Learning Trends to Watch Out for in 2019

It is that time of year when we all take a pause and reflect on the year passing by and get ready to welcome the new one. My role as a Proposal Engineer at Harbinger Interactive Learning makes me stretch outside the norms and design interesting solutions for our customers. While looking back at 2018, I realized this year was unique in many ways. It challenged the eLearning stakeholders in many ways and got them out of their comfort zone. All these advancements have paved way for an even more exciting 2019.

Here are the trends I foresee for the upcoming year.

Instructional Design to Learning Experience Design

Instructional design seems to be gradually evolving into learning experience design. Instructional designers will now need to think beyond course instructional strategy, chunking content, and storyboard creation. Delivering learning content in newer ways based on learner behavior would be their new agenda. Applying instructional strategies for newer formats like chatbot, AR/VR, short animated videos, would be very different than applying them to an hour long course. Our instructional designers have already started experiencing this change. Have you?

Redefined eLearning Course Development and Design

The ideal duration of an eLearning course changed from an hour or two to about 30 minutes in the last few years. It would further dip down to 2-5 minute long modules. The delivery formats would now also include interactive infographics, AR content, and other such interesting forms. It implies that every course and every learning experience could be unique. This change would also form the premise for a huge transformation in the way eLearning content development units and L&D departments function, since they won’t be using the waterfall model to develop hundreds of hours of learning in the same format anymore.

eLearning Project Management Moves Agile

Agile project management practices have been around in software development cycle since ages. And they have been talked about for quite some time now in eLearning teams as well. With the type of variety in content being developed now, it would be a welcome to see agile project management in action here as well.

CLOs and Learning Directors Ready to Take Risks

In the past, for many of our proposals, we have been asked to put down the ROI for eLearning development in black and white. But in 2018, we saw that quite a few learning stake-holders were open to newer ideas, trying out different forms of learning content delivery, and not being hung upon the ROI. I don’t deny that ROI is important. And it would have to be asked one day. But, what is important is that stake-holders are ready to take risks. The parameters of ROI are being shifted from “number of hours of learning” to “performance improvement” of an employee in areas that matter. If a support desk employee can get a just-in-time learning nugget on how to fill a complex form and completes that form within record time and handle more support queries, the ROI is achieved.

Netflix-like Experiences in Learning

Today, no learner would like to login to an LMS to take up a course even if they have free time. But, if the same employee is on an internal portal browsing some content and there comes a learning nugget in the context of what they are surfing, there are high chances of them clicking on this learning nugget. And that is how learning would happen now: In-context and nudged based on user actions. A seemingly Netflix like experience where movies are recommended based on what the user watches and surfs. And the recommendations only become better with time.

Artificial Intelligence in Learning

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has made great advancements through the past few years and this year will mark its remarkable presence in L&D setup. AI is going to play a dual role here: Providing personalized experiences and learner evaluation through analytics.

AI-powered chatbots are currently being used to answer financial queries, provide customer support, diagnose healthcare issues, and even offer counselling on various topics. They are already starting to make an impact on education and corporate learning. Bots similar to Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Microsoft’s Cortana could be developed to frontend a course and provide personalized learning experiences.  Besides delivering learning, a chatbot can also provide information about what people learn, how they learn, and what they need to learn. The data recorded from chatbot interactions can be analyzed to see what is being learned and when. It will also tell you what information is missing by recording the queries that it couldn’t respond to. This means that training can become more relevant and effective as it’s based on the demonstrable needs of employees rather the notional needs determined by L&D.

Interesting time lies ahead for the L&D function as some new learning and re-skilling looks to be the order of the year. Do you agree? Get immersed and enjoy the journey!

An Instructional Designer’s Experience with Automation Testing

Harbinger organizes an annual event called Automathon. This event primarily focuses on automation testing, wherein participants write test scripts on given scenarios. Although I am an instructional designer by profession, I decided to participate in this event, owing to my personal interest in the testing function.

The Automathon primarily focuses on testing through an automated framework called Harbinger’s Integrated Hybrid Automation Framework (HIHAF). While dedicated professionals can undoubtedly do a great job at testing various scenarios, it is ideal that some part of the process is automated, to achieve massive turnovers. HIHAF is a great example of it. The framework requires quality engineers to write test scripts and it executes those scripts. So, although I knew I had a tool which could do half the job, the other half was to be done by me. I already had a sneak peek into writing test scripts; but what came as a big learning was manipulating the application to work with those scripts. When writing test scripts, you need to know why and how the application functions under certain conditions.

