I already have a training department, what do I need ThinkingKap for?
We’d be the first to champion the advantages of a strong in-house training department. But one thing we see again and again is how much pressure training departments are under to perform and produce training that not only implements learning goals but also satisfies the demands of management and, at the same time, justifies the very existence of the training team itself. No pressure!
Words like “outsourcing” might sound scary to your existing training team and are often a touchy subject. Don’t worry, we don’t want to take anyone’s job. We can back up your training team with fresh outside opinions, business solutions and outsourcing services that can free-up your training department’s bandwidth so they can accomplish more.
Can you teach my organization how to design its own courses?
YES! That’s part of what we do at ThinkingKap: We teach teaching.
We can give you the kind of input that will set you up to take the lead in your organization and beyond. We can do workshops or one-on-one coaching. We can also audit courses and offer instructional design recommendations and suggestions for making them more interactive and engaging.
Whether you want your team to learn more about creating test plans and writing test questions or helping them learn how to use Articulate Storyline, we’ve got your back.
Can you help me with the budget side of training? I don’t care if my employees are bored with their training, I just want it to cost less.
Okay, first of all, to all your employees: we’re sorry. It doesn’t have to be like this…
As for you, it turns out that cheap, generic training is a case of “penny wise, pound foolish.” You may save a little up front, only to pay dearly with lost productivity and an undertrained, and often unhappy, staff. Boring training is forgettable; that’s why standard corporate training is often repeated every year. It turns out the average trainee forgets 50% of what they learned after one hour, and 90% after one month.
Investing in training increases employee’s investment in your enterprise. You get better work out of your team and you can expect fewer mistakes, mishaps and screw-ups due to ineffective training. Great training doesn’t need to be repeated nearly as often because learners retain more in an engaging course.
All that said, we know quality training and a budget is always a balancing act. We can help you design a training strategy that takes into consideration your budget and the success of your learners by following our Success Principles.
My senior management is asking if our training department needs to begin implementing eLearning instead of ILT. What are the questions I need to be prepared to answer?
I think we’re all good in the training department, but we’d like to keep up-to-date with the latest learning trends and data.
Awesome. We do too! We find it interesting when things start showing up on the internet as ‘trends’ that have really been around for years. These revivals are often a spark for a blog article or presentations like the one on Adaptive Learning we delivered at DevLearn 2016. In the meantime, you’ll find all sorts of helpful info and analysis on our blog.
How does the cost of eLearning compare to in-person instruction?
In terms of upfront cost, there’s no comparison. It is generally much more expensive to develop eLearning. Think about it. In-person instruction has the flexibility of expert instructors being able to ad lib or adapt to the situation. Whereas eLearning needs to be fully scripted and programmed.
As for the cost of distribution, there’s no comparison. eLearning is infinitely scalable, doesn’t require coordination of schedules, and allows for unlimited distribution and reuse. This makes for a substantial cost savings, over time, compared with classroom training.
You’ll want to consider the versatility, personalization and convenience of eLearning when deciding which type of training to invest in.
On average, a finished one-hour course can take four to six months to design and develop. But this number can vary significantly depending on the complexity of the material and design, as well as the availability of content experts and internal turnaround times. It’s a collaborative effort involving multiple reviews, revisions, and testing.
Our process ensures things move as efficiently as they can without sacrificing quality and thoroughness.
Can’t you just turn my in-person training into eLearning?
However, you can’t just take a classroom course, put it in an online format, and call it a day. I mean, you can, but nobody will like it. You see, instructor led training has the personality of the trainer and all the stimuli of the real world to help it along. eLearning has a screen. That’s it! For eLearning to work, it has to be designed specifically to create engagement using only the screen and take into account the difference in attention span for that medium.
I’m not too tech-savvy. I’m worried that I’ll be in over my head when the time comes to deliver the course.
Totally understandable. Luckily, you’re not alone in this problem and we’ve built in strategies to address it. We don’t just build the course and pass it off for you to deal with the technology on your own – we see it through to the end.
Part of our process is educating clients about the steps in developing and delivering eLearning programs, including the choices and options you have regarding how the course talks to the Learning Management System.
We realize eLearning can be a little mysterious, but we aim for transparency. We want you to understand the methodology behind the finished training product.
Do you use SMEs?
Yes. We can work with your in-house SMEs (subject matter experts) to distill their most valuable lessons into course content, or we can do the research ourselves if you don’t have an SME.
Our content is very dry, and our corporate culture might be upset if we tried to make it funny. So, what options might you suggest?
Man, do we feel your pain on this one. But if you can surprise your learners, or make them laugh, you’re guaranteed to get more value for your training dollars, because people tend to remember the course that didn’t put them to sleep!
