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The Importance of Removing Unnecessary Barriers to Online Learning

It’s an obvious thought but it’s worth sharing…without learners there can be no learning!

Obvious, right? Yet talk to many designers and developers and you might be surprised to learn that very few consider how their work is being accessed. At CDSM, we make it our business to remove barriers to learning opportunities. In working with our customers to identify barriers we uncover a number of repetitive examples that never fail to frustrate and surprise us.

It seems that many agencies fail to understand that for the end-user, a ‘stodgy’ on-boarding process, or a poorly rendered homepage, is a demotivating sign of things to come. It’s a bit like booking that good restaurant, arriving that evening and seeing dirty cutlery on the table. Alarm bells start ringing immediately!

So in no particular order here are four cardinal sins that e-learning agencies still persist with when trying to deliver online learning for their clients:

  • Failure to get e-learning content to present across a good range of current browsers. This is unforgivable and rapidly reduces the number of learners able to access your content
  • Failure to get the same content to render well across formats: PCs, MACs, Tablets and Smartphones. No excuse for this in 2016. There are now standard, responsive design patterns that are in the public domain for all to exploit and benefit from
  • Those e-learning companies that continue to sell and build content that requires 3rd party plug-ins and re no longer supported by majority of modern browsers
  • Those cynical companies who still fail to realise their legal responsibilities to learners who use adaptive and assistive technologies to access their online digital learning

So why and how does this poor practice persist? Unfortunately some companies see providing good practice as an additional extra, a nice-to-have that the client should pay more for.  It is not, the examples above are nothing more than issues that should be resolved as a matter of standard practice and it is unprofessional to suggest or deliver otherwise.

Of course there are always opportunities for improvement and all organisations make mistakes but poor practice should be the exception not the rule. Our industry develops itself by ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’. We pride ourselves on our respective innovations but we have also used innovation as an excuse in justifying not doing the simple things well. Thankfully, our industry is growing up, and with open source techniques we have efficient and elegant ways of distributing practice-worth-sharing. This will result in a better deal for our clients and better, more productive experiences for our learners.

At CDSM, we seek to continuously improve access to our services and technologies. We try to fully understand our customers’ learning contexts.  We do this by working closely with our end-users. By describing an extensive range of learner-personas and learning scenarios. We then design and develop for and test against these in order to ensure that access to our work is for the majority not just a few.

Don’t forget to check out our infographic on digital onboarding too!

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Authored by Dan Sivak, Managing Director, CDSM Interactive Solutions

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Blended Learning Business E-learning Insights L&D Learning

The Benefits of Adopting Digital Learning

If your business hasn’t entered the rapidly-growing world of digital learning yet, there are plenty of reasons why it should. At CDSM, we are passionate about delivering high quality e-learning and digital solutions that improve performance and enable businesses to stay ahead of the competition. In this blog post, we’ll be looking at how you can harness the power of digital learning to build on your success.

Learning is key not only to economic success, but to achieving our full potential as human beings. There’s no denying it: learning matters. Moreover, digital learning is the way to go. The US Department of Education reviewed previous research into the effectiveness of online learning, with two key findings:

  • Learners in online study conditions performed slightly better than those receiving face-to-face instruction
  • Learners in blended learning conditions performed much better than those receiving face-to-face instruction

We summarised the other important points to come out of the study in an infographic: e-Learning Paints a Pretty Picture. Most notably, it found that giving learners control over their learning has a positive impact. Enabling learners to self-monitor their understanding, giving them additional learning time, and putting them in control of their own interactions with media, all led to greater success.

businesswoman using computer - digital learning

If you’re still tentative about taking the leap, you should also consider the extent to which digital learning plays a key part in business productivity, and how this trend is set to continue in the future. We’ve previously highlighted the cost savings, and according to a Brandon Hall study (1995), digital learning in contrast to traditional classroom instruction:

  • Is quicker to deliver than traditional, classroom-based instruction
  • Increases learner retention
  • Boosts productivity
  • Improves the ability to introduce new products and services
  • Is quicker to update
  • Decreases skills gaps

According to a recent report – Modernising Learning: Delivering Results – over 90% of L&D leaders would like learning technology to enable a quicker response to changing business conditions and organisational change. In spite of all this, a massive 60% of organisations cannot implement a technology-enabled learning strategy due to lack of skills.

How Can CDSM Help?

