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Smart eLearning
Online learning solutions that are engaging, interactive and adaptive
Online learning solutions that are engaging, interactive and adaptive


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The 4 key components of an effective onboarding process

So here's the standard onboarding drill for most new starters;
They are given the employee handbook, a few slides with lists of bullet points and a site plan.
They then spend the next three to six months – (if they stay!) - gathering knowledge through observing co-workers, who themselves may have incomplete information.

In general the results are not good - and the time and energy spent by everyone involved carries an obvious cost for the organization.
In fact, the statistics are incredible - it has been estimated that as many as 1 in 3 people leave their organization within the first year, either voluntarily or involuntarily (Wynhurst Group 2007, SHRM Presentation) and that 22% of staff turnover happens within the first 6 weeks of staff joining.

So what's the answer? Surely there must be a better way to do onboarding?

So, what is Onboarding exactly?
Notice I say “onboarding”, not “orientation”. Onboarding is a process that takes place over time, while orientation is usually a one-time event (often a forgettable first day in a one-sided face-to-face or web event). Onboarding flips the usual concept of orienting a new starter by giving them easy access to information when they need it, rather than waiting for someone to have a spare moment. And let’s face it, that spare moment may never happen!

Why onboard effectively?
If 1 in 3 people are leaving within the first 12 months, one major reason for investing in formal onboarding is surely to improve retention. The cost to an organization of losing an employee within the first 12 months can be as high as three times their salary cost. According to PWC, that’s around £42bn in UK industry alone.

Onboarding is the first impression your company makes on a new employee, and needs to address:
- company strategy
- performance review process
- development track
- and the company culture

So what does good Onboarding eLearning look like?
A great onboarding eLearning program will want to cover the following 4 part framework:

1. Membership
Promoting a sense of belonging. Most of us are familiar with the phrase “Winning hearts and minds’, and this is essential in onboarding, helping ensure new starters feel part of the organization as soon as - or even better, before - they set foot in the door.

How can eLearning achieve this?
- Welcome messages from key folk – this can be done with short videos.
- Interactive timeline of the organization’s key moments, highlighting achievements and focusing on the strengths and what makes it a great place to work.

2. Culture and values
Create a positive attitude that makes them proud to work for you. The onboarding program needs a strong brand, an identity that is in keeping with the company culture and helps new starters experience early on what it’s like to work here. Brand – give it personality, visual or emotional e.g. a branded story that people can connect with, make it a talking point between people.

How can eLearning achieve this?
- Case studies representing a variety of ‘stories’ about the organization, what its customers think of it and what other employees think about being part of it.
- Short vox-pop style videos or podcasts of employees in different roles talking about the organization, their roles and their achievements in the organization

3. Behaviours
Be clear on expected behaviors. Make it outcomes-focused and practice-oriented (as close to what the person will do in their day-to-day role) designed with key competencies and with practice tasks, not abstract or theoretical e.g. fully simulated tasks chunked up into manageable steps and practiced in ‘walled garden’ environment so people can make mistakes safely, practice as much they need and learn from and build on mistakes and stages.

How can eLearning achieve this?
- Simulations and interactive practice activities so new starters can get to grips with processes and specific tools they’ll be using in their day-to-day work e.g. software simulations
- Scenarios are great ways to demonstrate soft skills needed. These can be done in humorous ways whilst retaining relevance and technical or procedure detail through great scripting and visuals.

4. Performance support
Provide real practice in real contexts to help reduce the time to competency. Great companies integrate their onboarding program into their whole talent management process and continue support as new starters move into role. Make it relevant and personal not mandatory – give people different tracts through according to needs.

How can eLearning achieve this?
Just in time bite sized and job specific tools, e.g. an learning nugget, built on a responsive framework which can be loaded on any device, such as sales tips on a new sales rep’s mobile phone which is available just before going into the first client meeting.

What else to consider?
Online polls, quizzes and competitions can be developed for all of the categories above and provide great ways to engage staff and help them monitor their own journeys, with scores and feedback providing guidance on how well they are doing, and what else they need to cover.

