EduBrite LMS features administrators appreciate – Part 1

Appreciate_EduBrite

I continuously interact with many LMS administrators who are using EduBrite LMS. Some are using to train internal employees while others have broader usage. They are not only responsible for internal training but also responsible for running online learning center for external audience such as partners and customers. We really enjoy working with LMS administrators and value their continuous feedback. Dedicating this blog to you all and discussing some key features in this series, which makes your life cool:

i. Overall administration/management

This is one of the most loved and appreciated feature, which allows an administrator to create an online training environment where training can be managed centrally or it can be decentralized. EduBrite LMS supports various roles at multiple level. A classic example is “Train the trainer and the trainer trains learners”. In this case a trainer (or manager) can be a learner in one group, where he/she is getting trained by a corporate trainer but can be an administrator of a group, for which he/she responsible for training activities (including creating course, course sessions, events, managing users, enrolling them into courses, events, tracking their progress etc.). So essentially delegating administration and control where it belongs, this saves a lot of time for administrators and trainers/managers.

ii. User Management

The core philosophy here is to provide tools, which makes administrator’s day-to-day job easy and saves time on admin activities. This list is long so highlighting few:

iii. Group Management

Group is at the center in EduBrite LMS. It allows logical grouping of users and resources (learning and social content). EduBrite supports flexible hierarchical group structure, which allows to map organizational departments. Each group supports various roles such as group admin, group instructors and learners. Various formal learning activities such as courses, tests, surveys, assignments and informal learning activities such social collaboration such as forum, discussion boards, resource sharing, polls etc. are managed within a group. Group admin has privilege to manage learners, their enrollment to the courses/events, tracking/reporting etc.

Another added feature is group access – Open, By request and By invite. Typically informal groups has access Open or By request. Formal learning groups typically have By Invite access. If using integration with user provisioning system (SSO) then the groups/users from user provisioning system are mapped directly to EduBrite group structure.

I will be discussing some more cool features in the next part of this series.

Enabling Collaborative and Social Learning through Enterprise Social Network

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In my previous blog on collaborative and social learning, we discussed about the need for technology to evolve and be enabler to support the self-directed informal learning. Technology platforms such as social networks allow individuals to share their ideas, their innovations, get feedback, improve their products, collaborate and help foster new way of learning we call ‘social learning’. These collaborative networks allow anyone and everyone to share information and be a student, a mentor, a designer and publisher.

Taking the informal learning to next level are the Enterprise Social Networks, where employees collaborate with each other across all sorts of boundaries. There is no limitation of department, or business function or location. Employees can connect to the right people when they need it, can share information across teams or even organize around projects to be successful and go further, faster. This allows individuals to tap into their network and discover wealth of information which is not available via formal means, allowing them to make quick decisions and getting things done. With these benefits of social network at enterprise level, what if someone wants to give structure to the information as a content object or a course and share with their network? What if someone in the network has successfully deployed a product and there is need to transform that as an instructional video to help others? What if someone has shared information with the network and others have rated that individual as an expert and there is a need to capture that expertise level? What if the benefits of enterprise social network can be extended with an integration to learning management system allowing employees to insert the training content as a course making it part of their social DNA?

This allows enterprises to transform their social networks into learning communities. Employees can access and share the knowledge within the network they spend most of their time. It empowers subject matter experts to capture their knowledge into structure courses and share with their network without any need to worry about connecting or logging into another application or tool. Not only it allows blending the formal and informal approaches to learning, it also allows ability to track the completion of content and giving credits to individuals to view or access the information shared through these courses. Many social network and learning platform providers are taking step in this direction and are partnering to make this happen. One of the popular enterprise collaboration platform and social network is delivered by Yammer. Yammer is used by 85% of the fortune 500 companies and it provides growth platform for these organizations to listen to each other and adapt quickly. Edubrite is an LMS provider and they have an app for Yammer allowing anyone in Yammer network to start training and assessing their teams easily. This enables and extends the enterprise social networks to offer integrated LMS environment making it easy to transform the informal content into shareable courses and truly enabling collaborating and social learning. For more information on EduBrite Yammer Integration.