With award-winning e-learning and digital learning solutions at the heart of what we do, CDSM can provide you with the tools you need for a more productive business, a more knowledgeable and skilled workforce, and a more positive working environment. The proof is in the performance.

There’s never been a better time to go digital.

You can stay up to date with CDSM by following us on Twitter, or by subscribing to our monthly e-zine.

Sources:

Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies, U.S. Department of Education Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development Policy and Program Studies Service, Revised 2010

Modernising Learning: Delivering Results, Towards Maturity, November 2014

Return-on-Investment and Multimedia Training: a Research Study. Sunnyvale, CA:, Multimedia Training Newsletter, Brandon Hall, 1995a

Multimedia Training’s Return on Investment,Workforce Training News, Brandon Hall, 1995b, July/August

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Automotive Business E-learning Guides Instructional Design

International E-Learning Part 3: Proven Production Techniques

When rolling out a new e-learning programme across multiple countries, you will undoubtedly need to overcome a variety of different challenges. At CDSM, we have experienced these challenges first-hand, and have decided to relay our experiences in a three-part blog series on ‘International E-Learning’. In Part 1, we looked at 5 challenges that can impact on the success of an e-learning rollout, and in Part 2 we looked at how to overcome these challenges. In this third part, we’ll look at the proven production techniques CDSM used to deliver Honda’s e-learning programme across Europe, with award-winning results.

Content is King

You’ll want the production of your e-learning to be as quick and efficient as possible, avoiding any unnecessary delays. This means that you need to plan each step of the production process carefully, considering the order of work and any interdependencies.

Proven production techniques - Happy business people working as a team

So where do we start? Well, in our case, content really is king. It determines how a programme of study is broken up, how the pages will be laid out and what assets need to be collected or created. Almost every part of the production process is informed by the content. Using theories about how we learn, our instructional designers started each module of Honda’s award-winning e-learning by creating a storyboard that provided all of the detail.

Upon customer sign-off of a storyboard, a number of teams – including graphic designers, animators, translators and technical authors – spring into action, bringing the storyboard to life (but always staying faithful to the instructional designer’s intent). In fact, the instructional designer is never too far away, as they need to ensure their vision is realised.

Quality is Everyone’s Responsibility

At CDSM, we firmly support W. Edwards Deming’s statement that “quality is everyone’s responsibility.” Although we have a dedicated quality assurance team who ensure project and product releases are thoroughly tested, every member of staff at CDSM is committed to producing work to the highest standard. Testing happens at every stage in our production process to safeguard quality and meet internal and external benchmarks. Our instructional designers not only check their own content, but also peer review each other’s, and our developers write unit tests for their work before they even start developing a feature. The final layer of internal quality assurance is added by our project managers, who perform spot checks before a project is released.

Ticking the boxes - e-learning programme
Our customers also have a part to play. We build user acceptance testing (UAT) into our schedules, ensuring that our customers have the opportunity to give feedback prior to release. We recognised that Honda were the subject specialists, so their feedback on the subject matter was invaluable, and helped us to fine-tune the course content.

Managing Rollout

Having produced innovative, high quality e-learning, we then had to consider the rollout schedule with Honda. With branches spanning Europe, there were a range of factors to take into account. We had to ensure that the e-learning was delivered to each country at the right time, in line with Honda’s product releases. Translation of the content was scheduled to meet each country’s delivery date. This was no mean feat and meant a rolling schedule of releases as opposed to the usual end of project delivery, but careful planning and ongoing communication with Honda ensured success.

If you want to find out more, download our expert guide: ‘How to Create Award-Winning E-Learning.’

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International E-Learning Part 2: How to Overcome the Challenges of Rolling Out E-Learning Across Different Countries

When rolling out a new e-learning programme across multiple countries, you will undoubtedly need to overcome a variety of different challenges. At CDSM, we have experienced these challenges first-hand, and have decided to relay our experiences in a three-part blog series on ‘International E-Learning’. In Part 1, we looked at 5 challenges that can impact on the success of an e-learning rollout. In this second part, we’ll look at how to overcome these challenges to achieve an easy and successful rollout across multiple countries.

International E-Learning Part 2

As explained in Part 1, performing an international rollout of an e-learning programme is a massive feat, with large scale co-ordination and organisation required. With 10,000 learners, spread over four-million square miles, our rollout of e-learning across all European Honda dealerships is a fantastic example of how to strike a balance between concept and budget. Our experience with this type of rollout has enabled us to develop innovative solutions to the challenges detailed in Part 1, and we want to share them with you.

