How Off-The-Shelf Learning Providers Can Take Advantage of Technology Disruptions

Technology disruptions can be a big sink for any business, if not handled well. Off-the-shelf learning providers have witnessed multiple such disruptions in the last few years, the latest one being Flash sunsetting. Such disruptions could result in huge capital expenditure or delay go-to-market plans, adversely impacting the bottom line in either case.  As the CEO or senior leader of an off-the-shelf learning provider, how do you handle such challenges? Is there a way you can leverage these disruptions to your advantage? How can you use your existing resources to turn such disruptions into an opportunity?

Harbinger had the privilege of hosting six of world’s highly accomplished learning and development leaders recently, for Power Hour – an online roundtable discussion. The guests were Frank Russell ( Founder and CEO at Prositions), Dehumo Bickersteth (Owner and Principal Consultant at DTB Services), Desiree Pinder (E-Learning Consultant at XP Learning), Michael Schreiner, PMP (Vice President of Content at Vector Solutions), Nicole Prolow (Training Development Specialist), and Rahul Singh (Sr. GM at Harbinger Interactive Learning). The discussion was led and facilitated by Dr Vikas Joshi (CEO at Harbinger Group).

Vikas presented four key types of disruptions that content providers can face. The panelists shared their experiences on how they found some interesting opportunities in the disruptions they had witnessed in their career span.

Socio-Economic Disruptions and the Opportunities They Create

These are the disruptions that arise outside somewhere and affect your business.

Disruption Opportunity
COVID pandemic There is a need to produce COVID educational content in line with the disruption caused by the pandemic.
Rise in gig economy The gig economy generates rapid onboarding needs because people are going to come in and go out.
Inclusion of millennials in workforce The millennials in workforce are driving the need for micro learning.
Importance of diversity and inclusion – gender, race, accessibility A lot of makeover might be required for learning content that’s several years old and may need to be redone keeping the sensitivities for diversity & inclusion, going forward.
Focus on well-being With the increased focus on well-being, off-the-shelf content providers are looking at creating a lot of new content on mental health, financial well-being, etc.

Workplace Disruptions and the Opportunities They Create

These are the disruptions you experience inside your business.

Disruption Opportunity
Shift towards remote work This disruption created opportunities for off-the-shelf content providers to help in developing competencies related to remote work. For example, managing team and motivation in a remote working mode.
Focus on digital channels New content was rapidly needed to develop skills of employees to use digital channels for communication. For examples, sales team need to start selling products and solutions online instead of face to face meetings.
Need for reskilling Employees need to be reskilled for new technologies, new processes, or new job roles; and these skills need to be developed in the context of the prior skills.
New public health regulations With the COVID situation, there are new public health regulations coming up and employees need to be trained before coming back to work.

Design Technology Disruptions and the Opportunities They Create

These are changes at a technology level purely from a design perspective, these disruptions can impact the way you design learning content.

Disruption Opportunity
Rise in automation With technology upgrades, new ways of working emerged with automation. For example, platforms using AI to help in language learning; using Google translate for rapid and cost-effective translations. Using AI to generate questions from raw content by using tools like Quillionz. Off-the-shelf content providers can use technology to reduce the cost of production.
Phasing out of Adobe Flash With Flash sunsetting, there was a huge demand for migrating content to newer technologies like HTML5, Unity, and mobile-friendly content.
Rise of dynamic video This led to usage of technology to deliver interactive and dynamic videos with analytics. Exaltive is a great example of the same.
Emergence of mixed reality Boeing has reported 25% productivity improvement for technicians using mixed reality content. Off-the-shelf content providers are in the early stages of exploring this technology.

Delivery Technology Disruptions and the Opportunities They Create

These are disruptions driven be change in delivery technologies.

Disruption Opportunity
Emergence of social collaboration technology Social collaboration platforms like Teams and Slack are now used in day to day work life. Delivering learning through such platforms in the workflow is another opportunity area for off-the-shelf providers.
Increased adoption of mobile technology Using mobile to deliver learning bytes based on need and learning pattern is another opportunity for off-the-shelf content providers.
The shift from LMS to LXP There is a lot of conversation around how to syndicate off-the-shelf content with platforms like EdCast, Percipio, and Degreed.
Rise of artificial intelligence/machine learning Delivering off-the-shelf content pieces for personalized learning experiences to learners using artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies is another area of opportunity to explore.
Rich data analytics Generating rich data analytics based on learner behaviors and work patterns; and using those insights to deliver just-in-time learning content in the workflow, has huge potential.

As evident from above, there are opportunities that each types of disruption can bring along. Off-the-shelf content providers need to carefully watch out for those and take advantage of them. At the same time, it is not feasible for off-the-shelf providers to work on each opportunity on their own.  Custom content learning businesses can support them for best results.

