Archive

Author Archive

Turbo Charge Scheduled Events in Your Learning Management System by Using Tags

July 31, 2013 4 comments

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

Instructor-led sessions, either in physical or virtual classrooms, play a big part of many organizations’ learning strategies. To support such initiatives, the best learning management systems (LMS) are equally adept at managing scheduled instructor-led events as they are at managing self-paced learning.

If your organization delivers a large number of scheduled events, it might be tough for learners to keep track of what’s available and what might fit into their daily schedules. The ability to tag instructor-led sessions with keywords can be an elegant way to present learners with a manageable list of upcoming events so that learners can quickly assess whether they’d like to attend.

When people think of tags, they automatically think of topic keywords. A course on, say, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), might be tagged with the topic keywords HealthFirst Aid; and CPR.

Topic tags added to a course in Absorb LMS

Since this course will be delivered as a scheduled instructor-led event, you can make it significantly easier for learners to find the session in their learning portal by adding a keyword to define the date range in which the session will be taking place, as well as a keyword specifying the name of the instructor delivering the session.

Absorb LMS: Adding date and instructor tags to a course

NOTE: Peter Safar is credited to be the inventor of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). He passed away in 2003 but it seems appropriate that he be revived symbolically in this Blog post to teach this important topic.

A learner clicking the August 2013 tag or searching for that keyword will be presented with all the scheduled events taking place in August 2013.

AbsorbLMS-Date Tag Clicked

Similarly, clicking the name of the instructor will present the learner with all the scheduled sessions being delivered by that instructor. If your organization has an in-house public speaking rock star with a reputation for delivering good content, your learners will appreciate a quick way to view all the speaker’s scheduled sessions.

Making this tagging technique even more powerful is the ability to e-mail to learners the search string that generates the list of upcoming sessions:

Dear learner,

Click the link below to get a list of all the sessions we have scheduled for the month of August:

http://learning.mydomain.com/#/search/courses/August%202013

We hope you find these resources helpful.

Signed,

—Your loving learning enabler

To maximize enrolment and attendance, it’s critical that learners be able to quickly find instructor-led sessions and other scheduled events in their learning portal. Tagging scheduled events with date ranges and names of speakers can make it a breeze for learners to find sessions of interest that fit their schedules.

The Most Important Learning Management System Features to Support Instructor-Led Courses

June 20, 2013 5 comments

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

In many organizations, workplace learning consists of getting people into a room to listen to an instructor. If the workforce is distributed, the room used may be virtual instead of physical, and the donuts served may be imaginary instead of real.

When these organizations become fed up with the effort of trying to manage their learning initiatives using pen and paper, spreadsheets, and various stone-age tools, they acquire a learning management system. The smartest of these organizations don’t then abandon instructor-led learning, but rather aim to provide learners with quality content in many different formats and learning modalities:

Absorb LMS Curriculum showing the choice of different learning modalities

In evaluating learning management systems, you should consider the ability of the LMS to support instructor-led events even if you presently think you’ll only be serving self-paced courses to your learners. Your needs over time may change. (Just ask anyone who’s ever paid to have a tattoo removed.)

Here’s a list of LMS features required to manage instructor-led events:

  • Instructor-led courses can take place in a physical or virtual classroom
  • Instructor-led courses can issue certificates as well as educational units, credits, or points
  • Instructor-led courses can be configured to have prerequisites
  • Instructor-led courses can be part of a blended learning curriculum
  • Instructor-led courses can have multiple sessions
  • Instructor-led courses can have sessions that automatically repeat daily, weekly, etc.
  • Instructor-led courses can have sessions that start and end on specific dates

Absorb LMS-Scheduling of an instructor-led session

  • Enrolment into instructor-led sessions can be restricted to specific groups of learners based on any criteria (location, business function, role, etc.)
  • Instructor-led course sessions can be configured to require approval from an administrator or instructor before a learner is fully enrolled
  • The system manages venues, including maximum seating for each room
  • The system manages wait lists
  • Learners on a wait list are automatically notified if a seat becomes available

Absorb LMS- ILT Enrollment

  • The system is smart enough to uncover conflicts, where an instructor or venue is booked for two different events at the same time
  • The system provides a way for learners and instructors to add course sessions to their personal calendars (Outlook, etc.)
  • The system provides a calendar-view of sessions to learners, instructors, and administrators
  • Resources such as study guides and other supporting materials can be attached to instructor-led courses
  • The system can provide instructors with teaching materials associated with their classes
  • The system provides an easy way for instructors to take attendance, ideally using a mobile device such as a phone or tablet
  • Learner performance in an instructor-led course can be graded by an instructor
  • Students are automatically notified if a change is made to the scheduling of an instructor-led courses
  • The system provides learners with clear e-mail communication regarding enrolment, session reminders, and course completion
  • Instructor-led courses can be branded with images so that they appear distinct from other learning content in the system
  • The system has an easy way to provide learners with course evaluation surveys (Kirkpatrick level 1) once they’ve completed an instructor-led course

Have I missed anything? Please add them to the comments section of this post.

