Let’s face it, most companies don’t have hundreds of thousands (or even tens of thousands) of dollars available in their courseware development budgets, but they still have a need to create effective training content for their employees, customers or channel partners.
High-end interactive e-learning content development can get expensive, and pushing out static PDFs or PowerPoints is a great way to make you the least-popular department in the entire company, a pariah at the annual company picnic.
The good news is that it is now easier and cheaper than ever to create engaging video content. If you plan carefully, you can even do this using a smartphone or inexpensive HD Video camera, and some consumer video editing software.
Here are some pre-production tips:
Create a script with a SME (Subject Matter Expert). You need to make sure that your learning objectives are covered and that the information is accurate.
When it comes to casting for the video, use someone who is articulate and has great energy. If your SME is great on camera, then even better, it will add credibility.
Script it into short, logical clips. This will help immensly during editing and uploading into the LMS.
Incorporate humour when appropriate. Your viewers will appreciate this greatly. If you are simply not funny, or if you think you may be crossing the line with a sensitive issue, then don’t do it.
Scout your locations to check for excessive noise and lighting conditions. It’s almost impossible to get rid of background noise later on, and having good lighting makes a huge difference in the perceived quaity of the final video. Natural light always works best for low budget videos, so shoot near a window if possible, or under the shade of a tree, for example. Full sun can cause glare, over-exposure and too much contrast so indirect natural light is best. Early morning or early evening natural lighting is always the nicest (the golden hour).
If you’re using an HD smartphone, make sure it’s in landscape mode (or “sideways” in layman’s terms). That sounds really obvious but it’s easy to forget if you don’t shoot a lot of video with your phone.
Shoot close-up when someone is talking (From shoulders to the top of their head). This is more engaging for the viewer and also will get you much better audio quality.
Listen for background noise. If you can, purchase and use a clip-on (lavalier or lapel microphone). You can get basic ones for under $50 from Best Buy and higher quality ones at your camera store. You can hide the cord under their shirt and clip the mic on near their collar.
Always use a tripod (you can get them for phones too). Shaky camera work is not cool. If you don’t have a tripod, then rest the side or bottom of your camera or phone up against a wall or on a table for stability.
Don’t be afraid to shoot mulitple takes until you get it right. You can always erase and shoot again (and again) if you start running low on space.
Take a few still photos of the scene. You may want to use these later in editing.
Try to create a dynamic pace. You can do this by inserting still images to reinforce a point, cutting away to close-ups of the subject that is being discussed, and using music in the background. Just make sure the music is not drowning out the dialogue.
Be sure to use royalty-free (legal) music and licensed stock images in your videos. You don’t want to get into trouble down the road for copyright infringement.
Output your videos as shorter lessons (5-10 minutes max). These can be sequenced and grouped into Chapters in Absorb. This makes it easier for the learner to complete the course in “chunks”, may reduce potential issues when streaming video over cellular networks and also allows you to insert quizzes and/or tasks and assignments in between lessons.
My favourite video editing software (Pinnacle Studio) costs only $99 and offers a lot of professional features. It also includes a library of royalty-free music and a host of special effects.
The other great thing about video is that it plays well across various devices and platforms. We recommend that you publish your videos as MP4 files and then import them as Video Lessons into your Absorb Online course.
Once you’ve added your video lessons to Absorb, you may want to insert Absorb Quizzes along the way, and perhaps a final Exam. You can adjust the weighting of each of the assessments as they apply to towards the learner’s final mark for the course.
You can also make the video files available for download by creating course-specific resources from the same source files.
Video is an effective learning tool and anyone can now make high-quality videos with a little planning and effort. Give it a try!
It really wasn’t that long ago that Learning Management Systems (LMS) used to be exclusively utilized by large enterprise organizations with thousands of employees. This is because the cost and complexity of these systems was such that only large companies with huge budgets and lots of I.T. resources could afford to license, deploy, and support them (usually on their own internal servers). Implementations took several months, involved many consultants and people with technical skills, and then usually required at least one fulltime LMS Administrator to manage and support the system on an ongoing basis.
Meanwhile, small businesses were left to grapple with spreadsheets for tracking, and relied primarily on sending their employees out to the local corporate training center to supplement any live-on-the-job training.
Fast forward to today, where the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model has brought with it a level of scalability that allows complex systems (HRIS, LMS, etc.) to be hosted in the cloud and deployed without any I.T. involvement at all, while simultaneously and significantly reducing the cost to entry for these systems.
Over the last few years, the LMS market has seen the majority of its growth (in terms of first-time LMS adoptions) in the Small & Medium business space. Yes, large organizations continue to switch LMS vendors for various reasons, but small and medium businesses have discovered the many ways in which they can benefit from licensing a SaaS LMS, such as Absorb.
