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My LMS vendor just got acquired by another company! Now what?! April 28, 2011

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
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SuccessFactors Acquires PlateauThe landscape of learning management system (LMS) vendors is constantly changing. There have been dozens of acquisitions in the past decade, including a big one this week. This can be a scary time if your organization happens to be using an LMS that gets acquired by or merged with another company. After all, you’ve most likely invested thousands of dollars and many hours getting it set up and configured to work well. So, if your LMS vendor gets acquired by another
company, what should you do? What questions should you ask?

My first piece of advice would be: Just relax. The process of merging two business generally takes a while. You most likely won’t see any overnight changes. Take this time to think through several scenarios and prepare a list of questions for your account representative.

Below is a starter list of questions that you may want to ask. The account rep may not know all of the answers if the news is still fresh, but it’s good to start thinking in these terms. To keep things straight, I’ll use the terms acquirer (the company who is making the purchase) and acquiree (the company who is being purchased).

Question to ask:

  • Why (specifically) was the company acquired?
  • How will the roadmap for the LMS change?
  • Will the underlying technologies change?
  • What products, services, features, etc., of the acquirer will be made available to clients of the acquiree?
  • How will the support model change for the acquiree, if at all?
  • Will the hourly rate change for the acquiree? (ex. For customizations)
  • Will any of your technical or support contacts change?
  • Will there (still?) be an annual conference for the LMS and its users?

I’m sure I left off some questions. What else would you add?

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The Terrible Speed of eLearning September 28, 2010

Posted by Eric Matas in eLearning, Theory.
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Sales reps should appreciate this post. This post has been ruminating around in my head ever since an executive suggested turning some classroom training into podcasts back in 2005. But this is not a rant–a long time in the making. It’s a turning point piece, toward a fresh era of elearning. The executive’s reasoning for podcasts was simple: so sales reps out on the road could listen to the training in their free time between sales calls.  

Really? Free time?  

Mobile Learning Classrooms

Traffic from eLearning

Even if there was such free time, who wants to spend it digesting elearning while driving? And what would happen to traffic conditions if every car became a mobile classroom?   

What was really bothering me, though, was the sub-text. eLearning is supposed to get squeezed into everybody’s busy schedule. The same elearning that saves money on travel and that allows for self-paced learning is also supposed to get tacked on to everyone’s day like a wretched after thought.   

It reminds me of when a meeting gets tacked on to lunch, creating a lunch meeting. What you get is a bad meeting and a bad lunch.   

Much early elearning has been catch-up material like a recorded webinar or a copy of a PowerPoint presentation. These are rudimentary forms of elearning, perhaps better described by the more generic “distance learning.” Still, these examples and others like podcasts of lectures, unless packaged well, are just partial versions of the original, and learners chomp at the bit to fast forward to the nitty-gritty content.   

It’s 2010, and elearning is expected to move at fast forward to the nitty-gritty pace.   

And woe unto you if the elearning you make or deliver has a hiccup. You will have 47 emails and 36 voicemails in a heartbeat if your elearning module has even one sterile button. Yes, elearning must be fast-paced and perfect, for the audience for elearning is ravenous and rowdy.   

Trigger Happy Mouse Clicker

Ready for eLearning

What if elearning wasn’t an after thought? What if your elearning wasn’t squeezed into a day? How would it be to have learners look forward to their next elearning module? If they did, what would that look like?   

I have seen students in a college library spread out and sink into some learning, in a cozy corner with open books surrounding a pad of paper and a cup of coffee. It’s romantic to picture. Can that be the case for elearning? Can you picture an e-learner like that?   

What I see now is e-learners coming to their computers with a twitchy, click-happy finger. Learners’ eyes dart across the screen for key content and that next button as if they are all in some cosmic race to spend the least amount of time on the elearning module. The e-learners of today need an e-methodone of sorts to ease their approach and to slow down the terrible speed of elearning.

My New Year’s Resolutions For 2010 December 26, 2009

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
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I’ve come up with a few ideas for my New Year’s Resolutions for 2010. Next year, I will…

Experiment more with technology
I usually do a decent job with this, but I’m going to do a better job in 2010 of trying lots of new software, tools, web sites, web applications, etc. I don’t need to be an expert in all of these technologies, but I find that a good awareness of everything is very important.

Succeed (or fail) fast
I will use quick prototypes when evaluating new tools / technologies for projects. I’ve learned over time that lengthy trials take too long and are often unnecessary. I usually have better luck when I set up something that is ‘good enough’ and then improve it iteratively.