How Writing a Learning Journal Can Increase Critical Thinking Skills

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

Remember reflection? That’s something we used to do occasionally before we all became addicted to checking our Web-enabled devices every few minutes for our much-needed digital data fixes. Prior to the mobile revolution, people could at times be seen staring off into space, just thinking. If you were to spot someone doing that today, you’d think “So sad. That person lost his phone.”Le Penseur, Rodin

According to the American Library Association, by 2020, information on the Internet will be doubling every 15 minutes. Consuming information without taking the time to reflect is bad for the development of critical thinking skills. Without reflection, we become locked in a pattern of remembering and communicating information without taking the time to assess whether the information is true, utter garbage, or a valuable missing piece in a puzzle.

Keeping and contributing regularly to a personal learning journal can be an effective way to encourage reflection and develop critical thinking skills. Mark Smith’s article in the encyclopaedia of informal education titled ‘Keeping a learning journal‘ describes the following benefits:

  1. The first and obvious use of writing a journal is that it helps us to remember something later.
  2. Second, the act of putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) engages our brains. To write we have to think.
  3. Third, it isn’t just that writing a journal stimulates thought — it allows us to look at ourselves, our feelings, and our actions in a different way.
  4. Fourth, writing things down in a journal also allows us to ‘clear our minds.’ Having made a note of something we can put them on one side for consideration or action at a later point.
  5. Last, and certainly not least, making journal writing part of our routine means that we do actually take time out to reflect on what might be happening in our practice and in our lives generally

Learning journals can be made a part of a learning plan through the support of a learning management system. Here’s an example of how this learning strategy might be implemented for a management skills curriculum:

1. Create a journal template in MS Word or your preferred text editor to distribute to your learners.  This template should contain questions or comments to encourage critical thinking.

learningjournal

2. Upload the journal template and make it available to learners.

Absorb LMS—Download Learning Journal

3. Create a task as part of the curriculum that enables learners to upload their journal.

Absorb LMS-Upload Learner Journal

Learners will then be prompted to upload the file at the appropriate point in the curriculum.

uploadlearningjournal2

4. In the event that you would like an instructor, coach, or mentor to review the learners’ journals, provide them with access to the files through the administrative control panel of your LMS:

accessjournal

July 3rd: Cool Things You Can Do With a Learning Management System (That You Probably Haven’t Thought Of)

June 5, 2013 2 comments

I’ll be presenting a new Webinar for HR.com on July 3rd titled “Cool Things You Can Do With a Learning Management System (That You Probably Haven’t Thought Of).”

Description:

Learning management systems are designed to enrol learners into courses and learning events and track their progress. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Some systems have become so powerful and feature rich that they can be used to do much more, allowing you to leverage learning management system technology to meet other business needs.

Join me, Richard Nantel. VP, Enterprise Learning Solutions at Blatant Media, to examine:

  • How to use a learning management system as a communication platform
  • How to use a learning management system to manage contests
  • Using a learning management system as a curator to the Web’s best content
  • How to use a learning management system for team problem solving and collaboration
  • How to use a learning management system for document management
  • Using a learning management system as an intranet
  • How to use a learning management system to manage the onboarding of new employees
  • How to use surveys to gather information about your learners
  • How to use a learning management system for market research
  • And much, much more

This fast-paced presentation won’t bore you with a bunch of PowerPoint slides. Instead, we’ll focus on hands-on demonstrations of ways a learning management system can be used to do more than just deliver courses and track learner progress.

I hope you’ll join me and share your ideas.

Details and registration form are located here.

HR.com

More than 100 Blatant^ Clients Now Using Mobile eLearning Version of Absorb LMS

Absorb LMS portal viewed on an iPhone

January 15, 2013 was a big day at blatant^. That was the date that our first customer, a major global manufacturer and retailer, went live with the new HTML-5, iPad- and iPhone-friendly version of Absorb LMS, code named `Ninja.’ We were confident that this implementation would go smoothly since prior to the official launch, one company had exposed 40,000 learners to a successful Beta preview.

Prior to launching Absorb LMS Ninja, the learning management system featured a Flash-based user interface that wasn’t compatible with Apple iOS devices, but did run on any device that supported Flash.

Absorb LMS Ninja was well received in the industry:

The launch of this new mobile elearning-friendly version of Absorb LMS marked the start of a massive undertaking to migrate hundreds of customers to the new technology. Four months later, 100+ clients are using Absorb LMS Ninja. An additional 150 clients have go-live launch dates in place with the new version.