Five Ways an LMS Can Benefit Your Small or Medium Business
Here are 5 ways (to name a few) in which a Small or Medium Business can benefit from adopting an LMS:
1. Save Time and Money by Automating Your Training!
- It’s long been known that replacing your Live training with self-paced courses can reduce employee training time and costs by over 60% (source, 21 years of personal experience combined with data from various studies over the years).
- A good LMS will allow you to create learning paths based on job roles and then automate the process of enrolling employees into these learning paths. Wouldn’t it be great to know that the minute that you add a new learner to your LMS, that person will get an email with their account details and notifying them that they’ve been enrolled in their new hire training programs? You can also set this up so that learners who have a change in job role can be automatically enrolled in their new learning paths. All you need to do is change their job title in the LMS – a process that can also be automated via a simple scheduled data exchange between your payroll system and your LMS. Of course an Administrator can also do this quickly without the need for any integrations. We’ve had clients tell us they’ve saved 50% of their training administration time when switching to Absorb from another LMS. Can you imagine how much time you’d save if you don’t already have an LMS?
- Another benefit to this is that you will never forgot to enroll someone in their required training, once you set up the appropriate rules in the system. And it’s not at all complicated.
Here’s an example: You can see how 8 people meet the criteria of this rule which is “anyone who’s job title contains the word “sales” should be enrolled in this course automatically”. Rules can be made more complex or left very simple, like this one.
2. Use Your Existing Training Content
- Wouldn’t it be great to be able to quickly and inexpensively create courses using simple videos and existing documents such as PDFs, product manuals and brochures? This is a great and inexpensive way to get started building out your content in the LMS. Over time, as you update your content, you can choose whether or not you want to make it more interactive and/or use more multimedia.
- You can also easily find and purchase off-the-shelf elearning content that will be compatible with your LMS. Sites like Lynda.com offer huge catalogs of great content on general business skills, software skills, and management topics.
In Absorb you can, for example, create a course using an existing video followed by a PDF brochure, and then add a simple quiz in a matter of minutes. You just click to create a new course, give it a name and description, and then start adding your Learning Objects. Then you can add your enrollment rules and get back to your game of Candy Crush while your employees automatically receive their enrollment notification emails and start their training.
3. Accurate Reports Made Easy = No More Spreadsheets!
When the CEO says to you, “I’m meeting with all the managers in 15 minutes, and I need a compliance training report, grouped by Department and sorted by Job Code as well as a report that shows how much we spent on all safety training by department in the last 6 months”, wouldn’t it be great to know you could pull that together in less than 10 minutes and quickly export it to Excel or PDF?
Better yet, wouldn’t it be great to be able to say to your CEO, “Actually, I set those up as automated reports weeks ago. You and the members of the management team have been receiving them weekly via email, but I’d be happy to print off a set of copies in time for your meeting”.
Using your LMS you should be able to track:
- Your company’s Skills Inventory: who has which certifications and/or competencies and if/when they expire
- Who attended which training, where and when (some of which may be a legal requirement)
- Status of people enrolled in self-paced courses
- Who completed assigned tasks that were part of a course
- How people scored on assessments and control what happens if they fail (this also allows you to improve your courses)
- Details on exams and quizzes, so you can make sure you are asking questions in the best way
- Money and time spent on training (by course and/or by employee)
- People’s feedback on your course offerings so you can make adjustments
- Bonus: In Absorb you can easily push out surveys and single question polls to gather any info that you want
4. Extend Training to Your Customers and/or Partner Organizations
Once you’ve got an LMS in place, it makes sense to think about how it can be extended to learners outside your own company. Imagine the impact you can have on things like revenue, customer satisfaction, and market share, by having a more knowledgeable customer or reseller.
A good LMS will make it very easy to set visibility rules on all of your content, so that a learner will only see what they are supposed to see in the system. The reality is you can create simple or very complex rules to ensure that learners see exactly what you want them to see. Reporting filters also ensure that you can easily filter your report results to specific audiences as well.
5. Create an Engaging Information Hub
Now that you’ve got learners coming to your LMS for mandatory training, take advantage of the situation and give them lots of reasons to come back (and stay longer). In Absorb you can create and brand Billboards to promote new content to specific audiences, you can publish News articles or connect to a news/RSS feed, or you can engage people in Polls and gain more insight into your audience’s interests and needs. Contests are a great way to incent and reward people for completing training by a specific date. Your LMS can really start to look and feel like a one-stop information hub, rather than a portal with a few lonely courses hanging out in there.
