Supporting our customers impacted by Coronavirus

With the situation surrounding Coronavirus continuing to develop, we know this is placing challenges on many of our client’s day-to-day operations. In response to the pandemic, we have made a number of changes to our business model to make it easier for our customers who may need to deploy an LMS quickly.

Our new pay-as-you-go option provides customers with greater flexibility at a particularly worrying time. As the impact of the virus hits, many companies are finding themselves operating in extremely difficult conditions. There may be decreased demand for products and services, challenges with delivery as well as issues caused by the suddenly home-working employee base. In response to such organisations needing to reach employees with content, we’re now working with customers affected by Coronavirus on as pay-as-you-go model.

Our Managing Director, Tim Dyer said: “Luckily, we are agile enough as a business to be able to adjust our business model to make onboarding easy and affordable for customers in need of an LMS right now. The option to off-board at any time gives them reassurance that this can be as temporary a solution as necessary”.

As more companies move to remote working, we feel Traineasy’s LMS-X platform is a great solution for homeworkers and allows employers to deploy both traditional forms of e-learning as well as videos, which are displayed in the LMS as Netflix style playlists. Because video is the most impactful way of delivering essential messages to employees, we’ve made it possible to make the watching of a video mandatory, just like completing any other form of essential training.

Our pay-as-you-go option is available immediately and will continue for as long as our customers need the reassurance that it offers. For more information, please email sarah.lambie@traineasy.com.

Creating A Learning Culture At Work

Now more than ever, the well-being of an enterprise depends on a constant influx of new knowledge. Product ideas, sales techniques, communications technology, adapting and developing new processes, and keeping pace with industry standards or the requirements of regulatory compliance: all of these rely on the assimilation of new concepts and information.

Formal training only goes so far, as ideas and data must be taken in and applied not only at the desktop but in one-on-one encounters with customers and suppliers, on service runs at remote sites, or in any number of other locations.

So for organisations to cope, learning needs to be a continuous, adaptable, and location-independent process. It also needs to be ingrained within the working practices and mindset of the enterprise.

What Is A Learning Culture?

A learning culture is an environment which promotes the development of skills, knowledge and competence by supporting both the individual’s quest for these ideals, and shared learning which is in line with the objectives and philosophy of the organization. The culture thrives on an attitude known as a “growth mindset”, in which people learn from their mistakes and actively seek out new challenges.

How Learning Helps

It’s no longer sufficient to solely rely on tried and tested methods from years gone by. Advances in technology and communication are fuelling the demand for a new kind of worker: individuals with creativity, adaptability, quick thinking, and high levels of emotional and social intelligence.

Those with a capacity to independently, proactively, and continuously learn will succeed – and be able to react more positively to dramatic or disruptive changes in their work environments, shifting demands, and the need to shape new ideas and information into innovative products, processes, and services.

And the success speaks for itself. Organisations with healthy learning cultures enjoy a host of benefits, including:

  • Greater efficiency, productivity, and profits
  • A more satisfied and motivated workforce, more willing to remain with the organisation and pursue a career path within it
  • A sense of ownership and loyalty to the enterprise
  • Greater levels of accountability, responsibility, and transparency
  • The ability to work effectively in teams, and to share knowledge with co-workers
  • Flexibility, and the capacity to adapt to change
  • An environment driven by knowledge, inquiry, and sharing

How Training Sometimes Doesn’t

Around 70% of corporate learning is still done through formal channels of traditional instruction. Thomas Handcock, a senior director at the Corporate Executive Board Co. (CEB) in London, estimates that enterprises world-wide spend at least 11% more per person each year than is cost-effective.

And this training isn’t always relevant – or valued. Recent studies indicate that only 13% of workers are highly engaged in their jobs, while a disturbing 26% are completely disengaged – largely due to poor training and opportunities for personal development.

In a learning culture, workers will tend to learn because they want to. So how can such an environment be created?

