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  • Improve ROI of your E-learning solution through Performance Support Tools May 28, 2015 Asha PandeyWhat are Performance Support Tools (PSTs)?

    Organisations worldwide face the dual challenge of enhancing performance and increasing productivity. Clearly, learning and performance gain are inter-linked. On account of this, L&D professionals are on the lookout for measures that can increase application of learning at work.

    Training has long been the traditional approach to improve performance.E-learning in particular has been extremely effective in providing this “anytime-anywhere” support to learners. However, formal training is often not enough to ensure that the acquired learning indeed gets applied at work.

    This is exactly where PSTs fit in. These are just-in-time learning aids that are available to learners within their workflow.

    How are PSTs different from trainings?

    As we know, trainings are designed after carrying out the Training Needs Analysis (TNA) and identifying a need or gap. They are structured to meet the defined objectives and provide people to pick up or master a specific knowledge and skill. Trainings can be rendered in a classroom or online. In contrast, PSTs are just-in-time learning aids that help people accomplish tasks so we are not looking at learning objectives but support to get the work done. Unlike trainings, they are not disruptive and are available to learners within their workflow.

    When exactly would the learners need Performance Support?

    Designed by Dr. Conrad Gottfredson, a leading expert on Performance Support, the Five Moments of Need© is a very effective framework that can be used to map varied learning and performance support needs in any organisation.

    According to him, learners seek support in “Five Moments of Need” as indicated here:

    • When they are learning an aspect for the first time
    • When they want to deep-dive and learn more
    • When they want to apply or remember something
    • When they need to solve a problem or fix something that has gone wrong
    • When something changes

    If you review this model “Five Moments of Need”, a couple of important aspects emerge. The first two moments focus on knowledge acquisition and hence map to formal training (classroom or online).  On the other hand, the next three moments focus more on Performance Support. They are aligned to help learners apply their knowledge within their workflow.

    So, an effective learning and performance strategy must factor for both measures that are necessary to acquire learning (through formal training) and more significantly, apply this learning (through Performance Support intervention).

    On account of this, an effective Performance Support Solution will have a direct bearing on the gains for business; thereby impacting the ROI on E-learning positively.

    How do PSTs improve application of learning?

    Unlike formal training that tends to be disruptive (pulls the learner away from work), PSTs can be easily embedded in the learners’ workflow. The key is that they provide the right amount of support and guidance that the learners need at work (and within their workflow). These can be provided in varied, interesting formats ranging from Mobile Apps to eBooks, Interactive videos, eBooks or Interactive PDFs.

    The typical PSTs focus on checklists, ready reckoners, guidelines and so on and can be designed to complement or support formal training. They can also be provided as stand-alone learning aids focusing on performance enhancement. The key is that these aids are available to learners exactly “when and where they need” it.

    A case study

    Let us look at a case study that illustrates how a PST (as a checklist) that complemented an online course enhanced the application of learning.

    Audience: Instructional Designers

    Formal training: An online course on “Writing Effective Storyboards”

    PST: A “checklist” summarising the workflow to be followed and the key aspects to conform to during storyboarding available as avideo featuring Kinetic text/Text animation

    Outcomes of the online course

    The aim of the course is to ensure that the learners imbibe the basics of storyboarding and gain an insight about the key focus areas of a storyboard creation.

    The gaps (in application)

    When we rolled out these courses to our internal Instructional Design team, we found that the conformance to the prescribed workflow to develop storyboards was rather patchy. Since the team had individuals with varied backgrounds and with different proficiency levels, they tended to use individual approaches that they were most comfortable with. We needed to ascertain how we could instill the discipline of following the prescribed approach.

    How did we bridge the gap?

    We developed a PST (a micro learning object) that served as a “checklist” for the Instructional Designers. This just-in-time learning aid was designed as a video featuring Kinetic text/Text animation with audio that provided a precise and sharp input on the workflow to be followed.

