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.

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

Are Online Courses the Answer for Your Career?

The poor choices you may have made in your naïve youth don’t necessarily have to haunt you for the rest of your life.

Online learning written in search bar

If you find yourself as an adult with no career to speak of, you can still pick yourself up and dust yourself off.

Online courses could be the answer to your career.

As an adult, you probably don’t have the leisure of attending school full-time, the way you could have when you were a young adult going to college right after high school.

Now, it’s critical that you be able to take courses after work and on weekends so that you can hold down a job and tend to family matters. But dealing with long commutes to community colleges or schools takes up even more precious time.

That’s why online courses are ideal for people in your situation.

How Online Courses Can Lead to Better Times

Online courses can help you build a career that will help you get more earning power for your entire life.

The courses you take through a career-guided online course program actually leads to something significant that can never be taken away from you.

What Career Choices are There?

Some examples of careers that can be gained via online courses include:

Cosmetologist – As the following article shows, online cosmetology courses can be found through a standard search for online cosmetology courses. Financial aid is often available through the school itself, and you can get possible scholarship money from other sources.

Dental Hygienist – Dental hygienists can make upwards of $50,000 a year; plus they can make their own hours by contracting out their services to several different dentists. This career could be yours through an online course schedule.

Business Manager – Instead of spending years working in the copy room of a company hoping someone will promote you, take online courses and get your business manager degree. This will give you the skills and education necessary to apply – and be seriously considered – for executive positions in top companies.

Accountant – Accountants are always in demand, and their average high salaries reflect that need. Once you finish your online coursework and obtain your accountant or associate accountant degree, you could work for an account firm doing financial audits, preparing taxes for businesses or individuals, or even open up your own accountancy firm in the future.

Legal Secretary – legal secretaries are valued more than regular secretaries because they are required to have a degree, which you can get through online courses. As a legal secretary, you would be able to assist attorneys with research, document creation and case preparation. Some legal secretaries are even asked to assist their employers during actual trials in the courtroom.

Are There Any Cons to Online Courses?

Of course, there are drawbacks to online courses, as with anything else.

You will need to have a certain level of self-discipline and determination in order to submit coursework on time without anyone forcing you. You will need to insist on quiet time and privacy at home so you can study.

Lastly, you will have to be content with not being able to interact with other students like in a traditional classroom.

With all the benefits that an advanced degree offers you, though, these drawbacks shouldn’t deter you from taking control of your future.

Online courses can offer you a chance at a real career, and you should take full advantage of that.

About the Author: Kate Supino writes extensively about best business practices and HR matters.

Older Workers Go the Online Degree Route

Online learning written in search barFor workers 50 and older, today’s job landscape can seem daunting, especially when it comes to embarking on a new career so late in the game. But, online degrees are helping to change the way employers think about older workers.

Here are just a few ways going the online degree route can create new avenues for older workers as well as some degree seeking tips for those 50 and older:

50+ Degree Seeker Statistics

Whether older workers need a second line of income after retirement or they’ve recently experienced job loss, an online degree is a great way to re-enter the workforce.

According to the Plus 50 Initiative, an educational program created by the American Association of Community Colleges, more and more 50+ workers are returning to school to obtain a second degree.

The Plus 50 Initiative reports that the percentage of students ages 35 to 55 will likely rise 25% by the year 2020. And, with online colleges and universities gaining more attention and accreditation, it’s easy to assume that a number of these second-time students will set their sights on online degrees.

Benefits of an Online Degree

Having a degree from an accredited online school is a benefit in itself, but there are other advantages that are sometimes overlooked, especially when it comes to the 50 and older crowd.

Among the advantages:

  • Digital Literacy – The process of acquiring an online degree comes with its own technological learning advantages. In looking at the article and asking what do employers think of an online degree? they think it sets tech-savvy candidates apart from the rest. With an online degree, 50+ jobseekers can automatically overcome the stereotype that older workers are technologically inept.
  • Flexibility – Navigating campus and attending off-hour courses can oftentimes be difficult for older students. But, an online degree program gives older workers the opportunity to obtain a higher education without disrupting their daily lives.
  • Affordable Tuition – Going back to school later in life means there are budget limitations, especially if it’s a post-retirement endeavor. Luckily, online degrees are a fraction of the cost of traditional two and four year degrees.