Before I participated in this event, I always felt that writing test scripts doesn’t require a great deal of programming knowledge. But what I did not realize was that one still needs to fathom well with the objects used in the software and their behavior. It requires understanding the processes and the environment surrounding these processes.

Apart from how I dealt with the writing of scripts, there were a lot of other takeaways for me from this event. I realized that it was just a beginning into the world of automation testing for me and I had a long way to go. I got to meet many people who have been doing really well in this area. It made me think of how frameworks like HIHAF could be beneficial to a wide range of industries. I found myself celebrating new ideas.

It left me with a lurking question, why don’t we embrace good things and ideas from other industries and functions upon whom we thrive, while working in our respective roles. What do you think?

Five signs that indicate the need for a modernization initiative

Five Signs That Indicate ‘It is Time to Consider Modernization’

The modern day corporate worker’s profile is changing. Not just millennial, Gen Z seems to be getting into the workforce as well. These segments of the target audience have a very positive outlook on the value of eLearning but the way they want to consume content is very different from how it happened in the past.

If you too are sensing this profile shift, then probably it is time to take a stock of the situation and look for some additional signs listed ahead.

  1. Need for Standardized Content

Your content is the most valuable asset your company has. If you have a large volume of legacy content sitting idle, or if your employees or customers are facing issues in courses because of the content being stuck in old formats, then it definitely indicates the need for change. Furthermore, if you can’t make important edits to your courses because the content is in legacy format or created using different tools, then you know modernization is the right way to proceed. It will help you to upgrade your content in accordance with the latest tools and technologies. Modernization can also help you convert your content to one standardized format which is widely accessible and future-ready – for instance, a format like HTML5, which standardizes everything and in-turn brings efficiencies for future.

 

  1. New Tool Adoption

An organization, when it uses a tool for a long period of time, develops a significant level of comfort with it, and it becomes difficult to get out of that zone. But with the rapid advancements in technology, many new tools evolve into the market. These tools generally possess better capabilities than the one(s) already being used. For example, there are several tools in the market that allow creation of content in interactive video format instead of tools using simple text and images. When you use such a tool, the learning experience can change for good.

 

So if you, as the content owner, come across many such new technologies and tools but cannot take the plunge due to comfort issues, it is time to consider modernization. Modernization can smoothly facilitate new tool adoption process.

 

  1. Learning in Employee Preferred Formats

An infographic by ‘Bersin by Delloite’ states that 67% of the modern day workers learn on mobile devices, only 42% learn at their office desk, rest access learning at their convenience, interestingly 27% of people learn on the way to and from work. Apart from the statistics and preferences listed above, each of these learners has different learning styles. Meeting these expectations through different learning formats is quite difficult as that would imply much more content production. Then how do we handle this situation? Modernization practice can help put together a solution which can use artificial intelligence, natural language processing and voice-enabled technologies to make the same content available in various formats.

  1. Complying with Regulations and Industry Standards

With the recent enforcement of new regulations that demand support for accessibility and standards-compliance, accessible content is now a must-have. If you are looking at re-using any of your non WCAG 2.0 compliant legacy courses, you need to modernize them. But just taking an old course and trying to make it compliant is not sufficient. It may technically get some of the compliance checkboxes ticked, but it doesn’t ensure 100% accessibility. For instance, your compliance checklist might not take care of font readability and color choices. Unless you are confident that someone with special abilities can fully make use of your content, it is just a battle half won.

 

To ensure that differently-abled learners find value in your courses, it is important to redesign them. A well thought out modernization approach that aims at making your legacy content fully accessible by making use of automation, is your best bet here.

 

  1. Accelerated Time-to-Market with New Product Offerings and Upgrades

If you are looking to do something new for your customers with a faster time-to-market, there are two things you could consider – launch newer products or take old products and refurbish them with newer design and experience. At the speed with which technology is changing, it is critical that your product (course) design is resilient yet flexible. A well-defined modernization approach helps you achieve the same. And when coupled with automation, it can help you roll out newer courses or newer versions of old courses out in the market rapidly. This helps strengthen your course catalog portfolio.

If you are reading any of the above signs, then the time is just right to contemplate a modernization initiative to cater to your organization’s and customers’ evolving learning needs. In case you would like to have a discussion on this, or if you are looking for an experienced and reliable partner who can help design your modernization roadmap, write to us at info@harbingerlearning.com.

