Informal learning

Good ways to learn stuff, Measuring eLearning, What I do

I hate stock photos, so here’s a pretty Datastream chart instead.

Where I fall down with most eLearning advice and practice is that it’s directed internally, towards employees or students, and not externally, ie, towards customers.  So, there is a plethora of tips and tricks and ideas for getting people to remember fire regulations, diversity policies etc which are all great, and probably work brilliantly. I particularly remember a conversation about framing a piece on fraud legislation within a detective story, which sounded like great fun for both learner and developer.

This isn’t, however, where I’m coming from. Most of my time is spent trying to work out how to deliver the maximum information about our productsandservices in the shortest time available.

Our typical user works in financial services, usually in a very fast-paced environment where she or he needs to make decisions quickly. They don’t have time to work through a detective comic or click around a screen: they want to know how to use RSI to analyze share performance; or what buttons they click to create a portfolio report for their clients, who needed the information yesterday. The market is bouncing up and down like a Harrods lift on the first day of the summer sales, and there are a hundred hungry competitors eyeing their desk space.

Our approach has been called “product help on steroids”, and I think it’s more than that, but it’s a good place to start. Our teams create short (by eLearning standards) courses, lasting up to around 45 minutes (PowerPlus Pro is…complicated). Within each course is a menu of topics. How you take the course is up to the user. If they’ve only got a few minutes, they can click on a topic and get a short elearning video that takes them through a typical task in about five minutes. As the topic is usually done in-product, the user can have his or her version of the product open at the same time, so they can follow the actions. The player allows them to pause the action, rewind, or  move onto another topic. We’re also experimenting with PDF takeaways so that users can have a reminder on their desks.

In general the user feedback has been very positive, but our issue now is that, given the rather stodgy image of eLearning, how do we get our lovely little topics in front of the customers, and (hopefully) cut our support costs by reducing the support calls?

More thoughts later…lunchbreak is over, and I’ve got a bunch of modules to QA for tomorrow’s launch.


Badges?! We don’t need no stinkin’… Oh, wait, maybe we do.

Learning Management Systems, Measuring eLearning

Badges?! We don’t need no stinkin’… Oh, wait, maybe we do.

So, this blog talks about using badges to display a user’s status in an eLearning community – I suppose like the badges you get when you have donated 10 pints of blood (my dad is about to donate his 50th pint, and I’m pretty sure I’ve used at least three of those donations). I do wonder how that could be used with our clients. We’ve been concentrating on building the library over the past few years, and maybe we need to come up with some ideas about the internal and external learning community: do we need a community of learners in our organisation? What would it contribute?

QR Codes – eLearning Blog Dont Waste Your Time

Learning Management Systems, Measuring eLearning

QR Codes – eLearning Blog Dont Waste Your Time.

I’ve seen QR codes, but didn’t know what they were, or what you did with them.

This very helpful blogpost pulls together a bunch of links and resources on QR codes, where to find a QR code reader, and their uses in education.

We’re still exploring the possibilities for making our modules available for mobile users (the iPhone doesn’t play Flash, which kind of hampers our activity in this area), but this could be useful in future.

Elearning instructional design ideas – Making Change blog

Measuring eLearning

Elearning instructional design ideas – Making Change blog.

We should be discussing learning styles more methodically. Though our team is so busy trying to keep up with various business demands, we rarely get a chance to sit back and discuss what works, and what doesn’t.  For example, how do you measure learning?

From our point of view, we could identify pain points with customers/customer support, measure the volume of calls related to those pain points, deliver elearning that supposedly addresses those pain points, and measure the number of calls after we launch the elearning.

One of the commenters makes a salient point about elearning being relevant to the user. We try to create real-life problems that can be addressed using our products (tadaaa!). We talk to the trainers and product people about good examples to use in our modules, and most of the time we get good stuff. But it’s a struggle: I’m still trying to reeducate our SMEs into using examples other than Microsoft, but they argue that Microsoft is a safe, global brand that everybody knows, so it’s perfect for quick demonstrations, such as the ones we promote here.

I’ve downloaded a list of the top 100 Global Brands from Whenever I have to come up with an equities list, I pick a number of top brands (eg, IBM, Microsoft, Google and Intel), and create a comparison chart or information sheet or whatever. I still struggle with anything other than equities examples though…apparently looking at cheese futures is flippant…