Author: Praveen Khurana

Praveen Khurana is a learning technology leader in learning management and human capital systems. He has 18+ years of experience in this industry and has consulted with and has implemented learning, talent and knowledge management systems for many fortune 500 companies.

LMS configurability : Power in user’s hand – Part 2

Continuing from LMS configurability : Power in user’s hand – Part 1:

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As discussed in the part 1, customers can select features of their choice, design micro-site’s look and feel, and labels etc. by configuring the various options available. This helps customers to create workflows to meet their needs to train either internal audience or external audience or both .  In this blog, we will showcase some examples which will cover that how using configuration or setting options customers can manage menu options, user interface, security controls and various other functional features.

Menu management

Menu management allows navigational control and display of  headers menu and sub menus. This is manged from User Interface tab at Site details:

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Note : You can override default headers to meet your specific need. Some of the examples are:

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UI management

EduBrite supports complete branding of a micro-site so that you can create a training portal to meet your business needs. The administrator(s) can design a training portal with branded label names, user interface that suits your brand and map training processes by changing header/footer or by creating necessary dynamic and static pages. Some more specific things which can be done are :

Your own domain : Defaulf microsite name is mycompany.edubrite.com. You can have your website’s domain e.g. training.mycomany.com or mycompany.com/training

Your own labels : EduBrite allows to change labels to meet your business terminologies. This changes works throughout the application including menu/sub-menus. e.g. learner = Employee or instructor = Trainer or Program = Learning Path etc.

Your Headers/Footers: You can create your own headers and footers. It overrides default header and footer.

Branded home and other pages: Using native Content Management System (CMS), customer can create their own training homepage and other pages – your verbiages, your message and your own images.  EduBrite allows creation of both dynamic and static pages. The big idea here is to empower customer so that they can design what, where and when on their training portal.

Additional fields for user attribute : Additional fields can be added to capture user relevant information. This is more useful in cases, when your learners are external audience.

Your Language : A default languages can be setup but users can still be allowed to change the language. Administrator can limit the choice of available languages to users.

User Dashboard Management : EduBrite Dashboard displays various panels such as “My Items”, “Events”, “Completed Items”, “Calendar”, “Groups” etc. A user has an option to select or not select these panels on their dashboard. The administrator(s) can override  users’ ability to change and can setup a per-defined Training Dashboard for all users.

EduBrite’s knowledgebase provides more details on theses topics and various additional topics.

E-mail (Communication) Management

EduBrite allows to configure the sender’s name and e-mail address to manage outward communication messages to your learners. EduBrite also allows to design your own e-mail templates and message. The administrator(s) has ability to see all the messages sent out from the system.

Access/Security Controls

There are many user access related controls, which can be set using simply check boxing various settings in Security Tab at Site details:SiteDetail3_1

Some of the examples of using the feature above are:

1. Design your training portal, which requires mandatory credentials.

2. Enable self sign-up.

3. Inactivate course access automatically once users have completed their course.

These are useful features for companies (or training providers) when training both internal and external users.

Features Management

There are plenty of functional features, which an admin can turn on/off to meet their requirements. This can be done by going to Features tab at Site details:SiteDetail2

For example -

1. Group collaboration or social learning features can be set using features such as Group Documents, Group Forum, Group Poll.

2. For selling courses you can enable Course Catalog feature. As you create course and set their prices, course catalog will appear. See below:Course_Catalog

 

3. You can manage LMS login using users Facebook or Linked credentials by setting up feature Facebook/LinkedIn Integration.

Configuring these features is easy, as you have seen in many examples, most of them can be turned on/off as needed and most importantly future upgrades or releases are quite transparent, smooth and doesn’t impact current functionalities thus resulting in higher ROI to your businesses. Customers’ inputs and new learning trends are continuously shaping our future releases. As we release new features, we provide details to our customers in news letter and explain them how to configure/enable new features. With new releases new features are not enabled, this gives an opportunity to customer to review and test out new features before rolling out them on their  micro-site.

