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Archive for November, 2011

What Software Users Need to Work Efficiently

November 30, 2011 Leave a comment

The Zite app on my iPad served me an excellent post last night from UX Movement; a “user experience blog that’s devoted to improving the way designers and developers design and make user interfaces.” The post, written by Anthony Tseng, is titled Are You Meeting the User Experience Hierarchy of Needs? Included in this post is this nice diagram illustrating the what applications must provide to be usable:

At the bottom level is the need to have the application’s features work. The top-most level is the need for users to be able to perform tasks within the application quickly and accurately.

I applaud Anthony for really nailing some of the key issues surrounding usability:

When most people speak of user experience, they’re usually referring to usability, the highest need of the user experience hierarchy. Usability is the ease of use of an interface that increases user productivity. Interfaces that have a high level usability allow users to complete tasks quickly and accurately. However, most interfaces rarely achieve usability to its full capacity. This is because most interfaces have many user tasks, and there’s always some task that users make errors on or can’t complete fast enough.

I believe the diagram above should have one extra layer added above Usability. That level is Automation. Through automation, productivity is even higher yet risk of user error is low. The user spends time not in repeating tasks but in creating rules to automate those tasks.

We’re seeing more applications adding automation. Hootsuite, for instance, is one of a number of popular applications that allow you to automate and schedule the publishing of content to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. We’re also slowly seeing automation appearing in enterprise software such as learning management systems.

Absorb Learning Management System (LMS) Receives “Innovator” Ranking from McLean & Company

November 28, 2011 Leave a comment

Calgary, Alberta — (November 24, 2011) Blatant Media is pleased to announce that its Absorb LMS (Learning Management System) has been recognized as an industry “Innovator” by research firm McLean & Company. The Absorb LMS product and Blatant Media as a vendor were reviewed and benchmarked against various industry leaders in the recently released report “Vendor Landscape: Learning Management Systems.”

The process involved McLean & Company’s analysts using a comprehensive benchmarking methodology to grade vendors in areas such as product features, company reach and company viability. Blatant Media and the Absorb LMS product scored highly in the areas of “Features” and “Viability” which resulted in an overall ranking of Industry “Innovator”.

“The Innovator category exists to identify vendors that have demonstrated innovative product strengths which act as their competitive advantage in appealing to niche segments of the market. These vendors are poised to emerge as leaders.” says Terra Aartsen, Research Analyst at McLean & Company.

“We are very pleased to be acknowledged as Innovators in the LMS industry. It is particularly gratifying to be recognized for the unique work we are doing in the areas of ‘learner engagement’ in our Absorb LMS and SMARTLAB products.” says Dan Medakovic, Vice President of Learning Solutions at Blatant Media.

“Awesome!” adds Mike Eggermont, co-founder of Blatant Media.

About Blatant Media

Absorb LMS is an award-winner, being named to TrainingIndustry.com’s 2010 list of Top 20 Learning Portal Companies, along with receiving Gold and Silver awards from Brandon Hall for “Best Advance in Learning Management Technology for Global Training” and “Best Advance in Learning Management Technology for External Training”. More than 1 million employees and students use Absorb every day in over 1000 companies globally. Among the list of international clients are Oakley, Adobe Software Systems, Dannon, American Medical Systems, EVOCO, numerous universities, Websense, Virgin Mobile Canada, the United States Anti-Doping Association and many others.

The creator of the Absorb LMS and SMARTLAB, Blatant Media Corporation is a learning technology company that provides engaging LMS solutions for clients throughout the world. The company is headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. www.absorblms.com, (403) 520-2595.

About McLean & Company

McLean & Company (www.hr.mcleanco.com) is a division of Info-Tech Research Group (www.infotech.com) a global leader in providing tactical, practical Information Technology research and analysis for over thirteen years. McLean & Company provides practical solutions to human resources challenges via executable research, tools and advice that have a clear and measurable impact on the business.

