Formal Learning: The Foundation for On-the-Job Training Programs

The 70-20-10 model for learning & development suggests that people get 70% of their knowledge from work experiences (on-the-job tasks), 20% from interactions with others (social), and 10% from formal learning events (structured training). There is argument about this model and the exact ratio, but it does beg the question of whether formal learning is still relevant in corporate environments?

The best teachers know that learning happens in layers. In the world of corporate enterprises, effective organizational training parallels this model of layered learning that includes both formal and informal methods.

Skilled teachers introduce new facts or skills that their students need to acquire, then create opportunities for the students to engage with the information in various modalities. They incorporate discussion, problem solving practice, and one-to-one coaching as needed. And finally, they assess what understanding or behavioral changes are occurring before moving on to build on the new knowledge.

There is wisdom in organizational training strategies utilizing the same paradigm that mixes various experiential modes of learning with formal training. Both are important for optimal staff competency outcomes.

Formal learning must be part of the equation of any holistic corporate training program. In fact, it forms the foundation on which other modes are based.

Formal learning can take various forms. It might be delivered through in-person classes with an instructor or virtual live workshops. Often, formal learning is provided in custom-designed e-learning modules. In any of these scenarios, trainees usually complete a short assessment after completing each step of the training before moving on to the next.

How Formal Learning Lays the Foundation for Layered Training

Formal learning provides consistency. Think of it like a rudder that keeps experiential or peer learning on track. Online courses define terms, create a common knowledge base, and lay out procedures everyone needs to know and follow.

Formal learning provides reference points. The learning management system, or LMS, can function as a library where documentation, transcripts, forms, tutorials, and videos can live for future lookups and refreshers.

Formal courses are ideal for orienting new talent. New hire onboarding needs to convey a baseline of knowledge about facilities, HR processes, regulations, and compliance requirements. In-person orientations are great, but e-learning courses provide more flexibility for new staff to fit training into their busy schedules as they get up to speed. These courses also can be used repeatedly without paying for an in-person trainer’s time again and again.

Formal learning outcomes are easily measured. Once you decide on your enterprise’s training goals, assessments to conclude each module can be customized to ensure that they provide data on how successfully your outcomes are being achieved.

Most enterprises understand the wisdom of layering their training methods. Each company must determine its own sweet spot for the ideal proportions of formal learning, on-the-job experience, and peer or mentored training. That analysis is something the e-learning experts at STREETCAR8 collaborate with clients on prior to the design of their customized e-learning programs.

We work with enterprise organizations to create training strategies and design courses that meet their needs. Share with us your goals and desired outcomes for training, and we will consult with you on building your optimal formal learning foundation.

Building an E-Learning Partnership: 5 Tips

Have you included e-learning as you plan your organization’s 2021 goals?

The past year has made us all more aware of how essential e-learning has become in today’s cultural environment.  It’s not a fad, it’s not a nice option–it’s here to stay. Success requires providing information in ways that are finger-tip accessible, and training only works when it is delivered in ways learners prefer to receive it.  

Your organization’s processes, culture, and development priorities are unique, and e-learning should be customized to those needs. Designing your course will require assembling an internal team to work with the instructional design pro you choose for the project. It’s a partnership.

How do you assemble such a team? Based on our experience, we offer these five tips for a successful e-learning collaboration.

Choose a project leader. Who will quarterback the effort? A single point of contact streamlines the process for you and any design firm you bring on and will function as a liaison between the two. Your project leader will be familiar with which colleagues know what and who need to be involved at what point. Their communication skills will be essential to establishing and sustaining clarity and efficiency. If conflict arises, they may need to be the final decision maker. The right project leader will facilitate staying on track and on time.

Engage stakeholders. Who will be using the course? How will it actually be used, and will they actually benefit from it? A project team will include stakeholders who can help or hinder the ultimate success of your e-learning initiative. Make it successful by including people who are excited for its potential but also some who are skeptical. Hearing and addressing concerns almost always improve the result. Plus, inviting them to participate from the beginning and listening to their input will communicate that their perspective is valued.