My Experience at The Colossal – #SHRM2018 in The Windy City

 

The Stage was Set

SHRM 2018 annual conference & exposition was the largest in terms of attendance and footfall in its 70 year history. Reports claim that the turnout was anywhere between 20,000 – 25,000 attendees. The massive setting was apt for this grand event with the venue being the McCormick place in Chicago, the largest convention center in North America. The city stayed true to its nick name the windy city with gutsy winds blowing throughout the area but the good part was that it was pretty sunny and warm atleast for a major portion of the four day event.

The Energy, Enthusiasm and the Spotlight

The venue was abuzz with activities throughout its entire duration and the level of enthusiasm and energy was at its peak. The sheer number of people attending this event is a great indicator that there is a continued spotlight on the Human Resources (HR) function. Movements like #MeToo, #TimesUp and events like Starbucks Diversity Training Day have played their role in ensuring this.

I personally had the opportunity to speak to quite a few training providers and understand their digital solutions around compliance training. There seems to be a lot of focus and emphasis on making sure that the new age compliance digital learning is not just a check box, it is instead designed to create a culture of learning instead of training. It also ensures a continued reinforcement of the learning through multiple innovative ways and delivery models.

Some other prominent things to watch out for in the coming days would be:

  • Focus on building workplace culture with civility at the forefront and openness to diverse perspectives
  • Human Resources’ contribution to workforce development essentials, meeting the shortage of skilled workforce to fulfill the needs created by industrial revolution 4.0
  • Managing employee relations in the times of gig economy

 

The Famed Chicago Style Hot Dog

Before I end this blog, I have to mention this, when you are in Chicago you have to try the famous Chicago style hot dog also known as “dragged through the garden” due to the numerous toppings. There was ample supply of the same at the venue, so it kept people full and satiated.  And yes, I did learn that when you are in Chicago you don’t put the red ketchup on your hot dogs.

Overall it was a great event, lot of learning and great networking opportunities. I am now eagerly looking forward to SHRM 2019. Did you participate in this year’s event? How was your experience? Share through comments below.

Legacy Content Modernization Journey – Getting the Right Start

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The time is always right to do what is right

You must be wondering how these words from Martin Luther King Jr. are relevant to our discussion today. Well, with Flash officially slated for sunset in 2020, should you really wait on the sidelines and hope to jump on the last bus that would take you out of this situation? I think the answer would be no from majority of us. This is an important business decision, and all perspectives need to be analyzed before taking it, but the time to take this decision is now. In this blog, let’s explore various situations playing on your mind while making the right choice about modernization.

The first thing would be to identify the courses that need to go through the modernization process. Your organization may have a huge library of flash courses and not every course needs to be modernized. The decision on retiring or retaining a course needs to be framed on the basis of the following factors:

  1. Relevance of the course content today
  2. Current market requirement for each course
  3. User enrollment analysis for each course
  4. Feedback given by users after taking the course

Most of these factors will eventually boil down to adding to the bottom line. If a course performs adversely on the above parameters, consider retiring it.

Once the course inventory is shortlisted, the other piece of puzzle is to decide who is going to do this job. Is it your internal development team, should you bring in a third party vendor or should it be a combination of both? Some guiding factors that would help you make this decision are:

  1. What is more important for your existing internal teams, working on new product development and servicing existing customers or modernizing legacy courses?
  2. Do you have the relevant skill-set in your in-house team for this job?
  3. Are you willing to ramp up your internal team temporarily for this task?
  4. Should you bring in a third-party supplier with the appropriate skill-set to help you with modernization?
  5. If you intend to bring in a third-party supplier, what should be criteria to bring them onboard? Of course a supplier housing a team with the right technical skill-set is the one you should shortlist, but you also need to give some emphasis on what values this supplier brings on the table. Do you want to onboard just a vendor or you need a partner who is with you in this important business decision? Read this blog – “You need a partner not a vendor”, that shares information on the ideal behaviors to notice while partner selection.

Well, the fact is that you might get lucky in hopping on the last bus when it comes to planning the modernization project, but is it worth the risk? The time is now to make the right decision, so it is ideal to plan things right away. To know more about some of these guiding factors, drop us a line at info@harbingerlearning.com. We would be happy to share our experiences with you.