Tips for Obtaining an Online Degree

Before going the online degree route, it’s important for 50+ degree seekers to keep in mind the specific routes they can take.

From colleges to tuition to coursework amounts, an online degree comes with a number of options:

  • Accreditation – Online degrees come in all shapes and sizes, but one crucial feature of any online program is full-accreditation. If the online college or university isn’t accredited, then the degree won’t hold as much value in the eyes of the employer.
  • Financial Aid – Workers 50 and older who are returning to school should research financial aid options to help offset the cost of tuition. Online programs are less costly than a traditional education, but there are still significant costs involved.
  • Student Services – Because there is no physical location, online colleges and universities must have an easy to reach student services support line. Whether it’s live chatting, email, or phone, finding an online school that’s connected and communicative with its student body is imperative.

When older workers go the online degree route, finding a job becomes that much easier.

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

Companies Down Under Opting for Online Learning

Online education is big news for Australian businesses, with the online education market growing rapidly. Research by IbisWorld shows the online education sector growing at an annual rate of 14.4%, citing the need to upgrade skills for both employees and owner-managers as a reason for the continuing popularity of online learning.

screensWhat are the advantages of online learning both for new hires and existing employees, and how can Australian companies make the most of online education?

Why Online Education Is Good News for Australian Employers

Time was when the best graduates and brightest minds in any given field weren’t available to employers until after graduation. After graduation, students joined the workforce with a lot of ideas, but not much in the way of practical experience.

Online education is changing that by offering much more flexibility not only to students but to the businesses that employ them.

Australian businesses can find high caliber employees who have used online learning to study while employed, combining the best of both worlds in terms of academic prowess and experience in their field.

Online education offers employees the chance to engage with life-long learning, constantly updating their skills and knowledge, which can only be good news for the businesses that employ them. Offering distance education to employees is also a strong selling point for employers who want to show commitment to staff development and well-being.

Online Education and Job Hunting

Time was when job hunters might have worried that employers wouldn’t see an online education in as favorable a light as a more traditional university education, but that is changing. According to a report by CNN, 83% of executives surveyed considered an online education to be as valid as a more traditional education.

When it comes to online education, employers are looking for an accredited qualification from a reputable establishment, and a strong demonstration of the course of achievement and the kind of skills used in order to be successful in that course of study.

Online education shows employers that their candidates have initiative, can work well under their own steam, and are technologically savvy – all strong skills no matter what industry their business is in.

Online Education for Existing Employees

Online education is also a valuable tool for employers who want to make the most of their existing workforce. Offering online education shows interest in their employees’ ongoing professional development, helping to build company loyalty.

Online education also offers employers the advantage of a stronger and more highly skilled workforce, as their employees meet the challenge of online learning and acquire knowledge and skills that are useful in their job.

The flexible nature of online education means employers can reap the benefits, without lost time or productivity. Employees can study flexibly around their working hours, and apply their newfound knowledge on the job as they learn.

How Businesses Can Make the Most of Online Education

For businesses who want to make the most of online education, it’s important to plan how education will be delivered.

As stated in “The Ethics of Online Learning“, making time to study is important, and employers who want their employees to succeed with online education should take a hands-on approach in supporting their employees to fit their education around their work.

Businesses will also benefit from taking the time to research different establishments and online education options to find courses that best fit their objectives for their employees. Choosing courses which directly benefit the business while offering value to the employee is the way forward.

Online education is growing in popularity and becoming a serious alternative to traditional education. This is good news all round for employees in Australia who want to keep earning while they learn, and employers looking to make the most of their team.

About the Author: Tristan Anwyn writes on a wide variety of topics, including social media, SEO, online education and Australian 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.

online

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.