The New-Age LMS



new age learning management system lms

Last week, while doing some Google ‘research’ I accidentally stumbled upon a fabulous TED talk by a delightful educator – Sugata Mitra[1]. To those to whom this name is not familiar, Mitra was the guy who put computer screens with an internet connection in a wall in New Delhi and proved that children could not only learn how to use a computer but learn from it, without any outside help or intervention. He is currently conducting experiments in group learning that are radically different to the traditional learning methods used in schools.

The way education is organised today is a throwback to the start of the industrial revolution.
Industry needed workers who came in on time and applied themselves. These workers had rudimentary writing and arithmetic skills. Alvin Tofler in his excellent book The Third Wave[2] in his chapter The Covert Curriculum, documents how the introduction of organised education was a key factor in converting agrarian peasants into regimented workers and ensured the success of the Industrial Revolution.

This system of schooling that was introduced about three hundred years ago is still essentially in existence today. Yes, computers are used extensively in education today, but they are being added into a framework that has existed for three centuries! Mitra’s point is – if we were organizing education today, knowing the immense versatility of computers, it would be a very very different system than that in place today. For example, we would not make children cram lots of information into their heads that is readily available on the internet – would we?

Proving this point, a 2015 worldwide education study carried out by the OECD[3] headlines: “New approach needed to deliver on technology’s potential in schools. “Students, Computers and Learning: Making The Connection,” says that even countries which have invested heavily in information and communication technologies (ICT) for education have seen no noticeable improvement in their performances in PISA results for reading, mathematics or science”.

While watching the Mitra video clip, I was reminded of an article I had read recently regarding LMS and eLearning and suddenly the article became crystal clear to me. It is an article by Adam Weisblatt[4] and the content of the article is uncannily like the scenario that is painted in the education sphere.

According to the article, LMSs were developed and designed originally to log activities and report on schools and colleges throughout the land. It used to be a cumbersome piece of equipment, took a lot of effort to set up, and required continual work to keep it up to date so that reporting would be precise. It is designed to record on a hierarchical structure rather than simply record events, and as it is built for a range of scenarios – it has to fit the needs of all users and therefore most often is unable to fit the needs of individual learners.

eLearning is a very simple way of satisfying on-demand learning, and is also versatile and relatively easy to tweak for any particular end user. The mistake is being made (just like in education) of trying to fit eLearning into the LMS framework which means that the drawbacks of LMS (cumbersome, overcomplicated) are being associated with eLearning itself.

But as Weisblatt himself puts it: “The latest successor to SCORM, called xAPI (the API formerly known as Tin Can) begins to address some of these problems. It tracks transactions rather than hierarchies and it doesn’t require that you discover learning through the LMS so it can capture data more freely but this is just the tip of the iceberg.”

But is this just simply tinkering with the problem – as Weisblatt suggests, we really need to fully engage in de-constructing the LMS model and starting from scratch.

24×7 Learning has done just that. Since 2001, the company has been providing online learning solutions to global corporates through its LMS. Over the years the company tweaked the LMS as and when required to meet the ever-changing training needs of corporates. However, last year was different. The technical team rebuilt the LMS from scratch taking into account the changing L&D scenario, new developments in technology, and the needs of the learners themselves. This new LMS was christened as LearnTrak LMS. LearnTrak has been successfully used globally by clients across industries and job roles and has helped employees take up organizational training with great earnestness – and increased the completion rate of courses. It also boasts of several must-have features such as multiple language support, an offline course player, digital library, a quick launch page, blended learning and a very simple and easy user interface.


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The Millennial – An Asset or Liability?

The Millennial - Asset or Liability?

“Ninety one percent of Millennial expect to stay in a job for less than three years.” This startling finding is contained in a workforce survey by Future Workplace[1]. This means that recent and new entrants to the global workforce will have multiple jobs during their working lifetime, and bearing in mind the ever increasing rate of change and probably multiple careers too.

There are reasons for this high turnover – a desire to explore options, a desire to not get bogged down in a boring job, faster career advancement – Millennials have a short attention span and are not interested in the same old rote day after day, or promotion on seniority – they want to get places, and get there fast.

One thing is for certain, that this churn of employees presents a nightmare scenario for HR functions in recruitment, cost to company, and the training areas.

