Getting a Leadership Buy-In For Your #LMS

As an L&D professional, you probably know that Learning Management Systems can truly diversify your eLearning system.

If you already have employee profiles handy, focus points of the program ready, content topics worked out and even a prospective LMS, congratulations! You’re off to a great start. (If not, then don’t worry. You can find out how to do it step-by-step here)

You’re probably very enthusiastic about your brand new training initiative and can’t wait to implement it. So, what’s the next step?

Getting a leadership buy-in, of course.

However, convincing your decision makers on investing in a new learning technology is not a walk in the park. If you think that you have it covered with your list of ‘reasons why the initiative is important’ and ‘how it will boost productivity of all employees’, then Stop.

You may not have realized it, but you have been focusing solely on how to sellthe initiative.

Have you ever come across salespeople who are fast-talking and pushy. Salespeople who are so engrossed in the merits of their product that they completely forget to listen to what the customer wants and answer his/her questions. These customers may feel that the salesperson is trying to force them into giving in to the product.

You don’t want to be that salesperson and jeopordize your initiative do you?

Take a step back and put yourself in the shoes of the customer — or victim — of a hard sell. You would probably be left thinking:

“Instead of talking, listen to what I need first. Find out what my pain points are. Then we can start talking about how you could help me.”

Now that you know what you are doing wrong, let’s focus on how to do it right by focusing on these key steps:

  1. Listen

It’s not that difficult to figure out what your leaders want. Check your company’s website, your CEO’s tweets, press releases, company newsletters, and internal memos. Do your leaders want to cut down costs? Or perhaps transform the company culture? Maybe, they want to expand into new markets? Or maybe, they have multiple goals in mind.

If your LMS powered initiative directly addresses one or more of these goals, that’s great. Move on to step 2. If your training does not directly address a stated company goal, search for a connect that shows how your training can indirectly compliment a goal.

For example, if your CEO wants to cut down costs and your LMS is capable of improving customer service, do some research into how improved customer service results in reduced costs of handling customer complaints.

  1. Look for a Champion

Search for a senior leader outside of your department to champion the initiative. The mere presence of an influencer on your side would boost your credibility and chances of getting a funding. It would also bridge the gap between the senior management and your L&D department.

  1. Ask Questions

Once you’ve selected your potential champion, discuss your training initiative with her. Be on the lookout for any pain points that she mentions. Ask her about the obstacles she sees to implementing your initiative, any changes she could suggest etc.

  1. Build a Team

Reach out to HR professionals, IT professionals, procurement professionals etc to help evaluate and select the best LMS for your initiative. Having multiple votes on your side always helps in the long run.

  1. Identify Key Metrics

Even though the main focus of your strategy is to gain a buy-in for your initiative, it is vital to prepare for what happens once your initiative has been accepted and put into effect. Your leaders will want to see a clear return on their investment and it’s your job to figure out a way to measure it. To do this, define metrics for your success prior to implementing it. You can use metrics such as cost savings, increase in sales, reduction in training costs, improvement in customer satisfaction etc.

  1. Develop a Change Management Strategy

Introducing a new technology always requires some level of change management. For eg, in some organizations, the introduction of an LMS involves moving away from paper-based training to eLearning. With a decent change management strategy in place, your decision makers will be more willing to accept the introduction of a new learning technology into the organization.

Change management for an LMS implementation begins with pulling two teams together — your IT team and your LMS administrator team.

IT Team

Work with your LMS vendor to ensure that your IT team knows the in and outs of the new LMS. Including aspects like integration, troubleshooting, implementation, data transfer, user transfer, content transfer etc.

Admins

Your LMS administrators will most likely come from your HR /Training department. These guys would be on the front line of your training initiative. Arrange multiple demos of multiple LMSes with all admins to know which LMS suits them best. You need to make sure that they know how to operate the LMS perfectly as they would be the ones training content authors, trainers, HRs, managers and end users.

Delivering Your Case

Now that all of this is done, approach your executives with the help of your champion(s) and present your case for your LMS powered training initiative.

If you receive the green flag for your initiative, good job! Inculcate the habit of reporting to your champion and to the leadership team at timely intervals.

Even if your plan was not approved, keep your seniors informed about changes in the organization which may suggest that it’s time to give your LMS a shot again.

Guest Author, Mahati Vanka, is a Business Development Manager at LearnBee, which enables companies to train their workforce with the help of cloud-based learning solutions. Drop a line to me at mahati@learnbee.co if you are want to inculcate a culture of learning in your team.

The article was originally published on Nectar, where LearnBee’s top team contributes actively to Enterprise Learning.

