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Using Toolkits to Aggregate Learning Resources February 7, 2009

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
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I wrote about learning portals a couple weeks ago as a solution for aggregating learning resources in one place for an organization. I still think learning portals can help with the big picture, but I’m finding additional help is needed when organizing content one level deeper.

I’ve recently seen a trend (ok, maybe it’s just new to me) where training departments create toolkits for employees in order to aggregate learning resources for a particular topic or project. Essentially, the toolkit is a web page containing a ton of great information, links, etc. This way you can send learners to a "one-stop-shop" to get the info they need. It could be something wide-ranging (ex. engineering resources) or something specific (ex. presentation skills). In my experience, we used to send out training documents or point people to the LMS to access an online course when they needed information. (And we would send out an email if an instructor-led class was available.) Now we can point learners to a web page (a toolkit) that may contain the following items:

  • Articles (Word documents, PDFs)
  • A calendar of upcoming events, instructor-led classes, etc.
  • Links to internal and/or external web pages
  • Links to online courses
  • Recommended books
  • Social bookmarking tags
  • Links to wikis / forums
  • Embedded videos
  • …and more

I’m not saying this is a huge breakthrough, but you have to admit that we have more and more information available for learners. This seems like a good way to keep it organized. What do you think? How are you handling mass amounts of resources for your learners?

Comments»

1. Gary Hegenbart - February 7, 2009

We’ve been doing something similar. It’s probably more of a portal that a toolkit. We have a web page with all our learning resources in one place. This includes course books PDFs, simulations, tutorials, webinar recordings, and links to courses (LMS and instructor-led). Our customers have one page to find learning resources. Documentation is separate, but has a single entry page for all docs.

Internally, we have a folder location on the server where we dump everything. It isn’t as organized or comprehensive. I guess I have project to work on. Thanks for the inspiration, B. J.

2. Sanjay Nasta - February 7, 2009

I like the concept a lot. As a company we have started thinking of adding wisdom to information. There’s so much information out there that a resource is needed to sort through it and have folks get the info that impacts their job.

Wouldn’t Moodle be a good way to do this? It does have some tracking when folks are using the resources. We have clients that are using MediaWiki or Drupal.

On the commercial side Sharepoint seems quite popular to do this.

3. Clark Quinn - February 7, 2009

BJ, calling it a toolkit still means it’s a portal, but it’s organized around task instead of group, no? The one problem is when there’re so many portals (in one org I was working with, “hundreds”). The ideal is a auto-configured individual portal (ok, a dream, though IBM’s doing something like), next best is a a custom portal by role. Most reasonable is organized by task, which is what you’re doing, and worst case is the usual: organized by whoever creates. At least organize by users goals/tasks (just good HCI and information architecture), which sounds like what you’re doing. Good work!

4. mark oehlert - February 7, 2009

BJ…I think one of my issues is around using something like MOSS 2007 to create these “toolkits” which superficially mimic things like Netvibes but which are actually much more brittle and unfriendly to users. I have also seen the tendency to stand up these toolkits, moving away from the other methods you mention but failing to address any org. change/design issues – the “new” way then suffers and drags along and productivity may actually take a hit. I keep saying that these things are not culturally neutral.

5. B.J. Schone - February 7, 2009

@Gary – Glad you found it useful. Sorry if I end up causing you more work.🙂

@Sanjay – The idea of a toolkit is technology-agnostic. You can implement a toolkit using something as simple as Notepad + HTML or use a larger enterprise solution like SharePoint. Use whatever resources make the most for your organization and your learners.

@Clark – Thanks. You’re right; the toolkits I’ve discussed are the same as portals, only they’re organized around a task or topic. We used the term toolkit to better market the idea to learners; we emphasize that we’re providing them with the tools to help them do their job.

@Mark – Sure, this may not be a one-size-fits-all solution, but I think it’s definitely worth considering. As with any learning/performance support solution, you must be proactive with change management issues, understand your organization’s culture, anticipate issues learners may have, etc.

6. Better Learning Outcomes | The eLearning Elephant - February 8, 2009

[…] Using Toolkits to Aggregate Learning Resources « eLearning Weekly […]

7. Steve Bogle - February 9, 2009

We are instituting something similar, if not the same thing. I do a lot of product training, and the LMS is a great tool for tracking training and creating structured learning objects with defined objectives and goals, but we needed more. Face to face classroom learning has its own benefits. We needed a place to put information where the learner can access just pure information in .pdf, .ppt, and video formats. We have called it a micro-site, a wiki, and toolkit. With so much information out there, it is important for our sales force to be formally trained through our LMS and classroom training, but they also need a place to get at additional information once the initial product training is complete. And this is what we came up with.


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