With today’s learners tending to upskill on the go, a mobile LMS is all the rage in the consumer marketplace. Different kinds of Learning Management Systems offer different features and flexibility, and the pros and cons of in-house and cloud-based systems depend on the unique requirements of your organization, such as its security needs. Picking the best solution is a case of considering a wide range of factors, so here are a few questions to ask.
Pushing to change your LMS? Look before you leap. Here’s an easy guide.
Today, organizations frequently manage their corporate training and compliance programs through a learning management system (LMS). But as LMS technology grows, many early adopters are growing unhappy with the challenges their legacy systems present.
This post is the second in a 2-part blog series that looks at some of the ways that L&D managers can improve the learning technology in their organizations, with a specific focus on user experience and analytics. To read part 1, click here.
Learning Management Systems create poor user experience
According to a study conducted by the Brandon Hall Group, 50.6% of organizations say poor user experience is a significant barrier to satisfaction with learning technology. It’s important for a company to have an easy-to-use, modern-looking system.
Employees today are both oversaturated with information and short on time. They need to be able to quickly access the right learning tools and information.
According to learning analyst, Talented Learning, it is easier for LMS users to tolerate weaker user experience when training is mandatory, such as regulatory compliance training, but when the LMS is used for extended enterprise, such as dealership network training, the users must be persuaded to complete training regularly. In this case the user experience is key.
Key best practices for improved user experience
- The User Interface (UI) has to be intuitive to reduce the number of clicks required to complete a task.
- Applications have to be user-friendly and not built for experienced users only.
- Make sure administrators, as well as selected users, can modify the layout of their homepage, edit menus and shortcuts and easily create new skins. This is a matter of configuration and not customization.
- Social features such as forums are important for an LMS. It’s a place where managers and employees can share ideas and contribute to the development of best practices. Make sure you can easily embed Widgets (for example internal forums, Twitter feeds and YouTube videos) into your homepage so they are easily accessible for users.
- Understand your vendor experience with learning portals and how well they integrate with the LMS.
- Just-in-time learning is vital to the success of a learning program. Learning should be accessed on mobile device whenever users need it. That is why the ability to download content to a mobile device for playback even when offline is important.
- Upgrade your LMS frequently – LMS vendors invest significant development resources into making sure that each successive version provides even better usability. This should also take into account user feedback, to give the best learning and performance management experience on any type of device.
Measuring the business impact of learning using analytics tool is becoming increasingly important for the L&D function. 39.7% of organizations say poor analytics capabilities is a significant barrier to satisfaction with learning technology.
Key best practices for enhanced learning analytics
- Focus on data that matters to your organization. Big data expert and author Bernard Marr points out in an article on Forbes: “Why go to all the time and trouble collecting data that you won’t or can’t use to deliver business insights? You must focus on things that matter the most otherwise you’ll drown in data… This is why it’s so important to start with the right questions.”
- Start your journey with analytics now. It might take years to gather enough data before it will actually be relevant for the organization.
- If you have already started your journey, make sure your analytics engine integrates multiple data sources. Your engine should correlate learning to other data coming from the rest of the business.
- Most organizations don’t yet have a data analyst dedicated to learning. Make sure you have flexibility to create your own reports and easily create dashboards and charts without the need to learn complex tools.
Did you enjoy this blog? Then you might also be interested in our “8 Best Practices for a Successful LMS Implementation” brief. Download it now. If you’d like to speak to a NetDimensions LMS consultant about the challenges your organization is facing, get in touch here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.