Piloting to Success

We found that piloting is a really useful exercise, as it enabled us to engage with end users in different cultures and understand their preferences. We received first-hand feedback from the people who were actually using our content. Not only was this of great benefit to us, but it also made the users feel involved in the development of the programme, helping to increase the uptake and buy-in as the e-learning was rolled out.

However, with budget constraints in mind, it’s not possible to pilot everywhere. With Honda, we found that using their in-country representatives (i.e. Honda Area Managers) to devolve some of the piloting across their region made the localisation process easier without having an exorbitant cost.

Many Different Languages

We previously explored the importance of consistency in production in our blog post: ‘Why Developing Standards is Critical’. This focus on standards was a key foundation block for our work with Honda, and allowed us to ensure a consistency in translation across countries.

We worked with reps from different Honda regions to aid the creation of the company’s Pan-European Specification of Standards. This gave us and Honda’s L&D professionals a universal database, helping to decrease lengthy back-and-forth discussions over terminology, processes, etc.

Our partnership with SDL enabled a smooth translation process, avoiding the possibility of the procedure becoming a bottleneck in the project (in Part 3, we’ll look at how we achieved this in more detail).

Future-Proofing Technology

The consideration of what technology to use is a major evaluation point in the production of e-learning. With Honda, we overcame the problems of different user setups (e.g. different browsers, internet speeds, etc.) by creating a custom user interface, adopting cloud-based media file delivery, and enabling cross-browser support. To learn more, take a look at our white paper for the Honda project: ‘How to Produce Gold Award-Winning E-Learning’.

We also invested a lot of time in future-proofing. Several years ago, in response to the increasing impact of mobile devices in learning, we made the decision to move to using HTML5 and JavaScript as our core technology for presenting interactive content. Although we were under no pressure to render Adobe Flash Player obsolete within Honda’s e-learning programme, our commitment to HTML5 and JavaScript meant we avoided a logistical headache when the recent Flash vulnerabilities came to light.

Lighter Push Load

A key part of making the administration load lighter for Honda was the creation of engaging, contemporary e-learning. This meant that minimal pushing was required on the part of the customer.

When performing an international e-learning rollout, the last thing you want is your admin team spending all their time nagging people to complete it. Creating e-learning that engages the end user means that administration time can be better spent synchronising product releases and further training with what’s happening in the business.

It’s also important to make tracking and reporting as easy as possible, and with an LRS (Learner Record Store) in place you’ll get full coverage of everything including what works and what doesn’t without having any impediment on your LMS.

These are just a few of the ways we managed to overcome the challenges of rolling out a new e-learning programme across multiple countries. In Part 3, we’ll share the clever production technique we used to ensure the successful rollout of Honda’s BER course.

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CDSM Interactive Solutions wins Brandon Hall Award for ‘Best Advance in Creating a Learning Strategy’

Swansea, 18th September 2015: CDSM Interactive Solutions Ltd, a leader in innovative digital learning solutions, recently won a coveted Brandon Hall Group bronze award for excellence in the ‘Best Advance in Creating a Learning Strategy’ category.

Now entering its 21st year, the Brandon Hall Group awards programme recognises outstanding achievements in Learning and Development. Entries are judged upon the following criteria: fit the need, design of the programme, functionality, innovation, and overall measureable benefits. CDSM’s win was announced on 10th September 2015, and a complete list of Brandon Hall Group Learning and Development Awards winners can be found on the Brand Hall Group website, here.
CDSM Interactive Solutions Award
CDSM’s Entry: Honda Motor Europe – Common Core Curriculum Project

The Common Core Curriculum Project was created to establish standards across all of Honda’s European dealerships, after a recent EU legal ruling increased competition for car servicing. With this ruling – ‘Block Exemption Regulation’ – in mind, and a desire to ensure that all of its customers receive the same high-quality experience, Honda identified the need to make its European dealerships compliant.

“We had a requirement to train nearly 10,000 customer-facing dealer staff in a short space of time, in order to comply with European Block Exemption Regulations,” said David Edwards, Manager of Honda’s European Training Delivery, “The most important aspect for us to consider was the ease and enjoyment for the end user in completing their learning task. I am happy that the time and effort CDSM and Honda took to make this compliance a positive learning experience for all has been recognised in this way!”