EduBrite system offers quite flexibility all around application to give the best experience to the all users (including administrator, content creator and learners). There are many ways to map training processes, we love to hear from you and discuss. For your specific need or customized demo, please contact us at sales@edubrite.com

 Image by Carlo Montoya

Collaborative and Social Learning

2758777221_ddef7951cf_z In last few years the buzzwords like learning or training, e-Learning, collaboration, human capital management, talent management, etc. have become very popular when it comes to the new trends in learning industry. To the most part these terms are used interchangeably and may mean the same thing which various learning and development (L&D) vendors, corporate universities, private schools or educational institution have been using to attract their target audiences and to cash it on. This represents some form of structured formal learning which is in either classroom or virtual kind of setting or may be available online for self-learning. The objectives are same and that is to disseminate well-structured content to group of people which someone in higher authority (typically small group of intellectual elite; either by ranks or knowledge) decided that specific group of people should learn or master. In some cases the group of people may also have to go through some form of assessment to prove that they actually gained something from the experience. Well, did they really? How effective was that? May be they were able to memorize some portion of content, but do they know how to use or apply it in real world? Can the learners be productive and successful with new acquired knowledge? The fact is that the formal learning is the source of only 10-20% of learning of these days. The remaining 80-90% of learning today happens through informal or social and collaborative means.

As per Wikipedia, Collaborative learning is a situation in which two or more people learn or attempt to learn something together. Unlike individual learning, people engaged in collaborative learning capitalize on one another’s resources and skills (asking one another for information, evaluating one another’s ideas, monitoring one another’s work, etc.).  More specifically, collaborative learning is based on the model that knowledge can be created within a population where members actively interact by sharing experiences and take on asymmetry roles. Put differently, collaborative learning refers methodologies and environments in which learners engage in a common task where each individual depends on and is accountable to each other. These include both face-to-face conversations and computer discussions (online forums, chat rooms, etc.).

What do you think? Does it make sense? It certainly does. Learning actually is social assisted with collaborative environment. Think about how we have been learning really most of what we know in life; be it how to speak, how to eat, how to socialize, good manners, what to do or not to do, how to play certain sports, etc. etc. Did we learn all that in school or formal setting?  The clear answer is No. Most of that we learned from other people we interacted or collaborated with in our social circle – our parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, friends, coaches,  mentors, etc.  And similarly at work we learn in hallways, in break rooms, may be from our colleague in next cubicle, may be reaching out to help-desk when needed, through our mentors and basically working with people who know the stuff or can work with us to figure things out. That is the real effective way of learning and it helps us to learn, not only in fast manner but retain the knowledge for long as well, probably our lifetime. As part of collaborative learning process, we also learn how to apply the knowledge we have gained really effectively and be better individual. How cool is that? That is actually putting  social and collaborative learning in practice. And the best part is that it is personal, and self-driven.

Today’s generation is more aware of the need for collaborative and social learning than ever. If they do not get to learn things through formal means, they take matters in their own hands and go for self-directed learning. They Google stuff, go to social networking to ask questions, take help of discussion forums and other collaborative means to get what they need. They are more brand aware as well (i.e. Brand “You”) and constantly like to learn to improve their marketability. This encourages learners to reach out to others to share knowledge, to solve problems and get deeper understanding. It also teaches them how to look to others as a resource, collaborate as a team, test their theories and help out and contribute in social circle. That makes everyone today a learner, mentor, instructional designer and publisher (Well, I would say, this blog is one such example of that!).