Here is the link to the complete Power Hour session recording.

Have you devised an opportunity out of a technology disruption? What success stories do you have to share with the industry? Please comment below or drop us a note at

PESE Model – The Framework to Design a Scalable Remote Learning Solution

The legendary basketball player, Michael Jordan once said, “I want people to understand, gambling is not a bad thing if you do it within the framework of what it’s meant to be, which is fun and entertaining.” Pretty riveting depiction of framework. In the context of learning and development, the key role of a framework would be to enable CLOs to help businesses meet desired objectives through intervention of learning programs.

Today, we’ll be looking at a framework which Harbinger has designed to help L&D leaders navigate through the new normal of remote work and remote learning. The framework is called the PESE Model. It stands for prepare, engage, support, & evaluate. At a high level, this framework breaks down the successful implementation process of remote learning solutions into four distinct phases. In this blog, we would be looking at these four phases from a bird’s eye view. And in the subsequent, blogs we would peel the layers for each of these four phases, one at a time.


Prepare is the starting point, this is where we lay the foundation of success of the learning program.

To start with, it is important for us to agree upon the specific business challenge that we are solving and there should be a consensus amongst all stakeholders on this. The second point is knowing your audience – who are they, where are they, and how are they. Then you have to define the type of learning modalities that you want to use to implement your learning program – do you want to have a virtual instructor-led session, do you want to include game-based assessments or have SME videos. At this stage, it is also important to understand and define the role that you want technology to play, assess if you have the relevant technology in house or you would want some additional support to implement your remote learning program successfully. And last but not the least, clearly identify what role your virtual instructors need to play, assess where they are with their current skills in terms of facilitating virtual sessions and if they require any upskilling or reskilling.



Now, we move onto the second pillar of the framework, which is engage. In the times when remote work is becoming the new normal, keeping employees and learners engaged is key.

While implementing remote learning, there are three distinct stages at which we need to take care of learner engagement. Those three stages are pre-event, during the event and post the event. For e.g., let us consider the event as a virtual instructor-led session, in that case some engagement points which we could think of for different stages are:

  1. Creating a teaser animation video on the topic of the session for pre-event engagement. This can generate curiosity and motivate the audience to participate in the session.
  2. During the event, we can have group activities for learners where they can participate. Sleek and modern visual design is also a great hook to ensure engagement from the learners during the event.
  3. Post event is an important piece in the entire engagement cycle. This is where we should have a reasonable focus. Couple of engagement points for our learners during this phase could be nudging with supplementary learning material for reinforcement or providing support tools like job aids.



The third pillar of our framework is about supporting your learners. This support is required throughout the life cycle of remote learning; it is more about continuous learning.

The key is to integrate the required support in the flow of remote work. We can consider options like having an AI-enabled virtual coach integrated in an office productivity tool like slack or Microsoft teams to support your learners post the event.



And lastly, we come to the evaluate stage. It is imperative to evaluate the results of the remote learning program against the success parameters that were set. And based on the findings, if there is a need to make course corrections in the program we should do that and then re-launch the program.

So that’s the remote learning framework, Prepare – Engage – Support – Evaluate.

It would be interesting to know your thoughts on this framework. Please comment below or drop us a line at


Foundational Beliefs for L&D Leaders for Implementing Remote Learning

In my last blog, I spoke about how remote learning is strongly emerging as a positive intervention in the post pandemic situation. While we would all agree to the fact that the need for remote learning has been established, what we have to be sensitive about is the adoption rate. We, as L&D leaders and stakeholders, need to have some foundational beliefs, before we embark on a journey of implementing remote learning.

There are 5 key things which I would like to highlight:

  1. Learner engagement is a key priority.

With the evolution of the workplace, the role of L&D leaders is also evolving. One of the key jobs that we have on our hands is to keep our remote workforce engaged by bringing learning in the flow of their remote work. We need to proactively listen-in to the experiences of the learners and chart out a strategy accordingly. If we ever wanted to add agility in our playbook, the time is now.

  1. Remote learning isn’t the same as eLearning.

The speed at which some organizations across the globe have tried to move all their content digital, is certainly debatable. We must be mindful of such rapid shifts when we strategize our remote learning programs. The learning needs to be structured in a way that it does not overwhelm learners. There needs to be a fine balance between synchronous and asynchronous learning.

  1. Remote Learning is not the same as delivering an instructor-led training session on zoom or webex.

A live virtual instructor-led session is different than an in-person classroom session. Right from the presentation, group activities, to engagement points, everything is customized depending on the mode of delivery. And above all, the way the instructor needs to deliver the entire leaning experience is different in both the modalities.

