Companies Killing it with VR and AR

Today, companies that provide e-learning receive excellent marks when they use virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) for student and employee engagement. Both of these technologies immerse students in a course, and therefore enhance and add value to learning.

Learning the Difference between AR and VR

To better understand how this is done, you need to define and distinguish augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies. Typically, augmented reality or AR uses a smartphone or camera for engaging digital elements. Pokemon Go is an example of AR.

Virtual reality (VR) allows for a total immersion experience – shutting out the physical world. VR users experience both imaginary and real-world scenarios, all which makes learning fun and exciting. For instance, the technology can transport you to a colony of penguins or take you on a magical ride on a dragon’s back.

Mixed Reality (MR)

When you combine AR and VR, you create a mixed reality or MR experience – one where digital objects and real-world elements combine to enforce learning and entertainment. An example of this technology is HoloLens by Microsoft.

Now that you know something about reality technologies, you can better see how these vehicles can aid in training and learning. Indeed, the e-learning industry has reached a new level, thanks to the implementation of VR and AR.

Total Immersion Technology

These reality simulations permit students to fully immerse themselves in a learning or training experience. The use of headsets blocks out distractions and allows a student to deal with each learning module or task. Tactile sensors are sometimes introduced to include the sense of touch. For instance, a student can pick up an item or touch and sense it in his or her hands.

While face-to-face and online sessions offer the benefits of blended learning, they still lack the immersion that VR or AR technologies provide. Employing these simulations enables corporate or academic learners to get in touch with real-world activities. For instance, VR permits students to learn in a training area and interact with facilitators in real time.

VR Technology and Training – an Example

It comes as no surprise that VR training is one of the most important applications used by today’s businesses. For instance, in 2017, major retailer Wal-Mart partnered with Strivr, a VR creator, to prepare its employees for Black Friday. By experiencing Black Friday through VR, workers managed better when faced with larger crowds and longer queues on the day of the event.

Personalised Learning

With the addition of VR and AR learning, students can better connect with the training content. In turn, learners can explore various paths, based on their learning objectives or current gaps in their development. For instance, an e-learning evaluation may show that a student needs to improve his problem-solving skills. In this instance, the learner selects the VR or AR training module that centres on this type of instruction.

As technologies advance, Big Data will keep up with the pace as well. By using AR/VR simulations, e-educators can feature more detailed analyses to monitor the progress of e-learners. Future plans include adding sensors to determine a student’s level of awareness and emotional state. By using these techniques, training organisations can improve their bottom lines and return on investment (ROI).

Overcoming Learning Barriers

Currently, without the use of AR or VR, certain technological barriers exist. These barriers often emerge when users rely on video conferencing or online platforms for learning or training. AR and VR make it possible for learners to relate face-to-face with peers and instructors.

For instance, the creation of a virtual meeting area, using VR technology, can be facilitated to present online training. VR headsets enable learners to work collaboratively in real time and engage with 3D models and similar educational tools and devices. Learners, in turn, can role play, and improve on the interpersonal skills and experiences.

A Better Learning Experience

Indeed, e-learning is evolving in interesting ways. Implementing AR and VR benefits learners as much as it does the industry. Not only do students receive a better learning experience, but instructional designers can also manage digital learning in new and creative ways.

How companies use eLearning to go global

4 Ways to Solve the Problem of Global eLearning

Globalisation is far from a recent phenomenon. Going back to even before the days of the British East India Company in the 1500s, businesses have been on the lookout for ways to expand into the global market to grow trade, commerce, and profits.

Unlike companies from even a few decades ago, today the smallest companies can use online tools to expand their global commercial footprint. eLearning can help companies to educate people from around the world in ways that will ensure growth and satisfy a broader customer base.

In the 21st century, companies no longer have to wait on local educational institutions to generate courses or modules. Organisations around the country, or even around the world, can foster skills by working with others to create in-house training or by relying on third party vendors.

As in any field, however, challenges can arise. Here’s how we can rise to those challenges;

Use E-Learning to Educate Local Vendors on Your Product or Service

Consider this scenario. A company in Perth wants to provide a product or service through a vendor in Texas, USA. Instructing the vendor on how to properly use or sell the product or service could pose serious challenges. People on both ends may be speaking English, but in some ways, they may not be speaking the same language.

An experienced eLearning provider knows how to facilitate communications and provide instruction in the most effective ways. Those with global experience will also better understand how to bridge the divides of culture, language, and other potentially thorny issues.

Finally, eLearning providers can help educate and instruct on how staff at the central office can navigate through the rules, regulations, and cultural issues of other countries.

Prioritising Content When Creating Courses

The good news for those looking for quality materials to develop training is that the world is “swimming in content.”  Endless examples of digital, video and other media exist at the fingertips of anyone with a computer and internet access. This is a good thing, to an extent, but the wealth of options out there can create challenges when trying to access and educate individuals or groups across the globe.

Fortunately, experienced eLearning providers know how to research and tabulate effective and appropriate sources when they create classes or educational modules and can take regional differences into account

When creating training or courses, think very specifically about what the course will require before even starting to research. Next, evaluate the sources of content. The digital world has a wide range of options, but many, if not most, will turn out to be either garbage or less useful than anticipated. Consider which sources will be both useful and trustworthy.

Tailoring Courses to Specific Areas of Business

“When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” So the old adage goes. Today, global entrepreneurs often need to do not only as the Romans do, but also as the Buenos Arieans, the Washingtonians, the Pretorians, or as people from any other location across the globe do. This includes working with local and national officials as well as other institutions, such as chambers of commerce.