That said, humor doesn’t fit every corporate culture. Even if you’re not looking to do anything funny with your material, there are still ways to make your content exciting and engaging.
Part of what we do is take a look at the course from a learner’s perspective and find ways to make it as stimulating and exciting as possible. It might be as simple as telling a story, or using an analogy, or an interesting use of animations and movement, or conversational and plain English scripting.
While funny can be good, engaging is what’s truly important.
A new hire needs to learn a lot to work with us. Can you build me a course that teaches them everything they need to know?
Yes. But, trust us, you don’t want to teach “everything they need to know” in a single course. Instead, you might want to first design an on-boarding curriculum architecture that prioritizes what the new hire needs to know first. Well-designed training addresses what learners need to know, when they need to know it, and nothing more.
The training needs of a new hire, on her first day, are totally different from someone who’s been with you a few months. If you teach company policy about bonuses and benefits on day one, nobody is going to remember that information months later when they actually need it.
How can we design training that guarantees knowledge retention and job transfer?
One of the biggest keys to retention is engagement, and one of the most important criteria to keep someone engaged is relevancy. Throwing in factoids that someone “might encounter at some point” or “will be important down the line” is just noise right now. People want to know what they need to know NOW. Good instructional design focused on performance-based learning minimizes distractions and gives you the most out of each session.
We don’t think of ourselves as SMEs, and we have very little content documented. Can you still help me design and build a course?
Of course! (Pun fully intended.) All good design has to start somewhere, so researching existing materials or interviewing SMEs is where we start. We’re experienced with research, and we know what to look for. If all your knowledge is in your head, we can surgically extract the knowledge (but an interview to get it out would be significantly less painful). And if your scope is somehow different or broader than what you have in-house, we can go out into the world and collect what’s needed to build something. Just tell us what success looks like – what are the objectives – and we’ll get you there.
We already have a course, but it might be in need of a re-design, can you help with that?
Absolutely. Our instructional design methodology can be used to build a course from scratch or to improve existing training. We can work backwards to find your learning objectives in the material and re-define them if they don’t align with the true needs of your learners. We can look at your existing course to ensure congruency between the learning objectives and content, and offer recommendations on how to bring the content into alignment with the objectives through various design strategies. Whether it’s a new course or a re-design, you’ll come away with something that’s measurable, specific, and customized to your needs and resources.
We also offer Course Conversion to adapt instructor led training to eLearning or convert eLearning to mobile-friendly training.
We already have an eLearning course, but it’s old and cheesy. I feel like our people laugh at the haircuts in the videos more than they learn. Can you update it?
Sure! Cheesy, dated training isn’t just goofy, it’s potentially harmful to the learning process. Learners can’t focus on content when they have to look past silly details, like wide neck ties, big hair, and shoulder pads. It’s just too distracting. Additionally, when learners have to try to make sense of irrelevant examples, they can’t find the connection of how that content matters to them.
If you’re not sure whether your eLearning is dated: see if someone can guess how old it is. For example, the difference in images of computers, laptops, tablets and smart phones can date an eLearning course over a period of only a few short years.
We have a been given the mandate to shorten all existing eLearning courses to 15 minutes. How do we go about converting a one- to two-hour eLearning into a program that short?
Acceptable course lengths have changed over time for both ILT and eLearning. Five-day ILT courses are being cut to three so employees don’t have to travel over the week-end. eLearning seat time is being reduced from hours, to minutes, to the new extreme of “micro-learning” in 30-40 second bursts. For that reason, many old courses feel endless to today’s learners.
Start by breaking down the content into small bite-size chunks with only one simple objective. Then cut out the fat – all that information the SME just had to have in the course, but isn’t needed to support the learning objective.
How do you make old eLearning look more modern and relevant?
It’s mainly about making sure your training feels current, and applicable to your employees in their jobs today…not 20 years ago.
At some point in time, people must have viewed now cheesy videos as cutting edge, or at least tolerable. Clip art used to be the rage but now is viewed as unprofessional and amateurish. Back in the early days of PowerPoint, instructors were obsessed with all the new effects that program offered. If they could make those letters spin, they’d make them spin!
We now know that this distracts students and makes them laugh. And in this case, they’re not laughing with you. The science of learning has come a long way, and our new understanding shapes modern design choices. The best training, on or offline, feels like it was made just for you. Today.
I want to convert some ILT topics to eLearning, but I don’t know how to code? Is there a way to create eLearning without a programmer?
You’ll be astounded by the possibilities to DIY when it comes to eLearning. As the development tools become more user-friendly, it has become easier to accurately replicate real life tasks in eLearning. You no longer need advanced coding skills to create eLearning. Something that required a custom Flash developer a few years ago, and would have been beyond most budgets, is now achievable with much more approachable development tools and online applications and wizards.