Contact Information:

  • Blatant Media
  • Dan Medakovic

How to Automate the Administration of Learning Within Your Organization

November 24, 2011 2 comments

Join us for a free Webinar:

Date: Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Time: 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM MST

Reserve your Webinar seat now at:

https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/844732142

Register Now

What would be your reaction if you were informed that you needed to provide training to 1000 new individuals in the next 30 days? If you’re a commercial training provider, it may be a combination of joy over the influx of revenues mixed with stress at the required effort. If you’re a learning administrator within an organization’s learning or HR department, the need to manage a new learning initiative may be one more big responsibility added to an already massive task list.

Enabling learning in others shouldn’t be a source of stress, it should feel rewarding. Too often, though, the time and effort required to enrol learners, assign them to the correct course or curriculum, track their progress, provide them with certificates, and manage future re-certification requirements is huge and potentially demoralizing.

Join Blatant Media’s Richard Nantel, Dan Medakovic, and Donna Gernhaelder as they discuss:

  • Why your learning initiative needs to be scalable
  • How automation can make the number of learners irrelevant
  • The costs of administering training in a LMS manually
  • How many administrators do you need for a learning initiative?

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

Space is limited. We hope to see you there!

System Requirements
PC-based attendees
Required: Windows® 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server

Macintosh®-based attendees
Required: Mac OS® X 10.5 or newer

How to Start a Successful Training Company (Part 3)

November 21, 2011 1 comment

Richard Nantel, Vice President, Enterprise Learning Solutions, Blatant Media | Absorb LMS

This is the final post in a three-part series. Part one was an introduction to selling learning content to individuals and organizations. Part two examined the most important learning management system requirements to support the sale of training. Part three will show how Absorb LMS meets the needs of commercial course providers.

I’m writing this post on a flight to Seattle where Mike Owens, co-founder of Blatant Media, and I will be meeting with the great team at Adobe to help them plan out their learning management system (LMS) strategy. It’s been 12 years since I was last in Seattle. During my last trip there, I attended a conference on the design and development of help systems for software applications.

A dozen years ago, help systems were all the rage, largely because enterprise software was rarely easy to use. We now expect software and hardware to be intuitive and self explanatory. There remains, however, a huge disparity in the level of usability of enterprise software. In my 11 years as a learning management system analyst, I saw applications that were so horribly designed from the point of view of usability that they’d immediately demoralize any but the most mentally tough user. (No wonder 30 per cent of organizations report that they are looking to replace their LMS.)

Apart from relying on your gut reaction, how do you evaluate usability in enterprise software? Consider the following criteria:

  • Basic usability: Each feature is an island onto itself. You use a feature to perform a task and the application returns you to the home screen where you can then use a different feature. If you’re lucky, the interface design will be clean and uncluttered, and the features will be easy to find and use.
  • Workflow enabled usability: After performing a task, the application provides you with logical choices for what you may want to do next. In other words, the LMS is designed with workflow in mind. Older readers may recognize the following as Microsoft’s early implementation of this idea.

Absorb LMS and Absorb SMARTLAB provide something similar (minus the little paper clip person.) After adding a new learner to the system, for instance, the software displays the following suggestions:

  • Usability through automation: The application contains the ability to automate common tasks so that they do not need to be manually repeated. This is the highest level of usability, where the application does your work for you.

Automation is the holy grail of usability.

Automation frees the user from their natural physical limitations.

Automation creates scalability.

Automation should be a top priority for anyone starting a business.

Absorb LMS and Absorb SMARTLAB have been designed to automate the administration of learning. Here’s how:

  • Enrollment keys: When a customer comes to you and says they want 300 learners to take one of your courses, you can send that customer an e-mail from within Absorb that contains a special code called an enrollment key. The customer distributes this code to his or her employees who, in turn, paste it into a registration page. Once registered in the LMS using the enrollment key, learners can be automatically defined as a group and enrolled into a course or curriculum.
  • Email automation: Each course can have its own templates for enrollment, reminder or “nudge,” and completion emails. (If you want to really bug a learner, set the frequency of the nudge e-mail to daily.) These e-mails are automatically sent to learners when appropriate. 
  • Report automation: There’s no need for an administrator to log into the system to view a report (although they can if they want to). Reports in Excel or comma delimited format can be set up to be automatically e-mailed to one or more individuals daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly. The client who sent you 300 learners probably wants to know the progress of his or her learners. Make this customer a recipient of a weekly learner progress report and they’ll be thrilled to be kept informed. .
  • Certificate management: Certificates are automatically issued to learners upon completion of their training. If applicable, learners will be automatically notified that they need to recertify at a later date. If the content required to recertify is different from the original content, the system will automatically enroll the learner into the correct course or curriculum using a feature called the Post Enrollment Trigger.

