quality outcome. Although such collaboration is ideal, it requires discipline and buy-in across the project team which sometimes is difficult to achieve.
LMS Standards Requirements: If you are using a LMS, ensure the authoring tool can publish to the standards you require e.g. SCORM 2004 v2. Don’t take the supplier’s word for it. Get the supplier to provide a test course and test it on your system. Look to ensure tracking is correct, your standard web browser can support the course and the course screen size fits the standard monitor setting of your organisation.
- Even the simplest authoring tools have functionality that is only limited by the author’s time to explore. Take the time to learn the tool, and then when you find you have plateaued, spend time to explore it some more. Invest in training and support to help maximise your authoring tool investment.
- Ask colleagues to critique your e-learning for quality – instruction, visual design, function and learning outcomes.
- Get an external vendor to create an e-learn in your authoring tool, and then use this to critique the process. Use it as your quality benchmark.
- For a comprehensive list of available authoring tools, why not check out the Directory of Tools for Online Learning, Jane Hart (UK).
NOTE: E-Learning Academy members can download an E-Learning Authoring Tool Requirements Checklist from the Resources tab.