Identify subject matter experts. Who already intimately knows what you want to teach? For example, they may be compliance specialists, service supervisors, or onboarding coordinators. When we work with organizations, we rely on these internal experts to make sure the content of the course we are designing conveys exactly what is needed in their specific context. They inform us at the beginning and review the course during its development for accuracy.

Choose a champion. Who is the most enthusiastic about the potential of this e-learning initiative? Who is generally an early adapter of innovative approaches and also well-respected by colleagues? A champion is someone who eagerly participates on the project team, embraces the change, and becomes a cheerleader to others who may need encouragement to adapt and adopt the initiative. The project leader may or may not be the champion.

Set the expectation for involvement. How long will this take? A partnership resulting in a successful e-learning initiative is not a one-meeting-and-done affair. We make the process as painless as possible, but it will still need a commitment of time and engagement from your team. For instance, your subject matter experts will need to spend time with the e-learning developer to provide the information, for instance. Your stakeholders will need to provide input on how it will be used and the effectiveness of each component. It will be important that the project head communicate realistic expectations as well as set the example of commitment to the process.

If you have something to teach, partnering with digital learning experts like STREETCAR8 is a wise strategic move to transform your content into engaging learning experiences. We listen to our clients and prioritize their needs.

We invite you to contact us with your ideas and questions. Let’s make your strategy a reality in 2021.

Onboarding with Intention

Do you have a formal onboarding strategy for new employees? What portion can be accessed digitally? Putting a plan in place requires effort, but the return on investment is substantial.

A standardized process will get new hires up to speed faster and increase their productivity by 50 percent. Retention improves as well, to the tune of 69 percent of employees being more likely to stay with a company for three years if they had a great onboarding experience, according to research cited by Arlene S. Hirsch in an article for SHRM. On the flip side, an incomplete or nonexistent onboarding program that leaves new hires uncertain is likely to set them up to jump ship before getting established.

Increasingly, new employee orientation and onboarding programs are transitioning significant portions to digital e-learning platforms. Growing numbers of the workforce expect to be able to access training and information at their own pace. They consider flexibility essential to a great onboarding experience and want ongoing learning as well.

With a remote or distributed workforce, new employees often do not come onsite for onboarding, making an e-learning solution essential. Online orientation content remains consistent and reusable. It lowers training costs because it saves money on travel, classroom maintenance and set up, preparation of materials, and facilitators’ salaries.

The first step toward establishing an effective onboarding program is to get the right people involved. “When designing and implementing a cohesive onboarding program or process, HR professionals need to engage with key stakeholders throughout the organization to ensure that all new hires have an optimal onboarding experience,” says Hirsch. A survey of existing employees asking what helped them in the beginning and what they might suggest for improvement can provide helpful insights. And don’t forget to check in with new hires during the process to monitor their progress and learn where the program could be made smoother and richer.

Successful onboarding must cover two equally important domains: the basic policies and procedures for all new hires, and the culture, values, and vision of the organization. It is possible to address both domains even if remote workers aren’t physically in the office. For instance, the program can include short videos of existing leaders and team members in which they share why they choose to work there or stories of human or social impact that illustrate the lived reality of the corporate values. Learning modules can be interlaced with video-conferencing roundtables or coffee breaks so team members can begin to get to know each other and build the relationships that are important for job success.

STREETCAR8 customizes enterprise learning onboarding solutions that convey comprehensive and critical onboarding information in a convenient, compelling, and engaging way using scenario-based training. From our clients, we often hear how well the e-learning onboarding programs we develop streamline the process of bringing people on board. They point to new employees who are demonstrating high levels of engagement, enthusiasm, and motivation.

How might enterprise learning improve your onboarding strategy? Contact us and let’s explore the possibilities.

4 Tips to Surviving Remote Work

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STREETCAR8 was founded deliberately as a remote company in 2017 by two owners.  But at any given time in the last decade, one or both of us have worked to serve clients at a distance.  We love it!  We intentionally set out to build our company in this way because we appreciate the flexibility, convenience and reach that it affords us.

All of that said, the last few weeks have tested the arrangement.  When we started the business, there was a very nice mix of remote work, in-person meetings and social gatherings with friends/family.  Now with many socialization restrictions in place, work happens online, networking events happen online and we also play online often utilizing video conferencing technology.  It can be exhausting!

