Benefits That An Organization Can Reap Through Content Modernization

In my last blog, we looked at how the xSMART framework could help in driving the content modernization initiative. In this post, we’ll talk about the benefits that the key stakeholders, namely – the modern-day learner, the L&D heads, and the CXOs, can derive from the modernization initiative.

Let’s begin with talking about the consumer of content – the modern-day learners. For them, the biggest benefit that modernization brings along is that they can be in-charge of their learning. They can consume content at the time and pace which best suits their needs. For example, they can consume content through their mobile-devices when they are commuting, and when in office, they could switch to their laptops or desktops. Since modernized content could be made available in various formats, sizes, and shapes, it could meet varied learning needs and preferences of individuals. 

For L&D heads, there are multifold benefits that arise out of this initiative. It helps them to align the modernized content to competencies rather than just being driven by learning objectives. Couple this with detailed analytics and it gives us a recipe for a faster and efficient way to close on the skills gap. The other key benefit they can derive out of this is culture transformation – moving from a culture of training to a culture of learning. Modernized content developed once can be deployed in multiple scenarios. For example, content which is broken down into micro-learning nuggets could be SCORM packaged and made available through the LMS or it could even be made available and searchable on a mobile-app through metadata-tagging.

For CXOs, the biggest benefit that the modernization initiative brings on the table is the broad-scale opportunity to align their learning, talent development, and performance management strategies with business goals. The other key benefit is that it gives them an opportunity to future-proof content against any technology disruptions and increase its shelf life. For example, if an organization wants to enable AI-based learning solutions, then implementing a modernization initiative could become an overhead. It will be better to have such aspects addressed during the initial modernization exercise itself. Modernization gives us this opportunity and benefit.

Many more benefits could be derived from the modernization initiative. Not necessarily all of them are covered in this blog post. We are all ears to know your thoughts on the same. Reach out to us at info@harbingerlearning.com.

xSMART – The Framework to Drive Your Content Modernization Initiative

In my last blog, I touched upon how organizations are looking at modernizing their existing learning material to adapt to technology disruptions and meet the modern-day learners’ demands. Modernization is being used as a transformational strategy to deliver business results by creating unique experiences for learners. Harbinger has built a framework to aid modernization. This framework, known as xSMART, is a solution accelerator designed for teams to successfully implement and execute a content modernization strategy. This framework is an enabler to handle large scale modernization projects. Let’s take a deep dive into the specifics of this framework and uncover the value that it brings on the table.

The x Factor

This is the first layer of the modernization framework in picture. The x factor here is for the automation this framework brings along to handle volume work. The faster we are able to figure out the role this x can play, easier the modernization journey would be. Automation will ensure that the modernization strategy is executed in a rapid and cost-effective manner. At times, this could even be the deciding factor in terms of the modernization initiative taking off the ground or not. To put things in better perspective, several steps are described in detail below where automation is bound to play a crucial role.

Extraction of reusable assets from legacy courses

Consider the following scenario: An organization is sitting with hundreds of hours of legacy digital content developed using a variety of legacy authoring tools including Flash. Now, content wise, these courses are still relevant, however the source files are missing.

To ensure that the modernization process is rapid and cost effective, we need to figure out which content is reusable and the ways to  extract it. This step is important to ensure that we do not end up developing digital learning material from scratch. For instance, images, video, and audio components used in legacy courses could qualify for reusability.

As part of the xSMART framework, Harbinger has built custom automation utilities which can extract content at a page level for all the courses, even if the source files are missing.

Template driven production to achieve scalability

In the typical eLearning development process, storyboarding is done first and then screens are developed. Nothing is wrong with this approach, but when we are talking about migrating hundreds of hours of learning material, then it might not be the best option.

At Harbinger we have flipped this approach for modernization, we analyze legacy courses and based on the results, we create a template library. This template library is the guiding factor for modernization of courses. Our instructional designers propose replacing screens within a legacy course based on the new templates that have been developed. And once we have the templates ready and identified for each screen, then automation comes into play to populate the extracted content into these templates. This innovative approach helps us modernize large volume of courses.

SMART

The second layer of the framework talks about the design of modernized content. This also gives us an opportunity to align strategy with actual development. Let’s take a deep dive into this level.

Searchable:We all have been hearing about how learning needs to happen in the flow of work, at the point of need. To make this possible, a key aspect is to ensure that content is easily searchable. Today, we might be designing our content to be delivered through a LMS but what if we have to deliver it through a mobile application. Does it mean we need to go through the process of designing the content again? The answer is no, if we are using the xSMART framework as a guiding tool. Modernization is an opportunity for us to make our content easily searchable. It could be achieved in two simple steps, instructionally identifying key learning objectives and metadata tagging of content with relevant keywords.