Final thoughts:

In part two of this series, I presented a scenario where you, a commercial courseware provider, receive a call from a customer wishing to have 300 learners take one of the courses you’ve created. This should be a cause for celebration, not a source of stress. If your LMS is designed to automate the administration of learning, you’ll quickly be able to add these learners to your system and ensure they are accessing the content they need. The next time your customer calls, they may want 5000 learners to take your courses. Through automation, the administrative effort will be exactly the same as for a single learner. (The revenues on the other hand, will be much larger.)

As a commercial training provider, focus your effort on growing your business, creating fantastic content, and providing a rich learning experience for your users. Don’t get sucked into the quagmire of manually administering and tracking the experience of your learners one by one.

Absorb SMARTLAB: Where Learners Go to Escape Learning Management Systems

November 21, 2011 3 comments

Back by popular demand: a repeat of our recent session introducing our latest product, Absorb SMARTLAB. 

Title: Absorb SMARTLAB: Where Learners Go to Escape Learning Management System
Date: Thursday, December 8, 2011
Time: 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM MST

Register Now

 

 

Reserve your Webinar seat now at:

https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/982446006

Let’s be honest. A lot of learning management systems (LMS) look like boring enterprise software applications. When a learner logs in, they see their list of learning activities, take a course module or two, and then reward themselves with a trip to where they actually want to spend their time online: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc.

Absorb SMARTLAB provides a revolutionary approach to learning and development. SMARTLAB creates an experience that resembles the sites people enjoy. Chances are, in fact, that your SMARTLAB learners will not even be aware that they are accessing information in an enterprise learning platform.

Although your learners may be oblivious to the fact that they are spending time within a learning management system, your administrators will be able to track easily the improvements in skills, performance, and knowledge of your workforce.

This free Webinar will cover the following:

  • Overview of Absorb SMARTLAB
  • Absorb SMARTLAB demo
  • How Oakley uses Absorb SMARTLAB to project its brand and increase product knowledge among employees, and retail sales associates
  • How to assess if Absorb SMARTLAB is right for you

Join us for an overview of Absorb SMARTLAB and find out how you can create a site where learners want to be.

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

Space is limited. We hope to see you there!

System Requirements
PC-based attendees
Required: Windows® 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server

Macintosh®-based attendees
Required: Mac OS® X 10.5 or newer

American Gastroenterological Association Selects Absorb LMS

November 21, 2011 Leave a comment

American Gastroenterological AssociationWelcome to our newest customer, the American Gastroenterological Association.

“The Association consists of physicians, researchers and educators whose primary practice or research involves the functions and disorders of the digestive system. Founded in 1897, the AGA has grown to include 17,000 members from around the globe who are involved in all aspects of the science, practice and advancement of gastroenterology. The AGA Institute administers the practice, research and educational programs of the organization. Gastroenterology, the official journal of the AGA Institute, is the most prominent scientific journal in the specialty and is in the top 1 percent of indexed medical journals internationally.”

The U.S. Department of Defense Security Cooperation Agency Selects Wedgewood Consulting and Absorb LMS

November 21, 2011 Leave a comment

We’re happy to welcome  an important new government agency to the Absorb LMS family. The U.S. Department of Defense Security Cooperation Agency has selected Wedgewood Consulting and Absorb LMS as training partners.

The U.S. Department of Defense Security Cooperation (DSCA) is the central agency that synchronizes global security cooperation programs, funding and efforts across OSD, Joint Staff, State Department, COCOMS, the services and U.S. Industry. DSCA is responsible for the effective policy, processes, training, and financial management necessary to execute security cooperation within the Department of Defence (DoD).

Wedgewood Group specializes in helping organizations properly engage and focus their workforce around meeting its top priorities.