But what exactly is the problem?  Why are video conferences so hard on us?  This BBC article offers a clue.  Experts say that we rely on nonverbal cues during face-to-face conversations.  Since they are harder to identify during video conferences, we are forced to focus on words and that can be tiring.

Here are a few tips to help you thrive while working remotely:

Pick up the phone

All meetings do not have to be video meetings.  Many are using video conferencing tools like Zoom for the first time these days.  And while being able to connect at-a-distance is wonderful especially when in-person interactions are limited, it’s easy to go overboard.  As mentioned, being engaged in a meeting and having the video on can be draining.  But group meetings can often happen without videos.  And for one-on-one conversations that don’t require screen-sharing, picking up the phone often works just as well.

Kick and stretch

Hunter-gatherers were nomadic people.  They knew how to get their steps in!  But very few of us survive by hunting, fishing and foraging these days.  Physical activity has declined and working from home, particularly at a desk job, could have a detrimental effect.  To keep activity on the forefront while at home, take breaks during the day to stretch, walk or lift weights.  Chair stretches can take place before, after or even during meetings depending on the event (camera off!).  There are many habit tracking apps on the market that help individuals make and monitor habits.

Close the office door

Setting boundaries for yourself and others is important while working at home.  Having a separate space, if possible, helps with focus by signaling that the area is meant for work.  If the workspace has a door, that’s even better.  For some of us, work can go on and on.  This is especially true if you’re a small business owner who wears many different hats.  Having a physical door to close at the end of the day is a good way to transition out of work and into your personal life.

Bring back the walking meeting

Take a break from work and get yourself away from the computer by doing a magazine crossword puzzle or reading a physical book.  While these activities still tax the eyes, if kept varied, they can help increase your mood.  Other activities that remove us from technology and shake up daily routines include drawing, playing a musical instrument, cooking/baking, doing a puzzle, hiking/biking and playing board games, just to name a few.

We’ve heard it before…set boundaries, take breaks and exercise.  Although it makes sense, making healthy habits a priority is difficult.  Incorporating just a few of these tips into your remote workday can make a difference by keeping you productive and energetic!

Attracting Workers to Nonprofit Organizations

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NPOs are on the rise. In 2018, the National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS) reported that “The nonprofit sector contributed an estimated $985.4 billion to the US economy in 2015, composing 5.4 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.”

Nonprofit Organizations (NPO) are unique in that they have similar challenges as for-profit businesses, but frequently operate with limited funds. Employees wear many hats in nonprofits and often work for less pay. How can NPOs make their work environments desirable to potential volunteers and employees?

Wharton marketing professor, Deborah Small, conducted a study that showed that “…if organizations want to raise money for a charitable cause, it is far better to appeal to the heart than to the head.” Being able to appeal to the hearts of all types of individuals is important when developing long-term relationships that help your NPO thrive.

According to a McKinsey study, it’s critical to attract and keep high-quality individuals because top talent is exponentially more productive, and in a tight job market, high performers are hard to find.  In addition, turnover is expensive!  Telling a compelling story, organizing communications and putting training programs in place is a step in the right direction when it comes to staff retention.

Using Social Media

“A good story is relatable to people of all ages and cultures. A great story can inspire, attract great attention, or respond to something meaningful in the lives of people around the world,” according to Queens University of Charlotte.  NPOs have found that utilizing social media is not only cost-effective, but it’s also an easy way to reach millions. Organizations – for-profit, not-for-profit, big and small – have seen the advantages of using social media for broad communication.  But to reap those benefits, and in order to stand out in a crowd, telling a captivating story is a must.

Organizational Communication

Another way to increase impact is to have an organized approach towards communication.  Communication can be formal or informal, and happens at all levels of a work environment.  It also sounds like something an organization with limited resources and overworked employees can overlook. The truth is that communication is vital, and having a solid communication strategy is one of the most beneficial things an NPO can do to ensure a long future. Consistent, relevant messaging can help with the organization’s public image, as well as consumer satisfaction and employee morale.  The strategy should tie back to the company’s goals and include specific metrics that can be tracked to gauge performance (successes and failures). 