And finally...
All good onboarding eLearning needs to be fresh and relevant, and that means updating and refreshing the course regularly, so making sure the process is as easy and efficient as possible will help ensure onboarding is always a good experience for everyone involved.
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5 Ways to motivate employees to learn (without rewards) [1/5]

1) Commitment and consistency

In the mid-1960s, psychologists Jonathan Freedmand and Scott Fraser conducted an experiment that showed the power of consistency. They sent researchers canvassing door-to-door in a residential suburb of California, asking homeowners if they could put a giant billboard that read “DRIVE CAREFULLY” in their front lawn. 83% of the homeowners rejected their request. With a similar group, they took a different approach. At first contact with the homeowners, the researchers asked them to sign a petition that favored “keeping California beautiful.” Two weeks later, a different researcher asked them if they’d be willing to put the DRIVE CAREFULLY billboard in their front lawn. About half of these people agreed to the request despite the earlier request having nothing to do with driving safely. Signing the earlier petition changed the view the homeowners had of themselves. Suddenly they saw themselves as the type of people who were advocates on behalf of causes. To keep a consistent view of themselves, they agreed to put up the billboard in their lawns when they wouldn’t have before.

Using Commitment and Consistency with eLearning

- Begin With Commitment 
Send out a small questionnaire before the eLearning module asking learners to rate a variety of things, for example, “Becoming more skilled at my job is important to me.”

- Show Progress 
Enable the learner to see the progress they’re making. Show how many courses they’ve completed, videos they’ve watched, or skills they’ve acquired.

- Get Written Feedback on the eLearning Courses 
If feedback on the eLearning course is positive, learners will act in a way that’s consistent with that feedback. If someone writes that the course is an excellent way to learn the new software, this commitment to belief is likely to be self-perpetuating. They’ll be more interested in future courses because it’s consistent with their belief that the lesson was helpful. The act of writing down positive feedback also plays into social proof.

(article written by Dashe & Thomson)
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Having a highly engaged workforce does not always guarantee that the organization will not have to deal with under-performing employees. There will always be situations where poor performance must be identified and dealt with.

So when it comes to Performance Improvement, where does eLearning fit in?

There is no one who can rationally argue that eLearning does not have a role to play in enhancing employee performance. It most certainly does! For instance, there are some poor performance situations that can only be addressed through learning interventions. For instance, the following poor performance situations can greatly benefit from eLearning and high-quality instructional design techniques:

When a new employee misses performance targets (perhaps they need some additional training)
When employees have just returned to the workforce after prolonged absence (perhaps they need a refresher)
When new techniques and technologies are introduced in the organization (perhaps whole-scale training is needed)
When an employee’s roles/responsibilities have recently been revised (perhaps review training may be in order)
All of the cases of poor performance highlighted above can most certainly benefit from eLearning programs. However, to make a blanket statement that all employee performance issues can be addressed by re-training or eLearning is a misnomer.

To effectively deal with poor performance, employers must realize the limitations of organizational training initiatives. ELearning is not a “silver bullet” to cure all poor performance ills! In some cases, even the best instructional design cannot always fix poor performance issues. That is because the root causes of those issues are not training-related and may be anchored to other organizational challenges. In such cases, other performance improvement interventions, some of which have been discussed above, are needed to improve performance.
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A few years back, two Stanford Graduate School of Business professors, Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton, suggested in their book The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge into Action (Harvard Business School Press, 2000) that the gap between knowing and doing is more important than the gap between ignorance and knowing. Specifically, they described the Knowing-Doing Gap as “The challenge of turning knowledge about how to enhance organizational performance into actions consistent with that knowledge. Improving organizational performance depends largely on implementing what is already known, rather than from adopting new or previously unknown ways of doing things.” It sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

More often than not, companies practice this exact method of “doing” things: we all talk about what should be done, but very little is actually accomplished. But what does this have to do with online training? As professor Sutton stated in a very interesting interview, “Talk is not enough, so learning something just by looking at it on the computer is not enough either. (…) To the extent that you’re trying to learn something from eLearning and then apply it in a different or a more complex way, such as anything from biochemistry to learning how to lead a group of people face to face, it doesn’t work very well. (…) eLearning shouldn’t be a substitute for actually thinking and doing something. However, when interwoven with what people actually do, it can make the learning experience richer.” That being the case, is there anything that can be done for your online training course to minimize the Knowing-Doing Gap? In this article, I will discuss about the factors and effects of the Knowing-Doing Gap in online training and then suggest some key ways to minimize it, so that you can offer your employees a richer and a more effective online training experience.

