Thursday, April 12, 2012

How to Make Learning Content Lively and Interactive with Video

 By Danielle Slatinsky

Kirstin Lynde, Director of Learning and Development at Randstad, and Michael Kolowich, Founder of Knowledge Vision, gave a webinar on March 22 titled “Liven up! How to Bring Your Online, On-Demand Training Content to Life with Video.” The webinar addressed how to effectively transfer learning content to an interactive video format.

Keeping Up With Technology and Lowering Cost

Kirstin began the presentation by explaining how important it is to avoid “death by PowerPoint” and make learning videos accessible and lively. She explained how imperative it is to have training tools that let the trainer's personality shine; the on-demand training content needs to have life and energy. She also mentioned that virtual notes and handouts can supplement a training video presentation.

Michael added to what Kirstin discussed by talking about how online learning is becoming necessary for most organizations. He explained how airline tickets are typically the most expensive items that companies buy. Purchasing tickets for experts and new employees to travel becomes very costly.

In an age where nearly every person is familiar with YouTube and Netflix, most people are comfortable learning through videos and technology. Michael believes that online video presentations are the most effective tool for corporate learning, and he also mentioned that footnotes and activities can be incorporated into the videos for additional material and interaction.

Corporate Goals and Content Breakdown

When Michael completed his portion of the presentation, Kirsten started speaking about what she does at Randstad, which is a global provider of HR services. She discussed how there are two main corporate goals: to create programs that have relevant, transferable content and to deliver presentations that have customized content in a cost-efficient manner.

Kirstin reiterated how necessary it is for corporations to utilize online training. She compared old styles of training to a broken record. Experts trained people once or twice a week, and they simply reviewed the same content each time. Some challenges that arose with the old form of corporate learning were limited time of experts, geography, and varying learner timetables. She explained how it is much more time and cost effective to download this information and share it with a wide audience.

Kirstin went on to discuss how to approach transferring this information into video content. The solution is simple: break the learning into two parts. A lecture section can be used to present information and get the main points across. Then there should be a processing portion in which there is an opportunity for discussion, questions and answers, and practical applications. The second portion allows for interaction without needing to be face to face.

Personality Goes a Long Way

Michael followed Kirstin's portion by discussing the importance of personable trainers. He said that it is very helpful to have a real audience in the room; it makes the speaker more comfortable to have a live audience. A script can be restrictive and lead to a very dry presentation, so Michael suggested to have trainers speak normally without much of a script, similar to how they would have in a traditional classroom session.

Effective Methods to Create and Market Corporate Learning Videos

The presenters emphasized the importance of a good quality of video for online training. Plain video, such as what is posted on YouTube, is not effective for this purpose. An enhanced online video presentation needs to have high quality streaming video; this means that the user can skip around as they wish and start from any place they skip to.

According to the speakers, for a video to be marketable and user friendly it should include PowerPoint, images, live web pages, and animations. Progress tracking is also very important because people like to know where they are at in the presentation. It is also helpful to allow the viewer to zoom in on slides.

After the presentation is completed it is important to know how to get it to companies in an efficient manner. According to the presenters, most presentations are uploaded into Cloud based storage after they are created, and then they are embedded on web pages. This allows the presentations to be viewed from anywhere.

Kirstin concluded the webinar by explaining how to sell the concept of online training videos to organizations. She said that it is most beneficial to explain how cost efficient this method of learning is. The cost of airplane tickets is removed, and experts avoid delivering the same content repeatedly. She said that this approach will usually convince companies to switch to online training videos.

Overall, Michael and Kirstin did a great job conveying how to bring training content to life with online videos. Have you implemented online training videos at your company?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

UGA Graduates Discuss Corporate Learning Paths

 By Danielle Slatinsky

Four graduates from the University of Georgia's Instructional Technology Master's Program discussed how their degrees have benefited them in their careers at the March 6th meeting of ASTD Atlanta’s Technology-Based Learning SIG. 

Each of the four panelists shared valuable and applicable information.

The Learning Organization at Home Depot

The first two panelists, Mike Law and Jenn Lortz, are employees at Home Depot. Mike was the first to present, and he provided information about how his team has been using e-learning for the 15 years he has worked for the company. Employees of Home Depot need to have immense product knowledge to help their customers with projects. To meet this need, the company spent over $14 million on learning just last year.

