4 types of navigation flows for micro-learning courses

Micro-learning online courses have been easily accepted by today’s millennial workforce. There are no large chunks of content to process, and it facilitates learning rather than imposing it on the learner.

To make these online courses more effective, these can be structured using one of four types of navigation systems – Course, Reference, Social and Game. Let us look at each of these in a little more detail.

1.Course Navigation

This is the traditional flow of learning management systems. The material is broken down into modules that are typically accessed sequentially. The content escalates progressively in complexity or the depth of the knowledge that is being disseminated. Modules are generally released over a period with regular intervals, and a break in the sequence would make the learning difficult to understand.

When to use this navigation

A course-based format of navigation is typically used when depth of learning in a subject is required.

Disadvantages of this navigation

The main disadvantage of this form of navigation is that it is designed for an academic pedagogy and doesn’t relate well to modern adult learning principles. As an example, for a micro-learning system that is being designed to train a sales team with both absolute rookies and sales veterans, the content must start with the basics of sales to cater to rookies. Sales veterans would find this initial content redundant and repetitive. Their interest in the course may wane even before they’ve even parts that are relevant to them. In the course-based format, they have no option but to plough through the initial content to get to the material that is truly relevant to them. A lot of interest loss in e-learning content happens due to this.

2. Reference Navigation

This takes a library-style approach. In this format, the learning happens because the learner is looking to learn. When the learner wants an answer to a specific question or explanation of a concept, he accesses the material organized as a collection of information nuggets with a well-structured searching system.

When to use this navigation

This format of navigation is best used when the learning system needs to be structured with a knowledge management approach. It is particularly applicable when there are frequent updates to the eLearning content. For example, if the organization is in an industry which is highly regulated, like banking or aviation, such a navigation style is good to have as it provides ready reference material.

Disadvantages of this navigation

The main disadvantage of the reference navigation approach is that learners must know what they need to learn before they can search for it. A lot of critical learning might fall through the cracks as a result. As an example, assume the learning management system deals with compliance training in a bank, and a new regulation prohibiting the opening of a certain type of account is released. An employee who does not know about the birthing of this regulation will not become aware of it, simply because he/she does not know to search for it. Reference Navigation based systems require strong notification mechanisms to handle this disadvantage.

3. Social Navigation 

This is a navigation style based on Social Learning Theory (Bandura, 1971). According to this theory, learning is a cognitive process that takes place in a social context and can occur purely through observation or direct instruction, even in the absence of motor reproduction or direct reinforcement. In addition to the observation of behavior, learning also occurs through the observation of rewards and punishments, a process known as vicarious reinforcement. This is a knowledge management approach to eLearning design. The learners themselves participate alongside teachers in creating and growing the eLearning material.

When to use this navigation

A classic case of this approach is a forum where questions are debated and answered by the participants, or there’s a panel of experts who answer questions shared by participants. The now omnipresent mechanics of likes, comments and shares have created an environment where this has emerged as a powerful learning navigation method. Wikipedia, Quora and Stack Overflow are prime examples of effective social learning on a grand scale.

Disadvantages of this navigation

The main disadvantage of this approach comes from its over-reliance on participation for content creation. In an organizational setting, driving users to participate in the learning system is a difficult problem. Gamification mechanics of points, badges, leaderboards, and rewards can be used to help the cause, but designing such a gamification system requires experts, who can be expensive and difficult to find.

4. Game Navigation

This navigation style, also known as game-based learning, is unique to the micro-learning approach. In this style of navigation, the learner engages with the learning management system with the intention to play a game and any learning that happens is through the game and incidental. The learning structure in the game can span the spectrum of complexity, ranging from simple constructs like in-game quizzes and exercises to more complex formats like story-telling and learning through the game-play itself.

The best example of this style, in our opinion, is the Sid Meier’s Civilization series of games. All titles in the series share similar gameplay, centred on building a civilization on a macro-scale from prehistory up to the near future. As of February 2016, the series has reached 33 million total units shipped. While the game is designed for entertainment, it provides strong insights into history, economics, political science and ecology, teaching players at a conceptual level what these evolved concepts truly signify for a society.