Training

It’s important for NPOs to create an organized way of communicating particularly in the early stages of development. Misguided employees/volunteers cannot accomplish the amount of work needed to build a successful organization. One way an NPO can help itself is by investing time in developing volunteer and employee training programs.  Assessing needs and creating useful/relevant training is imperative as it increases engagement, improves retention and helps people get better at their jobs.

NPOs are built with “good” in mind. Today, people recognize the power of NPOs more than ever before. Unique stories paired with excellent communication strategies and training programs attract others.  People are willing to give time and energy towards organizations with strong missions and messages they can believe in.

 

What Can Video Add to Your E-Learning?

buttons-36036_640Video is everywhere. If all we look at are YouTube statistics, they report over 1 billion people use YouTube, or a third of all internet users. As of May 2019, 500 hours of video was being uploaded to their platform every minute. Yes, every minute.

What does that mean for e-learning?  When so many people are accustomed to tapping into video to learn how to use a new device or fix a dripping faucet, they are going to look for video for other learning tasks as well. And they’ll expect to find it whenever and wherever they choose to access it.

Steve Penfold, writing for eLearning Industry, lists three ways video achieves results in training:

Video delivers small bites of information to make assimilation easy. Most learners, like the rest of us, watch the kinds of short videos that are often posted to social media like Instagram. “Since learners are already accustomed to watching short videos for entertainment, watching short videos to learn for work is an easy option,” points out Taryn Oesch, editor at Training Industry. “Online videos are also a great way to introduce new topics and model skills or behaviors.” She and others dub these short burst of training microlearning.

Video tells good stories, which is how humans learn best. Because video engages more senses than the written word, it is a great way to tell a memorable story. We witness the power of story to engage our learning brain every time we watch a TED talk. TED speakers are prepped to share stories as part of their presentations, and you’ll notice they usually open with one and then circle back to it at the end if not before. In your e-learning course, a short animation might tell a story. So could an interactive “Choose Your Own Adventure” type of video or the inclusion of a clip with a voiceover.

Video improves holistic training to include behavior, culture, and emotion. Communication experts teach that just 11 percent of communication happens through the actual words. The rest is nonverbal. Facial expression, posture, setting, and tone and timbre of voice, to name a few, carry the rest, and they require video and audio delivery. In fact, says Christopher Pappas, also with eLearning Industry, incorporating different types of audio with the video heightens the emotional connection experienced by users even more than video alone.

In addition to these three benefits, video makes sense when we think like educators, because providing diverse modalities increases the potential for comprehension and retention for individuals with a range of learning differences.

“Thanks to technology, video is scalable and accessible,” says Oesch. “Providing video content on an LMS or internal website makes it easy to share, and that content is increasingly accessible on mobile devices as well.” It does need to be well done, however, as part of your overall training strategy rather than an afterthought. You don’t want sloppy, boring, or disconnected video to distract from the important information or skill you want users to absorb.

As you think about what to include in your e-learning courses, we can help you consider where video might make sense. Feel free to call us at 303-219-7227.

 

Deepfakes: How to Protect Your E-Learning

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Can you trust videos you see online? Now that digital technology has made it possible to doctor video in incredibly realistic ways, it’s a question that corporate trainers are challenged to answer in order to guard the integrity of their courses.

People routinely look for information online. Learners find the internet a source of quick and convenient training. It often is, but our discernment sophistication must increase to meet the challenge posed by intentional misinformation. In short, we must be smarter than the hackers.

Deepfakes, as digitally falsified videos are called, are provoking fear across the internet because of how they undermine our trust in the truth of what we are receiving. Hackers can do this dirty work using both artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). With this new technology, a video or audio recording of someone saying something they didn’t actually say can easily be developed.

This manipulation can happen in several ways. The easiest way is by doing a “face swap” with two individuals. Another way is to compile past videos of an individual, using ML to study them, and then create a video or audio recording of that individual speaking entirely new sentences. Deepfakes are most convincing when an abundance of footage is available for ML to study and accurately learn every facial movement.

With the appearance of deepfakes, every video online should be viewed with a critical eye. This is easier said than done, because when you see a clip of someone effortlessly speaking to a camera, without cuts or edits, it’s hard for our brain to question whether it’s a fake.