In the past, HR managers liked to see a nice steady job progression in CVs, demonstrating stability and a purpose, and ‘job-hoppers’ were jettisoned to the rejection list. But now, when many people in their late twenties have had as many as twelve jobs since they left college[2], every CV has a slew of jobs, and HR now have to pick through each one and see if there is a purpose to the job changes and if the change is made with a plan in mind or with reckless abandon that indicates that they won’t stay long with you either.

To get a handle on what churn costs, there is an example[3] worked out that for a company with 1,000 employees, the average salary is $50,000, and the staff turnover is 10 per cent per year. The annual cost to that company is $7.5 million. So if a company could hold on to its employees and if the turnover rate could be halved to 5 per cent – the company would add $3.75 million to its bottom line.

How does a company hold on to these Millennials?

It would be an impossible task without first understanding the key characteristics of these young people in our workforce:

  • Confident – they have always been treated as special, and have always achieved
  • Achievers – pushed for results in school and college. Points and grades are higher for this group than ever before, and they have still managed to achieve what’s set for them
  • Team Oriented – involved in group and social learning
  • Bored Easily – used to instant gratification
  • Self Belief – have done well at every stage from kindergarten to college
  • Want a good work/life balance

It’s clear from the above key characteristics that in order to be retained, they have to be handled differently to how their Baby Boomer co-workers were handled at that point in their careers.

  • They need to be continually challenged, and also frequently assessed as they like to know how they are doing
  • They like to collaborate, and are very productive when they are interested and engaged
  • They have a belief that nothing is too difficult for them to achieve
  • They like to feel they are part of something bigger than just their job or department, and benefit from being kept abreast with everything that is happening in the company
  • You won’t see them working a 12 hour day
  • They see learning as a way to gain knowledge and experience and a pathway to advancement

So to get the best from and to retain this new breed of employee, a new strategy has to be put in place:

  • Career advancement prospects within the company have to be mapped out. There is no point in telling a Millennial, “In time you will rise through the ranks.” They want to hear,“If you are good enough, you are old enough.”
  • A commitment to continuous training and up-skilling has to be guaranteed – not just training for the job in hand, but any training the Millennial would like to undergo. He sees learning very clearly as a means of gaining experience, and that gives him the ability to move up the ladder quickly.
  • An offer to try various departments to see which suits him best would be a big carrot to someone who has not quite found a niche yet.
  • Work/life balance is important to Millennials.[5] They highly prize flexible working hours, working from home, longer holidays and maternity/paternity leave.
  • Integration with older, more settled employees can become an issue and one strategy to deal with this would be to take on a group specifically to handle one area or project in the company.
  • Regular (monthly) assessments where the Millennial and his immediate superior talk about how things are going is what’s required – yearly assessments is not what he needs.

With the median age of the Indian population at 25, the country has a booming Millennial-rich workforce that attracts Indian as well as global corporations. Smart companies are looking at ways to attract Millenials and retain them. Here’s what some Indian organizations and multinationals working out of India are doing for their employees to retain this young group of people:

  • Organizations provide their employees with a platform to share their expertise while at the same time giving them enough opportunity to hone their skills and master new ones
  • Organizations in India are making an effort to understand the expectations and preference of its employees and finding a way to balance these expectations against the overall business plan so that it’s a win-win situation for both the employees as well as the organization
  • Young companies that have a workforce consisting mainly of the Millennials are involving their employees in the decision-making processes
  • Indian companies are now encouraging innovation and the freedom to come up with out-of-the-box ideas
  • Many organizations today create an informal and spontaneous work culture that does not restrict their employees in as many ways as possible. This includes flexible timings, open working spaces at the office, the freedom to pursue recreational interests during work hours,
  • Indian organizations are also beginning to understand that their employee performance and productivity increases when they are give a sense of independence and ownership for each task assigned to them
  • Many organizations now provide their employees with a comprehensive and attractive package that promises a work-life balance, flexibility and monetary benefits

These are just some of the measures modern-thinking organizations in India are doing to attract and retain Millenials. These companies are forward-thinking ones that look into the future and understand today the crucial role that Millennials will play in their respective organizations, tomorrow.

In 2015, Millennials outnumbered Baby Boomers in the US workforce for the first time[4]. They may beviewed by many employers as “lazy, entitled, narcissists”[6], or the ‘I-me-my generation’; but they are here to stay; and motivated and handled in the right manner, they will be as productive, efficient and valuable as any of the earlier generations. It’s high time we all sat up and gave this very important generation their due. After all, very soon, this is the generation that will be leading us into the future.