Your staff will likely need eLearning to quickly learn from trusted providers on how to navigate the laws, regulations, and other issues that will arise when conducting or expanding business abroad.

Increasing Adaptability and Customisation

Too many businesses spend time and effort on creating eLearning programs initially but fail to monitor their delivery in the field.

The world of online education will continue to be increasingly competitive. This means that companies and others providing eLearning must strive to work harder to deliver educational products as quickly and effectively as possible for competitive prices. Those shopping for such services should remain aware of this and continuously appraise their providers.

Instructional providers should continually tweak their products to make sure that the information remains current, relevant, and appropriate to the needs of students and course users. Outdated information or even a “dated” look or approach can make a course much less appealing – a significant misstep in such a competitive arena. Business owners need to make sure that the education matches their needs

Competition is good, however. It makes sure that serious providers work hard to keep their products useful while also efficient and easy to navigate.

Problems and Opportunities

The main issue for those seeking instructional content or courses lies in doing due diligence to make sure that they acquire the most beneficial product for training and education. Providers face the challenge of keeping content up to date and useful for their customers. Together, the process of competition and development ensures that while global eLearning remains a challenge, it also presents a bountiful opportunity.

Licensing and Credentials You Need to Start An Online Teaching Platform

What You’ll Need to Start An Online Teaching Platform

From Skillshare to Udemy, geared towards learners directly, to Google’s ‘Open Online Education’ platform for course builders, and software like Teachable aimed at course creators who want an ‘all-in-one’ audience-building tool, online teaching and online learning are only just gearing up to go global.

These are just a few of the names within the digital learning space. Udemy itself has enrolled and taught over 24 million students worldwide; MOOCs have managed four times as many. So the popularity of digital learning is not in question.

But what if you wanted to start an online teaching platform yourself?

Brands, businesses and even individual entrepreneurs looking to not just enter the space through a course but actually carve out their own space for their online teaching platform will be pleased to know that there are very few barriers to entry and certainly no ‘official’ or ‘traditional’ certifications required for actually establishing an online teaching platform.

While individual instructors may be asked for their specific credentials within a teaching niche (English as a Second Language teaching, for example), or certain courses may have to present sufficient evidence of compliance to an external board if they’re hoping to offer students certification at the end of the course, there are no credentials or licenses required to actually set up an online teaching platform.

However, that’s not to say that there isn’t a tried-and-true structure and a significant process that platforms must create to launch successfully and attract a user base that is enthusiastic about using the platform.

Let’s take a look at these ‘must-haves’.

Start with a niche

When you’re thinking about a platform, it can be all too easy to overreach and plan to offer features that are general enough to attract a large number of uses, with the broadest possible use.

But any software developer will tell you that trying to please too many is the fastest way to experience software failure. When getting off the ground, focus on one industry or even one use. Udemy, for example, bills itself as an online marketplace for courses and focuses on anyone who wants to start learning a skill. It also targets creators who want to create a course but don’t want to self-host or market their course.

Meanwhile, Teachable and Thinkific focus on course creation for audience building. This means they have internal tools geared towards course creators that allows them to track what ‘content’ within the course is being interacted with and what isn’t.

Your niche can be as simple as a subject matter within one geographical location. Consider Yelp: the food review platform started with reviews of restaurants in San Francisco and then slowly expanded from there.

Focus on one user base

Your main goal here is to build credibility with your customers because there are multiple platforms in any given space. The previous step asked you to narrow in on one major benefit, niche or feature your platform offers (and then expand from there).

This step asks you to focus in on who you’ll be serving and, from here, what this user group’s specific needs are. It’s based on these needs that you can plan for features of your online platform.

Large enterprises

Large-scale enterprises will benefit from a way to track the progress of hundreds or even thousands of users, who are also employees. This user base will also need ways to hook into global online training initiatives. And, finally, they will also need extended enterprise features that are either custom built or that allow them to integrate other channels like sales and marketing, into the mix of learning.

Small and medium-sized enterprises

This user base can benefit from LMSs that require fewer human resources and an easier onboarding time. Any features and tools offered within the platform should be adaptable enough to change to the trainees’ needs.

Freelancers/solopreneurs

And, finally, those who operate ‘alone’ are also those who work with multiple clients. They often need to deliver on a diverse but cross-connected range of deliverables so the online learning platform should include features like suggestions on what to learn next, built-in remote collaboration and/or support tools, along with time-tracking.

Offer stand-alone value

The most important aspect of differentiation is to offer stand-alone value. This is what will help distinguish your platform from others out there as well as give your niche users a value-added benefit from using your platform.

Offering stand-alone value is often mistaken for, again, cramming a whole set of features into one platform. But this shouldn’t be the case. In fact, offering stand-alone value asks you first to examine which features are integral to all learners and then, from there, ask about which features are necessary for that specific niche of users.

For example, an online platform dedicated to teaching users how to become better coders or developers might include an integration or a feature for syncing up GitHub or Heroku to the course modules. This ‘stand-alone’ value is clearly geared towards that particular niche and doing so will help the right users choose it as a solution.

Decide on pricing plans that eliminate users’ up-front risk

There are usually ‘beta’ or ‘test’ releases of a platform that are rolled out to particular users, on an ongoing basis, in order to make sure all features are not just being used correctly but are serving users.