Learning From Performance

Organisations that monitor the performance of their members will have a wealth of information on hand as to which individuals are doing well, and which aren’t. The factors that distinguish stand-out performances may be used as a model for helping to improve performance all round, while those indicators of under-achievement can be red flagged as errors to avoid.

These elements may then be combined into training guidelines and interventions, to help keep everyone on track.

Breaking Down Resistance

Organisations need to recognise and counter the factors holding people back from attaining their full potential – such as the fear of appearing ignorant of things they genuinely don’t know, a tendency to stick rigidly to the things they do know, or risking embarrassment due to mistakes or failure.

Promoting Independence

People tend to prefer learning at their own pace – a preference which cuts across all age groups. So opportunities for independent learning, such as access to podcasts, webinars, online courses, and social networks should be provided. To ensure that what’s being learned is of relevance and value to the individual and the organisation, some degree of vetting should be applied – with recommendations given to suit the needs and skills of the individuals, groups, or departments concerned.

Involvement From The Top Down

Learning should be a commitment not only for workers on the shop floor, but for stakeholders at all levels of an organisation. And those in high office should first learn the practice of being approachable, good listeners, and a motivating force for the learning of those that they lead.

Promote A Progressive Mindset

Motivation is key to the “growth mindset”. And facilities and resources should be in place to allow each worker to explore their natural tendency to improve themselves, expand their knowledge, learn from their peers, and contribute to the development of the enterprise.

Recruit And Hire Learners

Human Resources managers and recruiters should be trained to be on the lookout for candidates who exhibit the signs of being good learners. Interviews and assessments should be structured to pinpoint individuals who are highly motivated, willing to take risks, and keen to accept daunting tasks and challenges.

Encourage Questioning And Dissent

Great ideas and innovations have come from spirited debate, questioning, and a willingness to challenge previously accepted ways of doing things. In a learning culture, this attitude should be actively encouraged.

Take A Progressive Attitude To Failure

Mistakes and failures shouldn’t be considered an “all or nothing” affair. Rather, they should be embraced as opportunities to learn more appropriate ways of handling tasks and problems – and as a chance to do something better, next time.

Focus On Teamwork

As people tend to learn more when stimulated by interaction and the knowledge of others, the focus in a learning culture should be on group rather than individual performance. Workers should be assigned to small teams (which fosters interaction and intimacy), which should be set challenging tasks that stimulate creative tension within the group.

Encourage Rigour And Being Organised

Workers should be encouraged to set up timetables for themselves, with “To Do” and check-lists associated with their daily tasks and ongoing projects. They should also be given the opportunity to record and explore their thoughts and feelings (emotional intelligence), and how these impact on their ability to learn and do their jobs.

Provide Tools And Technology

Organisations should give access to the tools and resources necessary for learning on demand – be they connected devices (Bring Your Own Device, or provided by the enterprise), software, or the URLs of web-based tools and platforms.

Appreciate The Way Things Get Done

‘It Ain’t What You Do – It’s The Way That You Do It’ could be the theme tune for learning cultures, generally. In a continuous learning environment, the steps taken along a journey may be as important as the destination itself. So organisations are encouraged to reward performance with an emphasis on how work has been done.

Monitor And Measure

Assessment and performance statistics should be supplemented with data from formal and informal training (online courses taken, completion rates, etc.) – together with feedback gleaned from participants as to how these activities affected their learning goals and job-related objectives.

Using Video In Collaborative Learning

We often hear the virtues of independent, self-motivated learning. But humans are by nature a communal species – and much of what we assimilate takes place in a social context.

Even so-called “independent learning” activities have a social element, as research, exploration, and the testing out of new techniques all build on the work done and observations made by others. And applications of the knowledge gained through independent learning have an impact on the world around us, and in our interactions with other people.

There’s an educational approach that seeks to capitalise on these social aspects, while retaining a focus on the needs of the learner. It’s called collaborative learning.

What Is Collaborative Learning?

Collaborative learning involves groups of learners working together to achieve a goal: creating a new product, solving a problem, performing a task, etc. The technique emphasises learning as an active process, rather than one in which knowledge is simply gained through sitting back and receiving instructions.