Listen better
In the past few years, I fell into the occasional bad habit of not listening closely enough to clients / internal customers. I would sometimes shortcut conversations in my head and diagnose their situations before I even knew the whole story. I’m aware of this, and I’ll do my best to listen better moving forward.

Read more
I love to read, but I sometimes get too busy…or at least that’s what I tell myself. In 2010, I want to do a better job of reading on a regular basis. I usually prefer books on business, performance improvement, and sometimes suspense / mystery thrillers.

Travel more
I want to travel internationally at least once next year, along with several trips to different states. I’m always open to suggestions, so let me know if you have any ideas.

What are your resolutions? Oh, and in case you need it, there’s a good article on eHow called How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions. 🙂

Five Words To Describe Corporate Learning in 2010 December 18, 2009

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
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Jeanne Meister, author of the New Learning Playbook blog, wrote a post yesterday on the five words she predicts will describe corporate learning in 2010. I think she’s right on target… Here’s a brief summary, but be sure to check out her full post for more info.

  • Social
    The word ‘social’ is overplayed, but what it represents is still relevant and will continue to be in 2010 (i.e. collaboration, information sharing, etc.). I still think we need to come up with another word besides social; it isn’t a good business word – but we’ll save that for another time.
  • Mobile
    Our mobile devices are becoming more and more powerful. It only makes sense that we will have more opportunities to use these devices in a learning context.
  • Collaborative
    None of us is as smart as all of us. Collaborative technologies such as wikis have proven to be very useful for learning and information sharing.
  • Engaging
    If I’m bored, I won’t learn. Learning solutions need to be challenging and as thought-provoking as possible.
  • Fun
    As Clark Quinn says, “Learning should be hard fun.” It isn’t always easy to make learning fun in a corporate setting (ex. compliance training), but it’s our job to give it a shot.

Are any of the concepts above ground-breaking for 2010? No, they aren’t, but I believe they put us on the right track to continue to improve our learning solutions and experiences for our end users. Hey, at least we’re trying! 🙂

Introducing the SCORM Cloud December 9, 2009

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
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I had the pleasure of meeting Mike Rustici this year at DevLearn. Mike runs Rustici Software and he’s a total SCORM ninja. In our conversation, Mike mentioned a new service that is offered by his company – the service is called the SCORM Cloud. It was easy to see Mike was pretty excited about this, and after hearing some of the details, I think it definitely provides us with some interesting new ways to deliver and track learning content.

How to describe the SCORM Cloud…

If you didn’t have to use an LMS to offer learning content, where would you want to do it? A Facebook page? Your WordPress blog? Via an iGoogle widget? Maybe, but you’d lose the ability to track and record and assess, right? Enter SCORM Cloud, which lets you take learning outside the LMS and put it pretty much anywhere you want.

How does that happen? Essentially, your course content sits out on the cloud (much like your Google Docs or your Flickr pictures), and SCORM Cloud lets you deliver it wherever you want. SCORM Cloud tracks and records the same things SCORM 2004 (or 1.2 or AICC) would in your LMS and reports them back. So you can score quizzes, track interactions or set sequencing for any content you upload to the SCORM Cloud. No LMS required.

As of now, Rustici Software has already integrated SCORM Cloud with several open source LMSs such as Moodle and Sakai. And they tell me that they are close to having it ready to work with WordPress and iGoogle. The current integrations are open-source and flexible enough to allow for customizations, and you can even build your own integration if you want to use SCORM Cloud somewhere they have haven’t considered yet.

(There’s a fee for using SCORM Cloud and it is priced based your usage and needs. And it is far cheaper than going the whole-LMS route.)

I’d recommend that you check out the SCORM Cloud if you’re feeling overly constrained by your LMS; it will help you break out of the traditional eLearning model and take advantage of some of the new 2.0 tools that are now available on the web. Kudos to Mike and his team for thinking up an innovative solution like this…

Check out the SCORM Cloud web page to learn more, sign up for a free account, and view pricing information.

Hot Topics in eLearning for 2009 December 4, 2009

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
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Tony Karrer posted a list of the trending hot topics in eLearning for 2009, based on stats from his eLearningLearning.com site. Nothing is too surprising, but it’s very helpful how Tony linked to some of the more popular articles and blog posts related to each topic.