3 Everyday Habits Of Highly Successful Entrepreneurs

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Credit: Pexels

There are all kinds of things that go into building a successful business, and every entrepreneur will have a slightly different approach to kindling and expanding their operation. Having said that, there are certain universal habits that all business owners can benefit from, regardless of their background or niche. Here are just a few you should be trying to develop…

Take Your Emotions Out of the Picture

 Far too many start-up owners allow their emotions to get in the way of their business, getting caught up with grandiose dreams for the future and regrets from the past, when they should be concentrating on the task at hand. Everyone faces failures in business, whether it’s one little slip up with a marketing campaign, or a blunder that drives the whole operation into a financial nosedive. However, pointing fingers, feeling sorry for yourself, and losing confidence won’t get you anywhere, and will in fact slow you down when you need to be the strongest and most resilient version of yourself more than ever. Money isn’t influenced by emotions, and as such, your business needs to be handled with a fitting level of objective, detached logic. The less you allow yourself to get caught up in your emotions, the more time you’ll have for developing your business.

Keep on Learning

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Credit: Pexels

You may have an excellent track record of experience in your field, but no industry sits still, and with this in mind, you need to get into the habit of constantly developing your knowledge and experience, ensuring that you keep your skills and mindset up to a standard needed to succeed in the modern business arena. Make a point of investing in yourself, and making room for learning, no matter how jam-packed your schedule happens to be. With all the online distance learning companies like Maryville University out there, there’s really no excuse for letting your knowledge and experience stagnate. Even if you only spend ten minutes reading an industry journal in the morning, every little bit of self-education you can fit in will help you become the leader your business needs, and keep your whole organization one step ahead of your closest competitors.

Schedule Everything

 By everything, we mean everything. One of the most valuable habits you can develop as an entrepreneur is buying yourself more free time through a strict schedule. A lot of naïve start-up owners tend to waste a lot of time by procrastinating between different activities, and sleeping too little. Set healthy times for going to bed and getting up every day, along with a schedule of the tasks that you’ll complete one after the other with as little distraction as possible. Limit frivolous things like checking social media accounts to as little time as possible, and make a commitment to work first, and play later. Sure, you might be making progress by developing your business in a disorganized timetable, but when you set yourself a schedule that works and then stick to it, you’ll achieve much more in a much shorter space of time.

 

Engagement Inside and Outside the Virtual Classroom Critical to Success in Online Ed

As the non-traditional student demographic continues to grow, the demand for greater programmatic flexibility grows with them. Increasing numbers of colleges and universities have launched online programs, but what does it take for a program to truly be considered high quality?

In this interview, Nancy Rubin shares her thoughts on what it takes to deliver a truly engaging experience for online students, both inside and outside the immediate learning environment.

Read my post on Evolllution

Storyline: Is Your Module Touch-Friendly Yet?

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With the rise of tablets in the workplace, your eLearning is likely needing some freshening up to make things more accessible for touch-only input (iPads and other tablets). You may find yourself tasked with getting things up to snuff for your burgeoning mobile workforce, but the task doesn’t have to be daunting if you know what the bare minimum is for getting your catalog to be touch-friendly.

While Articulate is still in the early stages of introducing mobile responsiveness for its flagship Storyline software, Storyline Developers don’t have to wait until Articulate introduces greater functionality. Here are three areas for your consideration as you move forward to better serve your tablet-toting audience.

Bigger Hotspots

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Bigger is better! Touch-friendly is the objective here, as small targets (such as buttons and linked images) can be difficult for users to touch with precision.

You must exaggerate the touchable areas on your slides by drawing larger hotspots over any object that a mouse can click.

Pro Tip: If you have a state on your image or button, add a trigger to your new hotspot to ensure a Change State function occurs. Otherwise, your new hotspots will prevent state changes for the objects underneath.

Go Easy on the Assetsarticle2

Don’t overload your slides with too much audio and video. Tablet browsers are prone to crashing when the media load suddenly turns into overload, especially older hardware. More specifically, a slide that has many audio and video embeds distributed among a series of layers commonly sends Safari or Chrome crashing. Instead, distribute multiple media objects over a series of slides, perhaps in their own scene as seen here.

Pro Tip: If you have a slide with video or audio that needs to auto advance to the next slide after the clip ends, use a trigger to Jump to Next Slide when Media Completes. What qualifies a slide completion in this instance is contingent on the media duration – not the timeline’s.

 

Scale Your Player

You need to have your module fit precisely within the available screen space and without scrollbars for optimal tablet viewing. To make this setting change, click Player from the ribbon (under the Home tab). Next, click Other. Click the drop-down menu for Player Size and select Scale Player to Fill Browser Window.