©SHRM India. First appeared on Published with permission from SHRM India. All rights reserved.

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Keep It…

Keep it

I wonder what the heading of this article would signify to someone who does not know what this article is about. Would you switch off, or will the incompleteness of the topic/heading compel you to read on? Chances are that I have already lost a considerable number of readers. When it comes to eLearning – it’s just as easy to lose your learners, if your content is not attractive from the word ‘go’. Listed below are 7 basic principles to follow, to keep your learners engaged right to the end.

Keep It… Relevant
The topics that are covered in an eLearning course should be relevant to the course itself. Headings and subheadings should clearly describe what the learner can expect to read, gather and gain from the content. So much for my heading!

Keep It… Up-To-Date
Knowledge changes at the speed of light. Every day there is something new – new theories are invented and old theories are disproved. What was new yesterday is old news today. We live in a fast-paced, ever-changing, highly competitive world, where keeping abreast with the latest global developments and happenings is crucial to learning. Your content must be up-to-date at all times if you don’t want your learners to leave.

Keep It… Simple
When creating an eLearning course, use clear and simple language and stay away from jargon: While there are some industries that require the use of jargon – like the medical field which requires the use of medical terminology, not everybody appreciates jargon. Corporate jargon is one such example – where very few employees appreciate the use of words that make little or no sense.

Keep It… Light
Don’t saturate your learners with text. Stick to matter that is relevant and necessary. Do away with unnecessary sentences – like this one. Keep the content fresh. If you are going to use multimedia, don’t saturate your course with it.

Keep It Interesting
It’s not just the written matter, but the design itself. The proper use of colors (the color of the background and the use of an appropriate color combination), and fonts (the type and the size of fonts), and the appropriate use of images and other multimedia, go a long way in keeping your learner’s interest level, high.

Keep It Neat
Keep the screen clutter-free. A clean screen without distractions will keep concentration levels high for a longer period of time. What’s a distraction? Anything that takes the reader’s mind away from the study material and learning is termed a distraction – which brings me to the next principle.

Keep It Interactive
While interaction is good, too much interaction can be distracting. By interaction, I mean everything that you ask your learner to do – whether it is clicking a link to go to another page, watching a video, or using any other multimedia … add only what is necessary and only that which is going to provide knowledge.

Keep It Blended
Blended learning is a combination of online learning and face-to-face learning. Blended learning gives learners the best of both worlds – Online learning and ILT (instructor-led training). A blended course provides a holistic approach to learning.

Keep It Short
When you run out of relevant information to provide your learner, stop.

I wonder what the heading of this article would signify to someone who does not know what this article is about. Would y...

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Bespoke Customized Courses


Bespoke Customized Courses

Prior to the American Civil War, ready-made clothing existed but its variety was very limited. Most clothing was handmade by tailors or by individuals – or their family members at home.

At the outset of the Civil War, most uniforms were custom-made in workers’ homes under contract. As the war continued, however, manufacturers started to build factories that could quickly and efficiently meet the growing demands of the military. Mass production of uniforms necessitated the development of standard sizes. Measurements taken of the soldiers revealed that certain sets of measurements tended to recur with predictable regularity. After the war, these military measurements were used to create the first commercial sizing scales, and ready-made clothes for men and women became almost universally accepted.

Then came the bespoke or made-to-order suits. Up until recently, the bespoke or made-to-measure suit was the preserve of the very rich or top business people who could afford the luxury of getting their suits made from scratch – for that classy finish. But now, with the advent of computerized cutting and sewing machines, and overseas manufacturing, it is affordable and making a comeback.

A somewhat similar situation has evolved in the eLearning industry. Initially, because of the work involved, course content was designed to fit the needs of an entire industry/sector. But now, with the advent of ever-increasing computing power, improved graphic technologies and the realization that no two organizations are alike and therefore no two organizational training needs can be alike, both made-to-measure and bespoke course content are developed at affordable costs.

To a lot of people, bespoke and made to measure are one and the same thing, but there is a very important distinction between them:

Made-to-measure: In clothing terms, this entails making a garment from a set pattern and material, and alterations made to suit the individual’s measurements. This garment fits pretty well but does not cater well for all types of individual measurements.

In eLearning terms, this means taking an existing course and customizing it a bit to suit the needs of a particular firm or organization. It goes some way toward addressing the unique requirements of a customer, but does not work for everyone.

