Learning Portals – Transforming the learner’s experience

The term “learning portal” is used liberally in the training industry, but what does it really mean?

By common definition, a portal is described as a gateway, doorway or entrance. Likewise, in computing it generally refers to a website that provides links or gateways to other websites. This idea affords businesses with the opportunity to consolidate relevant learning resources and tools into one location to accomplish a specific business or learning goal.

So, how is a portal different from a Learning Management System (LMS)? It’s a fair question with a fuzzy answer.

LMS’ such as NetDimensions Talent Suite are highly configurable and are capable of providing a portal-like experience using out-of-the-box functionality. However, organizations commonly configure their LMS as a one-size-fits-all solution to provide a superset of content and tools for many people within the organization, and covering many different subject areas.

A custom portal, on the other hand, provides a learning experience that targets a specific business goal, audience or subject area to deliver a focused, holistic learning solution. Today, we see that businesses are developing portals for multiple subject areas, including:

  • New hire onboarding
  • Sales training
  • Service training
  • Manufacturing training
  • Compliance or technical training
  • Extended enterprise and more

 

So what’s the big deal?

Learning & Compliance: Friends or Foes?

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article for the Inside Learning Technologies magazine on the role of learning systems in compliance training (“Is your LMS compliance friendly?”) Compliance is one of those topics that rarely get enough attention as one of the key drivers in our industry.

Survey-chart
Source: Compliance Survey 2012, Brandon Hall Group.

However, a recent survey by the Brandon Hall Group found out that regulatory and company compliance combined constitute the most important learning program for organizations’ business strategy today. In addition:

– Over 65% of organizations find it critically important or very important to demonstrate learning compliance to some external regulatory agency.

– At the same time companies understand that compliance is now impacting more on their workforces with over 60% of organizations claiming that compliance requirements involve more than three quarters of employees.

Just yesterday, it was reported that the Federal Aviation Administration announced a fine of $3.5mn to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for failing to train its police officers to perform rescues and fight fires. In addition to the fine, the Port Authority will need to take further measures to better oversee rescue and fire-fighting training compliance. According to the settlement, at JFK airport, the Port Authority allowed 77 police officers who were untrained for their duties to work 357 shifts from early May to early June 2012.

Compliance requirements for employees and organizations place new demands on learning systems that more traditional, developmental requirements do not. Our industry nowadays seems flooded with learning and talent management systems. But for such systems to succeed in a compliance-related role, they must be able to readily adapt to changing needs, operate at enterprise software level, and offer the requisite functionality around auditing, reporting, and security.

It is important that L&D and HR departments are up-to-date with the compliance requirements specific to their business. Here are a few suggestions to make this easier:

  1. Talk to your legal team and to your compliance officer to better understand who in the organization is responsible for what.
  2. Define clear requirements and objectives for training and the technology implementation.
  3. Question your vendor and demand a software validation for the learning or talent management system. For the technical parts, don’t be afraid to ask your IT team to participate.
  4. Make compliance an ongoing part of your business via well-defined workflows, checks & balances, and actionable reporting.
  5. When it comes to training, reinforce formal compliance learning with recurring programs. These initiatives may include informal collaborations (such as forums to discuss ongoing compliance issues), on-the-job assessments (to better evaluate the effectiveness of the compliance training), and performance support (to provide easy access to compliance-related materials at the point of need).

For more information, you can read the blog post from David Wentworth of The Brandon Hall Group on “The Problem with Canned Compliance” or, even better, join the webinar “Mission Critical: Managing Compliance Training in Europe” on April 16th.