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Pro tip: In your communication to your learners, address your tablet users and instruct to use devices in landscape mode for optimal viewing. Such is the compromise for not having a proper set of responsive design options in Storyline, but it’s the least complicated ask.

There are other considerations, but those basics ones can get you started. For even more tips, be sure to book an online tutoring session with Story Ninja at www.storyninja.com. Story Ninja is highly-rated Fiverr service that has helped new and seasoned Storyline Developers alike get better acquainted with mobile courseware development for only $5 for every 10 minutes. Other services offered are general Storyline training, QA service, and course rescues – all which are a fraction of the cost when compared to a traditional eLearning studio.

Mention promo code NINJA2016 in your booking to get an additional 10 minutes included in your first session.

How Are Colleges Evaluating Me?

Getting into college has become a grueling, competitive process – especially for exclusive colleges or Ivy League schools.

Knowledge Empowers You Chalk IllustrationEven still, regular universities can be a bit of a challenge. So many things need to be submitted – including transcripts, letters of recommendation, volunteer experience, essays, standardized test scores and more.

Gathering the correct paperwork can take months – sometimes longer – of preparation.

The process itself is long and tiring, and that’s not even accounting for the competition to get into your top school.

Though not all schools are competitive to get in in-general, most are competitive when it comes to getting into a specific program.

I, for example, went to the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.

That particular year, a good amount of students applied to the program, making it more competitive since there were a set number of spots available. Depending on your major, you’ll want to find ways to stand out among the crowd.

Colleges Look at Number of Factors

Colleges evaluate potential students in a number of ways.

When your application is received, it’s stored electronically in the school’s database.

Typically, your grades will be standardized so they can be compared to the other applicants average GPAs’ all on the same scale. Students that do not meet the school’s minimum GPA requirement are automatically denied admissions.

For everyone else, let the competition begin.

Viewing the Student as a Whole

Thankfully, most universities look at the student as a whole instead of just their GPA (though you do have to meet the minimum require at the very least).

This means that if you’re GPA is on the lower-end of the scale, you won’t necessarily be denied over the other, higher GPA-ranking candidates.

So say, for example, one student has a “C” average but excelled at the essay portion of the application. This will give the student a more competitive edge than a “B” student with a poorly-written essay.

According to the article “5 Factors Colleges Use to Evaluate Students,” colleges will look at grades first, and then standardized test scores, then student essays, then teacher and counselor recommendations and lastly extracurricular activities.

To stand out and increase your chances of being accepted, try to excel in every single area.

Write clear, well-written, concise essays that differentiate you from the rest of the applicants. Be as involved in extracurricular activities as your schedule allows. Find a program to volunteer at on a monthly basis.

All of these little things add up and will greatly increase your chances for acceptance.

Start the Planning Early

Of course, in order to volunteer and be involved in extracurricular activities, you need to have planned ahead.

Parents should encourage new high school freshmen to join a few different clubs or sports teams so they can get a feel for what they like early on. Some high schools give seniors a half-day schedule.

Use this extra time wisely – perhaps by picking up a part-time job, volunteering, tutoring other students or helping out more with some of the clubs you’re involved in.

With college admissions being so competitive, the better-rounded you are, the more likely you are to stand out.

About the Author: Sarah Brooks is a freelance writer living in Charlotte, NC. She writes on college admissions, careers and personal finance.

What Are Benefits of More Education for Your Employees?

An educated employee is an asset to any business, which is why a growing number of businesses are encouraging their workers to continue their educations.

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Furthering your employees’ educations not only enriches their lives, it also provides long-term benefits for your business.

Here are just a few business advantages of continuing education for your employees:

Employee Enrichment

When your employees are better educated, it gives them knowledge that can help them succeed in life.

Sure, this isn’t a direct benefit for your business, but employee enrichment leads to professional confidence, which is always a business advantage.

Training your employees for specific job responsibilities will make them an effective worker, but a continuing education will help make them well-rounded members of society. This will give them the skills necessary to succeed in your business and in life.

Increased Productivity

Employees who are equipped with real-world knowledge and decision-making skills are able to complete tasks faster. This allows for more time to complete other job responsibilities in a shorter period of time than employees who don’t have educational experience.

In other words, when your employees continue their educations, they become more productive which benefits your business in a myriad of ways.

Educated employees are not only more effective at their jobs; they can also contribute to your business by helping others with their tasks.

As the following article looks at, whether it’s continuing education for accountants or engineering continuing education classes, thoroughly educated employees can take on more job responsibility. This saves your business from hiring on more workers for jobs that a single employee can handle.