AbsorbLMSConversions

Absorb LMS: Conversions to new HTML 5 platform

The New Absorb LMS Web Site: What Happens When Designers Ignore Good Advice

The blatant^ design team ignored pretty much every suggestion I made for the design of our new Web site.

“Let’s add a lot of animated gifs!” I said.

—”No,” they said. “Animated gifs don’t scale and we want the site to look good on all devices including computers, tablets, and phones.”

“Let’s have music start playing as soon as a person arrives at the home page. That’s so cool!”

—”No,” they said. “We want the site to load quickly.”

“Let’s use a typewriter font! That would be hip and ironic since we’re a technology company.”

—”No. That would just be stupid.”

They then went on and on and on about usability, user experience, design best practices, blah blah blah blah.

Pompous snobs.

In the end, this is what they came up with. (It’s OK, I suppose.)

The new Absorb LMS Web site.

Registration Now Open for May and June Webinars

Absorb LMS Tips and Tricks
Wednesday, May 22, 2013, 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM MDT (UTC-7)

Join Absorb LMS team members for a fast-paced presentation of their favorite Absorb LMS tips and tricks. Whether you’re an Absorb LMS customer, use a different learning management system, or are considering acquiring your first LMS, this session will likely give you ideas on how you can optimize the management of your learning initiatives to provide a rewarding experience for your learners.

Details and registration form are located here.

Register Now

smallabsorbbullet

Does Your LMS Focus on the User Experience? A Bersin & Blatant Media Webinar
Wednesday, June 20, 2013, Noon – 1:00 PM MDT (UTC-7)

When your employees need to find and access learning content, the experience of doing so should be intuitive, responsive, fast and targeted. Anything less leads to frustration and wasted time. Whether accessed through a desktop, laptop, or mobile device, organizations need an learning management system that helps them become efficient and effective.

Join Dr. Katherine Jones, Lead Analyst, HCM Technology at Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting LLP, and Dan Medakovic, Vice President, eLearning Solutions at Blatant Media Corporation for a Webinar that will help you understand how a learning management system that provides a good user experience can reduce wasted time and lessen frustration among end users. You will be presented with:

  • The need for, and attributes of, a good user interface
  • Strategies for providing end users with fresh, targeted learning content
  • Questions to ask when evaluating systems

Details and registration form are located here.

Register Now

The Learning Management System Feature People Hate the Most

April 11, 2013 2 comments

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

Satisfaction surveys of learning management system administrators invariably identify reporting as the most reviled feature in their platform. Administrators complain about reporting being unintuitive, cumbersome, lacking customizability, not being powerful enough, and just generally being bad at displaying the data administrators want.

So, why aren’t LMS solution providers fixing the problem? The short answer is that it’s really tough to please all system administrators:

  • Some administrators want the reporting features to be super easy. They want templates with one button to push.
  • For other administrators, one-button-to-push templates with few options are a living hell. They want infinite power and customizability in their LMS reporting capabilities.

For LMS vendors, coming up with reporting features everyone likes is like trying to open a restaurant that serves only one dish. Your cheese lasagna with buffalo mozzarella flown in daily from Italy might be a hit with some customers but the carnivores will complain on Urbanspoon that the recipe should have had meat and the lactose- and gluten-free crowd will tell their friends they were up all night with cramps after eating at your lousy joint.Lasagna. Some rights reserved by jeffreyw on Flickr

So, the bottom line is that in designing their platforms, LMS solution providers are constantly walking the fine line between ease-of-use and how powerful and customizable to make their reporting features.

If you’re looking to acquire your first learning management system, or if your needs have changed and you are considering switching systems, here are some things to look for in evaluating the reporting features of LMS.

  • Report templates—Your LMS administrator may be a geek with a capital G who likes to create all reports from scratch by typing SQL commands into fields. That’s great! …until that person leaves your organization and someone else needs to step in and take over the work. You want a system that contains basic templates that can be customized to quickly display the information you need.

Absorb LMS Report Templates

  • Consistent user experience across all report templates—You shouldn’t have to learn to create a report, and then need to learn how to create a different report. You should be able to learn how to use one report and then apply those skills to all other reports. Whether you are creating a report showing the progress of a group of learners in a curriculum, or a report showing a list of learners on a waiting list for a classroom-based course, getting to the data using similar features will significantly reduce the learning curve for administrators.
  • The ability to show, hide, and rearrange the order of columns in reports—Sometimes, you want to show more, or less, of the information contained in your system’s databases in a way that’s clear and easily understood.

