Expert Perspectives on Content Modernization

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Business ecosystems are very dynamic. In a growing organization, everything from tools and technology to delivery platforms, to distribution methods, to tracking and compliance methods and last but not the least modern-day learners’ expectations, demand continuous change. In addition, there are also compelling situations like the Covid 19 Pandemic that accelerate this need further.

The L&D teams can ready their organizations for the future by ensuring that the learning experiences they create are contemporary, align with the needs of business/learners, and are integrated with the flow of work. Creating new content every time is obviously not the right approach. The solution lies in Modernization.

Modernization is an intelligent strategy that helps organizations reuse, repurpose and re-design existing content to make it relevant, effective, engaging, and attractive to the current learning preferences. In this post, I bring you excerpts from my conversation with a ‘modernization veteran’ Dipti Jana, Delivery Manager with Harbinger Interactive Learning who comes with an enviable reputation of leading a variety of successful modernization projects.

Based on her in-depth on-the-field experience, Dipti (DJ) gives a comprehensive 360 view on modernization.

Why Modernize?

Q: What are the compelling reasons for organizations to modernize their content?

DJ: I have worked with various customers to help them modernize their content. There seemed five key common reasons why they chose modernization as a strategy.

  • Compliance – Need to make the courses compliant to newly mandated/revised regulatory compliance standards.
  • Rebranding – Mergers and acquisitions drive the need to change the look and feel for better and aligned learner experience.
  • Maintainability – Unavailability or limited availability of people, technology, course packages, or other resources to maintain legacy courses. For example, old content being in Storyline 1, Lectora 11, Flash or even older versions of LMSs (learning management systems) which are notsupported anymore.
  • Dated design and user experience – Need to align learner experience with the expectations of next generation of learners.Design style changes every few years. So, keeping the visual design of the courses as per new standards rather than making the course look outdated is critical for off the shelf content.
  • Investment – Cost of redeveloping the courses from scratch while the legacy content is still relevant.

Choosing the Right Partner

Q: How should content modernization implementation partners be evaluated?

DJ: A smart, thought through approach to modernization certainly includes paying due attention to getting the right partner onboard. Here are some of the important attributes that may help you decide who to go with.

“We at Harbinger have designed a comprehensive modernization framework. This includes processes perfected over time, rich library of automation tools to handle various challenges of working with legacy content, custom trackers and reporting mechanism, standard communication protocols, standards checklists, guidelines, a strong core team of modernization experts, and a scalable pool of resources who have been working on multiple modernization projects.”

The first and foremost thing to watch out for, according to me, would be experience. This is to make sure that the team is capable of handling various challenges like non-availability of legacy course packages, handling of obsolete technology, conversion of interactions which are not supported in new tools/technologies without compromising learners’ experience, and so on. Experienced partners also tend to engage for longer durations, hence providing better predictability.

Another important aspect would be to check for the availability of tools and techniques for handling volumes. Efficiency building tools and techniques like automation frameworks, asset re-use, and well-established processes involving sprint-based development, continuous feedback and tracking mechanism, are crucial in success of modernization projects.

It is also necessary to assess whether your partner has the ability to scale up and down as often as required – Modernization, as a business strategy, requires ability to convert in batches. These batches could vary in size depending on the go-to-market strategy. Maintaining fixed size team at all timeis not cost effective.

Modernization Benefits

Q: You have helped multiple companies with their content modernization efforts. How have companies/learning organizations benefited from this exercise?

DJ: Harbinger’s xSMART framework is specifically designed to address large scale modernization requirements in a cost-effective and rapid manner. Our customers have reported multiple benefits on completion of their modernization projects. I am happy to bring to you some of these numbers here.

By improving visual and instruction design and enabling courses to open across range of smart devices and platforms, the learner engagement is reported to increase by 25-30% after modernization.

Enabling micro learning has increased ROI on modernized courses as the same content can be distributed in multiple modalities. In one of our projects, we modernized 600+ hours of learning, and client was able to create more than a thousand microlearning nuggets.

Harbinger’s xSMART framework helps address the challenge of volumes very strategically. Volume conversion helps bring modernization cost per course down by almost 75-80%. With technological enhancements in the courses, overall reduction in maintenance costs for the courses, and the number of support tickets has come down to the tune of 60-70% for our clients.

Last but not the least, with Harbinger’s xSMART framework, modernization time for each course reduces by 60-70%.

