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Litmos Brings the Future of Learning to Dreamforce 2014

Litmos-Dreamforce

The Litmos team is at Dreamforce 2014 this week showing the massive crowd how the most user-friendly  LMS seamlessly integrates with Salesforce. What an amazing event! Sales training is critical to the success of any business and having your training strategy integrated with your Salesforce strategy is a dream come true.

LitmosLenny-collageLitmos Lenny and Friends

But before we get serious about the event, I’d like to introduce the latest addition to the Litmos team: The LitmosLenny mascot.

From all accounts Litmos Lenny was a big hit!

“Awww…He’s SO cute!”

“I Love his glasses!”

“Lenny is cool!”

The twitter stream has been lit up all week with fun pics of the cuddly mascot hanging out with his new friends.

Besides being fooled by a fake Marc Benioff, Lenny had a great time meeting so many people at Dreamforce. He is definitely a welcome addition to the Litmos team.

What Sales Managers Want to Know

Attendees were curious about several elements of their training strategies including compliance training, on-boarding, annual training, and product knowledge transfer to sales reps and channel partners. These are all sweet spots for the Litmos LMS and the team was happy to educate the large Dreamforce audience. The demos were hot all week showing sales managers and sales ops/enablement managers how Litmos can enhance their training strategies via the Litmos integration with Sales force.

Internet of Things at Dreamforce 2014

The internet of things (IoT) is catching a lot of media attention in general, and Dreamforce was no different. The big announcement wednesday came from will.i.am presenting his new “wearable” called Puls. He doesn’t call it a watch, but a cuff. It looks interesting.

Salesforce is very interested in the IoT ecosystem and have an entire area devoted to it.  Here’s some of what Salesforce promoted prior to #DF14:

The Best of IoT at Dreamforce 2014 – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

More to come…

Introducing Badging, Points, and Reporting

NEW FEATURESWhile preparing to introduce our new Litmos features for the first week of October, I came across a post I wrote back in May of 2013 titled 10 Things I learned at C3 2013.  Although the post is focused on CallidusCloud’s C3 conference (Litmos’s parent company) there is a huge emphasis on the importance of Gamification.

Looking back to this conference, one of the most memorable moments was watching Jane McGonigal speak about games, and how they can be used in accomplishing a task and change the way the world works.  She talked about how games simulate certain parts of the brain and encourages learning.

CallidusCloud, as an organization, has used Gamification to encourage sales individuals to work harder at achieving sales goals.  Seeing this in action with other CallidusCloud products, and how Gamification is helping to shape eLearning, gave the Litmos team the push to include elements of Gamification.

Now that I have made my point about the importance of Games and Gamification, on to the good stuff:  the new features!

Badges/ Gamification/ CEUs (Continuing Education Units)

We have added a feature that enables Gamification and/or CEUs.  The first step in adding this functionality is to enable it and create Badges or Points from the Integrations subtab in the Account tab.  In order for a learner to earn a badge and/or points, they will need to complete all Courses and/or Learning Paths associated with the it.

Once this functionality has been set up, when learners take the courses necessary to earn the Badge/Points, they will be able to see this in their Achievements tab.  Administrators will also be able to see all Badges and Points earned by the Learner in each Learner’s profile as well as in the Quick Reports area of the People tab.

See our help guide for more information on setting up Gamification.

Achievements with Dashboard

Reporting

In my excitement about introducing Badging and Points, I should not forget about the enhancements to reporting that will make many of our Administrators extremely happy.  For this release, we put a huge focus on reporting.

  • All quick reports can now be scheduled to be periodically emailed to any email address including non users.
  • Additional columns have been added for all Quick Reports.  Additional columns include points and number of badges to the People Quick Report
  • Learning Paths, People, Courses, and Teams reports have been enhanced to aggregate the most meaningful metrics display up top for a quick overview.
  • Charts View has been added to these reports for further visualization of the data.Course Quick Report Chart View

Other Features

  • Add Team Attribute to SAML
  • Assessment Results – Additional option to show only group results to learners
  • Bulk Mark Users as Complete
  • Don’t allow users to reset their password from Profile & Settings

 

Bug Fixes

In every release we include fixes to the bugs that we are aware of.  If you have a question about a particular bug or to report a bug, please contact support@litmos.com.

Enjoy!

Simple Tips to Scale Up Training Content with Video

Using video in eLearning is a fast and easy way for you to create content and add value quickly for the business. You may not agree with the fast and easy part if you haven’t done much video work before, or if your current tool set does not make video production fast and easy. That’s where I hope these quick tips will help.

Record Live Training Sessions

Scale up your training content with video.

Scale up your training content with video.

Recording training sessions that are currently happening within your organization is the single most effective way to scale up your training content.

If you need to get started on-the-cheap, you just need a video camera and a tripod. Or if you want to go even cheaper you can use a webcam and your laptop. Your goal is to simply capture the moment…as best you can. Don’t worry too much about quality when you first get started.
Lowering your expectations is a critical step towards future success. When you do something for the first time, it’s rarely done well and most definitely not perfect. But that doesn’t mean you should wait until you are good at it, with perfect results, before starting.
Just know that it’s going to take a few tries before you get it right. So get started, and get to good faster.

