Why choose a learning portal?

This blog is based on a learning portal seminar hosted by Peter Dobinson, Solutions Architect at NetDimensions’ partner company LEO, at the NextSteps 2017 conference in London.

Learning portals can be customized to deliver tailored e-learning solutions on all devices, including smartphones and tablets

While a Learning Management System (LMS) provides a wealth of diverse information for your learners, portals act as a neat destination on more focused areas. As well as being gateways to further learning, portals are popular with NetDimensions’ clients because of their capacity to provide everything from guidance about new working processes to insights into user engagement.

Why do organizations like learning portals?

There are a lot of reasons why companies find learning portals highly effective. You can target a specific audience – potentially employees, customers or anyone who wants to access your learning programmes – and focus on a precise business impact area or goal, such as sales learning, with a holistic solution.

This is primarily what makes a portal different from an LMS: rather than providing a single solution to people across departments, languages and countries, a portal offers excellent learning opportunities to a subset of people with particular business requirements.

You can still utilize all of the features of your existing LMS, but you can tailor the learner experience for the content you’re presenting. You can offer a highly customized and relevant experience through the knowledge and activities you choose to present to your users. This makes a portal ideal if any of your users have ever had difficulty finding the information they want within your LMS, or if they only need to complete a small portion of your learning library in a short period of time.

How does a learning portal work?

A custom portal has functionality which allows you to build and update the specific journey and information being provided. The portal also receives and launches content from your LMS, and it can link to your social tools, allowing your audiences to further their learning through tools such as discussion forums, real-time chat and collaborative learning experiences.

There are two other important elements to portals: application programming interfaces (APIs) which can be used to link your systems and allow them to communicate with each other, and normally some form of Single Sign On (SSO), allowing your learners to log into the portal and access all of the content from your systems with a seamless login experience from a customer portal, or some other tool they already log into.

This can be achieved on a large scale. A great example of this is LEO’s work with one of the largest food and beverage manufacturers in the world. With over 80,000 employees globally, some of whom are external, the organization operates various portals for colleges of excellence covering topics like sales, marketing and supply chain fundamentals. The organization opted for a learner portal rather than an LMS because they wanted a small subset of learning material within a customized learner experience (LX).

These portals offer bespoke learner experiences and content to different groups within the business – they each have a customized user interface, learner experiences and content. They use gamification to drive people to the platform, they are localized for the different markets around the world, and are built to be fully responsive to allow access from a 3G connection. Thousands of users can access knowledge specific to their role through these custom portals, and learning leaders can also track their progress, helping to measure the business impact of learning.

Another learning portal example is NetDimensions work with Digicel, who were looking for a customized learning solution. About 1,000 young millennials work for Digicel, a mobile phone manufacturer in the Caribbean. NetDimensions’ success with this group was down to an attractive, easy-to-use learning portal accessed through an automatic enrolment after they were given a code. Dynamic videos and other training ploys were made accessible only to users who visited the portal.

A group of L&D leaders discussing the implementation of learning portals

How should your learning portal evolve?

Whether you want to change your portal’s resources or update its information, provided that you portal has a content management system (CMS) behind the scenes, moving elements around and adding new content won’t take too much of your time and doesn’t require any coding. Reporting and analytics allow you to take an agile approach and respond to the needs of your learners.

When NetDimensions worked with dental innovation company 3Shape, for example, the organization’s portal leaders tailored aspects of their content after discovering that dental assistants, rather than just dentists, were among the portal users carrying out scanning.

With a learning portal, you can be confident that a solution which meets your needs now can be easily adapted in the years ahead to enhance the user journey and maximize the business impact of learning. This versatility is another key benefit of using a portal.

If you enjoyed this blog, then you might also be interested in reading about transforming the learner’s experience through learning portals. To speak to a NetDimensions consultant about our learning portals and LMS solutions, get in touch here.

Contributor
Peter Dobinson is a Solutions Architect at LEO
Peter Dobinson has had over 10 years’ experience in designing, building and managing online products. He previously worked for Philips, Specsavers, Electronic Arts and the NHS. At NetDimensions’ partner company LEO, he is responsible for some of our largest learning architectures, working as both Solutions Architect and Technical Lead. He is an expert in learning management systems, data-driven design, product management, data analytics and system integrations.

More Artificial Intelligence capability has been added to the NetDimensions Talent Suite

The recently released version 13.1 of the NetDimensions Talent Suite includes a number of exciting new features, such as bolstered Artificial Intelligence (AI) capability.

Artificial Intelligence, or machine intelligence, is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “the capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior”. Artificial Intelligence is widely tipped to revolutionize the Learning & Development (L&D) industry with its ability to use technology to make automated, intelligent choices on an ongoing basis.

Artificial Intelligence was first introduced to the NetDimensions Talent Suite with the introduction of Dynamic Load Analysis in version 12 in July 2016.

The NetDimensions Talent Suite version 13.1 sees new, enhanced AI functionality with the addition of the AI Assistant Recommendations feature.

AI Assistant Recommendations analyzes a user’s current training history and then suggests other courses that may be of interest based on their training. See below a sample screen of the new AI feature:

A screenshot of the new Artificial Intelligence feature, AI Assistant Recommendations, which has been added to NetDimensions Talent Suite 13.1

How to use AI Assistant Recommendations

There are several options available to refine and customize the recommendations, which are ‘star rated’ to indicate relevance.