This method of micro-learning falls within the space of Serious Games. Serious games are simulations of real-world events or processes designed for the purpose of solving a problem. Serious games can be entertaining; however, their main purpose is to train or educate users. Serious games may also be used for other purposes, such as marketing or advertisement.

In fact, often a serious game will deliberately sacrifice fun and entertainment in order to achieve a desired progress by the player.

When to use this navigation

Given the buzz of game-based learning and gamification which started a decade ago, this navigation can be used and has been used across different types of learning, from employee induction to even more serious topics like compliance training. Engaging storylines and gameplay have proved effective in communicating learning concepts in an engaging and playful manner.

A word of caution: Avoid using this navigation for sensitive topics like POSH training or Gender Sensitization, as it may not go down well with your stakeholders as well as the audience.

Disadvantages of this navigation

The main disadvantage of game-based learning for learning lies in its very name. Games are often seen as non-serious, and therefore, meet with resistance from organizational decision makers. Also, the complexity of serious games need to maintain a very careful balance of challenge and simplicity to be effective. Creating effective microlearning games, therefore, does require game designers, apart from the technology, which can prove to be expensive.

By  Deepak Gawas, Head- Partnerships at QuoDeck
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3 tips for effective gamification in your organization

Gamification is one of the most effective ways of imparting learning to your employees. Standard gamification features include setting up a game like structure, creating leaderboards, offering rewards, badges & certificates, and making it mobile. The following key tenets are routinely overlooked, when using gamification, leading to suboptimal results.

  • Create an interesting storyline: There is a reason why the best games, apart from having great visuals, have the most interesting storylines. Take your audience through a journey, get them excited to move to the next level.  Design all your courses, assessments, and rewards based on the storyline. If you can add mystery and adventure to the fray, you have a winner!
  • Provide a mix of individual and team competition: Most gamified learning journeys offer only one of the two. As social beings, people love competing in groups and helping each other. However, the need to shine as individuals remains. Design assessments that reward top teams and top performers.
  • Decide the deliverable of the gamification: This cannot be emphasized enough. Do you want your employees to have fun, compete or create buzz? Is learning more important or competition? These need to be considered while gamifying your eLearning course.
By  Venkataraman Ananthakrishnan, Head- Online and Global Business at QuoDeck

What are some free, open source, or low-cost authoring tools to create e-learning modules?

When you think of creating eLearning, you are thinking of SCORM modules or a full platform. If you are thinking of Scorm creation, I would recommend building on PowerPoint and using an add-in to convert to basic SCORM. If you can afford it though, Articulate and Captivate are spectacular for authoring.

As an alternative, I would also like to invite you to try QuoDeck to create a mobile learning platform. You can use your existing PPTs, PDFs, and Videos to create the content and layer it with quizzes and games without requiring a separate authoring tool. Give it a spin and see if it works for you…

By Arijit Lahiri, Co-Founder of QuoDeck

How to build effective sales training for high attrition teams?

Attrition is, unfortunately, one of the harsh realities that sales trainers have to deal with today. Driving productivity with a changing base of resources can be tough for any business function, but with sales, it ends up hitting where it hurts. Here are some insights to building effective sales training programs in a high-attrition environment.

While companies worry about attrition across all functions, they worry about it the most in sales teams. CSO Insights puts average sales team attrition levels at around 16% – twice as high as any other function. This means sales trainers are training a third of their audience from scratch every year, without accounting for growth in the team.

Attrition in a sales team can have a strong effect on turnover and affect client relationships as well. Especially when that attrition is of high performers, any organization can go a while before finding replacements and getting these new hires to perform effectively. Therefore, the cost of attrition is not only in actual lost revenues but the time value and return on investment on every subsequent hire.

In high-attrition environments, these costs can pile up significantly. With the amount that companies spend to train these teams every year, ROI for these spends can steadily decline unless managed carefully and through effective sales training programs.

Sales trainers have just one job in high-attrition environments – make new people productive in the shortest time possible. Good onboarding programs can help make sales people productive 2 months faster than less effective programs. With such clarity of purpose, this seems like an easy problem to solve. But its not. 71% of companies take six months or more to onboard people effectively according to CSO Insights.