  1. Remote learning is about exploring new options.

L&D leaders and practitioners need to be open to experiment and organize learning differently, away from the traditional mold. Flexibility and patience are some skills that all stakeholders need to display when we go about implementation of remote learning. Do not fret if you don’t get everything right at the first place. It might be an unknown territory for quite a few of us.

  1. Remote learning entails empathy.

We, as L&D stakeholders, need to show empathy towards the new normal. We need to be sensitive about sociological conditions of our learners and try to address some of them through our remote learning design strategy.

These foundational beliefs will eventually guide us around putting together a framework to implement remote learning. In our next blog, we’ll be looking at one such framework. I would love to know how you are strategizing remote learning in your organization. Comment below or drop a note at

Emergence of Remote Learning

The Definition

Remote learning is any kind of learning that happens outside of a traditional classroom because the learner and facilitator are separated by distance and/or time. Remote learning can be real-time or flexibility timed, in other words it could be synchronous or asynchronous.And the role of technology can vary;  the primary reason for variance in technology is that we cannot assume that every remote learner has got access to equivalent technology infrastructure.

The History

Remote learning is not an entirely new concept. We can equate quite a few attributes of remote learning to distance education. In the late 1800s, at the University of Chicago, the first major distance education program in the United States was established, in which the teacher and learner were at different locations. One of the pioneers of distance learning, William Rainey Harper was of the idea that many would benefit by taking up the first two years of college in their hometowns. This led to the founding of American community colleges. But it was never a smooth sailing; the adoption for distance learning took some time and efforts. In fact, it was said that distance education was designed to provide educational opportunities to those who were not among the elite could not afford full-time residence at an educational institution. It was looked down on as an inferior alternative to traditional education.

However, the need to provide equal access to educational and learning opportunities has always been a part of our society’s democratic ideals. Things kept progressing, the adoption rate kept increasing and then the COVID-19 curve ball hit all of us. Ironical as it may sound, it gave us all an opportunity to iron out any shortcomings of distance learning models, and implement it as remote learning.

The Current Context

Today, COVID-19 outbreak has changed the way people work, learn, and teach around the globe. To mitigate the risk of virus and keep people healthy and in turn engaged, organizations and educational institutions are willing to trade off in-person interactions in favor of remote work or virtual events.

In the case of remote work, organizations and educational institutions are keenly observing and studying the effects of the pandemic situation on productivity, efficiency, work quality, customer satisfaction and more. And with a possibility of downturn in economy, at least in some business segments, this might well turn out to be a double whammy. A recent article from Harvard Business Review has in fact flagged that the current pandemic situation will lead to a significantly changed world. And what is more important is that we need to be prepared for the changed world.

This is where remote learning starts to emerge as a major contributor towards balancing things.  Helping us successfully navigate through the current situation, achieving collective goals, and at the same time helping us to be prepared for the new normal, remote learning is taking an increasingly central role in shaping up a better world.



6 Key Things to Consider as Universities Plan to Go Online

Universities across the globe are seeing a huge drop in number of students enrolling for campus education. They are also facing a higher drop-out ratio due to student inability to pay fees in wake of COVID- 19. It is being predicted that many universities and higher-ed institutes may have a sustenance challenge in the coming months if they do not act fast. Mid-tier and small universities, which always had a campus curriculum, are suddenly under a pressure to completely go online.

Going online does not only pertain to delivering classes online using zoom or WebEx; but instead, a complete digital transformation of academic operations and delivery. It affects everyone in the university. And such a transformation can take years to be successful. But do universities have that amount of time in hand? The obvious answer is NO. Then how can a university get this done right rapidly?

Here are few short-term solutions that a university can consider while going online:

1) Use Google Meet or Zoom to take online classes.

2) Use default Moodle with minimum customization to host all your online class details. It does not take more than a couple of weeks to get this up and running.

3) Add some engagement in your online sessions through interactive games, quizzes, exercises, and more.

4) Use a simple nudge system like short emails with key points, concepts, and definitions to reinforce learning content

5) Offer a few free online sessions to attract new registrations to your classes

6) Try and create some marketing collateral such as student success testimonials, parent experiences, and more to promote on social media and university website. Marketing it right would help you get more online registrations to classes and eventually sustain the university.

To get this all streamlined and implemented rapidly, perhaps the most appropriate thing would be to interact with a consulting company which has been into the online learning industry for a considerable period of time and has enough experience in the following fields:

– Technology selection

– Systems to go online

– Tools for teachers, students, administrative, and support functions

– Content development expertise to convert Instructor-Led Training (ILT) to online-friendly sessions

– Rapid yet effective innovative solutions to reduce dropout

– Student engagement solutions for pre- and post-class

Once your short-term system is set, then you can start planning the long term. Do ensure you consider all aspects stated above.

What are some interesting solutions you have used in your university which can be shared with other fellow educators? Do share your thoughts in the comments below.