The recommendation focus has three options available to help the AI functionality deliver the most relevant options.

  • Personal Preferences – the recommendations are based on self-enrolled courses in the learner’s training history.
  • Job Related Suggestions – the recommendations are based on courses in the learner’s history that were assigned (such as group enroll or auto-enroll).
  • Surprise Me – this recommendation option is based on all courses in the learner’s history. Since each course can have multiple associated courses, the AI assistant will use a probability function to vary the returned output, instead of simply ranking the recommended courses and returning the highest ranked courses (which is what happens with the first two options above). This means that the list of recommended courses can vary each time a ‘Surprise Me’ request is made.

These features are combined with options to consider all courses in a user’s training history, only the last 30 days’ history, or the option to focus on one particular course.

Artificial Intelligence Learning

The AI algorithm: what you need to know

The process, which runs in the background, is completed once a week, and implements a ‘Collaborative Filter’ algorithm similar to that used by online video library services, such as Amazon and Netflix, but tweaked for training relationships. It has a few details worth noting:

  • To deliver the most relevant and up-to-date results, only the past 18 months of training data are analysed.
  • The algorithm works at an impressive pace – a typical analysis of a large database containing 5 million rows can be done in 5 minutes versus 10 hours. To do this efficiently, it does the calculations in memory.

NetDimensions’ award-winning talent management solutions can help your organization take the next great step in the evolution of training technology. Contact us today to learn more about Artificial Intelligence in the NetDimensions Talent Suite 13.1.

Measuring the business impact of learning

Measuring the business impact of learning was a key focus at the NetDimensions EMEA User conference in London in May. According to Fosway’s Learning and Talent Analytics: Practical Strategies to Drive Real Outcomes 2015 Study, 85% of companies say HR Analytics is a medium or high priority. In addition, recent research conducted by LEO found that more than 85% of L&D professionals want to use analytics to improve their learning programs, while over 77% believe that it’s possible to demonstrate learning’s impact. However, L&D departments are still unsure about how to effectively measure the business impact of their learning activities.

 

Why measuring the business of learning is important

As budgets inside large organizations are decreasing, it’s becoming increasingly important for L&D to demonstrate its impact to top management. We now have the capabilities and the tools to actually analyze the connection between Learning and Development activities, and business performance. According to the Brandon Hall Group’s Learning Analytics 2017 Study, as much as 51.5% of organizations only analyze their learning program’s data annually or on an ad hoc basis. Only 14.4% of organizations continuously analyze their learning program’s data. Organizations need to move away from a snapshot analysis, which quickly becomes outdated over time, to a more sustainable process where big data is used strategically to make business decisions.

The technology to measure the business impact of learning is now available in the market but organizations are struggling to put in place a sustainable strategy to measure and then demonstrate that impact.

In the interview below, Piers Lea, Chief Strategy Officer at NetDimensions’ partner company LEO and Donald H Taylor, Chairman of the Learning and Performance Institute, talk about why measuring the business Impact of learning is important and why L&D managers should begin the journey now.

 

Who needs to be on board in the organization for the strategy to be adopted?

The involvement from organizations’ top leadership in planning the L&D strategy is still pretty low, but it is growing quite fast. L&D should be leading the way and actively use big data to make business decisions. If L&D continues to lags behind, the business will take actions without involving the L&D function in strategic decisions. At the moment, there’s a huge opportunity for L&D to establish credibility and get a seat at the top management table. The trend clearly shows that L&D departments are becoming much more central to business strategy, but this won’t happen without L&D playing an active role in the process.

In the video below Piers Lea and Don H Taylor talk about the different stakeholders who should be involved in the organization for an effective L&D strategy to be adopted.

 

Is there any example of companies that are effectively measuring the impact of their learning activities?

MedStar is a US-based company in the Healthcare sector. They use learning analytics to evaluate the effectiveness of training on clinical metrics. In the video below, Piers Lea talks about this example.

 

What are the steps to start measuring the business impact of learning?

There is a step-by-step process to go through but every organization should start on that journey now.

The first step to measuring the business impact of learning is making sure your organization is collecting the right data. It might take years to gather enough data before it will actually be relevant for the organization. Look into that data to identify patterns and then progress up to advanced data evaluation. All this should be done before you can actually bring in correlating data from the business.

The L&D function is willing to take on that journey but there is a clear shortage of skills in terms of the ability to both organize and analyze data. According to Fosway’s Learning and Talent Analytics: Practical Strategies to Drive Real Outcomes 2015 Study, 90% of organizations see the lack of skilled resources as a challenge in progressing with HR Analytics. According to the Brandon Hall Group’s Learning Analytics 2017 Study, only 18% of organizations have a data analyst dedicated to learning.

In the video below, Piers Lea and Don H Taylor talk about the step-by-step process to start measuring the business impact of learning.

 

The importance of measuring the business impact of learning

The ability to deliver proven results is a huge focus for L&D at the moment, with a view to ensure that learning should be moving to the heart of the business strategy. Some experts think that the reason why large organizations will continue to exist is actually because of their ability to scale learning. Learning is becoming one of the key areas of competitive advantage, so measuring the business impact of learning is a vitally important subject, one which continues to grow in importance.

Did you enjoy this blog? Then you might also be interested in our “Maximizing the Business Impact of Learning” report from Fosway Group. Download it now. If you’d like to speak to a NetDimensions consultant about the importance of measuring business impact, get in touch here.