So, what does it take to build an effective sales training program in such high attrition environments? In one word, “standardization”. Here are some critical ingredients that can help you cook up the right recipe to standardize and increase velocity of your sales training program.

Increase the eLearning/mlearning component in your blend

In today’s mobile world, the tendency and receptiveness to consume digital content has gone up tremendously. A 70:20:10 approach – with 70% on-the-job, 20% mentoring and only 10% structured or eLearning – may be outdated, and more expensive than you think. In high attrition environments, placing the burden of on-the-job training on sales managers can mean a further slowdown in productivity. Since millennials are prone to consume a lot more digital content today, given the ease and convenience of doing so, it could be more effective to increase the eLearning/mlearning component of onboarding programs to ~30% to play into your audience’s natural behaviour. Apart from standardizing what is taught to your audience, it also ensures sales managers can focus on productivity and retention among their sales team rather than constantly worrying about training.

Build a eLearning/mlearning repository for informational content

Most sales onboarding programs try and cram in as much information into the first few interactions that a sales person has with the program. Retention typically takes a hit because of this. A more natural way for your audience to consume is to give them online courses with all the information to be imparted that they can explore at their own pace. This will serve as a go-to destination for all sales people to refer to on a regular basis. In some cases, this can also be used as a sales aid in the field, for quick reference before meeting with customers or networks.

Of course, onboarding programs must give critical information to the sales person before they can get started such as product information, company history, sales processes and systems etc. However, including microlearning highlights with references to your online courses repository will ensure they don’t get deluged with a lot of information they ultimately cannot remember. In a high-attrition environment, having this repository will help you send out your sales people into the field faster with a safety net of the reference repository.

Build a culture of contribution in your audience

When performing sales people leave, a lot of institutional learning leaves with them. Whether this is in the form of insights or anecdotes, effective sales trainers aim to capture and build an organizational knowledge repository to draw upon for their programs. To institutionalize this, sales trainers must push for a ‘culture of contribution’ among their sales teams. Having KPIs around knowledge sharing that require all sales people to contribute to a ‘knowledge repository’ can help build such a culture and keep your program current and relevant.

In today’s digital world, generating this content is far easier than you imagine, especially using modern mobile learning products. Instead of asking your experts for PowerPoint presentations – which you will probably never get – ask them to record and post a short video or audio clip with some sales insights, to the social section of your mobile learning app. Most modern eLearning and mlearning platforms will ease this process. Crowd-sourcing such content can help ease your time and budget constraints and promote ownership of the program among your audience. Such content can be drawn upon by your new sales people for sales tips and tricks they would otherwise take many years to learn.

If the holy grail is getting your new folks onboarded faster, then bringing your onboarding program into the new-age may be a great place to start!

Continue to watch this space for our upcoming series on how to drive sales training adoption

By Kamalika Bhattacharya, CEO & Co-Founder at QuoDeck

5 self-improvement goals for teachers for 2019

“Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together & motivating them, the teacher is the most important” – Bill Gates

Do you find it difficult to grab your students’ attention? Are you looking for ways to engage with them and get them to score better on assessments? Well, technology is the solution here. In today’s technology-led world, you would become obsolete if you did not figure ways to include technology inside, and outside the classroom. Let’s dedicate 2019 to just doing that – in 5 simple steps.

The beginning of a new year is a good time to set objectives. This year, let’s focus on using technology to enhance ourselves.

  • Learn technology – become the expert at education technology

The internet has multiple tools that you can use as an educator. Begin your journey with Google’s tools such as Drive, Gmail, Docs, etc. Once you have the hang of it, you should move to more e-learning focused technologies such as Canva, Course Lab, QuoDeck, etc.

These tools are simple to use and can catapult your classes into the next level on engagement. You can use these for free.

  •      Get on Social Media – tweet your thoughts away

Social Media is the most important piece of the pie, with Twitter being on the top of the list, currently being used by more than 335 million users on monthly basis. Why not put it to use? Connect with people worldwide and share your experiences. Know what’s happening and what’s trending in the field of education technology. Be seen by your students as someone who understands them and believes in technology.