    The impact

    The checklist is now available to our Instructional Designers on their desktops/laptops as well as tablets/smartphones. Access to this aid within their workflow increased their probability of using them and applying them at work. We see an increased focus in conformance to the mandate now.

    The business impact is on account of gains due to:

    • Improvement in “first time quality”
    • Reduction of review time
    • Reduction in time to turn-around each storyboard
    How can PSTs improve ROI in E-learning?

    As we saw in the case study, having an effective training program is often not enough to meet the organisational mandates of enhancing productivity and reducing errors. Using Performance Support to complement or supplement formal training will certainly impact the “returns” for the organisation positively and increase the ROI on E-learning. There would be a direct gain on account of competence gain that will translate to higher performance and productivity levels (as compared to training alone).

    It is important to note that Performance Support may not generate all the “returns” but is an extremely effective contributor in enhancing them and improving the ROI on E-learning.

    Read more »
  • Return On Investment (ROI): Are you in? May 28, 2015 Asha PandeyToday, e-learning is an integral component for training delivery in organizations worldwide. It has revolutionised the way learners learn and with its delivery extended to support tablets and smartphones, we will see a bigger focus on e-learning in corporate learning strategies. There are several advantages that e-learning brings in and organizations are seeking ways to determine the Return On Investment (ROI) that can clearly establish the gains they will accrue. This article outlines what ROI is, how it can be computed and more specifically, how it can be increased.   Why is eLearning adopted? Over the last two decades, most organizations have made investments in eLearning primarily for the following benefits:
    • Anytime, anywhere access (on demand availability)
    • Self-paced, interactive and more engaging learning (learner perspective)
    • Less disruptive delivery (in contrast to ILT)
    • Cost-effective (particularly when reaching out to a large audience)
    • Consistency of message and easy updation of content
    • Easy tracking of learner progress and completion (business perspective)
      What is ROI? ROI is the return on investment that an organization makes (ROI = Gain or Return/Cost). It can be determined through two factors namely the Investment made (or cost incurred) and Value/Gain accrued(or return). A successful e-learning initiative should be able to demonstrate gains that are more than the investment.   How to determine costs and assess returns? Costs are fairly easy to define and would normally include the cost of e-learning course development as well as associated costs of team members (including teams that are associated with the development process and Subject Matter Experts) Typically, there would also be associated cost of the supporting delivery (LMS, Administrative cost of managing the initiative and other related infrastructure required for delivery) Determining the “value” or “gain” is far more tricky. We nail this by looking at the gains for the organization as well as for the learners.   Organizational perspective Let us begin by re-looking at the gains most organizations seek when they adopt e-learning and see how many of these translate to reduction in costs and hence improvement in returns.
    • Less disruptive delivery: This translates to man-days available now to the organization that would have been allocated to travel and training in the ILT mode.
    • Reduced travel costs: These can be determined easily.
    • No associated costs for trainers: These can be identified easily
    Learners’ perspective Next, let us look at the gains that accrue on account of effective e-learning course designs:
    • Immersive and engaging learning translates to better assimilation. This in turn leads to proficiency gain and a tangible increase in productivity.
    • More learners across the organization can be trained in lesser time (while they get the flexibility to learn at their own pace).
    • Coupled with tracking, the e-learning initiatives can be scheduled and completed faster as compared to ILT sessions.
    What ROI methodology can be used? Most of us are familiar with Kirkpatrick’s model of evaluation. In today’s context, adding Phillips’ ROI calculation as the fifth level makes this framework even more useful and relevant. By using Level IV evaluation data, we can convert the results into monetary value. Then we can easily compare them against the cost of the e-learning program and determine the ROI. To give you a sense of how it can be practically used, let me summarise the approaches we typically adopt: Level 1: Reaction is measured by taking feedback from learners. We have used online surveys in the past but now we add features of “Like the course” and “Recommend the course” options within our e-learning course framework. Level 2: Learning can be easily measured through scoring patterns in the end of course assessments. Level 3: Behavioural changes are certainly more difficult to assess. We use a combination of techniques to assess how much of the newly acquired learning is being applied on the job. This could be measured through improvements in efficiency or doing the same task with a new approach. Level 4: Business impact is generally measured through productivity gain, impact on quality measures through reduction in re-works, getting higher number of work assets first time right and so on. Level 5: ROI is normally calculated by converting the business impact gains (as shown in level 4) to a monetary value. How can you maximise the ROI? Here are some best practices that can help you maximise your ROI:
    • Selecting right courses for e-learning: To begin with, it is a good idea to take time to do a detailed Training Needs Analysis and Competency Mapping exercise, which will help scope the learning gaps and possible options clearly. You need to choose e-learning projects that are significant and the identified proficiency gains must have a clear impact on the business.
    • Efficacy of the e-learning program: Once you have selected the project that has high-leverage, the focus moves to creating courses that are effective. This needs a strong Learning Design core that Instructional Design brings in. The learning experience must be engaging and immersive with the focus of the course being a combination of Learn, Explore and Test.
    • Assessment strategy: You must have an effective assessment strategy to help you evaluate if the training met the required cognition level and was indeed able to bridge the identified gap.
    • Push the envelope to knowledge application (rather than knowledge acquisition):A great way to achieve this is by using Performance Support Tools (PSTs) that can complement or supplement the e-learning program. These just-in-time learning aidscan be provided to the learners at their workplace and within their workflow. (They could contain Checklists, Ready-Reckoners, Read-This-First or Simple tips, Best practices and so on).
    • Provide platform for collaboration in learning:Research shows that nearly 20% of our learning happens from feedback and from observing our co-workers (peers, seniors or role models). It is interesting to note that only 10% of learning happens through formal training. Providing platforms for social or informal learning will facilitate learning and can also be used to create live case studies of success.
      While training budgets remain a constant concern for organizations, the onus is on L&D and e-learning professionals to justify the investments made in eLearning. I believe that except for mandatory programs like Compliance, we can demonstrate the positive impact on business on account of e-learning initiatives by crafting learning that is assimilated fast and can be easily applied on the job. In my next article, I will outline how intervention of Performance Support Tools (in conjunction with e-learning) can help organizations achieve this and improve their ROI on e-learning. Read more »
  • Learner Engagement: How To Create Effective Assessment Strategies April 17, 2015 Asha Pandey