We have a ton of flash-based coursework. Can you convert them to something mobile-friendly?
Most of the legacy eLearning development tools output Flash-based courses that don’t work on mobile. While many of the current versions of those tools can output to mobile, they don’t account for the many design limitations HMTL5 and touch screens introduce. Many things need to be redesigned to work within this new framework. We can help migrate your content into courses that can play across multiple platforms and are still optimized for mouse and keyboard or touchscreen delivery.
Instructor-Led Learning Solutions
Can you also deliver the training for me?
Sort of… Several of us here at ThinkingKap were trainers in a past life, so we could co-facilitate if needed. We also specialize in training others to facilitate training. If you plan on using in-house talent to conduct your ILT, but you have concerns about their skill level, we can give them the tools they need to train like pros.
I get what you’re saying about the “boring lectures” but I have so much material to cover. I need to do a lot of “telling” or my people aren’t going to have all the information they need.
With all due respect, you’ve got it completely backwards. It’s not as if all the learning happens in the “tell me” and “show me” phases. In a good course, the whole thing is a learning experience. The fact is, people get more out of it when they participate in their own learning. So it’s vital to have an active component, and usually, the more activity the better.
What we do when we design a facilitated course is evaluate all your content and scaffold that info into a structure that suits your learning objectives. We sort out what needs to be told in a straightforward manner, what can be communicated by example, and what is best learned through hands-on practice.
What is the difference between passive and active design?
Learning can be explained in three phases “tell me, show me, let me”.The telling and showing phases are passive for the learners. These are the lecture and the demonstration.
The “let me” phase is where the learners get active. That’s when learners apply what they’ve been taught and practice it in a safe environment, where mistakes are corrected and learned from.
At ThinkingKap, we design ILT that focuses on participation and measurable progress. In a given hour of a well-designed ILT course, you might have 20 minutes of instruction or demonstration, and 40 minutes of activities or role-play. The ratios don’t always play out like this, but when they do, the extra thought and preparation that goes into building a course like this pays dividends in terms of what learners get out of it.
When is it most appropriate to select instructor-led learning as a solution?
There’s no substitute for hands-on experience in doing physical tasks, especially if the task is difficult or there is a high degree of risks and consequences that cannot be created, for whatever reason, in an eLearning simulation. Better to make a mistake in a controlled environment, don’t you think?
Another area involves any performance requirement having to do with responding to the subtleties of real conversation involving interpersonal dynamics or non-verbal communication. Practicing sales and service communication on a computer is one thing, but practice with a real live person who can throw a good curveball into the conversation is another ballgame.
Blended Learning Solutions
How do I make sure the eLearning is in sync with the live course? I don’t want to repeat myself, and I don’t want gaps in my training.
Gaps are the worst. Okay, maybe second worst after overly redundant training. Repetition can be beneficial to learning, but only when it’s done right. One asset of blended training is also its biggest challenge: there are a lot of moving parts. We can help you develop strategies to manage and monitor all these pieces to keep your course running smoothly.
What is the best way to track blended solutions to ensure compliance with completing the training and tracking drop-outs?
A holistic design approach applies to management and delivery considerations too – not just the course design. For example, if the eLearning component is a prerequisite, you may be able to build that rule into your learning management system (LMS) so you can see who’s taken the eLearning and who hasn’t.
If you don’t have an LMS, we can help you figure out the best way to set up and deploy your blended learning curriculum.
How do we ensure learners realize the eLearning modules are just as important as the live portions?
Well, this has a lot to do with messaging to the learners, but one client, an IT service provider, had us develop a workbook to go along with the eLearning segment of their training. We put all their course content into the eLearning series and had learners complete assignments in the workbook to prepare them for a facilitated training session. The live training was focused on dynamic discussion and peer learning, based on the accounts learners had recorded in their workbooks.
Not surprisingly, retention went up when everyone knew they would be evaluated on the content of the eLearning modules, and the client was able to shave many hours off their instructor-led time.
What types of learning assets are included in a blended solution?
Typically, people are referring to a combination of eLearning and classroom training when they talk about blended learning. But other learning medium can be included. eLearning could have a Practice workbook. Videos (either YouTube, streaming or shown in the classroom) can be part of a blended solution, as can reading a book or various articles, completing interview or survey assignments, or participating in a social networking discussion group.
The opportunities for combining various assets into a blended learning solution are limitless.
How many learning assets are too many to include in a blended solution?
There is no specific answer to this, but when you’re assessing how many learning assets to include, ask yourself these questions
Is each asset critical to the learning or provide reinforcement and practice?
Is each asset relevant to the learning objectives and context in which performance occurs?
Is the content contained in each asset complete, current, and correct?
Can your LMS or tracking system manage the number of assets under consideration?
Does the value the asset brings to the learner and business goals of the training outweigh the work effort to maintain or track it?