Six More Organizations Select Absorb LMS

November 14, 2011 Leave a comment

In the last two weeks, seven more organizations have selected Absorb LMS. Welcome to:

Model N — “With over $150B in annual revenues across 50 countries managed in our Revenue Management systems, Model N supports customers through their entire revenue life cycle, from pricing, contracting, and compliance to settlements, channel management, and analytics.”

Sport Safety International — “The mission of Sport Safety International is to promote injury prevention and safe participation in physical activity and sports by providing the highest quality educational programming to athletes, parents, coaches, and sports medicine professionals.”

Qualcomm Enterprise Services — “Qualcomm is the source for private and for-hire fleets seeking fleet management solutions, including software applications, hardware, and services. Our simple-to-use and safe mobile technology helps you solve problems and increase profitability.”

TaxProCPE out of South Carolina — “TaxProCPE (TPCPE) is a professional organization dedicated to excellence in the field of tax preparation and related services. TaxProCPE was formed to serve tax professionals who work in all areas of tax practice, including individual practitioners, accounting and bookkeeping services, enrolled agents, and certified public accountants.”

Texas Water Utilities Association — “The Texas Water Utilities Association is a water utility, member-centered organization. We provide training programs, technical publications, and mutual problem solving opportunities for those employed in, or otherwise interested in, the water utility industry.”

Toronto Art Therapy Institute — “The Toronto Art Therapy Institute (TATI) , established in 1968, was the first art therapy training program in Canada. Our students are trained to integrate their art backgrounds as they acquire skills for psychotherapeutic work with clients, including children, adolescents, adults and families.”

What American Medical Systems Thinks of Absorb SMARTLAB

November 14, 2011 Leave a comment

“SmartLab is an incredible way to skin an award-winning LMS. We have one, are building a second, and plan to implement four more. We are very happy with the look and feel of the site(s) and the control we have over branding and customer satisfaction.”

— Eric Matas, Elearning Specialist, American Medical Systems, Inc.

When SaaS gets Sassy (Part Two)

November 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Dan Medakovic, VP Learning Solutions

When SaaS Gets Sassy (Part Two): The Rise of “Mass Customization” in the LMS World.

or

Would You Like Fries With That? – Enterprise Software Goes Down Market

The introduction of Software as a Service (SaaS) was a benefit to all types of organizations, but especially to small and medium businesses (SMB) who could now afford enterprise type software such as Learning Management Systems. SaaS is still the most popular way for companies to acquire software. It is affordable, typically requires little-to-no support from an I.T. department and can usually be implemented in a short period of time.

What’s not to like?

Well, in our experience, there are still many organizations that do not want to compromise their “brand experience”. Especially where interacting with external users (retail employees, agents, distributors, field reps or customers) are concerned. Some of these companies have invested millions in building a brand and they are very serious about having their brand’s qualities reflected in everything that they do. For them, the ability to upload a logo and select a colour scheme for their LMS user interface will simply not do. They still want all the savings and time-to-market benefits of a SaaS LMS, but only if it can be purchased with the deep brand immersion elements of a custom portal or website.

The following illustration shows how far we’ve come and where, I believe, we are headed.

SMARTLAB to the Rescue!

Blatant Media has responded to this need by creating a highly customizable interface which leverages the power and cross-platform capabilities of HMTL5 and the benefits of using web parts which can be customized (size, placement, colour, text, etc.) that pull data from our award-winning off the shelf Absorb LMS platform. We call this product SMARTLAB and it is currently being deployed by several of our clients and is generating tremendous interest in the market. In addition to reflecting and extending your company’s “personality”, SMARTLAB is also in a category of its own. SMARTLAB provides a complete set of “learner engagement” features which allow you to easily create and target informal learning content such as News, FAQs, Polls and Contests right alongside your formal training offerings (videos, quizzes, SCORM courses). The best part? It looks nothing like an LMS! :- )

The use of our Absorb LMS on the back-end and web parts on the front-end means that a company can have all the benefits of a highly customized system, at a fraction of the cost and in a fraction of the time.

Sound interesting? Why not attend our upcoming webinar to learn more or contact us for a personal demo.