Success Factors

Q: What does it take for content modernization projects to be successful?

DJ: Our experience of handling a variety of clientshailing from multiple domainsover the years, has given us a good understanding of what it takes to handle different levels of legacy content. Irrespective of how the content gets generated in the organization and where it resides, here are some fundamental hygiene factors that ensure successful implementation:

  • High level of collaboration – All stakeholders need to be closely in-sync and should be able to take quick decisions. This reduces the turnaround time.
  • Proper investment in the design phase – Design phase sets the stage for volume conversion. Deciding on templates, features, processes, quality parameters, development checklists, automation, all are very critical to build in efficiency in the volume development phase.
  • Dedicated team, with flexibility to scale up and down – volumes thrive on efficiency. Having a dedicated team helps build this efficiency.
  • Framework of automation toolkit, processes, standards, skills, collaboration tools, which can address the challenges of modernization.
  • Experience – teams who have handled several modernization projects are more aware of the problems which can arise, and have quite a few tools and workarounds in their kitty to overcome these problems.

Dipti Jana, Delivery Manager with Harbinger Interactive Learning, is a seasoned veteran in the IT spectrum and comes with an overall experience of 26 years. Having worn several hats in her professional portfolio, Dipti has harnessed her experience to add great value to the knowledge and learning business domain.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/dipti-jana-78582912/.

Additional Resource:

MicrosoftTeams-imageYou may also read: https://harbingerlearning.com/ebook-why-modernize-learning-content-things-need-to-know/

Cultivating a Learning Culture with an AI-powered Virtual Coach

Companies are increasingly putting themselves in the shoes of their employees to develop strategies that would result in a more committed and productive workforce. Cultivating a learning culture can be a constructive step in this direction. Prioritizing learning with a significant focus on upskilling and reskilling is the need of the hour.

Talent retention was never easy, and the global pandemic has made this all the more challenging. According to a study, 38% of employees are engaged and 13% are actively disengaged at work.

Transformation of a workplace culture into one that promotes continuous learning doesn’t happen overnight, but some steps can be taken to get started. To begin with, organizations should start focusing on delivering better learning experiences.

Unique learning experiences – The secret sauce

With a focus on making this cultural transformation successful, organizations are required to captivate learning into their core values and build a firm belief of leadership support among employees. The crucial part is to design a top-notch learning experience. It can be easily done by prioritizing the following key components.

  • Make learner-centered strategies a priority
  • Make learning available in the flow of work
  • Include rewards as a key component

AI is everywhere, and it has a lot of potential in the L&D world. We discussed the significant role of AI in ‘making learning an everyday work’, in full detail in one of our previous blogs. In case you missed that one, read here.

AI bots for close interactions

For quite some time now, many companies have been using AI bots to provide cutting-edge digital customer interactions. According to research, consumer retail spending via chatbots is expected to reach $142 billion by 2024. Chatbots encourage engaging dialogues, and AI allows the bot to be responsive, agile, and adaptable. Chatbots that are more advanced learn from each conversation, identifying preferences and providing recommendations based on previous requests. Chatbots enable collaborative working practices by facilitating information exchange, makes learning an everyday part of the workflow, and providing a training experience that is similar to conversing with a colleague…a few of the many ways chatbots make meaningful interactions by providing efficient learning support.

Furthermore, AI-based bots can readily adjust to each person’s learning demands and help them attain a more meaningful learning experience.

However, every organization has its own distinct and structured work ecosystem, which cannot be denied. The integration of AI-coach into an existing workplace ecosystem is what the L&D leaders are concerned about.

Integrating AI in an existing workplace learning ecosystem

AI is increasingly being adopted and implemented into businesses of all sizes, to increase revenue, lower operational costs, engage with customers, and automate day-to-day tasks. HR professionals are using AI to speed up the sorting and filtering of resumes, onboarding candidates, creating new roles and altering organizational structures. Also, HR leaders need to respond with effective and adaptive learning and development programs that will not only help train people but also lead to measurable payoffs.

AI integration into the workplace is surely going to unravel unexpected benefits. Organizations can make AI integration successful by taking the following four areas into their consideration.

