Saturday, March 16, 2013

Creating WOW Learning Experiences in Compliance Training

One of the goals I share with my instructional design team this year is "to create WOW learning experiences." It is part of our 2013 continuous improvement effort.  Last year was our first year operating as an Enterprise Learning and Development group.   We spent most of the year building the team, introducing tools, and developing the processes we need to support the lines of business with learning services.  This year, we want to make the most of the capability we have created.  

An area in which it is especially challenging to find ways to create WOW learning experiences is in compliance training.   This is often considered the "necessary evil" of the learning world.  It poses the instructional designer with an uphill battle in that the content is usually not core to the target audience's work, and it is not generally compelling by nature.  It is certainly not easy to make "lock out, tag out procedures" or "record retention policies" come to life in an eLearning module, but there are ways to do it.   I have challenged my team to look for more opportunities to use story-based or game-like approaches, and to take advantage of our in-house graphic designer to include images, animations, or videos that can add visual interest and make learning points clearer.

I just came across this slideshare presentation from Cammy Bean at Kineo: Cammy Bean's Learning Visions: Compliance Makeover!   In this presentation, Cammy provides 10 tips for giving compliance training a makeover.  These tips represent the kind of things I'm asking my team to do to create WOW learning experiences.  Thanks Cammy!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Yes, You Can Deliver Mobile Learning

After sitting through so many mobile learning sessions at industry events, I got tired of being among the puzzled masses who couldn't figure out how to launch a mobile learning solution. I was determined to unravel this mystery and begin offering mobile learning in my company.   I started by asking myself, "What makes this so hard to do?"  I'm a reasonably intelligent guy.  I've got an iPad and an Android Smartphone.   I download apps.  I play Words with Friends on occasion.  This shouldn't be so hard for me and my team to figure out.  Then it hit me.   My team is made up of highly talented instructional designers.   We understand how to build learning solutions, but we aren't programmers or app developers.  We could design and develop learning content for mobile delivery, but we needed some help on the technology side.   Rather than try to create our own apps, we decided to find a partner that had a ready made platform we could use to help us get started.    Now, we are just finishing up our first mobile learning pilot.   We will be summarizing the completion and evaluation data next week.    It took a lot of research, self-education, and just plain work for us to get to this point.   But if I were to simplify it down to the key things that helped us move forward, it would be these five things:
  1. Read Designing mLearning by Clark Quinn - If you do a literature search on mobile learning, all roads lead back to this book, so you might as well start here.   It covers mobile learning in a very comprehensive way.    As you read it, think about it in the context of your own situation so you can identify and plan how to overcome your own hurdles.
  2. Form a Mobile Team - This is clearly a case where more heads are better than one.  The easy part of the work for us was designing and developing the content, but there are a lot of decisions to be made regarding network protocols, mobile security, audience analysis, and interface design before you can get to that point.
  3. Partner with Your Information Technology Team -  You cannot do this without having IT support at the right level in your organization.   There are device, policy, security and protocol issues that have to be addressed.  These cannot be resolved by Learning & Development alone. 
  4. Choose a Vendor Partner - This is the real jump starter.   We will likely get to a point where we are developing our own learning app, but that day is not here yet.  We chose to start by using a mobile platform that already exists and a partner who has done this before.  OnPoint Digital helped us conduct our pilot using their Cellcast App.  We also got great support and advice from the folks at Float Learning.
  5. Choose the Right Pilot Project - Keep in mind, this is about learning, not just using a new medium.   It is important to choose a project that matters.  In our mobile learning pilot,  we delivered update training to a group of service technicians who had previously attended an installation  and repair class on a piece of equipment they must service.  There have been some hardware updates and changes to electrical specs on that equipment since the technicians completed their initial training.   Rather than bring them back into the classroom, or have them interrupt their work day to take time out for eLearning, we chose to prepare them to handle the differences they would encounter on service calls using mobile learning.  Their training consisted of twelve brief video segments focusing on the hardware differences (only the introductory video clip ran longer than one minute), three electrical diagrams for review, and an interactive map showing where the newer models had been placed.   We included a brief quiz asking a few key questions to check knowledge of the differences, but for the most part, what we really supplied them with were some brief, handy performance support tools they could use at the point of need.
This is just the beginning for us, but I feel great having done this pilot. Our goal was to test the end-to-end process.  Having done this, I feel I'm in a better position to garner stakeholder support for a longer term mobile learning strategy.   Best of all, the next time I attend a mobile session at a learning conference, and the speaker asks the audience, "How many of you are using mobile learning?"  I can raise my hand.