Again, it’s all about building credibility with future users, and a great way to build that for a new platform is to attract initial users.

To build credibility, let’s take a look at the precedent set by gaming console makers. Platforms work with ‘marquee’ contributors or developers to develop a game exclusively for that platform. Microsoft, for example, works with particular ‘influencers’ or developers for games that already have a fan base and who agree to provide a game specifically for Xbox, as long as Microsoft’s platform gives them the development capabilities they’re looking for.

This means that any consumer devoted to the developer must also buy the platform in order to get their game.

Marquee ‘customers’ are one of the most valuable forms of both marketing and platform advocacy. Not only do they raise awareness for the platform itself, but they also communicate with others, extolling the virtues of the platform without being ‘sponsored’.

Marquee customers can also provide very valuable feedback and insight as to what the platform can improve upon, faster, and at an earlier stage than when it is opened to the general user.

Essentially, exclusivity on a platform with a marquee comes with benefits that include:

  • Providing the platform and its makers with credibility
  • Referrals and relationship-building through word-of-mouth
  • Marketing boost
  • Invaluable testing insight and feedback
  • Higher closing fees when closing new clients/users/marquees, based on the precedent of this particular marquee

Once the platform is more or less ‘tweaked’, online learning platform developers can charge users according to many payment models:

  • Pay-as-you-go — Offering pay-as-you-go pricing is a useful way to get your platform’s payment model started. It reduces the risk for new users to try a ‘new’ platform and helps platform developers to smooth out payment kinks in the early stages
  • SubscriptionThis is a ‘pay-per-use’ model that is perfect for SMEs; Users pay based on the number of active users that are using the platform to create courses
  • Freemium — While basic features are free, the platform charges for access to the full set of features; They can also be tacked on as advanced functionalities or as an ‘add-on’ or ‘upgrade.’
  • Licensing — Usually intended for large companies or large-scale operations, users within one organisation or group are charged an annual fee that must be renewed every year or an upfront fee with future versions and upgrades extra

Features of a Successful Online Teaching Platform

Once you’ve handled the nuts and bolts, what other features do a successful online teaching platform include?

  • Reporting and analytics: This is one of the most essential components of any online learning platform. For course creators, the robustness of the data as well as how well it integrates with other software (think, automated reporting to your email inbox or a triggered automation for dripped course content) is prime when deciding what kinds of platforms to use. Course developers must be able to track student progress, monitor whether online training initiatives are effective, and how long learners take to complete a lesson, on average, amongst other key metrics.
  • User- (and learner-) friendly design: User friendly design is all about whether or not an online training platform is accessible or not, how well it displays across multiple types of screens and how easy it is to actually learn and understand the platform (being onboarded); Does the platform itself call for a training (in which case, it might be too complicated?) or does it handle the conventions of user-friendly and intuitive design well in the delivery and access of digital courses?
  • Built-in support services: This will depend greatly on your target audience; For example, the kinds of tools of support available for a novice user who is trying to learn about how to knit something using an online course is different than a course for developers of a mobile app,  hosted on a learning platform
  • Built-in gamification options: Are there features that allow course creators to provide incentives or systems of reward for individual learners to actually engage with each other and their learning, in the platform?
  • Assessment tools: Assessing the effectiveness of the platform is also about assessing the learning progress of students. Every successful online learning platform gives course creators a way to periodically evaluate if a student is on track with learning objectives and to identify where there may be a gap
  • Socialised learning support and environments: Learning management systems and course platforms that don’t provide the tools for collaboration are severely missing out; Not only do course creators now include group activities and peer sharing as a form of learning and evaluation, digital learning is its own kind of experience that only flourishes in an environment of collaboration. This includes video and chat support, integrated social media tools or a ‘News Feed’ for updates
  • Compliance and certification support: Again, providing compliance and certification support has been, until now, a way to provide added value, an extra benefit or a perk. However, with an increasing number of corporate entities adding on learning incentives and supporting the ongoing development of their employees through corporate learning, this is quickly becoming a staple. Compliance is all about adhering to company policy, and certification is all about being able to track individual skills and performance gaps.

Remember that, when developing an entirely new platform, it’s not a one-size-fits-all situation. Nor do you have to reinvent the wheel from scratch. MOOCs and online learning have now been around for long enough — since 2010 — to have some very stable and core features that every student familiar with digital learning platforms and interfaces have come to expect.

Think of these like UI standards or best practices that you must incorporate and then design out from there. If you have to start somewhere, we recommending taking everything in this guide as your foundation.

Brendan Moloney
CEO Darlo Group

Using Your Online Course Audience’s Interests to Build Content They Can Relate To

In your quest to become the ultimate expert in your niche, operating online courses and building quality content is all about being there for your audience and their needs.

But, to do that, you’ll need to nail down the intricacies of who your audience needs, what their interests are and where they already live.

As it turns out, creating strategic and high-converting content can end up impacting your entire brand and business. Used wisely, online courses can actually be a way, in other words, to grow your brand’s revenue. But the key is to create content that connects.

An effective growth strategy is composed of:

  • High-quality, genuine content
  • Consistently engaging your audience members
  • Strategies for “getting found” or being discovered by your audiences

So how do you use your online course audiences to build content they can relate to?

Who is your audience?

Online courses are a chance to understand how you can help your audience and who it is that your course truly serves. When done correctly, progress and feedback from courses can be an important way to gain feedback on whether or not your brand is actually successful in serving it’s audiences and using the content types and questions from eLearners to understand where they’re having problems.