Mobile is just an eLearning course. Just a setting when you go to publish. So why do I need mobile specifically?
That’s a good question! So, why do you need mobile specifically?
Once you answer that question and decide you need it, republish your current eLearning courses with the mobile setting and see how it looks and navigates on various devices. At that point, you can decide if it is ‘good enough’ for your purposes. There’s a good chance it isn’t – and if not, you have a decision to make. Are there compromises you can make to sufficiently utilize your course on both desktops and mobile devices, or do you need to rethink the approach to give the best experience to both mobile and desktop users?
How is designing for Mobile different than designing for eLearning?
This partly has to do with technical requirements, and partly to do with design requirements.
Mobile devices use HTML5, which has some limitations compared to the Flash environments many people have become accustomed to. People are also using their fingers instead of a keyboard and mouse, which provides a different way of interacting. Designing around these aspects requires understanding of the medium.
From a design standpoint, you should be trying to put less on the screen and using less media in general. Some of that has to do with attention spans, and some of it comes down to the size of people’s fingers and how much room there is on a touch screen. The whole point is to better the user experience on a small screen. Often times this requires more creativity on the design side of things to optimize the presentation for the medium.
Aren’t most mobile courses shorter and simpler than eLearning? Does that also mean cheaper and faster to develop?
The cost should be the same as a comparably complex eLearning course. We use the same programs to design both. But mobile learning tends to be deliberately simple to optimize the delivery over mobile connections and small screens. Yes, the courses are shorter with less content but often times this requires more creativity on the design side of things to optimize the presentation for the device. In the end, a mobile course typically turns out to be similarly priced as other eLearning of the same duration.
How do I know my mobile training will be compatible with iOS, Android, and whatever people are using five years from now.
Most of what we are developing creates HTML5 output, which is essentially the standard mobile language.
Our training is broadly compatible with mobile browsers. Additionally, many of the courses we design run on an Articulate app that’s optimized for playback on both Android and iOS.
Can’t I just repurpose my eLearning courses?
Wouldn’t that be nice? More likely you have one course and some people take it on desktop and some on mobile. But not everything was designed with each medium in mind, so you may be disappointed in how things function. An example, if you’ve designed a roll over, that functionality doesn’t exist on a touch-screen, so the learner will miss out on that content. That’s one of many functionality and tech differences between desktop and mobile.
Another part of the problem is that for mobile, you’re working with a tiny screen. Almost every course that takes advantage of being delivered on a sizable screen is not optimized for a five-inch screen. Whether that’s font size or button size or screen layout. That’s why almost all websites these days have a desktop version and a mobile version. They know that the full featured version of their website doesn’t run well on mobile.
Wait just a second, how is localization different from translation?
Great question, because translation is actual the most common aspect of localization. As you probably know, translation is the process of converting the language from one to another. Typically, this means going from English to one or more additional foreign languages. As we described above, this can be just the narration, or every written and spoken word within the course.
Localization would include translation, but would also extend to the visual, tonal, and any other culturally relevant aspects of the course. This could mean swapping images of “American” people for those from the target country or region, changing the tone of the course, the color scheme, or the examples used to fit within the desired vibe for the audience.
Basically, translation is about converting the language, the rest of localization is about all the other things that make a course feel “at home” to an audience in another culture.
Do we have a choice of narrators, and how do we go about selecting one when we don’t speak the language?
Selecting the proper voice can often be hard enough when you’re picking between different English-speaking narrators, so adding in a different language only compounds the decision. We will provide you with a choice of narrators to choose from and you can decide which has the proper sound for your audience. Our localization narrators specialize not only in different languages, but different dialects as well. We suggest choosing a representative in your company from that country/region to make that selection.
How will we review the course if we don’t speak the language?
Before we create the foreign language course, we’ll present the translated text and narration script to you for approval. We suggest choosing a representative in your company from that country/region to do this review, and ensure important information is not lost in the translation. If this is done thoroughly, then the course review should be limited to checking that the course still functions as you expected.
How will the foreign folks access the localized course?
It may be the same as how courses are accessed now – via your LMS – unless they have their own LMS.
I have a course that will need to be translated to 3 languages, but we’re developing the course in English. What do I need to know that will make the localization easier on the back end?
Well, this is quite the can of worms! More to cover than can be included in an FAQ, but here are a couple of tips to get you started and help with the localization cost:
As you write the material, keep in mind that other languages typically have more letters per word than English, sometimes up to 30% more! So, try to keep on-slide text short and sweet. For slides that require more text, make sure you leave enough white space for that additional word length. If necessary, split the slide into two slides.
Refrain from creating graphics that include text. If a graphic needs text, use a text box on slide and group it with the graphic. This will prevent the cost of editing graphics.