Five Key Considerations When Selecting an LMS
First off, I’m not going to talk about budget. Well okay, maybe a little bit. I think it’s a given that you should license software that you can afford, and that different companies have different needs and different budgets. LMS software varies as much in price as it does in quality. As with most products you get what you pay for. Here are 5 key considerations when evaluating LMS for Small and Medium Businesses:
1. Simplicity of Deployment and Support
- Your LMS should be hosted in a secure, scalable environment (e.g. not on a server in a closet somewhere). Make sure your LMS provider is using a reputable hosting company and ask about up-time. We use Amazon Web Services and have a track record of greater than 99.9% uptime.
- Your LMS should be simple enough that you shouldn’t need any technical skills to get it up and running and to continue to work with it. If your company is very sophisticated with its use of technology, then your may actually have an IT person or Department who may want to get involved to help set up Single Sign On with your network and/or an automated feed from your HR or Payroll System into your LMS. The latter would be used to automatically create and update learner accounts in the LMS, which is not a requirement, but a great bonus if you can do it.
- Your LMS should work on a variety of devices: phones, tablets, “phablets”, PCs and Macs without the need for any Apps. This is done using “Responsive” design, which automatically adjusts the LMS interface/layout for different screen sizes. It literally means that you do not need to worry whether a learner is on an iPhone or Android phone, for example. Where it gets a little tricky is in ensuring that your content runs on mobile devices. Video is a great format for this and there are many inexpensive tools that you can license to convert PowerPoint presentations (and other material) into mobile friendly courses.
2. Quality of Interface Design
I’ve seen a lot of LMS products over the years (at one time I was a Sr. LMS Analyst with Brandon Hall Group). If you follow learning technology blogs and reports at all, you will notice that good design has recently become a bit of a hot topic. With over 500 LMS in the market that share roughly 90% of the same features, great interface design becomes an increasingly important differentiator. Let’s face it, most of your learners (especially the millennials) do recognize a good looking website from an ugly one. When they come to work, you don’t want to depress them with ugly corporate software.
Companies like Apple have really pushed the importance of design from the consumer space into the corporate space. Here at Blatant, we take great pride in the fact that our Absorb LMS always gets lots of compliments for good looks. But it’s no surprise; we’ve spent a lot of time and energy making the user experience and enjoyable one, and trying to ensure that the quality of your brand is reflected throughout. This is even more important once you open up the system to external audiences.
3. Ease of Use
This is super important. The whole point of an LMS is to reduce the effort around learner training assignments and reporting. If your LMS is not easy to use, then you may have just made your life more complicated than it already was. Ease of use is one of the main reasons that companies choose Absorb and making intuitive software is our number one goal here at Blatant.
4. Automation Features
If your organization’s training practices are complex enough, mature enough or just busy enough to justify licensing an LMS, then you are going to want to take things further and automate as many processes as possible. The two most obvious opportunities for this are:
- Automating the enrollment of learners into required training courses, bundles or learning paths: This is really important when you have required training for a specific job role, required training for compliance, or desired training for a career path. This is the “low hanging fruit” of LMS ROI.
- Automating reporting: You will find that managers/supervisors inside and outside your organization will typically want to see the same sets of data on a regular basis. Simply create these reports and then schedule them for automated email delivery. No more last minute report requests. Your job description may include “creating training reports” but that doesn’t mean you need to be doing it every day.
- Flexible Business Rules: make sure it’s easy to filter content by audience type, especially around custom data fields that map to how YOU segment your learner audience. E.g. Employee/Partner/Customer/Reseller Type/Job Level
- Flexible Content types: Don’t get tied down to one or two proprietary content types for course content. This is one the reasons why we support a huge variety of content from web links, to tasks, to videos, to PDFs, to Quizzes and Exams, to Surveys and of course, industry standard content like Tin Can (XAPI), SCORM and AICC.
- Flexible User access: connect from Phones, Tablets, Phablets, PCs and Macs
So you can see that there are many things to consider and I hope that you have found these tips to be helpful.
Capterra is an advisory services firm that helps organizations find the right software.
This company provides buying advice across a range of technologies including:
- Applicant Tracking
- Contract Management
- Field Service
- Help Desk
- Learning Management Systems
- Medical Practice
- Membership Management
- Performance Appraisal
- Project Management
We’re thrilled to be included in Capterra’s list of Top Learning Management System Software Reviews.
We’re especially grateful that so many of our customers have taken the time to provide reviews of Absorb LMS and the services provided by the team at Blatant^.