From here, all content you create can and should refer back to these ‘problems’ or ‘pain points’.

Developing courses as a way to further embellish your brand and build an audience is one of the smartest ways of marketing with content and serving your audience with more.

But first, let’s take a look at who your audience is and how to harness course insights strategically, in order to serve them.

Creating an audience avatar

Naturally, your course has a theme or an idea that it plans to fulfil by teaching about it.

There are two parts to creating an audience avatar: One occurs during the course-building phase, and the other is based on feedback received from course participants. Naturally, the feedback helps you refine and reinforce certain initial assumptions you made about your audiences while refuting others.

This means that creating an audience avatar is not a one-time exercise. Furthermore, as students progress through your courses, and you receive their feedback, you may analyse their responses and find that you have more than one ‘type’ of audience avatar and that pockets of students are taking your courses for different reasons.

These are all benefits that your course delivers and multiple audience avatars can help you create various forms of content, align your email marketing messages to multiple ‘segments’ of audiences and tailor your ads to numerous users, right at the beginning of a campaign (rather than having to spend money on ads and then wait for the responses to come in).

Your client avatar or audience avatar (the individual or individuals you hope to serve) should include the following information:

  • Demographic details (name, age, location, occupation)
  • Buying or purchasing habits (what brands they already use and purchase from)
  • The kinds of words and language/messaging they resonate with
  • Where (online and offline) they spend their time
  • What ‘pain points’ they have and what they’re hoping to change
  • What they have the potential to achieve and accomplish if/when they take your course

As you can see, the information that goes into building this audience avatar can generate unlimited leads on the kinds of content to create and the types of content you’ll want to use to build a relationship of trust and value with your audiences.

When you’re first marketing your course, you’ll be creating content that caters to these various audiences or client avatars.

From those who actually purchase and attend the course, you can gain a deeper insight into what worked, what didn’t and which content types truly helped them in the above pain points, pitching your course as a solution.

Who does your course truly serve?

Because content is meant to serve audiences (and, in turn, your business can gain by creating this high-value content), you’ll want to understand what your course actually offers.

Do you:

  • Help people lose weight?
  • Help them become better parents?
  • Help them grow their social media?
  • Give them the accountability they need to form better and more productive habits?
  • Teach them about a complex platform?

Essentially, you want to narrow down what kind of transformation your business and course actually provides and promises. It’s based on this premise that all your resulting content can flow from. You’re both answering a need and listening to what your audiences need more of.

But you’ve got to begin somewhere.

Scheduling discovery calls

There are plenty of ways to gain feedback and to, essentially, get some validation as to whether your client avatar and course outcome ‘hypotheses’ are correct.

But let’s focus on the most effective: Scheduling discovery calls. Many course developers or brands that run courses as an audience-building strategy are not too keen on doing this. It feels too upfront and perhaps too pushy.

But a discovery call can be positioned as a benefit to a course learner, a chance to check in, ask questions and be guided, one-on-one. Then, based on the information and feedback you gain during these calls, you’ve got an invaluable resource for what kinds of content to create that will help you serve even more!

While scouring Amazon reviews or other book review forums are a useful hack to getting a sense of people’s language, nothing gives you as much insight into their problems as getting some one-on-one face time (or, rather, phone time).

Using digital publishing tools to gain insights

Once you have some of these topics, use the tools to further structure your content. Remember, the information you received in your discovery calls are useful ‘leads’.

But now, you want to back them up with even more information and digital publishing tools can help you generate ideas as well as connect to what’s already working out there and put your own spin on it. In other words, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

  • NewsWhipThis is a tool that allows users to find content that is working and then predict and analyse engagement rates. NewsWhip also offers suggestions for further content and analytics that give the user information on other publishers, writers and influencers within a topic, across web and mobile platforms.
  • Digivizer: This tool allows its users to track multiple ‘KPI’s about their pre-existing content performance. The software is designed to analyse and deliver insights and recommendations for which actions to take on particular platforms.

Remember that all content needs to do two things: tell a story and provide the promise for a transformation of some sort. This is especially important when tying audience building with online course creation.

‘Before and after’ storytelling in video form, through blog posts or even via case studies present a powerful pull to the course learner, who understands that they’re being promised very concrete results, should they decide to take the course.

That’s why it’s so important to do the ground and answer the above questions, undertaking the process to discover more about your audience before actually moving forward and creating content that resonates.

Dr Brendan Moloney
CEO Darlo Group

What are the advantages and disadvantages of eLearning?

Like anything else in the online world, eLearning comes with advantages and disadvantages. Learning more about the perks and challenges ahead can help you decide if it’s right for your organisation.

eLearning is an efficient way to learn

According to one study that took place in the year 2000, those who engage in eLearning enjoy a 60 per cent faster-learning curve than those who don’t. As such, it’s an efficient way for you to train your employees.

There’s often an excellent Return on Investment (ROI)

Training is often expensive, but eLearning produces a greater ROI than other training methods. Your predicted ROI will vary according to your setting. However, in the absence of physical overheads, it’s an excellent cost-saving measure.

Students will perform better when eLearning is an option

One study from the U.S. Department of Education found that students perform better when learning online. Educational outcomes improve with both partial and complete online training packages.

It’s a greener way to train

According to the Open University, you can reduce the carbon impact of your training by 65 per cent with an eLearning package. As a result, you become more attractive to environmentally-friendly users.