Absorb LMS Show/Hide Columns in Reports

  • The ability to query the fields in a report—Whether you want a listing of learners in a specific city, a list of people who scored less than 70 per cent on a recent exam, people who have completed a course within a given time period, etc., you want to be able to search for—and display—the data you need.

Absorb LMS Field Query

  • The ability to automatically e-mail reports—I guarantee you, there will be at some point in your learning initiative, a need for a manager or team leader to monitor the progress of a group of learners. Sure, you can give that individual access to the LMS’s admin features and ask her to get her own darn report and leave you alone, but a simpler and more politically astute approach is simply to have a report automatically e-mailed to the individual. She’ll love the fact that the report is sitting in her inbox when she gets to work on Mondays. She’ll say nice things about you to others. You’ll be a rock star.

Absorb LMS Email Report

  • The ability to export data—Sometimes, you just want to play around with data outside of the LMS. Or, perhaps you’ll want to archive some information you feel you no longer need.

Absorb LMS Export Data

  • The ability to save and retrieve a report you’ve created—It’s a major waste of time to have to recreate the same report over and over again. If it’s been saved, it will take one second to call up the information you want.

AbsorbLMS-Save_Report

In closing, the best way to assess the reporting features of a learning management system is to decide what reports you might need and ask the vendor to demonstrate the creation of those reports. If the person demonstrating the platform can’t create the reports you require within a few minutes, chances are your satisfaction with the platform will be low once the initial honeymoon phase has passed. Save yourself some heartache and be disciplined about evaluating this critical component of LMS technology.

APRIL WEBINAR: A Step-by-Step Guide to Setting Up Your Learning Management System

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

It’s been quite a few months since we presented our popular Webinar on the topic of configuring a learning management system. Since then, many of you have likely started using a new platform. Consequently, we’re repeating this popular session.

Whether you’re acquiring your first learning management system or replacing an existing system, this session will present a structured approach to configuring your LMS that will make managing your learning programs a breeze. We’ll examine:

  • How to organize learners into groups
  • How to structure your content
  • How to create learning plans
  • How to provide learners with a way to select the types of learning events they prefer
  • Creating communication templates that reflect your organization’s culture
  • How to manage venues for instructor-led learning
  • Defining administrators
  • How to create reports that give you and others the information they need
  • And more.

We only have room for 100 attendees so sign up early. I hope to see you there!

A Step-by-Step Guide to Setting Up Your Learning Management System
Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM MDT (UTC-6)

Details and registration form are located here.

Register Now

How to Use a Learning Management System to Solve the I-Didn’t-Get-the-Memo Problem

February 5, 2013 Leave a comment

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

Somewhere among the hundreds or perhaps thousands of e-mails in your inbox, somewhere in the skyscraper-high piles of paper on the corner of your desk, is something really really important. This might be an urgent policy or procedural change. If you work in emergency response, healthcare, security, transportation, among many other industries, people’s safety may be compromised if you don’t get and act on this information.

URGENT: License Some rights reserved by RambergMediaImages/Flickr

E-mail has been and continues to be the primary communication media in the workplace. Consequently, many organizations turn to e-mail for such updates.  They’ll send out an e-mail blast with the words `IMPORTANT‘ or `URGENT‘ in the title to the people who need to be informed. Perhaps the sender will click the little checkboxes in their mail client for delivery and read notifications to be returned, but, if you’ve sent the notice to more than just a few recipients, manually tracking who has opened the e-mail is a headache.

A learning management system (LMS) can provide an effective way to monitor who has viewed such important information and who may need a follow-up telephone call. Here’s how:

1. Create a `course’ that contains the critical information embedded as a PDF document. PDF is a nice file format for something like this because it will display on many different devices, including iPads and other tablets, phones, etc.


courseoutline

2. Create the e-mail that will be sent when people are enrolled in the course as well as the reminder e-mail. Make sure these e-mails communicate the urgency of this information. If you can set the frequency of the reminder e-mails, don’t be shy about nagging the individual daily.

nudgeemail

3. Enroll the individuals who should get this important update into this `course.’ The system will send out the enrolment e-mail and depending on your LMS, a message to the learner’s LMS dashboard.

dashboardnotice

Learning management systems typically provide feedback to learners on their progress. For the learner, this is like crossing an item off their TO-DO list, which provides happy feelings of accomplishment.

absorblms-SOPcompleted

4. Track who has accessed the document using your LMS’s reporting features. In the example below, British singer/songwriter Laura Marling and ex Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page have accessed the important update. The others have not.

AbsorbLMS-coursecompletion

The purpose of tracking who has accessed such important information isn’t to lay blame. There are many extremely valid reasons why people may not have read important updates: spam filters, off the Internet grid due to travel or meetings, illness, etc. The real purpose of tracking access is to identify who may require a secondary attempt through means other than e-mail, perhaps a phone call.