Causes And Effects Of The Knowing-Doing Gap In Online Training

Too much talk, no action.
Just providing employees with all the information available is not enough. Information overload can not only be exhausting for employees, but also make them lose focus of what is really important. When your online training course teaches your audience to do something just by talking about it rather than learning by doing it, it is just like saying that once a decision has been made, there is no need for additional work. Furthermore, you don’t need to impress employees by presenting complex ideas and heavy blocks of text in your online training course. Clear structure, focus on key elements and realistic eLearning objectives are the essentials of an effective online training course that helps enhance your employees’ motivation to put what they are learning into use.
Memory as a substitute for thinking.
Undoubtedly, memory is a critical element of identity. Whether we’re talking about a person or an organization we need to remember who or what we are, in order to keep going. But sometimes memory may sabotage our ability to change and further evolve, because the concept of “this is the way that things have always been done” restricts critical thinking and questioning. The same frequently happens in companies, where problem solving normally derives as a result of the organization’s standard operational procedures, or already established patterns and norms. This can also affect online training, where by writing all the company’s constraints down and delivering them online makes the company’s dogma even more explicit, which may get employees stuck in a certain path and limit their imagination and potentiality to be innovative. Simply put, when memory serves as a substitute for thinking in online training, it can make it inadequate, and thus prevent employees from reflecting.
The problem of fear.
Employees rarely take risks. A professional risk to be taken requires a trusting and safe environment, which is not often the case in companies. Employees carry this fear with them in online training. They hesitate trying new ways of dealing with the online training course assignments, because they fear of failure. Feeling only secure to do what they have done in the past, they block their ability to act on their knowledge. But this also reduces their ability to learn. Fear causes repetition of past mistakes and, of course, eliminates any potentiality of trying out different and possibly better ways for work to be done.
Ineffective measurement systems.
Another thing that prevents knowledge turning into action in companies is focusing on assessing individual job performances and final outcomes rather than factors critical to organizational success. Respectively, when an online training course evaluates the learning performance of employees only after the completion of the online training course or event, it misses the chance to focus attention on key elements during the online training process. Online training evaluation, in order to be effective, should be ongoing and facilitate learning through experimentation. Furthermore, it needs to be flexible and open to continuous revisions and improvements, so that the online training itself becomes better and more effective every time. Only this way the data provided by the evaluation can help eLearning professionals create content that motivates employees to turn knowledge into action.
Competition Vs Collaboration.
Internal competition for professional status is a common strategy that companies follow in order to motivate their employees to perform better. However, ruthless competition in the name of a promotion or a salary raise can destroy the organization’s moral fabric, and may have negative consequences. Regarding the online training courses, the encouragement of employees to share their ideas with their colleagues is often also neglected in the online training design and development. When the benefits of teamwork are not emphasized during an online training course, employees feel that that they are working in the presence of direct competitors, as well as that they are constantly being evaluated. As a result, they get stressed and thus miss the chance to learn new things by asking others in online discussions or to experiment by collaborating with their peers. This way, turning knowledge into action is once again discouraged and the Knowing-Doing Gap remains unbridgeable.
How To Minimize The Knowing-Doing Gap In Online Training

In order to deal with the problems mentioned above and minimize the Knowing-Doing Gap from your online training courses, consider the following 5 simple tips.

Put Why before How.
Always take the time to clarify your eLearning objectives at the beginning of your online training course in order to explain employees why they need to learn what they are learning. Then, provide them with the tools to retain this knowledge. Employees need to know exactly which is the context for the skills they must improve, so always include clear objectives and concrete examples in your online training course.
Emphasize action instead of planning.
Simply put, online training becomes inefficient if not grounded in real experience. Theory without practice is useless. Use stories and branching scenarios that offer real world benefits, that require from employees to take action by making choices with specific consequences. Show them how to put their skills into use, so that they can see what works and what doesn’t. If they fail, encourage them to try again.
Eliminate the fear factor.
Design your online training course or event in a way that encourages experimentation by taking advantage of mistake-driven learning. “Failure” in risk-free environments, such as online training, boosts effectiveness in dealing with actual problems in real life. Encourage employees to explore different paths and to make mistakes. If they have dealt with breakdowns in a safe environment, they will feel more confident to take risks in real life.
Encourage collaboration.
Encourage employees to make a common effort with their colleagues and link their success to the success of others. Integrate social learning into your online training strategy, for instance by transferring online discussions to social media, and by encouraging your employees to keep asking, advising others, and sharing their ideas and concerns.
Offer feedback that turns knowledge into action.
Do not wait till the end of the online training course or event to provide employees with feedback about their performance. It is much more efficient to give feedback during the online training course in order to motivate them throughout the entire learning process. Reward them if they’re doing well and encourage them if they’re not. Evaluate their learning process, not just its outcome.
Minimizing the Knowing-Doing Gap in online training means to understand that your most important task, as an eLearning professional, is to create an online training course that turns knowledge into action in a simple and natural way. Follow these tips so that you can offer employees an effective online training experience that helps them not only learn, but also put their learning into use.
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As any learning and development professional will confirm, workforce training is one of the most vital business investments a company can make. Without a well-trained workforce, a business simply can’t remain competitive in this dynamic and rapidly changing environment. At the same time, pressure has never been greater to reduce costs and maximize the effectiveness of training programs; which is where e-learning enters the picture.