Training retention rates are higher

As Forbes Magazine reports, eLearning has a retention rate that’s 25per centt higher than classroom learning. This could be because it’s more convenient than attending physical premises.

eLearning disadvantages

Some people aren’t disciplined enough for self-directed learning

According to a study from the University of Leicester, students may struggle with self-directed learning when it comes to challenging topics. As a result, work quality dips.

Students may resist group participation

In one analysis of digital learning, researchers found that only 50 percent of students will sign up for online group activities. As such, peer-to-peer engagement is lower in eLearning than classroom-based learning.

eLearning presents IT barriers

eLearning is dependent on students having good IT access. A lack of facilities could make the process challenging. Around 62 percent of students state that they would need their own computer to engage with an eLearning package.

There is some cultural resistance to the eLearning world

For those who prize classroom learning, there’s a significant amount of cultural resistance to online training. For example, a staggering 71% of military personnel dislike the idea of eLearning. This could impact engagement.

When you have more statistics on the benefits and disadvantages of eLearning, it’s easier to decide whether to use it in your company. At Darlo Digital, we’re here to help you overcome the biggest obstacles. Reach out to us for advice.

How to roll out software in different countries 

When kids want to know how to get proficient in something, we tell them that practice and consistency are key.

And when adults — owners of companies, interested in training their team to greater heights of productivity and profitability — ask us the same thing, our response is a little more focused.

Success in learning is all about consistency in delivery and user experience. This consistency can be present regardless of the region because your development team has accounted and designed for global differences.

Quality control in software doesn’t have to mean the same look and feel across the board — rather, it can mean a consistent user experience, where the objectives of the students/employees are accomplished every time.

The consistency of a shared user experience can help in every way, including:

  • Allowing companies and businesses that offer online training to offer certification across the world, therefore positioning them as leaders and their employees as experts
  • Encouraging a true peer-to-peer connection and learning process, which is what e-courses call for
  • Empowering the student/employee to take control of their own learning paths, without conditions or barriers to what they can take next — for example, allowing users in India to access courses available to users in the U.K., with the same user experience design, while also offering regional-specific courses to enhance local practice

According to a report by eLearning Industry, consistency in the user experience for everything from course delivery to visual design is something that is often taken for granted by users. In other words, when it goes all wrong or there is no consistency, your learners notice it most.

And what detriments does a poorly-executed user experience bring?

  • Wasted time and resources as your LMS team tracks differing experiences, metrics, and feedback, which leads to an inability to find a single solution to issues
  • Wasted time and resources as your students/employees try to navigate their way around an inconsistent user experience
  • Too much downtime as your company or business spends time on the backend rolling out constant ‘changes’ to the code or LMS delivery platform
  • No way to optimise the user’s experience because there are too many inconsistencies across versions of software rolled out in different countries
  • Failing to respond to differing local business practices

And the list goes on.

You’ve likely felt more than a few of these because the ‘issues’ are not confined to eLearning alone. Indeed, any software rollout that expects to have a global presence will require a multi-step plan that starts with the right model, includes the right regional input, and offers consistent design principles.

Undergirding it all, there is a need for the right external management team in place to help you deploy and manage ongoing evaluations for quality.

The key here is standardisation, but not to the point where it’s a ‘one-size-fits-all’ situation. Instead, you’ll have to think through and plan for country-specific differences.

Let’s take a look at how a structured plan for roll-out is crucial to the efficacy of your software or online training globally.

Decide on a model

There are a couple of options for a roll-out model.

Core and country-specific model

There is a ‘core’ application or training that is developed, which responds to the common requirements for all BUs (business units) involved. From here, country-specific functionalities or changes are plugged in. But, even these specifics align with the overall solution roadmap and accomplish the same milestones, leaving users with the same outcomes.

Base and customise model

In the base and customise model, one business unit is chosen for the first implementation and, then, the end solution is standardised according to this particular model. The codebase for the course design or software expands, depending on the nature of the functional requirements that come up in the first two or three BU implementations. Meanwhile, regional codebases are shared as customised extensions.

Regional implementation model

Regional implementation is quite flexible. It’s a multi-country solution that allows for the deployment of a single software instance, accessed by multiple BUs but hosted regionally. The configurations and code management are also handled regionally. Businesses developing under this model can also choose to deploy the full solution to a specific location (the development’s unofficial ‘HQ’). Then, it’s accessed via network by the various BUs involved.

Decide on a budget

As each of these models comes with its own pros and cons, you’ll need to forecast and plan for a budget that reflects your decision and priorities.

Some key factors to take into consideration are:

  • Sharing the cost of each implementation: A regional budget is given and the implementation cost for any BU is shared by the regional and BU teams.
  • Core and customisation cost: The regional team sponsors the development
    cost for the core application or codebase (depending on the development methodology). The initial cost is borne by the main ‘core’ country/region while the customisations budget relies on individual BUs.

Different countries will have different degrees of reliance on these shared applications so cost allocations must be distributed in a reasonable and equitable manner.

Choose the Right Partner

As you can see, development, implementation and budgeting for a multi-country roll-out are quite time and resource-intensive. Yet, none of this really ‘matters’ if there is a significant ROI and users — your employees — are gaining a consistent and high-quality experience of learning, which translates into their on-the-job success.

Yet, it can get very overwhelming to actually monitor and evaluate the quality, consistency and standards of training across regions or multiple locations. Choosing the right partner, then, doesn’t only mean in the development and implementation, but also in ongoing evaluation and management.