If there is such a strong need for social and collaborative learning, how are the Learning Management System (LMS) or Talent Management System (TMS) vendor’s contributing in this space? We discussed about some of the key components of social and collaborative learning above. Let us translate that into what is needed from LMS vendors today to help support this initiative. Some of the key ingredients for successful collaboration and social learning would be content authoring features (ability to author content), content workflow for inception to publishing to storage and archiving (LCMS), social features for peer to peer networking, integration capabilities with other business applications in an organization, collaboration features (chat, discussion forums, Web Conferences, etc.), learner friendliness, application configurability to meet business environment and taste, customer and partner learning support with commerce, availability on mobile devices and also analytics features to be able to measure results against business objectives. Can vendors support all or most of it today?

Edubrite’s LMS platform provides host of services for successful collaborative and social learning experience.  It provides easy to use authoring capabilities within its LMS platform, discussion forums allow learners to discuss topics at group or specific course level, learners can collect feedback and opinions using polls feature, event management functionality allows for setting up meetings, exams or training sessions as needed, peer to peer networking and update capabilities helps in exchange of ideas, resource/document sharing amongst groups, Web Conferences integration for blended learning experience, etc. Additional details on Edubrite’s offering can be found by contacting team EduBrite.

Image by Gay Biddlecombe

Author: Praveen Khurana Praveen Khurana is a learning technology leader in learning management and human capital systems. He has 18+ years of experience in this industry and has consulted with and has implemented learning, talent and knowledge management systems for many fortune 500 companies.

LMS configurability : Power in user’s hand – Part 1

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Most of you in learning industry have come across and have used applications and tools which are vendor provided (off the shelf). Many of these serve the business purpose to most part, but don’t necessarily meet all the specific needs of business (there could be tons of reasons for it) and then you end up customizing the application to meet them. Depending upon your choices and the extent of customizations you add to the base product, you ultimately end up maintaining these customizations for the lifetime of the product. As evolves the business need and its complexities, so goes the hunger for customizations to meet those needs and desires.  And ultimately you may end up in such a big rat-hole where it gets almost impossible to get out of it. The cost of maintaining these customizations get higher and higher and the upgrades to new versions of the application/tool gets harder and harder.

What if you could change it? What if there is a vendor whose application not only provides the base feature set you need to meet key requirements for your business, but also provides you with tools and flexibility to configure (You see, Configure and Not Customize!) the application’s workflows and user experience to meet specific needs of business.

Edubrite provides you such LMS platform! Multilingual LMS platform from Edubrite is a complete SaaS authoring and delivery package for training and assessment needs. It has configurable workflows built in the application architecture providing tons of easy to use features. It provides all the right information and tools one need on the dashboard itself based on the user type (training admins, learners, etc.). It also delivers complete control to administrators and learners to define and configure what they want to see on their pages as per their preference and taste. It also delivers all the tools needed for super admins of the application and its sites to turn on/off the features they need and configure their sites for their specific business scenarios and needs.  It makes ongoing maintenance and upgrades completely transparent and smooth and hence delivering huge ROI to businesses.

Check out part 2, where we will discuss specific examples on the same topic.

Author: Praveen Khurana

Praveen Khurana is a learning technology leader in learning management and human capital systems. He has 18+ years of experience in this industry and has consulted with and has implemented learning, talent and knowledge management systems for many fortune 500 companies.

Image by Carlo Montoya

Blended Learning – WebEx integration

We now have integration with WebEx. With this integration EduBrite LMS is supporting organization’s blended learning need quite comprehensively. Now organizations can create their training with the combination of self paced online learning lessons (asynchronous learning) and live remote training (synchronous learning) for their workforce, partners and customers. All activities related to WebEx (create WebEx sessions, start or join WebEx sessions) is managed right from EduBrite LMS.

You now get best of both worlds! Leverage popular and commonly used web conferencing tool and also organize all learning information in one place. Quite cool, isn’t it? Another cool add-on is EduBrite allows you to monetize WebEx session same way as selling your online courses. Additionally, trainers can use following LMS features to augment their ILT (Instructor Led Training) sessions:

  • Attendance
  • Assignments
  • Quizzes
  • Surveys
  • Learner collaboration – Group Forum or Course Session Forum

We have launched WebEx integration feature in Q4, 2013. Initial setup needs to be done by LMS admin and will need key Ids from WebEx Account. For more details on Setup and how to use this feature, please refer our knowledgebase article.