Bespoke: In clothing terms, the pattern itself is made specifically for the individual, so that there are no restrictions on style, material, or measurements. And the individual has complete control over the finished garment. This garment fits like a glove, is comfortable, and looks well no matter what size or shape the individual might be.

In eLearning terms, course content is developed completely from scratch, with the user having complete control over every single aspect of the course – how it looks, how it feels, and how it fits with an organization’s unique requirements.

Here at 24×7 Learning, we create bespoke Customized Courses under the expertise of our Custom Content Development (CCD) team that consists of highly specialized individuals who have several years of experience in building courses entirely from scratch to completely fit an organization’s needs – like a glove.

People often relate high costs and time consumption to bespoke Customized Courses, but you will be pleasantly surprised at how affordable a course specifically built by 24×7 Learning is, and we deliver on time – every time, while taking into account every single learning need of your learners. Very affordable also when you bear in mind that we do not charge a license fee for our Bespoke Customized courses – when we build it – it is yours – for good!

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Learning on Smartphones

Learning on Smartphones

When mobile devices are talked about, the devices that come to mind are basically anything other than the once omnipresent personal computer (PC). Laptop, netbook, tablet, and mobile phone are all grouped together under the term ‘mobile’.

The reason why these mobile devices, particularly tablets, have taken the online world by storm is not hard to understand. They are portable and can be used anywhere – in a coffee shop, in a taxi, in the classroom, visiting clients and even in bed! All they need is an internet connection, and the user can work, and be available, anywhere, at any time.

The personal computer was a wonderful tool for eLearning, but it was a device without a touchscreen, used a mouse for navigation, and was a static device. When eLearning content transferred to mobile devices, it required a revamp of content to take advantage not just of the touchscreen, but also of the shorter periods of time users spent learning. While at one time learners were happy to sit at a PC and complete a full training lesson, learners’ attention spans are decreasing rapidly- making the mobile device more feasible as it allows learners to come back to learning as often as required.

Now that smartphones have become available at an affordable price, eLearning is starting a big shift to their use as a learning device. Yet another change to content will have to take place, but this change has to be fundamentally different to the earlier changes that were made during the shift from the PC to the tablet, and demands a complete rethink of how learning is presented.

Because of the small screen size, the content used for tablets will not work, and the following needs to be considered:

  • Just changing existing content to HTML5 will not work; it needs to be rebuilt from scratch
  • Complicated graphics with lots of text will not work on Smartphones
  • Graphics will have to very simple and uncluttered to be effective
  • Text will have to be kept to a minimum
  • Text must have large fonts and be well spaced
  • The use of narrations must be considered
  • Learning must be broken down into small, easily digestible chunks of information
  • Users traditionally use a smartphone in portrait mode – most current graphics are in landscape
  • Avoid content that makes the user zoom or change from portrait to landscape
  • It will be crucial to use SMS, eMail and social media in a learning context

Providing content for a smartphone needs a lot – an awful lot – of development to get it right and to make it attractive to learners. But perhaps the biggest hurdle to be overcome is that smartphone users are constantly interrupted by chat, SMS, eMail, calls, Facebook, Twitter, etc., and coping with such breaks in concentration may well prove to be the real problem to be solved.

In a 2012 survey in the US, PC Magazine found that 31% of Americans had tablets[1], whereas 38% had smartphones[2], but moving forward to 2015, it is estimated that smartphone usage will reach 58%, whereas tablet sales have been dropping in the intervening period, with Apple reporting decreased sales every quarter[3]. There are several reasons for this – static tablet pricing and lower and lower prices for smartphones, increasing screen size, and easier portability are thought to account for the trend away from tablets to smartphones.
A recent report by 24×7 Learning titled “Workplace Learning – 2015, Understanding the Learner”, states that 89% of respondents of a survey the report was based on said they liked the idea of learning on a smartphone[4], whereas employers seemed to be slow to recognize this trend.

What does all this mean for the eLearning industry?

  • Smartphone learning is not a future development; it seems that learners are ready and willing to learn on their Smartphones
  • Industries seem to be behind in providing what their learners really want
  • The future of mobile learning is on smartphones, as almost everyone will have one
  • Companies who fail to develop cogent eLearning content for smartphones will slide down the competitive ladder

If we think of it like this – smartphone use is becoming almost universal, and smartphone users get their news, weather, music, social chat, sports results, books, financial information and movies there, it should be no surprise that they want their learning on their smartphones as well.



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