CDSM’s rollout of Honda’s Core Curriculum Minimum Project has enjoyed first-rate feedback from end users across Europe, many of whom noted its appealing and engaging nature. The course is currently recording much higher pass rates than the target of 25% per country, with an average pass rate of nearly 62%. With some countries even hitting the 90–100% mark, it’s clear that Honda have a successful e-learning rollout on their hands.

“We’re delighted to have received this award for our work with Honda,” said Cathy Sivak, CDSM’s Chief Operating Officer, “It reflects the good work we do each and every day. We’re proud of the talented and innovative team of people here at CDSM, all of whom make a difference and deserve recognition.”

“The high quality of work and commitment to driving business results among our award winners never fails to amaze me,” said Rachel Cooke, Chief Operating Officer of the Brandon Hall Group and head of the awards programme. “All of these winning programs deliver meaningful business results to their organizations. Winning an Excellence Award is a great honor, but the real winners are the organizations themselves and their customers and clients because of the innovation and customer focus they demonstrate.”

Excellence Awards winners will be honored at Brandon Hall Group’s HCM Excellence Conference at the PGA National Resort in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida on 27th–29th January 2016.

CDSM will be present at this year’s World of Learning Conference & Exhibition, held at the NEC Birmingham on the 29th and 30th September 2015. Now in its 23rd year, World of Learning has established itself as the most comprehensive event for all aspects of Learning and Development, featuring the latest ideas, technology and services. At this year’s event, CDSM will be running a competition for the chance to win a customised 30-minute e-learning module, similar to the e-learning modules that saw them win the Brandon Hall Award.

About CDSM

CDSM Interactive Solutions (cdsm.co.uk) is a digital learning solutions provider, offering bespoke e-learning content and a contemporary learning platform. Founded by further education lecturers, their dedication to cutting-edge learning science and best practice allows them to deliver effective and engaging learning to their customers. The company’s collective experience and imagination has enabled them to work on major projects internationally, most recently with Welsh Government and Honda Motor Europe.

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Want New Employees to Stick Around? Use Digital Onboarding! [Infographic]

Onboarding is a challenge for every L&D manager, no matter what your strategy is!

Training for new employees is a mandatory need – and there is no escaping it – so you want onboarding that is quick, creates a cultural expectation, and provides a rapid enlightenment of your business values.

But what many don’t realise is that onboarding doesn’t have to be a time-consuming chore, completed just so you and your new employees can tick a box.

If anything, you can use onboarding to your advantage!

At CDSM, we recently looked at:

  • Why an onboarding program is important
  • How companies are currently training new employees; and
  • What you should expect from digital onboarding

To see what we found out, take a look at our latest infographic:

[View Text Only Version]

Digital Onboarding

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Want New Employees to Stick Around? Use Digital Onboarding! [Text Version]

[View Infographic]

Why is conducting an onboarding program so important?

Only 52% of people join a company with an official onboarding program.

More than 37% said their employer had no program, and just over 11% said they weren’t sure if a program existed or not.

Organisations with a standard onboarding process experience 54% greater new hire productivity and 50% greater new hire retention.

Nearly 4% of new employees leave their new jobs after a disastrous first day, and 33% decide within the first 30 days.

Companies lose 25% of all new employees within 12 months.

New employees who attended a well-structured onboarding orientation program were 69% more likely to remain at a company for up to 3 years.

25% of companies admitted that their onboarding program does not include any form of training, which can lead to a loss of 60% of a company’s entire workforce.

Organisations with structured onboarding programs enjoy a 60% year-over-year improvement in revenue per full-time employee, and a 63% year-over-year improvement in customer satisfaction.

A combined 71% of companies surveyed are currently in the process of updating their onboarding programs.

Currently, less than 40% of onboarding is completed through technology-based solutions.

The 16% who deliver more than 61% of their onboarding programs through technology-based solutions use either company-wide intranet or e-learning. Hiring employees takes time and money – on average 23 days and over £5000 to fill an open position.

Return on investment from technology onboarding:

Higher staff retention rate – decrease in skills gap
New employees contribute to the bottom line faster
Save employers time training
Reduce travelling time and costs to training

What’s CDSM’s onboarding approach? Proven contemporary learning science!