Recording the Training Event

There are a lot of production tips online that you can find. But for your purposes, as a beginner, simply setup the camera and frame a nice wide shot of the area the instructor will be speaking and potentially walking around.
The number one mistake you can make is attempting to zoom in on the speaker, and follow them around if they walk to a white board or flip chart. This is not comfortable to watch.  If you are in control of the room setup…which you should be…then setup all flipcharts, podiums, projection screen, etc. in a configuration that allows you to get them all within the frame of the wideshot. This allows you to set it and forget it. When you’re constrained for resources and short on time, you can ask someone else if they can help by just pressing the record button.  This frees you up to sit in the back and check email or do other work during the recording.

Extra Recording Tip

If you’re presenter is using powerpoint you will discover that your camera (I’m assuming is automatic mode) will have a hard time figuring out what to adjust the settings too. Even in a wide shot the camera will adjust one of 2 ways: 1) adjusted to the brightness of the screen wich turns your speaker and the rest of the shot dark, or 2) adjusted to the speaker which turns the projector screen pure white in your view finder and making it unreadable.

What Do You Do with the Recording?

Here are some creative options after you’ve recorded the training session that may require some post production editing skills. But I believe they are important skills for the future of the training professional and you should be open to learning them.
Option 1: Post the video in its entirety as is.
Option 2: If your instructor used mostly slides then edit the slides over the video so that you end up with a narrated slide show.
Option 3: Edit out the audio portion of the video and post it as a podcast for those that might want to just listen on their commute home.
Option 4: Post the powerpoint file with the video file. This may sound obvious but I’m amazed at how many people think that once they have a video file, the slides are no longer necessary.  Since we are assuming your new a this, we can assume that the video will not be of Hollywood quality.  So, by publishing the slides AND the video you give people the option of view both at the same time. They can use the video as a guide as to which slides they should be viewing.
Let me know if you are interested in learning more and I will create some how-to posts.

Top 5 Training Design Tips for Everyone

Top 5You’ve been asked to create some training for your organization. Don’t panic. That voice inside your head will not steer you wrong. If you have ever been taught, or learned, anything from someone else then you have all the experience you need to design instruction.
What did you like about your favorite teacher? What was your favorite online instructional YouTube video? If you’re as old as I am you’ll remember School House Rock. Brilliant!
When I first started studying instructional media design the school had synchronized slide projectors, and big laser discs. So, there was a time when online learning was a new frontier and we all experimented and applied 20th century academic ideas to the new 21st century technology.
Today, you are not burdened with that struggle. Since around 2000, inexperienced, un-professionals, have taken over most industries in a rather glorious do-it-yourself fashion. The industry of creating instructional media is no different.  With tools like Litmos you can create, sell, and manage your own training department or business. If you can create media, then you can create INSTRUCTIONAL media. Anyone telling you otherwise is selling you something.

1) Keep Your Training Content Short

This tip is universal across all media development. If you think your topic/content is too long, then just break it down into smaller chunks.  If your topic is so complex that you need 100 small chunks then do it. Create the first 10 and launch them while creating the next 10, and so on. Remember, you need to be delivering business value and fast.
If you are preparing to teach in a lecture format force yourself to keep each topic under 10mins.  If you are creating a video challenge yourself to make your point in under 3 mins. While you are most certainly fascinated by the topic, your audience may only have limited interest.  Forcing yourself to be keep it simple.

2) Take Online Training Courses

Learning by studying the work of others is a time honored tradition in all artistic pursuits. Find some free online courses. You should be learning online anyways, whether you’re creating training or not. But now that you need to create your own training, you should be aware of how others are doing it. Be aware that most of what you will find has not been created by eLearning designers/developers. So, you’re not alone. Be creative and have fun with it.

3) Use Training Templates

Most media tool companies see the value in creating educational media with their applications, and so they come with a lesson template of some sort. Be simple and consistent in how you apply those templates and don’t be tempted to add much more, or modify them. Work within their given boundaries.  A qualified designer had a good reason for building the template that way.

4) Engage Your Audience of Learners

No matter what method of instructional media delivery you choose, be creative in designing an experience for your learner.  Storytelling is an experience. If you don’t have the time or the skills to create online interactions of some sort, then tell a good story. Authors, screenwriters, comic book illustrators, etc., all transfer knowledge to viewers via engaging story structures.  Tell a good story and you own your audience.