Below are the hottest trending topics we saw in 2009, but be sure to visit Tony’s full list to see even more great info.

Hot Topics in eLearning for 2009

  1. Twitter
  2. Social Media, Social Networks, Social Learning, and Informal Learning
  3. Google Wave
  4. SharePoint
  5. Video
  6. Mobile , Mobile Learning and iPhone
  7. Changes in Design and Instructional Design and our Roles
  8. Webinars and Virtual Classrooms

Any predictions on what we’ll see as the hot topics in 2010?

A Case Study of Micro-Blogging for Learning at Qualcomm November 19, 2009

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
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Below are the slides from my presentation at DevLearn 2009. I co-presented this session along with my colleague, John Polaschek. The presentation had two main areas of focus:

  1. How micro-blogging can be used to help facilitate discussions and knowledge-sharing between employees
  2. How Qualcomm is using Yammer to help employees connect across divisions and geographic regions

I hope you enjoy it, even though you won’t have our charming personalities to accompany the slides! 🙂

Please leave a comment if you’ve worked with micro-blogging at your organization. I’d be curious to hear how it’s going and any tips you can provide to others. Thanks!

The Next Generation of Learning Management Systems October 31, 2009

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
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A recent post by Clive Shepherd references an interesting activity done by the eLearning Network at their recent Next Generation Learning Management event. According to Clive’s post, the event was attended by a cross-section of members: private and public sector users, LMS and content vendors, consultants, and others. In the activity, participants identified requirements for learning management systems for the 21st century. (Great idea!) You can download a PDF containing the results of the activity. It’s worth checking out.

I’ve written about the future of LMSs before (see "Have LMSs Jumped The Shark?"). I still believe major changes need to be made, but I find it fascinating to keep an eye on the market and watch the different approaches companies are taking. Some LMS vendors are choosing to integrate Learning 2.0/Web 2.0 functionality (ex. wikis, blogs, micro-blogging, etc.) into their systems. Others are choosing to integrate with HR systems (ex. talent management, development planning, etc.). Some people see LMSs as systems with a front-end for users, while others see LMSs as back-end systems that users should never see. I don’t know which approaches will prevail, but activities like the one above are a great way to get everyone working together to advance our industry. (And I hope LMS vendors are listening out there…)

Make Your eLearning Suck Less September 17, 2009

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
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Christy Tucker posted a message on Twitter earlier this month about a presentation called “eLearning Sucks” (see below). This presentation is a good reminder that we should continue to innovate and experiment with ways to keep our learners engaged. Check it out. Oh, and yes, it’s a bit ironic that this is a linear slideshow. 🙂

(This presentation was created by a company called Red Magma in London. I spent 5 minutes on their web site and I still don’t have a clear idea of what they do!)

My Peripheral Learning Resources September 11, 2009

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
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One of my favorite things about my job is the variety: Some days I find myself playing the role of a consultant, sometimes I act as a project manager, and other days I find myself tinkering with code or troubleshooting the LMS. I’ve been known to build fully functional web sites and web applications, and I’ve coordinated enterprise-wide programs, all in the name of learning and performance improvement. Being in this role requires me to stay sharp in several areas; I wear multiple hats, so to speak. I wanted to share some of the web sites and blogs that help me stay up to date on all the areas outside (or on the edge) of learning and technology. Check out some of the sites below. They may spark an interest for you, or help you peripherally on some of your current projects. (And please leave a comment to share sites that you find useful…)

Business / Leadership / Innovation / Productivity

Achieving Business Excellence
Emerging business trends and insight from thought leader John Spence

Great Leadership
Opinions and information on leadership and leadership development by Dan McCarthy

Harvard Business Review Blogs
A collection of really sharp people blogging about business, innovation, leadership, and more

Read It For Me
The world’s most engaging business book summaries

Seth Godin’s Blog
Thoughts from an exceptional business and marketing guru

TED
Ideas worth spreading, all related to Technology, Entertainment, and Design

The Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) – Workforce productivity and Human Resource productivity research

Coding / Web Development

NetTuts
Web development and design tutorials

Script & Style
Links to help you grow as a designer and developer

SitePoint
New articles and fresh thinking for web developers and designers

Smashing Magazine
Expert design and development resources

Technology

Enterprise Web 2.0
A blog about social technologies and their impact on business (and everything else)

ReadWriteWeb
Web apps, web technology trends, social networking and social media

Mashable
Social media news and web tips