Thinking about Learning Platform, Review your delivery needs

Trainings delivery methods can be as diverse as you can think of, such as self paced eLearning, instructor led (classroom/online), hands on experiments (online or offline), informal or combination of all. In this post let’s look at some common delivery characteristics you should consider when you look for a LMS. LMSs have different flavors and not all of them would be a good fit in all situations. This is second in the series, previous one discussed about Content aspects

Scheduling: Some training sessions are short like an instructor led online session for few hours and some are few days to months long which may be fully or partially self paced. Different capabilities are needed in LMS to make it good for both kinds of delivery. In professional trainings you might have some parts of the trainings done as seminar/webinar also. Does your LMS provide you flexibility to be used in all such scenarios? You should be able to setup the delivery, which could be for few hours, days or even weeks and months. Scheduling of individual items (like modules) should also be possible, especially in case of full or partial instructor led trainings. In case of self-paced delivery, system should allow you to setup number of days allowed in each step of the training, after which access to that step would get revoked.

Assessments: Multiple ways of assessments are needed depending on the kind of trainings you provide. Some examples are – embedded multiple-choice questions in the eLearning courses, giving online assignments (like a business plan writing), offline activity (like doing a presentation or experiment) or conducting formal exams. In some cases, you might find a printed questionnaire would be better suited to collect trainees responses which could be for assessment or survey. LMSs must be able meet these different kinds of assessment needs, otherwise an important aspect of trainings would have to be done outside of the LMS which will reduce its effectiveness.

Informal: To reduce the cost of managing scheduling of training programs, you might benefit more by making courses accessible to learners even without scheduling or assigning them. This is a kind of informal training practice, where teams (or training department) can create library of courses (just like a document library). There should be a way for learners to find and launch these courses and system should track and report the activities. This can be a powerful model to train your employees, customers and partners informally.

Access: Depending on who is getting trained, sometime you need to apply different access policies for the same course. E.g. its okay to given free access to the course for self-enrollment to employees, while your customers and partners may need to go thru online payment before they can enroll in the course. Depending on the kind of partner or customer, you might have different prices for the same course, and may also provide access to the course for different durations. You might also want to use the same course (or part of it) in instructor led programs where an instructor would utilize the course content. Check whether your LMS allows this flexibility or not. Any restriction or requiring you to make copies of course for different delivery situations would become a big overhead.

Learner’s Experience: Learners have very simplistic view about how they take online trainings. Ideally learners shouldn’t need any special training to use the LMS. Everything from learner’s perspective such as their enrolled and completed courses or catalog of available courses and events should be available to them on their dashboard. While going thru eLearning courses, learners should be able to easily navigate between the different content items in-place in the same context. On mobile devices, your training delivery should provide native experience with touch, swipe, zooming and panning just like any other app. Learners should be provided visual feedback about their progress and guided to advance in the course. Some other abilities such as pause and resume (even across multiple login sessions) auto bookmarking (to resume from where you left) and notes taking are quite important as well. For mobile delivery, think about whether you can make full or part of it available for offline access.

Download/Print/Email: Based on the kind of trainings, learners might be needed to download some parts of the course material – like an assignment, handout etc. Course creator should be able to allow selective download of certain items, and while viewing the course, learners should be provided visual clue about what is downloadable and what is not. Even in case of instructor led trainings, instructors might need to download/print some lessons to use in classrooms. Downloading should not compromise content security of the overall course.

Collaboration & Sharing: Having exposed to social platforms every day in personal or professional life, we all can see how essential it is to have collaboration among all participants in the trainings. Giving ability of discussion and sharing to the learners can enhance the learner’s experience and effectiveness of your trainings.

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