5) Release Current Content Immediately

You ultimately need to make a decision around how important the content is. Is it more important that the business can access the content immediately, fast, NOW? Or is it more important that it looks good, and follows the company brand guidelines? In my experiences I’ve run into both scenarios..but not equally. SPEED by far carries more business value than beauty.  Of course accuracy of content is important, but I’m assuming that you’ve received your content from the local subject matter expert and they have approved it.
The bottom line is that everyone knows something that others would like to know. And everyone has the capacity to teach, and create instructional content. While some have studied for years within academic circles to better understand the teaching/learning process, they are no better at creating than you are. Your passion for the subject matter trumps their knowledge every time. I’ve seen it. I’ve experienced it. And I’m living it. Be bold and just do it. In this world of eternal beta, if it’s not good then try again until it is.

Sales and Marketing and Learning: How Their Integration Leads to Success

Today’s post is from guest author Ron Bohnlein, VP of Sales for SBC Learning Labs. He has extensive experience not only in sales, but in the sales of learning solutions. In this post he shares some insight into how a Sales Training Department can become more successfully integrated into the Sales and Marketing departments, and making everyone more effective at growing the business.

What Learning Professionals Need to Know

Sales Marketing Learning IntegrationEveryone within a business is working hard to meet stakeholder expectations, and keep the company on a strong path of growth.  This sounds fundamental and it is. But understanding the need for growth and how that growth happens is something learning professionals may not understand, or simply take for granted.

Company leaders typically grow revenue and margin via means such as:

  • New products/solutions
  • Competing for more market share with current products
  • Growing the sales force and marketing efforts

Most companies believe their solutions are better than stale offerings from major competitors.  Since the solutions are new, they carry higher Value and Margins. They are non-commodity products at this time so they also provide an element of customer loyalty post-implementation. And often, sales quotas increase due to both stakeholder expectation and the company growth strategies.

It’s not hard to see how part of growing a business through sales and marketing efforts will ALSO require an element of LEARNING.

The Challenge Trainers Need to Understand

A big obstacle is getting the direct and indirect sales channels to give attention to, and spend time on, the revenue generation activities necessary.  The sales forces have several products and solutions from which to choose.  Indirect channels often have similar products from several companies from which to choose.

Great and good sales people operate off a time allotment formula.  They are successful by allotting their time to the current products.  In order to succeed with the new product, sales people know that they will have to spend time with the following time-consuming activities:

  • learning and understanding the new solutions
  • crafting a plan to generate interest (leads)
  • decide how to pitch the new products
  • master a technique on positioning the new product for the close

In considering their time allotment formula, sales people logically ask: if I am successful (making a good living) with a current mix of products, why should I spend my time on this new solution?

Yet, in planning for the success of new solutions, companies expect their good and best sales people and the sales people in their third-party channels to spend their time on the new solutions.

Companies who do not consider the salesman’s formula run the risk of lower-than-expected success of the new solutions.

And this is where tradition training solutions collide with the needs of the sales force. Traditional “courses” and training methods, while well intentioned, often do not take a sales person’s time allotment formula into consideration.

The Old Mix: Marketing, Sales Meetings, and Training Events

The key to getting sales people to take action is to reduce the amount of time they need to spend learning on positioning the product.

Historically companies approached the time-reduction goal by:

  • Creating Marketing slicks and Web-site marketing write-ups to generate leads
  • Showing products at trade shows and exhibits to generate leads
  • Mail campaigns to generate leads
  • PowerPoint decks for salespeople to use in conducting sales calls
  • 30-minute education at sales meetings
  • WebEx sales education meetings
  • Product demonstrations for sales calls

The methods are not always very effective because they are out of sync with how the audience (prospects, sales people) is used to getting information in these technology driven times.

They miss the mark by missing the fact that people are used to getting information via short, engaging, memorable, and even participatory, messages.  They are used to being able to quickly access those messages any time they want and use them in various situations.

A Modern Approach: High Quality Digital Media

By using digital media and the production values associated with Madison Avenue, companies can not only get in sync with their audience but also:

  • Generate more leads
  • Reduce the time sales people need to spend with prospects
  • Conduct more effective sales calls
  • Reinforce and sustain mastery

With some planning, the digital tools can leverage components from one another and reduce costs.  E.g., a lead-generation video can also be used on the web-site.  Also, components can be used in a digital product pitch.  Also components of the digital sales education piece can be used in both the product pitch and interactive simulations of sales situations.

We have seen companies who have had us create these digital components call them Playbooks, Tool Kits, Digital Knowledge Boxes.  They typically contain the following:

  • 1 to 3 minute Marketing Trailer
  • Segmented, 30 minute product sales education course
  • Realistic simulation of typical sales situations
  • Short coaching session
  • Perfect Pitch of the product

Despite what different companies call them, they are the modern key to:

  • getting high-quality leads
  • getting sales people up to speed quickly
  • shortening their time to becoming effective with new products
  • meeting company expectations for revenue

Are you a Training Professional working in a Sales and Marketing Group? I’d love to hear from you and get your feedback.

Ron Bohnlein

Ron Bohnlein, VP of Sales for SBC Learning Labs. He has extensive experience not only in sales, but in the sales of learning solutions. In this post he shares some insight into how a Sales Training Department can become more successfully integrated into the Sales and Marketing departments, and making everyone more effective at growing the business.