Fewer Instances of Turnover

When your employees continue their educations, it makes them a more valuable member of your business. This results in a decrease in employee turnover, especially if your business assists in the continuing education endeavors.

By helping your employees reach their education goals, you are also increasing their loyalty to your organization. They will appreciate your willingness to help them succeed, which will result in long-term employees.

In addition, by assisting your employees in continuing their educations, your business won’t have to let employees go as frequently.

Encouraging continuing education in the workplace means your employees will improve on their professional skills, which makes them assets to your business for the foreseeable future.

Education Financing Options

Whether you’re educating your employees so they meet the changing criteria of your business or so they’ll contribute more to daily work responsibilities, there are a couple options for financing continuing education programs.

Most employers have an education reimbursement plan in place.

With this plan, you can reimburse your employees’ education expenses through salary and wage increases. This is a win-win because you are rewarding your employees for their new business-related skills.

Another financing option is an educational assistance program.

Your business as a whole can apply for an assistance program that provides financial aid for continuing education courses. There are also assistance programs that allow individual employees to apply for financial assistance based on their specific needs.

From increased productivity to enrichment, it’s plain to see that continuing your employees’ educations will help strengthen your business.

About the Author: Adam Groff is a freelance writer and creator of content. He writes on a variety of topics including education and small business.

The Business of an Online Degree

With more than 7 million students taking one or more online college courses in 2013, the growth of online education remains robust, showing few signs of slackening within the foreseeable future.

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Babson Survey Research Group’s most recent report on the state of online education found that nearly 75 percent of academic leaders view the learning outcomes for online education as the same or better than face-to-face instruction.

Will I Pass Muster?

While this speaks well of the increasing quality of online education, it doesn’t address the question that most concerns students pursuing online degrees. Simply put, they want to know how well their online diploma will stack up against a traditional degree when they start competing for work in the job market.

In a March 2014 article on USNews.com, education reporter Devon Haynie noted that prospective employers’ views of online degrees have undergone a dramatic change for the better over the last few years.

‘Diploma Mills’

Haynie cited a 2009 literature review by Cleveland State University, which concluded that most human resource managers, executives, and other gatekeepers viewed online diplomas in a negative light.

These negative perceptions were attributed in part to the large number of “diploma mills” that operated online during the late 1990s and early 2000s. These so-called online schools happily supplied a degree to anyone with the money to pay for it.

Opinions Turn Positive

Today, however, prospective employers very rarely question the quality of an online degree, according to Susan Fontana, a regional vice president of Manpower, an international recruiting company.

In fact, Fontana told Haynie, sometimes having an online degree can work in a job candidate’s favor, because certain employers attach a high value to the grit and determination it takes to earn a degree while juggling multiple commitments.

Other Factors Considered

There seems to be little question that most employers look more favorably at online degrees than was the case only a few years ago. At the same time, it’s clear that hiring managers will still scrutinize the reputation of the degree-granting institution and the curriculum behind the degree in evaluating the job candidate.

In the piece What Do Employers Think of an Online Degree?” author Carole Oldroyd points out that the size of the hiring company may also play a role in whether an applicant with an online degree gets the job.

Oldroyd cites recent statistics showing that the vast majority of smaller companies express no preference for traditional over online degrees. Larger companies — those with 500 or more employees — are more evenly split in their sentiments about the relative value of traditional and online degrees.

Growth of e-Learning

Helping to reshape the public’s perception of online education or e-learning is its growth at virtually all educational levels. Technological advances, such as webcams that are now standard on virtually all PCs and tablets, facilitate face-to-face contact between teacher and student for counseling or special instructional sessions.

More students in elementary and secondary education are learning online — both in and out of the classroom. The growing pervasiveness of online education among pre-college students is helping to pave the way for broader acceptance of such programs as a whole.

Key Points to Consider

Because not all online college degree programs are created equal, students who are considering pursuing an online degree should keep sight of these criteria, which CollegeNetwork.com says will probably be closely checked by prospective employers:

  1. Ensure that the online degree program you enroll in is operated by a college or university that is regionally accredited.
  2. Online programs offered by brick-and-mortar institutions generally are viewed more favorably than those that operate exclusively online. Even though you may never take any in-person classes, getting a degree from a college or university that has a physical campus tends to lend added credibility to their online diplomas.
  3. Getting an online degree from a widely recognized institution also generally carries more weight with hiring managers than a similar degree from a college or university that has no name recognition.

About the Author: Don Amerman is a freelance author who writes extensively about a wide array of business and personal finance topics.