One of the key roles the team at Darlo Digital play in the roll-out of learning software for MNCs is that of an external partner. As a third-party evaluator, we free up the time and resources of the companies involved in multi-country training software roll-outs by overseeing and evaluating standards.

If, for example, you’re a regional BU who is choosing to go with a core and customisation model for your development and implementation, you could offload the burden of constantly tracking, providing support for, tracking issues with, giving fixes for and updating customisations.

It’s not only about administration but, of course, about ongoing management — and this is where a third-party evaluator like Darlo Digital comes in. This means that local ‘customisations’ are free to develop their own custom solutions, accessing the main codebase and tailoring their design to their users’ unique business environments, but they’re also not completely left to their own devices.

The experience for businesses using Darlo Digital is one of being able to focus on other, more pressing business priorities without letting go of the significant time and resources they have sunk into their roll-out initiative.

And this trickles down to users, your employees, as their experience may not look the same, necessarily, but certainly delivers the same outcomes, in the same high-quality manner.

The result? Everyone is on the same page, across the world.

If it’s not making money, what’s the goal of training in a software product company?

What Is the Goal of Digital Training in a Software Company?

‘Human resources‘ — the operative word here can often get obscured by the plethora of processes and paperwork that HR usually signifies.

And yet these are humans that make up our workplaces, whom business owners and companies rely on to make things happen — things like bringing in revenue from sales, developing and innovating new products and services, and responding to customer issues.

Except software product companies have to ask themselves: ‘Are we nurturing our resources?’

Too often, organisations can become afflicted with myopia, thinking the initial, upfront costs to future training — precisely the kind of training which nurtures the humans that are the resources for any thriving business — are “too expensive to adopt right now.”

The truth is that it’s too costly not to adopt and incorporate digital learning and online training in the workplace.

The Robots Have Landed and AI Can Be Your Friend

Work, such as your employees think about it and perform it, is changing. And in the ‘re-working’ of work, there are significant drivers, including global connectivity, smart machines, and new media, especially in software companies.

According to a report by the Institute of the Future, the rise of ‘smart machines and systems’ will means that “workplace robotics nudge human workers out of rote, repetitive tasks,” calling on human-focused skills like sense-making from AI analytics, novel and adaptive thinking, and increased social and emotional intelligence.

Notice how the advance of robotics in the workplace and the introduction of AI to our data platforms doesn’t mean an elimination of the workforce — instead, it’s a shift, a re-focus to specifically human-centric tasks.

Employees will be called on to re-engage with their new (digital) workplace and bring the skills that help them do this.

Indeed, this shift is already being felt at major companies. Quick to embrace and adopt this new and emerging reality, senior execs, in tandem with HR, are looking to support their employees through this shift.

And this means digitally retrofitting their employees’ skills through online training.

“In 2014, when AT&T announced plans to move 75 per cent of its network into software-controlled systems by 2020, senior leaders realised the market could not supply all the technologists needed for this shift. Instead, it developed programmes to help existing employees qualify for new roles.” — Older staff, new skills: employers retrofit the workforce‘, Financial Times

In other words, it’s AI plus human intelligence that spells the future of work — only if your software company is ready to harness it through digital learning.

Short-Term Goals

Digital training and eLearning initiatives are a long game. But, by setting up these short-term goals as priorities, you can see these ‘long-term benefits’ faster and more tangibly.

New Employee Training and Onboarding

How much time, money and resources go into training a new software employee on the job? It’s a significant amount.

It’s not only about other workers being diverted for training purposes but the length of time that a new employee spends away from actually doing productive tasks.

If you can set up onboarding as a form of digital training, software employees can access training in their off hours, on the go, or prior to actually stepping into the workplace. They can peruse on-boarding documents on an ongoing basis or gain access to an environment that helps them navigate in simulation.

Collaboration and Connection

Digital learning is all about connecting with peers and collaborating over materials, resources, ideas, assignments, discussions, and projects. The whole point is to bring diverse groups of workers together in order to arm them with a new skill.

Especially in software development companies, whose teams often rely on agile principles of development, having diversity during sprints and breakout sessions is crucial.

This diversity and connection is exactly what promotes innovative solutions — the confluence of two separate disciplines allows individuals to brainstorm together, bringing their own expertise.

You never know where the next big idea or design will come from, and bringing workers together as learners encourage this.

Bite-Sized, Digestible Learning

Studies show that bite-sized, digestible lessons and ‘micro-learning’ opportunities create an incentive to continue and also align with our much shorter modern attention spans.

When planning for the success of online or digital training, make sure to divvy up lessons into ‘chunks’ that can be accessed at any time, from anywhere. You may also consider ‘dripping’ lessons, where the completion of one micro-lesson or assignment triggers the opening of a new module — but not before.

More Streamlined Project Delivery

Make one of the short-term goals of your digital learning or online training the ability for software developers to bring their learning into breakout sessions.

Give your developers lessons, topics, assignments, and modules that directly relate to the issues they face on the job.

Allow them to access lessons that answer their questions, and you’ll see a more streamlined, improved project delivery. This helps connect the development team’s talent to training.

Motivated and Self-Driven Learning

A compelling aspect of effective online training is that it comes from an internal space. Aspects like digital access from any mobile or desktop device is simply a method to promote and technologically support that internal motivation.

When workers are also learners, they take the initiative to direct not only their own learning but their own contribution to the success of projects.