Mike explained how Home Depot centralizes learning by having 9 room locations where employees can access a variety of webinars taught be master trainers. To cater to the more fast-paced generation, training modules are limited to 10 to 15 minutes each instead of 1 to 2 hours; that way employees can learn in intervals. Experienced employees are given the option to pre-test out of the modules if they already know the material.

There are three major field support teams at Home Depot: solutions, design, and execution. The solution group does a needs assessment, and then the design group that Mike works with fulfills the request for needs. Finally the execution group figures out how to roll out the program. Mike concluded by saying that their motto is “Teach Me, Show Me, Let Me Try.”

After Mike, Jenn continued with the presentation about learning at Home Depot. Jenn’s team is working on transferring 18,000 pages of learning into applicable e-learning modules. They are trying to generalize topics by creating tool categories as opposed to having a separate module for each of the thousands of tools Home Depot carries. Home Depot also creates modules for employees to learn how to determine the right tool for projects, as well as how to operate the tool properly and safely.

Jenn went on to explain that the master's program she attended at UGA had a studio model that she still uses today. This studio model showed her how to learn a tool, practice with the tool, and then create with the tool. This applies to the creation of Home Depot e-learning modules because they have employees learn the tool in the module and they include simulations and animations. Then they let employees role play with face-to-face interactions to help them apply what they learned.

Interactive Learning at AT&T

Ben Rockwood, Associate Director of Training Design at AT&T, gave a fascinating presentation on “Easter eggs,” 3D simulation learning environments, and paperless courses on iPads. He explained that Easter eggs are hidden keys that program designers can put into their presentations. He showed some examples of fun designs that his team hid in their projects. These hidden keys can also be used by the designer to make the editing process easier. For example, a hidden key can display a menu that would take the user to any slide in the presentation.

After demonstrating the hunt for Easter eggs, Ben went on to discuss how AT&T is currently developing 3D simulations to use as assessments. He previewed the 3D simulation and showed how it allows the user to go through the motions of assisting a customer in an AT&T store. This form of assessment provides new employees with an opportunity to apply their newly learned skills using practical application as opposed to a paper test. Questions appear throughout the simulation to test the knowledge of the user, and then a score is calculated at the end. Ben explained that this form of assessment is going to be used in stores within the next month.

Ben went on to talk about how his team just launched a completely paperless training course. Participants in the course use iPads to follow along instead of using spiral bound notebooks. He commented on how instructors and learners alike enjoy this new form of learning. Ben concluded by saying that it is important for corporate training designers to first figure out what they want to do and then find a way to use technology to effectively accomplish their goals.

Managing Learning at ICF International

Jessica Wals is a Sr. Instructional Designer at ICF International, where she completes various projects for federal clients. She started out by saying that her main goals for this presentation were to cast a critical lens on managing and to evaluate learning.

The main portion of Jessica's presentation was devoted to describing the ADDIE model she learned at UGA and how she applies it in her line of work.

A stands for Assessment (instead of the traditional Analysis for ADDIE); in this case assessment means that the designer needs to assess the main goals of the project and what participants should learn from the presentation.

D is for Design, and this implies that a design team has to figure out what methods they will use to design the presentation.

D is Development; the development stage consists of actually making the training offering with whatever mode was decided upon in the design phase.

I represents Implementation, which is the part of the process where the team introduces the training to the participants.

E is for Evaluation; this stage is very important because it evaluates the effectiveness of the training.

Jessica spent more time on evaluation than on the other four. She described various types of evaluation that can be utilized: reaction, departmental meetings, online surveys, focus groups, and analytics. This phase is very essential because it is important to know if the training course had a positive impact on participants. Jessica explained that much of what she does at ICF International is informal evaluation. She gathers data from co-workers casually talking amongst each other or from small meetings. She stated that she wants to begin to apply more formal evaluation tactics to get better feedback from participants.


The takeaway from these presentations was very beneficial. The presenters did an amazing job of discussing multiple aspects of corporate learning. They gave an inside look into what they do on a daily basis and provided the audience with enriching tips on how to improve corporate learning.

Do you use any of these methods and tools for corporate learning?