Instructors and administrators merely act as facilitators in a process which calls on learners to interact with fellow members of a small group while developing ideas on the assigned task, testing assumptions, and sharing knowledge with other group members. Participants are both learners and teachers, throughout the exercise.

Interaction and action are the core principles of collaborative learning, and exercises are ideally structured to invite solutions to real-world problems and issues.

The Pros And Cons

On the plus side, collaborative learning groups assume ownership of the problems they’ve been set, and tend to be invested in them and highly motivated. This promotes a deeper understanding of the material, and a greater retention of the ideas and knowledge gained. This translates into greater self-confidence, and a drive to take on new challenges.

Learning in a group context encourages development in inter-personal relations and social intelligence. This may manifest as an increased openness to new ideas and the opinions of others, as well as an increased appreciation for diversity.

On the downside, collaborative learning flies in the face of traditional models of instructor-student relations, and may be difficult for some organisations to accept. Assessment of the process may also prove problematic for those unused to such a “hands off” approach on the part of the instructor.

To achieve the maximum benefit from collaborative learning, experiences need to be carefully designed and communicated to the participants.

Video As An Appropriate Tool

Studies such as Richard E. Mayer’s “Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning” suggest that an average learning improvement of 80% may be attributed simply to combining graphics with explanatory audio tracks – so there’s a statistical basis for the inclusion of video in a learning experience.

But video suffers from being an inherently passive medium: you sit and you watch. And then what?

With the learner being the central figure in a collaborative learning experience, the challenge for course designers is to use video to first engage the learner, retain their interest, and invite their participation in the learning process. So in keeping with the collaborative learning principle, some degree of interactivity is essential in any video content.

Collaborative Video Strategies

A learner-centric experience calls for a more personal approach to the presentation of video narratives, so material should be delivered in a conversational style, rather than in formal tones, or jargon. Throughout a course, using the same “voice” (a human narrator, on-screen avatar, animated “talking head”, etc.) to guide learners through the video narrative encourages familiarity with the character, and a greater sense of engagement.

It’s a good idea to get the learners involved with the video narrative as quickly as possible. This may be done in a number of ways:

A discussion session before the video begins, establishing ground rules and inviting speculation as to what happens next.
A set of options on-screen at critical points, inviting learners to choose what a character in the video will do next, or what event should now occur. The choices they make can then take the story in different directions, demonstrating the consequences of the various decisions made.
Providing opportunities for learners to highlight given elements in a narrative: the critical point in a customer service interaction, the key issues in a presentation, “What’s wrong with this picture?”, etc.

To allow the learners some control over the pacing of video content, clips should be kept down in length. Longer sequences may be broken up into chapters accessible from an on-screen menu, with the option to jump to specific points of the narrative (e.g., for learners to review material they’ve previously seen, or continue from where they left off). Providing offline navigation tools for online video content allows learners to make notes, set up bookmarks, and refresh their memories.

Other offline resources should be provided to assist learners in reviewing video content and retaining the knowledge they’ve learned. These might include transcripts of the narrative, clips they can download to their mobile devices, and timetables that make material available before, during, and after scheduled formal sessions.

Test questions may be posed during a video narrative to break up the flow, and to assess the learner’s understanding of what they’ve just seen. Questions may also be used as a gatekeeper denying learners access to the next part of a course unless they demonstrate a sufficient understanding of the material already covered.

Performance assessment is important in gauging the effectiveness of the collaborative learning experience, so measurable quantities that give the relevant indicators should be monitored and recorded. So too should feedback from the course participants.

The Value In Conferencing

Interaction may also be promoted between group members and external sources, through video conferencing. Video chat applications may be used to help group members stay in contact with each other outside the training environment. But links may also be set up up for them with subject matter experts, advisory services, intelligence-sharing and discussion forums – and other groups involved in the exercise.

Is 3D Learning Solid?