  • Pedagogy – brush up on your teaching techniques

There’s always room for pedagogical improvement – be it theory, getting back to basics, or just adding a new technique to your arsenal. Bringing changes to the way they teach should be a recurring feature in every teacher’s to-do list. Introduce game-based learning in your classroom, bolster text books with educational videos, gamified assessments etc. Make sure that when you plan on using learning games, you plan for rewards as well.

  • Adjust your mindset

If you wish you see the change in the way you teach, you need to first change the way you think about it. To keep up your exposure up to date, you must read books, blogs and articles on methods to transform your teaching and you will start noticing a difference in the way you process the daily challenges of teaching. Connect with other teachers, make groups and share knowledge of the changes that have been made. Practice this in your routine.

  • Bring freshness to your content

Most teachers are comfortable using PowerPoint or Keynotes for their presentations. But what we forget is that all of it doesn’t appeal to the students. What they would be really interested in are games and entertainment. Choose interactive slide presentations along with game-based learning to get your students to learn what you want them to learn. There are simple tools to help you do this. This will result in academic accomplishment along with you becoming a better educator in your students’ eyes.

Ask yourself – How are you growing as a teacher? Have you given a thought to this? If not, now is the right time to do so. These 5 goals are just a starting point.

Do you have your own strategy that has brought changes in you and your students? Tell us all about it. Talk about the kind of tech-related professional development that has been most valuable for you, and why. We would love to hear from you.

 By  Vinaya Souz, Head – Marketing at QuoDeck

6 critical eLearning pitfalls all Learning and Development (L&D) Leaders should avoid

eLearning is like the proverbial Prometheus’ Fire. It will deliver great good for your employees, improve engagement and increase knowledge assimilation. As an L&D leader, you should avoid the following mistakes to help maximize its effectiveness.

  1. Digitizing traditional offline or using existing traditional content: Traditional content such as long videos, lengthy documents and classroom training techniques are not symbiotic with eLearning. Content will have to be created and designed to be engaging, and interactive.
  2. Not creating mobile friendly courses: While this is a must for on field sales force, it is important to roll out mlearning for all employees. Employees spend a lot of time on their mobiles and it is imperative to make learning as informal and accessible as possible, even outside the work place.
  3. No effective assessment tools: Putting out the most engaging and interesting course, with no way to assess your learners, is a waste of your and the learners’ time. Put out quizzes and exams for each section, and the entire course. These tests should be short and fun. Use Images, videos and blurbs as part of the assessment to improve engagement.
  4. No feedback mechanism for the learner:  Learning is a two-way street, the higher the engagement with the learner, the more the learning. One of the primary reasons for drop-off in engagement is the lack of an effective feedback mechanism for the learner to express her views on the course. Listen to what your audience is saying and act on them.
  5. Unclear learning objectives: Why have you set this course up, what do you want your audience to gather, is this course to increase knowledge, boost productivity or develop objection handling skills? If you are unclear of the outcome of the course, your learner will be even more unclear. Lay down objectives at the beginning and design the course to fulfill these objectives. Gather feedback and conduct assessments at regular intervals to modify the course.
  6. Clunky and complicated UI/UX: So, you deployed the latest and most expensive Learning Management System (LMS) in town, but the adoption rates are low and dropping. This might be because its to complicated to navigate. Always approach eLearning from the learners’ point of view, not the creators.  The simpler and more intuitive the UI, the better the chances of learners engaging with it.
By  Venkataraman Ananthakrishnan, Head- Online and Global Business at QuoDeck

What is SCORM?

SCORM (Shareable Content Object Reference Model) is a standardized technical specification for eLearning content. SCORM is comprised of a collection of interrelated technical specifications for creating interoperable and plug-n-play eLearning content. 

SCORM was developed by ADL, an US Government initiative. ADL (Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative) developed SCORM in the 90s to solve interoperability issued for Computer Based Training (CBT) across multiple delivery systems. SCORM can be called the common language that all Learning Management systems speak.