    • Identifying the sweet spot inside an existing ecosystem where AI can be implemented. For instance, let us suppose a company adopts Microsoft Teams as a productivity tool. A layer of AI-enabled virtual coach could be introduced in the Microsoft Teams environment to assist the users.
    • Delivering content at the point of need with the help of an AI-enabled virtual coach. For content to be AI-ready, it must be searchable, accessible, integration-friendly, and include meta tags for media material to facilitate access. When a learner seeks an answer to a question without going through the complete learning material, an AI-enabled virtual coach can provide an answer within a matter of a second.
    • A virtual coach, by gauging numerous learner metrics and learning patterns, can measure the learning outcomes. The outcomes-based learning approach is an effective way to build specific competencies in a learner, to master several skills. This can increase employee motivation and can instill trust in employees.
    • AI-powered chatbots can double employee engagement by helping organizations to stay connected with their employees through continuous feedback capture and handling various aspects of an employee’s learning lifecycle.

What is it about this coach that makes it so effective? Undoubtedly, the ability to deliver personalized learning experiences. The image below depicts a high-level workflow of a virtual coach in the flow of work.


(AI-enabled Virtual Coach Workflow)

Perhaps AI is on its way to becoming the next technological advancement, and this has already started. By combining big data and other machine learning technologies, AI-powered virtual coaches can bring a multitude of benefits to the table.

Proactive support to the learners, understanding learning preferences, and keeping learners up to date are some of the benefits of the AI-powered Virtual coach. It also generates an ecosystem of nudges to boost learning and supports ongoing performance management.

Organizations are moving from a culture of training to a culture of learning. Technology has an important role to play here and AI is on its way to becoming the next remarkable thing in L&D.

Are you planning to incorporate AI into your workplace to improve learning and development?

Get in touch with us to discuss more!

Don’t Create, When You Can Curate

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This blog post transcribes my conversation with a Learning Leader who believes that ‘Content Curation’ and technology are imperatives to deliver continuous value enhancement in today’s world. The 3V model that she prescribes provides a winning framework for an impactful content curation strategy.

I met our guest Joti Joseph recently in a Harbinger organized Power Hour discussion titled ‘Designing L&D for Success in a Post-Pandemic World’.

The role of L&D (Learning and Development) has clearly expanded, pivoting around the new paradigm of ‘Learning’. In the post-pandemic world, the L&D teams will have to do things differently in order to meet expectations of the business. While upskilling and re-skilling are going to be an ongoing ask, the learning teams will have to transform themselves into a strategic, responsive, and leaner engine that speaks the language of business, uses technology to provide scale & experience, and is able to deliver visible/measurable impact.

One of the ways in which L&D teams can help organizations prepare for the future is by creating personalized experiences and integrating learning in the flow of work. Content curation is a very effective way to accomplish these goals, our guest believes. I explore the topic further with her:

Q: There was a pre-pandemic world before 2019, and shortly there will be a post-pandemic world that we will have to deal with. What will help businesses cross the chasm?

JJ: All professionals need to have the ability to understand and manage opposites.

What I mean by that is, we have to know what is changing rapidly in our world, the impact that technology is having on our systems, our products, and our stakeholder expectations. We have to acquire the skills to respond to the change before it descends on us.

Having said that, what is also important is to have the clarity on what is not changing. Some business fundamentals like clients wanting to be able to trust people, ‘simplicity will always be king’, are some of the dictums that will never change. We need leaders, managers, experts, peers, graduate trainees, and new joiners who do not get paralyzed by paradoxes but energized by them.

Q: Upskilling and re-skilling are clearly the top priorities for organizations across the spectrum now. What are the new learning initiatives that organizations can adopt to cover the ground?

JJ: Kill the learning function. What I mean is stop the traditional approach of looking towards the learning and development function for your development needs.

There is power in co-creation because it leverages diversity. Put together an expert in Artificial intelligence, a Learning Design expert, a Data Analytics expert, and a client interfacing professional, who are passionate about sharing their insights with their peers; facilitate the transfer of knowledge; and you will get a magical learning solution that delivers greater impact than if those four worked in silos.

The learning function needs to improve its capability about tools and platforms that empower experts in the organization to craft learning. And let`s not chase perfection – after all learning is at the heart of experimentation and experimentation is at the heart of learning.

Q: In terms of building new capabilities for a learning organization, ‘Curation Vs. Creation’ seems to be catching people’s imagination. You too are a strong advocate of it. Why?

JJ: Because all smart people are lazy 🙂 Why create something when someone has already created it? I would rather spend time adding value to what has already been done.