Typically, the time a worker must spend being trained is reduced by about 40% using e-learning.

However, there is e-learning… and then there is CDSM e-learning! By using best practice, contemporary learning strategies and effective pedagogy, organisations can rapidly improve their onboarding even further…

Scenario-based training can often reduce new hire training time by 25-50%

92% say video helps teach more effectively, and improves learning by 56%

Learning science can be incorporated to empower new starters with skills they wouldn’t usually get from e-learning, and this takes away some of the pressure of a new role.

To understand the difference that learning science can make, get in contact with CDSM now for a demo…

Sources:

http://www.impactinstruction.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/2013-Onboarding-Report_FINAL-REPORT.pdf
http://www.globoforce.com/gfblog/2014/five-ways-to-keep-your-new-hires-from-failing/
http://www.lesson.ly/blog/9-surprising-employee-onboarding-statistics/
http://www.rootinc.com/white_papers/new-hire-onboarding-overlooked-element-sustaining-successful-strategy-execution/
http://thehiringsite.careerbuilder.com/2014/12/24/onboarding-methods-produce-roi/
http://www.bizjournals.com/bizjournals/how-to/human-resources/2014/09/how-to-help-your-new-hires-first-day-great.html?page=all
http://www.icmi.com/Resources/People-Management/2013/06/Boost-Performance-With-Scenario-Based-Training
http://www.syberworks.com/articles/e-learningROI.htm

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Business CDSM E-learning Insights L&D

Why Developing Standards is Critical

If you haven’t developed standards for your e-learning yet, then you should be doing it now!

Developing standards is criticalHaving standards means you have an agreed way of doing things, which helps to streamline processes. This could be a set of guidelines, or a code of practice captured to ensure the excellent performance of your product or service.

Not having a set of standards in place affects relationships with your people, your customers and your suppliers, and can also affect your revenue. Our experience with Honda proved just how important it is to develop standards.

The Challenge at Honda

Honda has been driving standards across all its European dealerships, so no matter whether a customer uses a dealership in Warsaw or Edinburgh, they receive the same high quality Honda experience. A recent EU ruling – ‘Block Exemption Regulation’, which allows new car owners to have their vehicles serviced at other manufacturer’s dealerships without affecting their warranty – meant that raising existing standards became critical for Honda to maintain a competitive advantage.

Honda already had the same look and feel in all their dealerships – from the lighting to the displays to the floors – but what about customer service? They knew that providing a consistent customer service would have a dramatic effect – so why didn’t they provide it?

Ensuring consistency in the look and feel of a dealership is one thing, but how do you ensure consistency in the training and behaviour of all your staff across 14 different languages?

The challenge was that several departments were handling different sections of training –each one using a different supplier in a different location, with different authoring tools, different templates, different navigation, and also different pedagogy.

The risks associated with inconsistent strategies for learning

  • Inconsistent standards of training across different staff roles
  • Varying quality of content, creating disengagement in some areas
  • Diverse look and feel across modules, steepening the learning curve
  • Disproportionate costs acquired across departments
  • Inconsistency for the learner, creating confusion and poor learning outcomes

Open notepad with concept of right and wrong strategy  on white
Consistency takes away the barriers to learning

Creating a universal standard of effective training for Honda meant that their learners received the same look and feel and, importantly, the same pedagogic rules.

CDSM had the challenge of unifying departments, and creating consistent and effective e-learning, across different languages and different elements of system integration. We didn’t guess what learners were going to like though – we piloted and used tactics to make the audience more receptive. It meant we could effectively align their learning experience and deliver the same consistent experience for Honda staff that they provided for their dealership customers.

Using Standards to Avoid Guess Work

Standards allow a company to not only have consistency, but also create an expectation across the organisation.

They provide receptiveness from learners, promoting engagement, as well as aiding a consistent and predictable cost level across departments.

If a department hasn’t previously used e-learning, having standards in place will allow them to foresee a measureable and predictable outcome. The same applies when you ask a new supplier to come on board – if you have a set standard, the supplier can get up and running for you as quickly as possible.

So, develop your standards now, and reap the benefits for both your staff and customers, as well as protecting that all-important bottom line.

If you would like to find out more about this project, download the Honda Case Study.

You can also stay up to date with what’s happening by following CDSM on the social media websites below, or by subscribing to our monthly e-zine.

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