Micro:Today a lot of focus is on making content available as bite-sized nuggets. But at the same time, let’s acknowledge that not every online course needs to be delivered as a micro-learning nugget. For example, a certification program might be best delivered as a two-hour course. So how do we solve this dilemma, whether to go micro or macro? The beauty of the xSMART framework is that it enables you to address both these concerns in one go. While modernizing the two hour long course, we are able to identify key learning objectives and pull them out as standalone SCORM packages to be made available at the time of need. In continuation to our example of a certification program, the micro-learning nuggets could be pushed as a reinforcement tool. This feature enables us to address our current as well as future learning needs.

Accessible: Accessibility is all about inclusiveness, a way to ensure that no one is excluded. The xSMART framework ensures that modernized content is available for everyone. Whether it is Section 508, or WCAG 2.0, or any other geography-specific accessibility standard, it is recommended to implement them at template level. For a particular modernization initiative, we generally use a set of pre-developed templates. And implementing compliance standards at a template level ensures that for every screen we do not have to perform the same set of activities. This improvisation is yet another contributor to the rapid development process. 

Responsive: For most of us it would be difficult to imagine a day without our mobile phone. Mobile devices have become an integral part of our lives. Apart from communication and entertainment, they also are a source of lot of new learning these days. And this is what compels us to contemplate responsive design as an important part of our modernization strategy. Responsive eLearning design is all about giving an optimal user experience, especially at times when your users are experiencing stuff like NetFlix. There is a lot that goes into creating optimal user experience for learners consuming content on mobile devices. The xSMART framework enables us to get things right, the first time itself. Some examples being, implementing the best practices for audio syncing, ensuring that assets load on the course screen in an optimal manner, usage of right type of rich media elements, using device specific features like swap for content interaction, and more.

Trackable: The good old SCORM has been around for a long time and would probably continue being there for a longer time. But at times, there is only so much insights that a SCORM package can bring. Stakeholders are looking for more flexibility and deeper analytics on learner behavior and performance, and very rightly so. These additional insights can help us in continuous improvement of our digital learning strategy. xSMART enables you to think beyond SCORM and implement additional tracking capabilities to generate detailed analytics and insights which help in making informed decisions. One such example is xAPI. Of-course, this has to be supported by relevant technology infrastructure such as a Learning Record Store (LRS) or a custom application with a robust backend to capture detailed analytics. But imagine a scenario, where this advanced track ability can help us get insights on how is the learner progressing towards achieving their goals or how is their performance graph moving for a certain competency. xSMART enables you to take this plunge and generate powerful analytics.

In the next blog in the series, we would peel one layer further. We would take a look at the benefits that key stakeholders can get out of this framework. And it won’t be a spoiler if we reveal who our key stakeholders are; it’s the modern day learner, learning and development heads, and CXOs. Till then if you have any thoughts or comments, please feel free to drop us a line at info@harbinegrlearning.com.

Why Do We Need a Content Modernization Strategy Now More than Ever Before?

To adapt to technology disruptions and meet the modern-day learners’ demands, many organizations are looking at modernizing their existing learning material. But sometimes, modernization could be mistaken purely as a transformation from Flash to HTML5 and in an oversight; the bigger underlying opportunity could be overlooked. A broader definition of modernization and a bigger picture could help prevent this. Modernization should ideally be looked at as a transformational strategy to deliver business results by creating unique experiences for learners. It provides an opportunity for business leaders to align strategic objectives. L&D heads could use modernization to transition from a culture of training to a culture of learning and upskilling. And the modern-day learner could get required information in the flow of work.

Modernization can come with its fair share of challenges. A robust and proven modernization framework would help us sail towards successful implementation and logical conclusion of this initiative. We’ll talk about the framework in detail in an upcoming blog, for now, we’ll focus on the key factors which are driving the need for modernization in the modern-day workplace.

Technology Disruptions

In 1991, a web legend named Sir Tim Berners-Lee created HTML5. The WHATWG (Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group) continued evolving it. One of the key objectives of developing HTML5 was to have a better alternative to Flash. More than two and a half decades, a plethora of devices, operating systems, and multiple browser combinations later, we have actually come to a point wherein Adobe is officially closing curtains on Flash. By December 2020, Adobe will stop supporting Flash; In fact, browsers like Chrome and Firefox have announced that they would stop supporting Flash from as early as July 2019.

This is just one example of technology disruption, there are multiple happening around us. The modernization strategy to counter this needs to be two fold; firstly, come abreast with major disruptions that have happened till now and secondly, have a mechanism to future-proof content. Today we live in the era of HTML5; a lot is being built around it. But tomorrow when HTML6 comes out, it shouldn’t call for a distinct modernization initiative. The strategy right now should account for future-proofing.

Skills Gap

The ‘skills gap’ across the globe, including the United States, is pretty serious. As per McKinsey’s reports, almost 40 percent of American employers say they cannot find people with the skills they need, even for entry-level jobs. As L&D stakeholders, we are tasked with the responsibility of making learning available for the modern-day learner to close on the skills gap and in turn, help our organization and employees grow together.