Long-Term Benefits

So once you have these goals in place, what are the benefits your business can realise as a direct result of online training and digital learning?

Improved Decision Making

As employees gain a better insight into their jobs, both from an operational as well as a skills-based perspective, they’ll be in a better position to contribute to overall decision making.

Since so much of digital learning and online training is based on constant and consistent feedback, they’ll also be able to see what works, what doesn’t, and where there’s room for improvement.

The use of situation-specific, contextual questions, case studies, and simulations can allow developers to apply their knowledge and exercise their decision-making skills in a risk-free environment.

This means they can explore unpredictable paths, backtrack, learn and participate in a kind of experiential learning that then translates to better on-the-job decision making, and the forecasting of complex problems.

Intangible But Integral: Employee Engagement

Because digital learning is interactive, developers who are learners can remain engaged in learning. But this also translates to an increase in employee engagement at work, during working hours.

It’s not only that employees have a sense that their workplace is as invested in their professional growth as they are. The interactivity allows them to continue seeking the solution to an assignment or problem set they’re learning about, drawing from both the ‘real world’ of the workplace and their online training time.

Local Capability Development

For companies looking to expand and develop their overseas workforces, bringing them up to par with command central, digital, and online training provides an unparalleled experience to developing and aligning local capabilities. Of course, this is especially true when trying to develop software or applications that begin regionally but expand internationally.

Workers from different parts of the company can support each other’s development and learning, while developers from within the company, based in a separate location with its own business culture and needs, can bring their unique perspective to the mix.

This can mean that businesses can thrive, regardless of geographical boundaries. And, in situations of acquisitions or mergers, digital learning and online training both give an acquired set of employees the chance to get up to speed or develop an entirely new way of doing things.

Say the adage, ‘” rising tide raises all ships,” and people might think that digital learning is the tide and your business is the ship. But, at Darlo Digital, our experience has shown us something a little different. So we do things a little differently.

From what we’ve seen so far about the future of work, it’s automation, AI and Big Data, that are the tide. These are the ‘trends’ lifting our businesses up, demanding we do better and giving us the tools to do so.

But we’ll need to rise in kind, raising the standard operation and nurturing the technical ability of our human resources — the crew aboard these ships.

Onward!

 

Transforming text-based e-courses into interactive hubs

One of the perks of digital learning and online training platforms is their ability to use various methods and media to engage the learner’s imagination, demonstrate concepts and stimulate learning.

The use of interactivity as a means to promote learning helps to go above and beyond what Eric Mazur, the Balkanski Professor of Physics and Applied Physics at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences calls a mere ‘transfer of learning’. Instead, using interactivity and peer-to-peer teaching in his physical physics lectures allowed him to promote ‘learning and retention’ in his students.

‘What I was able to show is that I doubled the learning gains. In fact, it tripled once I got better questions to ask in class and also much longer retention…I’ve never looked back.’ — Erik Mazur, ‘The Benefit of Interactive Learning

So how do we implement interactivity? It’s not spontaneous — in digital learning, it must be planned for. Transforming text-based courses and making them more interactive — whether that means requiring on-screen clicks after prompts from learners, interactive sliders, or video-based demonstrations coupled with live quizzes — allows users to explore their environment, collect information and make better decisions going forward.

These are all hallmarks of learning with longer retention, creating a strong motivation to learn, know and experience even more.

At Darlo Digital, we’ve come up with 5 ways to promote interactivity in e-courses, reducing the traditionally heavy reliance course developers have on text-based learning.

Using Video

Videos have an instant impact and they can create a connection with your learner in an active way that text simply cannot.

There are subtle, non-verbal cues that you can convey to your learners, which can enhance the learning experience. Besides this, videos used as a learning tool can produce other positive effects, including:

  • Higher student impact: Videos have been found to be 10 times more effective in creating an impact with concepts learned
  • High learner engagement: Using personalised ‘next module’ recommendations
  • Appeal to a wide range of learners: From auditory learners to visual learners, every kind of learner profile can benefit from video
  • Wide accessibility: Video can be viewed on and accessed on a wide variety of channels, including smartphones/mobile, laptop, and tablets

Using Gamification

It’s not only about making ‘dry content more interesting’. In eLearning, the environment is automatically geared towards distraction — you’re only a browser and trackpad-click away from opening up Facebook and watching cat videos.

But eLearning is also built in a digital environment that is geared towards gamification. Forums, point systems, badges, awards and MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing games) are just a few examples of incentive-based gamification techniques at play.

gamification

One element of interactivity is being able to provide an incentive or a motivation to not only continue with the modules but actually create productive habits that will allow learners to continue partaking in assignments and collaborations with peers.

Evaluation as a Two-Way Street

Remember the ‘peer-to-peer’ teaching methodology that Erik Mazur used in his Harvard physics class? Well, evaluations can be a two-way street as well.

Peer-to-peer evaluations should be structured as a learning tool along the way. It’s less about grading and more about providing constant and consistent feedback. Since e-courses are all about instant feedback (such as instant quizzes and on-demand lectures), another way to make learning more connective is to give peers a way in which to interact and challenge each other.

Collaborative Platforms

Interaction in e-courses occurs, as you can see, can happen in several places, using several tactics, elements and media. But what about the most obvious of opportunities: collaborative video chats and conferencing as a means of discussion.

teachers

From Skype to GoToMeeting to UseLoom and Zoom, there are multiple ways for students engaged in e-courses to connect with peers. Through structured assignments and pre-made groups, students should be given a chance to take charge of their own learning and work together in ‘live’ interactions.