The Two main phrases you will hear associated with SCORM are SCO (Shareable Content Object) and Reference Model (RM).

SCO is the most granular piece of content in SCORM. It like a chapter in a book.  The SCO can be assembled into courses and used across different Learning Management Systems (LMSs) and Organizations.

Reference Model: is the standard set of rules that all SCORM compliant LMS understand thus making course interoperable across various systems.

The existing versions of SCORM are

SCORM 1.1 – this was the first version of the SCORM and is not widely used.

SCORM 1.2 – It is supported by nearly all LMS and majority of content providers create on this version.

SCORM 2004 – is the latest version. The sequencing and navigation feature allows creators to define behaviour within and between SCOs, which was not possible in the previous versions. This helps in greater content interaction and reusability of SCO.

The most popular SCORM authoring tools are –
QuoDeck, Articulate, Camtasia, Adobe Captivate

By  Venkataraman Ananthakrishnan, Head- Online and Global Business at QuoDeck

How to drive E-Learning Adoption?

So, you have deployed a state-of-the-art Learning Management System (LMS) with Machine Learning, AI and every other cutting-edge technology available. But the adoption rates amongst your audience is low, to begin with, and keeps falling as time moves on. Don’t worry, this is a common problem faced by all organizations as they deploy LMS and is easy to address.
People love challenges and competing against each other. Gamify your system to include Leaderboards, Badges, and Prizes for the top performers. Healthy competition will drive usage and learning within your audience.
Pick LMS which offers the feature of embedding learning modules within casual games. People have enough formal reading via emails, presentations, and documents. To expect them to then log into the LMS and go through PDFs and Videos is asking for a bit too much. Casual games are a very effective way to impart microlearning and deliver it through a medium that employees will love.
Content is King. No matter how advanced your LMS is, the quality and interactivity of content will drive adoption. The content must be presented in bite-sized portions through Videos, Animations and other interactive formats.
Close to 40% of the workforce is made up of millennials. To reach out to them, ensure the LMS and the content is mobile ready, across multiple OEMs and Operating Systems.
Employees learn more and faster from each other, rather than a centralized learning system. Ensure your LMS offers learners to communicate, exchange information and help each other during the course.

By  Venkataraman Ananthakrishnan, Head – Online and Global Business at QuoDeck

Why engagement is a critical ingredient in successful sales training?

Building a performing sales team is the holy grail that all organizations chase – and it’s definitely not an easy task. But building lasting engagement is a critical ingredient that can separate a good sales training program from a bad one.

Sales is the lifeblood of most organizations, and a performing sales team is worth its weight in gold.

Building an effective sales training program is the holy grail that all sales trainers chase – and it’s definitely not an easy task. More often than not, what seems like an easy problem to solve, can be a multi-layered challenge within a changing business and technology environment.

It’s clear that there are no easy formulas that sales trainers can plug in to make their sales training programs effective. But it all starts with ensuring that sales people at least consume the learning. Without adoption, it is futile to worry about downstream metrics like effectiveness, retention and application.

Adoption has many layers, and is very similar to any modern marketing problem. If you think of learners as consumers or ‘app users’ in the modern mobile learning context, problems become a little more apparent.

Just like a consumer app faces uninstalls after an initial period of usage, most learning programs suffer because they focus on creating short-term engagement. A good onboarding course or a gamified learning program will create short-term engagement but will leave learners very little to come back to when they have finished consuming that piece of content.

Therefore, sales trainers typically see good initial usage of their programs, and very little engagement after that.

In a training context, even if this results in a good onboarding experience, it rarely results in ongoing consumption of sales training and communication, Therefore, after the initial onboarding program, when sales people are on the field and need to be trained on new product releases or to address problem areas, getting them back to the training app or platform is as big a problem as when you launch.

So, how can you keep them coming back again and again? Build engagement.

It may help to better understand the psyche of the modern learner to figure out how to create ongoing engagement. In the context of mobile learning, any training app is competing for mindshare with platforms such as Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. These are the apps that your users prefer to spend time on rather than consume learning. What is attractive about these apps, is that they serve up a constant stream of content for users to consume.