Many businesses are on high alert for deepfakes that could threaten their company by harming stock prices, reputation, credibility, etc. The danger to political and national security is obvious. Our focus today is on the importance of insuring accurate, authentic sources in e-learning courses. Currently, there aren’t many options when it comes to deepfake detection. Software that has been developed comes with a steep price tag and requires continual updating as the deepfake technology becomes smarter.

The best prevention for businesses providing online learning content for their employees is to rely on a reputable provider. Working with a custom e-learning company like STREETCAR8 is an advantage. We partner with our clients to create internal training. By interviewing subject matter experts during a discovery period, building/organizing information and porting the resulting courses to a secure learning environment, we ensure original and engaging content.

In short, having your own library of educational content gives employees a secure place to go for reliable information. It’s trusted and ensures that your employees are getting the right information they need to perform.

What courses do you need to create to reach your staff development objectives? Does your plan include the security of your content? It’s essential that you work with an experienced partner to ensure the integrity of your e-learning courses and your corporate reputation. Let us know what you need – contact us today.

The 7 Best Time-Saving Apps for Remote Workers

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Working remotely can boost your productivity, as long as you navigate the many distractions. Chores, errands, and entertainment can be harder to ignore in your remote office. It’s easy to think, “This won’t take very long.” But the minutes add up, and it takes time to ramp up/down from tasks.

Thankfully, as distractions increase so do the number of creative ways to block them. Below are phone or computer applications that will keep you focused on work and support your journey to remote work success.

LastPass – Stop wasting time and energy attempting to guess a forgotten password. With this app, it’s easy to log into your favorite websites. LastPass is a secure password manager and generator. It stores encrypted user-created passwords or strong system generated ones. Its autofill feature will save you from typing passwords and you can access the tool from all devices.

Harvest or Toggl – These two apps are grouped because they’re used for the same purpose: to track time and money. They top the list for freelancers because they’re timesavers when it comes to time tracking and invoicing. What’s best: both offer basic free plans.

Trello – Being miles away from your team doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker. This visual online tool helps with work tracking and collaboration. Trello is structured so that it’s easy to make lists and track progress. Remote teams are able to organize work on visual boards, assign people, make checklists, add comments, and much more. Tasks are dragged from one stage to another to track progress and completion.

RescueTime – You spent the entire day on the computer. Was it all centered around work? RescueTime runs in the background on your computer to help you discover how you spend your time. It tracks your activity not only on web browsers, but on any apps used. If you really want to spend time wisely, find out what your biggest distractions are!

Wunderlist – This is the easiest digital to-do list you’ll come across. Effortlessly add tasks to Wunderlist as soon as it comes to mind with little interruption to work. You have the ability to set a due date or simply have a running list that you check periodically. This app is an easy way to plan, organize, and share your life.

Workflow – The ultimate multitasker! Workflow allows you to access multiple apps in one spot. You can answer emails, check the weather, reply to comments and write an article from a central page. This visually appealing app aims to take away all website hopping distractions.

Focus@Will – This app curates music based on human neuroscience to help you concentrate. You could just as easily have your own music playing while you work, but Focus@Will uses science to design a playlist that will keep you on track and help you retain information.

As you develop your remote-work routine, you’ll discover many helpful habits and tools. The items above are just the basics to help you organize/record information, identify time-wasting behaviors, and collaborate effectively.

 

You, Your Employees, and Microlearning

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Living in this fast-paced world challenges companies to continuously search for innovative ways of running their business. There are a number of different e-learning solutions to help meet those challenges. Microlearning is one such option. If you want to get employees trained on a specific skill, Microlearning is a popular method that employers are turning to. So, what makes Microlearning so desirable?

You have to first know what Microlearning is. Microlearning is much more than condensed training. It’s a self-guided learning experience that delivers only the necessary content the learner needs to fully understand the objective and be able to accurately apply it. Some people compare it to a Ted Talk: a short presentation that gives you quick and specific information. Microlearning should always leave you with the ability to immediately apply your newly-acquired knowledge.