There’s an App for That

What happens when you place digital learning in a mobile, on-the-go environment and tie in gamified incentives to continue on? That’s what apps like Babbel and DuoLingo work off of.

Their app’s user interface delivers learning in bite-sized ‘game’ environments where students can move on to the next level and engage in memory games to learn a language in an ongoing way. Since the consistent use of a language is one of the best ways to learn, DuoLingo and Babbel use digital notifications, invitations and integrations to incentivise users and connect the experience to users’ everyday environments.

There are a variety of ways to capture your user’s attention and transform their interaction into a learning experience. Here are Darlo Digital’s five. Use them in conjunction with each other or test them one at a time. But, above all, expect a more active, engaged student.

Why a learning asset register might be a good idea for your organisation?

Why a learning asset register might be a good idea for your product

In a world where online learning is growing increasingly popular, more businesses are using the Internet to train their employees. Today, around 87-percent of Australian universities allow students to access course materials online. In itself, that statistic stands as a testament to how effective eLearning is.

If you’re creating an online course, it’s worth asking yourself whether a learning asset register is a good idea for your product. Finding the answer to this question should only require a short period of reflection.

Do you have a large team?

Monitoring the development of a large team as they take on your eLearning package is often difficult. Unless you’re consistently touching base with them in person, it’s difficult to measure whether they’re continuing to participate. As a result, you may create an eLearning product that only a small number of your employees use efficiently.

Using an online course delivery platform with a learning asset register allows you to track progress. Then, if you notice that a handful of people fail to complete the package within the time they’re given, you can investigate why. Additionally, you can track behaviours that aren’t conducive to learning. For example, blasting through the course in the last few hours before its deadline.

Are you training remote workers?

Around 31-percent of the Australian workforce spends up to 20-percent of their time telecommuting. Allowing your employees to do so confers lots of advantages. They become more productive when they don’t have to face a commute. Also, you can retain experienced workers when their home circumstances change.

One issue with using remote workers is that it’s difficult to track their progress. This becomes crucial when you’re providing an eLearning package, as you need to know they’re performing to the best of their ability while away from the office. Using an asset register such as the ones that come with our services here at Darlo Digital allows you to measure the performance of remote workers. You can also analyse trends amongst those who telecommute and those who don’t, allowing you to see which situation is preferable.

Finally, do you want to track your course’s progress at all?

When you invest in any product, it’s wise to make sure it’s producing the results you want. An asset register will help you assess the benefits of each trend, giving you the chance to make adjustments where necessary. At Darlo Digital, we allow you to add a learning asset register to your package whether you use us for a blended or fully-online experience. To find out more, contact us.

How much content is really consumed in certification courses?

At Darlo Digital, one of the questions we commonly face from our clients is “How much content do students consume?” It’s easy to understand why you need to know this. If you’re going to the effort of creating an eLearning package, you want to know the training will translate to real-life results.

Much of the current research revolving around student engagement in online courses comes from Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). MOOCs are small learning packages provided by universities that want to extend their content to students around the world. Most notably, a study published in the British Journal of Educational Technology dug deep into this topic. The findings came from examining previously published studies and assessing the behaviours of those using MOOCs. By looking further into the results, we can answer your question about how much content your students consume.

More content is consumed when students are part of a network

All of the studies into online learning come together to produce one unsettling theory: students are more likely to drop out when they feel isolated. Whether this affects the amount of content your trainees consume depends on several factors:

  • Are they part of the same workplace? Or, are multiple individuals in your workplace taking the same course? If so, the social element will help them continue with their studies enthusiastically.
  • Do you provide a forum that could act as a social network? At Darlo Digital, we can help you find ways to make it easier for students to interact.

When students can discuss a training package together, they feel more engaged. Discussing a package also suggests that they’re absorbing, using, and analysing the content. Although it’s difficult to quantify how much, if it makes its way into workplace conversations, it’s likely having the desired effect.

Poor time-management can act as a barrier to content absorption

As the study into MOOCs reveals, being able to learn at a distance comes with the advantage of flexibility. However, when students don’t have anyone around the motivate them, they struggle to manage their own time. As a result, they may rush through their work. Naturally, this means they’re not absorbing as much content as they should.

How can you overcome this? Resist the urge to leave your trainees to handle a learning package alone. Create live seminars, Skype calls, and ongoing forum discussions. When they feel a sense of unity with their peers who are trying to make the most of the information they receive, they’re more likely to retain the information.

In some cases, you need to make sure trainees aren’t left behind

Another challenge to content absorption and completion is feeling alienated. While creating online forums and social networks results in discussion, some students may feel overpowered. Without intending to, the more confident members of your course participants will make less forward individuals feel unable to speak up.

If possible, designate a course leader who can spot the participants who are not engaging. If it’s the case that they’re feeling under-confident, positive feedback will help. While it isn’t always the case that not participating in forums means someone isn’t absorbing content, unhappy students aren’t motivated students. When they have the confidence to discuss opinions, the discussions that take place leave a lasting impression that aids the learning process.

Although it’s difficult to estimate just how much content your trainees will absorb, we can suggest ways to increase information retention. At Darlo Digital, we also work hard to make sure our learning platforms make all of the above achievable. To find out more, contact a member of our team to discuss your course’s needs.