Learners will only flock to something which gives them equal engagement and freshness of content. Therefore, the chances of running a successful sales training program improve multi-fold by creating engagement and keeping up a high velocity of content. On average, putting out fresh content every day or alternate day is a good way to pique learner’s interest to see what you will come up next. If the overall quality of learning content you put out is interesting, you should see a upward trend in ongoing engagement levels among your users.

So, how does one do that without having to spent enormous amounts of money to create content? Here are a few tips.

Crowd source content

Most of the real wisdom on sales training comes from subject matter experts from within the organization. Leverage that by asking your internal subject matter experts to provide you with content that you can send out to your learners on a regular basis. A large kitty of content you can keep cycling through will ensure that your learners get to see something new every day or week. Use microlearning principles to nugget this content into bite-sized chunks and you can send out something every day. This will keep learners coming back for more. Ensure that your mobile app puts out push notifications so that learners know that fresh content is being populated every day.

Frequent quizzes and contests

Putting together an assessment is far easier than creating learning content from scratch. Create question banks that you can slice and dice into quick assessments. Create weekly contests and let learners visually see their performance through leader boards. The competitive element should naturally appeal to sales people. It does not matter if some questions are repeated from one quiz to the other. In fact, critical aspects or facts about your product should be repetitive to ensure retention, therefore, repeat those questions across multiple quizzes. These assessments can also help you identify gaps in knowledge and understanding.

Leverage social learning

Take a page out of the book of immensely successful social media such as Twitter and Facebook, and use social constructs to ensure content is always moving and fresh. Identify voices of authority among your sales team – for example, a veteran sales person respected by the team or an opinion leader. Ask them to put out micro-nuggets of content, such as an anecdote about their experience while selling. Ask them to post this content on the social learning section of your learning app. Drive engagement by boosting that post in the social network. This will encourage others to share more nuggets and drive repeat visits.

Use games and gaming

The planet spends around 30 billion hours a week playing games like Candy Crush and Angry Birds – this is natural behaviour. Play into this natural behaviour by giving them games to explore and play with. Having a ‘game arcade’ or library of games that they can try out just for ‘fun’ can be a great way to keep them coming back.

Quick authoring

This is the most obvious of them all. It is important to have your actual learning content out there, apart from the social and crowd-sourced aspects of this. Most learning platforms come with quick authoring and if yours doesn’t, you should find one. Quick authoring tools will allow you to create templatized micro-learning nuggets out of existing content. Ensuring that you have a constant pipeline of content being created will allow you to recycle over a period of time, once new learners enter the system.

Remember, learners should be treated more as app users, where the objective is to create engagement and pull, rather than use push methods to get them to consume learning. As soon as you see learning as a marketing problem, solutions start to appear more readily.

By Kamalika Bhattacharya, CEO & Co-Founder at QuoDeck

Can corporate E-Learning be Engaging?

The key thing to understand here is that corporate elearning is different from formal education in one key aspect. Learners in a corporate setting need to be attracted to every single item of content every single time. In this way, corporate learning needs to be thought of as a marketing problem similar to what video creators and movie makers face.

So how do they engage their audience that one can replicate for learning?

From our observation of successful instructional designers on the QuoDeck platform, we have found the following 3 techniques to be the most successful in engaging corporate learners:

  1. Nuggeting – No content exceeds 20 minutes at a time. Individual videos are less than 3 minutes each. These allow for quick consumption with low commitment hurdles for the learners and therefore tend to get higher trial rates.
  2. Micro Achievements – Using inline questions, small games, quizzes and feedback loops makes learners constantly feel good about themselves. These tend to drive spaced repetition of question-based learning and through instant gratification, keeps them coming back for more.
  3. Completion Motivation – Learning paths, serialized stories, branching and gamification techniques also seem to be very effective in keeping people engaged through the learning and drive higher completion rates.

Beyond these, of course, great content with sparkling wit, humorous takes and deep context works, but that’s art, not science. And if you can get instructional designers who can deliver that, well, you got gold…

By Arijit Lahiri, Co-Founder of QuoDeck

Insights on corporate e-learning, mobile learning, game-based learning & learning management system