We also have to account for things which were not in our list till late. Owing to the new generation of learners and needs of modern-day workplace, new skill areas are popping up regularly. Diversity and inclusivity as soft-skills or block chain as a technical skill are appropriate examples of such new learning areas. The modernization strategy needs to account for all such needs. Closing on the skills gap and enabling employee growth should be one of the strategic themes of the modernization initiative.

The Modern-Day Learner

There is so much that has been written about the modern-day learner. Without being overly critical about their learning habits, let’s acknowledge the fact that the evolution of the modern-day learner is happening because society, workplace, and technology, almost everything is evolving. The modern-day learner is just trying to keep pace with the ever increasing demands. We know their attention spans have reduced, they get distracted, and overwhelmed easily. They want learning to be made available in a timely manner, and in a format which is easy for them to consume. But the good news is that they have made their expectations loud and clear. It makes it so much easier for us to plan and deliver accordingly.

While we talk about the modern-day learner, we need to be mindful of the fact that while the modernization initiative should account for the needs of the modern-day learner, it should not be limited just to millennials and Gen Z. It should be more holistic, starting right from the baby boomers.

Maintenance

Brian Marick once quoted, ‘Development is maintenance’. This sounds so apt in our discussion for the need of a modernization strategy. As content owners, one of the key things is to ensure that we are able to maintain content that we are developing. For instance, a pharma company has to ensure that the content is updated as per latest FDA regulations.

The other aspect of maintenance is the variety of technology infrastructure that is being used to deliver content. Today you might have a SCORM LMS in place and you design and develop content for it, but tomorrow, if an xAPI compliant LMS comes into picture, the requirement would be to pass data into the Learning Record Store (LRS) of the LMS. The modernization strategy should account for such technology changes and make content available in a format which could be easily transitioned.

Business Re-Alignment

Enterprises are going through digital transformation. The manufacturing industry is talking about Industrial revolution 4.0. L&D stakeholders want to transform from a culture of training to a culture of learning. All this will eventually culminate into a new ecosystem. And a key component of that ecosystem would be the way people are learning or consuming content. It seems improbable that Boyle’s Law would get replaced but the way people would want to know about Boyle’s Law is definitely going to change.

Have you come across any other factors which might be driving the need for content modernization? You can write to us at info@harbingerlearning.com and we would be happy to have a conversation.

Six Factors to Consider before Formulating Your Nudge-Learning Strategy

In the modern-day workplace, L&D stakeholders have a greater & bigger responsibility than ever before . The need of the hour is to help employees by providing them effective learning solutions that cut through the noise. Nudge-learning, indeed, has the potential of solving some key modern-day workplace issues. But before you get into formulating your nudge-learning strategy, it is imperative to consider some key aspects listed below.

  1. Differentiate the sound from the noise very early in the game

At times it is very easy to get buoyed by trending fad words. Simply because the sound of nudge sounds interesting, doesn’t imply that you have to jump on the band wagon. Nudge-learning could be a good way to solve challenges but it is important to identify if it fits in your organization’s overall learning strategy. The question to ask is, ‘Is it good enough to solve a specific challenge for you, your team, and your organization?’

  1. Tie it with your organizational goals

Ensure that you have identified the sweet spot for implementing nudge-learning in your organization. Some questions to ask here would be; Is it solving a particular business challenge? Can the outcome of nudge-learning be tied to any organizational goal(s)?

One such case that exemplifies this is of Google, wherein they nudged their managers with bite-sized content to foster a psychologically-safe team culture. They called it the ‘Whisper’ courses.

  1. Don’t overlook change management

If nudge is something new which you are planning to implement in your organization, then the last thing you want to do is overlook change management. In principle, majority would recognize that change is necessary.  They might support it theoretically.  But once it comes to the implementation stage, you can expect to hit a wall of resistance. So, before you go down this path, it is important to strategize about how you aim to bring about this change with a majority buy-in.

  1. Leverage the EAST framework

You need to look for ways that help you successfully leverage the EAST framework. It literally has to be as simple as it sounds –  easy, accessible, social, and timely. We’ll delve deep into this framework at the right time, but for now we can focus on what Michael Jordan quoted about frameworks “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.”

  1. Define the end goals and key performance indicators

Since you have already contemplated about what you want to achieve with nudge-learning, set the strategy up for success by clearly defining these goals. Relevant, specific, and well-defined goals will take you one step closer to achieving them. Goals are also an important component of monitoring success. The right performance indicators defined at the onset will help you determine how you are performing on your goals.

  1. Do not overdo it

An important principle around which nudge-learning pivots, is the principle of least coercion. Remember that the success of nudge-learning lays in the fact that it is not intrusive. It allows the modern-day learner to learn in the flow of work. We should respect this and ensure we do not overdo it.

Feel free to share your thoughts, suggestions, or any other factors which you might want to point out. You can reach out to us at info@harbingerlearning.com.