As a learning professional, connecting four pieces of great content by adding the context of the learner in the mix, is truly delivering unique value. The thread that connects curated content together is value that an “outsider” cannot understand and therefore cannot create. The inside view that a curator has is precious. It creates the potential for exponential impact. So, for L&D it is understanding that curation is not just bundling 1 video + 1 article + 1 podcast but understanding the contextual communication that introduces this bundle, launches it at a critical time when the learning can be applied and wrapping it in a community of practice that then powers the learning without the L&D function being involved at all. Believe me, it works!

Someone rightly said, “the true measure of one`s own success is redundancy🙂”.

Q: Do you have any guidelines or framework to recommend for an efficient curation strategy?

JJ: Sujatha Ramesh, a learning vendor-partner who I collaborated with gave me the principles of 3V – Volume, Variety, and Velocity.

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  • When curating content, manage the volume of content that you are sending in the way of our consumer. Do not overwhelm, don’t starve. Eternally strive for the golden mean.
  • Give people content in different forms. Check your own personal preferences and look at the data, listen to the feedback and make conscious choices about different types of content.
  • Finally, velocity – how are our clients interacting with the content. I know how YouTube and Facebook have driven likes and shares as measures of success. I think we in L&D do need to measure those KPIs, but I would not rush to judgment about the quality of content on the basis of those alone. I would triangulate that with other data on performance.

Q: What are some of the pitfalls that can dilute the impact? Some warning signals that you may want to give to L&D professionals who are keen to venture on the ‘curation’ path.

JJ: Don’t fall in love with your own expertise, content, design, or product so much that it becomes a blind spot. The only advice I will give all professionals including L&D, is “ The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing at all times.” If you really care about the main thing, you will keep observing the feedback and keep asking for it, listening to it, understanding it and then do something about it.

  1. Don’t curate without care and context. Take the time and effort to understand what problem we are trying to solve or what opportunity we are trying to capitalize. Have loads of empathy for your audience while curating.
  2. Be passionate enough to tend to curated content, the way you would tend to your garden. If you neglect it, it will wither and die.
  3. Be humble and keep your ego in check. Creation is always more satisfying for the ego; curation requires us to recognize others. Do not give in to the temptation of creation unless absolutely necessary.
  4. Do not get tempted by duration. The time spent on content has to be a function of the result we are trying to drive and the behavior we are trying to change. You would not want a pilot or surgeon or a teacher to learn their skills in short 1.5 minute videos!
  5. Do not curate without a continuous feedback loop.

Q: How can technology be leveraged to deliver maximum impact?

A human centered L&D practitioner will use technology to craft learning experiences and curate content for people in countries and regions where there is no trainer. Take the ingredients of content from LinkedIn Learning, add a dollop of AI powered recommendations from Degreed or Edcast, wrap it in a virtual 90 minute webex with breakout groups, and close the session with Mentimeter feedback. I, in India or Zurich can do that for my audience in Toronto or Taipei. How amazing is that! Scale and reach should never ever be a problem again.

The other amazing thing about platforms and technology is the power of user and expert generated content. Let’s assume that I as a learning expert co-create a short video with a subject matter expert where I enable her to understand what creates impactful learning. She then shares her expertise in a way that aligns to memorable and applicable learning. Suddenly you are expanding the scope of the learning community not just to “traditional trainers” but to an expert community that trainers used to do annual training needs analysis with! We in learning need to be more curious about platforms, rapid authoring tools, video, and audio capability. The only note of caution I will sound is do not let the tool or the tech take center stage. Then you have missed the whole point. The center stage is always the human beings who we are trying to do something for.

Technology also has taken feedback to the next level. With tech I am not just administering surveys more efficiently, but I am not able to observe your choices and behavior based on time spent on content, actions taken, shares, and recommendations. Because, in my design thinking training, I was taught, what people say, what people do, and what people say they do can be three very different things. Technology helps identify and understand these three things better as compared to surveys that focus only on what people say.


Joti Joseph is strategic learning and development (L&D) leader of global repute, with 26 years of experience in learning and development.

Joti currently resides in the Swiss city of Zurich. She works to foster digital learning transformations by facilitating experimentation with innovative pedagogies. In her spare time, she enjoys writing down her thoughts, resources, quotations, and life experiences on the website https://www.jotijoseph.com/.

She has recently started a fresh stint with Vontobel as Director, Talent and Learning.

Disclaimer: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this blog are our guest’s personal views and do not represent any organization or group.