Any learning form can be used for Microlearning; video, slide presentation, gamification, and so on. The duration of the experience will not be consistent from objective to objective. Some experts suggest that it should not exceed five minutes. Ultimately, the goal is for the learner to receive all the pertinent information, therefore there is not a strict time limit to a Microlearning experience.

Before you decide on an e-learning solution, look at how Microlearning benefits you and your employees. Let’s begin with you!  Here are a couple ways Microlearning will benefit you:

  • Easy production. Creating a Microlearning course, whether it’s you or an outside party, will always utilize less time and money. The purpose is to break down information into its simplest form. Because you are concentrating on only the most critical information, production is quicker and resources are minimal. Keep in mind that quality is important and should never be sacrificed.
  • Flexibility. As mentioned briefly, there are no strict rules when it comes to Microlearning. You can customize a learning experience that works best for your company. For example, if you have young employees, they may prefer fast, eccentric videos. Others may enjoy electronic workbook activities. The freedom to create customized experiences will make it more likely that your employees will complete training and seek more of it!

Now, how do your employees benefit?

  • Quicker learning and application to work. Millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. labor force. They are eager to learn, but that requires time.  Microlearning offers people the opportunity to continuously learn on the job. It gives employees the chance to gain a skill during their lunch break and instantly apply it after lunch.
  • Self-guided and personalized. Everyone runs at a different speed, our priorities are never the same, and no one starts with the same base knowledge. Having the ability to start and stop learning at your own pace takes the pressure off of learning. If learning is convenient and relaxing, employees are more likely to continue with similar experiences.

STREETCAR8 and other L&D companies have seen the benefits of Microlearning. The saying “less is more” is a perfect way to sum up Microlearning. Educating employees doesn’t need to be a complex and lengthy process. Microlearning is the ideal way to continually grow your team’s skills in a stress-free way.

 

Instructional Design and E-Learning: Customized Training That Works

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What do you want to teach? How will you teach it?

Knowing the answers to both these questions is critical if you want to achieve your organization’s training and development objectives. Otherwise, instructional materials miss their intended mark and learners fail to engage with the opportunity.

A range of techniques are available to deliver Instruction. Some are more appropriate for specific topics or demographics than others. E-learning is now preferred by many learners as well as trainers; other methods include lecture, team exercises, training manuals, and collaborating with mentors and experts.

If you have something to teach, partnering with an instructional design specialist is a wise strategic move to help turn your content into e-learning that works.

Instructional designers are like architects. We start with a solid foundation, build a structure that will meet the needs of humans, and make it attractive for those who interact with it.

  • Lay a solid foundation — The process usually starts with some type of assessment of what the learning needs are. Who is the audience? What do they already know? What is the skill or knowledge gap that needs to be filled? Also, what outcomes are intended by the organization – the business, the school, the government agency?
  • Build it to work for humans – Effective online training as well as other types of instruction must be designed with an understanding of human neurobiology. For instance, there is a difference between how humans perceive hard copies and how they perceive content on screens. We are easily distracted, so placing too much content on a slide is counterproductive. Depending on how it is used, multimedia can either help or hinder e-learning. Additionally, the instructional designer needs to understand how users with learning differences will experience online courses and adapt the design to facilitate their success.
  • Make it attractive – This is not a fluff add-on; design affects the success of training. No one is drawn to enter an ugly building. In the same way, a poorly designed online course will repel rather than attract users. They might start it, but they will struggle to maintain a positive mindset about the experience. And trying to figure out a clunky interface will sap energy that otherwise would go toward taking in and processing the training. Some especially effective online training even has incorporated gaming features to increase engagement of the learners.

What makes a good instructional designer? Skills that lead to success for an e-learning provider include analytic and research skills, communication skill, creativity, and continuous self-directed learning.

Because the rapid pace of technological change impacts online training, individuals in the field who keep their skills up to date are in high demand and have exciting career possibilities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a growth rate of eleven percent in the training and development industry between now and 2026, which is higher than average for all professionals.

We’ll close this post with the same questions that opened it: What do you want to teach? How will you teach it? If you are not an instructional designer, STREETCAR8 can help you analyze the best way to deliver your content and create e-learning that will accomplish your objectives for your staff or students. Contact us today to tell us about your training needs.