To most professionals involved in employee learning and development, the benefits of e-learning are obvious – it saves time and money, is flexible and scalable, allows for on-demand training, offers better retention, can be customized for individuals or departments, and much more. However, the initial cost of incorporating an e-learning solution can be reason for hesitation from those in charge of the training purse strings. And that’s not the only reason for push-back from decision-makers.

The choice to implement a new type of training (or any new technology) carries with it a measure of risk. Not that the project won’t succeed, but that the ROI won’t be there. So it often comes down to weighing the risks against the incredible potential this technology offers, with the ultimate goal of getting the boss on-board with e-learning.

What is E-Learning?

The first step in the process is to define exactly what is meant by e-learning. Often, even knowledgeable folks have an archaic or misinformed concept of modern e-learning. Depending upon when they were first exposed to the concept, they may remember computer-based training modules that were little more than electronic study guides. As we know, e-learning has come a long way since then.

Modern e-learning involves the implementation of various forms and styles of knowledge transfer. It uses computer-based delivery mechanisms to teach concepts visually and kinesthetically rather than just aurally. It can also provide a customized training approach based on a learner’s demonstrated skills and understanding. It’s this radical flexibility that makes e-learning so powerful and compelling.

Benefits and Uses of E-Learning

We’ve already mentioned some of the long-term benefits of e-learning, such as reduced training costs, improved learner retention, ease of delivery and scalability. Let’s now list a few specific examples of where e-learning can add value to any company’s training program.

Easier measurement of learner progress.
When implemented alongside a Performance Management System and/or Learning Management System, e-learning becomes an effective way to measure overall training progress, and the efficacy of each training module a learner completes.
Individualized needs assessments.
E-learning can be used to determine the appropriate level of training for each individual, based upon assessments that can branch out in response to answers given. Training can then be tailored to the learner as needed.
Reinforcement of concepts.
E-learning can be designed in a way that reviews and reinforces the concepts that have preceded it. This is sometimes called ‘spacing’ or performance support, and it uses terminology or concept repetition to help a learner retain often complex ideas.
This uses game mechanics to engage a learner.  Leader boards, badges and achievements are an excellent way to show progress, engage the learner, promote friendly competition, provide immediate feedback and much more.
Anytime Delivery.
One of the biggest advantages of e-learning is the ability for the learner to access it any time, and from anywhere, should the course be set up so. Learners can also return to a lesson and review it if they need to and use as a performance support piece.
An E-Learning Success Story

The intersection of technology and advances in training techniques have led to e-learning opportunities not even imagined just a few years ago. A quick example; a sales rep for a medical device company opens the latest e-learning module from his company before boarding a flight. He settles in and proceeds through the training course while in-flight, taking the self-assessments along the way.

Upon landing he checks his mobile device to see what other reps are saying on the company discussion board. He posts a question about one of the concepts he was unclear on, and a training professional from his company responds in real time. On his way to the sales meeting he reviews the product specs and once again takes the e-learning course knowledge assessment – this time getting all the answers correct.

Welcome, to one vision of e-learning.

To remain competitive in today’s rapidly evolving environment, businesses invest time and money in workforce development. To keep the workforce in the know and on top of their game, many companies are turning to e-learning. E-Learning is a great way to keep employees educated, engaged and entertained, while also boosting knowledge retention and offering a great performance support resource.
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