While text and graphics form the main part of most sets of training materials, there are applications and circumstances for which simple (or complex) words aren’t enough – and even pictures can’t fully communicate, or achieve the desired effect. In situations like these, 3D learning presents a viable alternative.

What is 3D Learning?

Visual or 3D learning is an interactive technique which supplements instructor-led or facilitated training with learner experience and observation within a simulated 3D environment. It’s an internet-enabled process that uses digital technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) to create a platform for learning activities.

The Case For Immersion

Instead of a simple “Show and Tell” from an instructor, 3D learning takes students into their subject matter visually. Advanced systems may even include tactile or haptic feedback, so that learners get the impression of actually touching objects in the simulated environment or of being touched as objects react to them.

A digital platform and related 3D technologies make it possible to design learning experiences that immerse trainees in environments which would otherwise be inaccessible due to the costs of travel, remoteness of locations involved, physical scale, or hazardous circumstances. So learners can be transported to the far side of the universe, to the heart of a nuclear reactor, or into the human brain.

Such deep immersion into a learning environment is an interactive experience which greatly increases learner engagement with the training process. It also promotes a greater involvement with the subject matter, which leads to increased knowledge retention.

Tools And Hardware

3D learning kits range from cinema-style arrangements with stereoscopic screens and students wearing “3D goggles” to fully immersive set-ups with wraparound headsets, microphones, and haptic sensors. Their scale can range from individual kits for single-person training to classroom sets or larger configurations for lecture halls and auditoriums.

Commercial packages tailored as a complement to formal educational curricula are available, and custom-made solutions for institutional, industrial or corporate applications may be constructed on a case by case basis.

The Right-brained Learner

Formal education and conventional training in corporate settings have traditionally been tailored towards text-centric and logically based exercises – areas typically associated with the left-hand portion of the brain. But visual, creative, and “out of the box” thinkers tend to use the right-hand side of the brain, and may miss out on the benefits of such training – or even appear to be incapable of responding well to it.

3D learning techniques are ideally suited to such “right-brained” thinkers – and at the early stages of learner development they can be instrumental in enabling learners whom the formal education system may mistakenly brand as “slow” or “developmentally delayed” to keep pace with their peers, and even excel.

Other Special Circumstances

Those who may be living with dyslexia (an inherited genetic condition that makes it extremely hard for learners to cope with text-based information even in their native language – despite being of average intelligence or above) have also been known to benefit from a 3D learning approach.

So too have bright or even exceptionally intelligent individuals whose primary method of information intake and processing occurs in the right-brain hemisphere – those whom the experts at 3DLearning.com describe as “Gifted Operating with a Learning Difference or GOLD Students™”.

Making STEM Take Root

In the USA, 3D learning technology has been extensively used in the formal sector to enable students to gain insights and experiences that would be otherwise impossible in illustrating the core concepts and techniques of disciplines based on science, technology, engineering and mathematics – the so-called “STEM” subjects.

Traditionally, STEM education in schools has had a theoretical focus which often confuses and alienates learners and denies them practical experience or experimentation with what’s being taught. 3D learning allows for the creation of STEM-based virtual environments in which students can see and hear as intangible ideas are made tangible.

Extending Learning To Developing World Communities

A group of researchers working out of the Department of Computer Science of the COMSATS Institute of Information Technology in Pakistan have hit upon the idea of using 3D learning and virtual technologies to extend learning opportunities in countries where the majority of the adult population are considered to be functionally illiterate.

It’s proposed that using visual, immersive, and non-verbal techniques distributed via mobile phone technology in regions where cellular networks are gaining increased levels of penetration is the way forward for increasing educational outreach in developing world communities – which includes several of the nations identified by UNESCO as having a functionally illiterate adult population of over 60%.

Corporate Skills Acquisition And Training

In the corporate and professional sectors, 3D learning applications are increasingly being used to enhance skills acquisition and training programmes at all levels. Areas such as Health and Safety or compliance training can especially benefit, as immersive simulations can test learner knowledge and communicate information and concepts during practical exercises conducted in virtual environments free of disease or hazardous material risks to the trainee.