Blatant Media, creators of the Absorb LMS (Learning Management System), has been selected as a “2013 Top 20 Learning Portal Company” by TrainingIndustry.com for the fourth year in row. Blatant Media is one of the few vendors that has been awarded a place on the list each year since the program started in 2010.
Calgary, Alberta (PRWEB) October 16, 2013: Staff at Blatant Media Corp., creators of the award-winning Absorb LMS, are pleased to announce that they have been awarded a place on TrainingIndustry.com’s annual list of “Top 20 Learning Portal Companies.”
Selection of this year’s Top 20 Learning Portal Companies list was based on the following criteria:
- Breadth of functionality and capabilities
- Commitment to the corporate training market
- Industry visibility, innovation and impact
- Number and strength of clients
- Geographic reach
“Our Top 20 Learning Portal Companies list represents the companies that support the administration and delivery of learning content. These innovative companies integrate an array of technologies into their portals to support engagement, and bring a deep set of industry experience,” said Ken Taylor, Chief Operating Officer of Training Industry, Inc.
“These companies use a variety of strategies to ensure content is easily accessible to the learner. There is also a strong focus on improving the ease of use through simple, innovative platforms and interfaces,” said Doug Harward, Chief Executive Officer of Training Industry, Inc.
“The LMS landscape, and the vendors on this list, have changed a lot over 4 years so we are particularly proud to have been selected each year since the program began in 2010,” said Mike Eggermont, co-founder of Blatant Media.
About Blatant Media Corporation
More than 1,000,000 learners use Absorb LMS every day in over 1,000 companies globally. Among the list of international clients are Oakley, Adobe Software Systems, Dannon, Dale Carnegie, American Medical Systems, EVOCO, University of Indiana, Zoll Medical, Shortel, Websense, , the United States Anti-Doping Association and many others.
The creator of Absorb LMS, Blatant Media Corporation is a learning technology company that leverages the power of technology to provide training management solutions for clients throughout the world. The company is headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. http://www.absorblms.com, (403) 520-2595.
V.P. Learning Solutions
Top5OnlineColleges.org, a research and advisory services site focused on learning and development in the online higher education world, has just named Absorb LMS one of the 99 Top Tools for Online Teaching. This list includes resources in the following three categories:
- Teaching Tools & Technologies
- Learning Management Systems
- Journals & Blogs
We’re particularly proud to be listed 42nd on this list. Fans of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy will recall that 42 is the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything.
We don’t know if Absorb LMS is the answer to everything, but offering solid learning management is at least a start.
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.
In the end, this is what they came up with. (It’s OK, I suppose.)
CALGARY, ALBERTA– (Mar 28th, 2013) – Bersin by Deloitte, a leading provider of research-based membership programs in human resources (HR), talent and learning, have announced that Blatant Media Corporation (blatant^) has been named a 2013 WhatWorks® Award Winner in the area of Delivering Innovation.
Winners were chosen by Bersin & Associates from hundreds of applicants and include industry leaders in business processes, consulting, financial services, food products, government, hospitality, information technology, insurance, media and software. Bersin & Associates conducted the awards program in cooperation with Human Resource Executive® magazine.
Blatant^ was recognized a winner for the development of Absorb LMS’s innovative, HTML5-based, learning management system user interface, which responds and adapts to different hardware platforms. This technology allows learners to access content such as courses and learning events on traditional computers, tablets such as iPads, and phones.
“We’re thrilled to add a Bersin & Associates award to our trophy shelf,” said blatant^ co-founder, Mike Eggermont.
This is the 13th award and accolade bestowed on blatant^ since 2008.
About Bersin by Deloitte
Bersin by Deloitte delivers research-based people strategies designed to help leaders and their organizations in their efforts to deliver exceptional business performance. The company’s WhatWorks® membership gives Fortune 1000 and Global 2000 HR professionals the information and tools they need to design and implement leading practice solutions, benchmark against others, develop their staff, and select and implement systems. A piece of Bersin by Deloitte research is downloaded on average approximately every minute during the business day. More than 5,000 organizations worldwide use our research and consulting to guide their HR, talent and learning strategies. For more information, please visit www.deloitte.com/bersin or www.bersin.com.
About Blatant^ and Absorb LMS
Headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Blatant Media Corporation is an e-learning company that leverages the power of technology to enable learning for clients throughout the world. The company’s multi- award-winning learning management system, Absorb LMS, is used by more than a million learners in organizations throughout the world. Organizations currently using Absorb LMS include Adobe Software Systems, American Medical Systems , Dannon, New York University, Oakley, the United States Anti-Doping Association, and more than 500 others.
VP, Enterprise Learning Solutions
Absorb LMS | a blatant^ solution
Richard.Nantel AT AbsorbLMS DOT com