    The article describes the methods that can be used to create effective assessment strategies in eLearning courses. It also outlines the various types of assessments that are used in eLearning courses. Additionally, the article elucidates the various ways to create effective assessments and provide diagnostic feedback to the learners. An interesting framework, Assessment Map is also discussed here. Assessment map helps the Instructional Designers to create the right assessments for each of the Learning Objectives.

    Read more »
  • Story-Based Learning Strategy In A Course For Instructional Designers November 12, 2014 Asha Pandey

    We felt that instead of listing out or describing various content types and their visualization techniques, it would be better for learners to go through a story that presents this information in a much more engaging and interesting format.

    We decided to create a storyline that treats the challenges of the content as an actual business problem and outlines the solution through a series of real life situations. This approach helped the learners relate to the content, and apply their learning practically.

    Read more »
  • Gamification In Learning Through An Avatar-based Serious Game Concept October 29, 2014 Asha Pandey

    In one of my earlier articles published in eLearning Industry portal on Aug 30th’14, I had shared a case study on the benefits of Gamification in learning (through a serious game concept).

    In this article, I am sharing another case study using the same content (on Account Management Fundamentals) but re-designed using an Avatar-based approach. I will also share the gains that accrued with this enhanced approach. Read more »
  • How To Create A Sticky Learning Experience In Compliance Training October 16, 2014 Asha Pandey

    In this article, I will outline some of the innovative approaches we have adopted to create “sticky learning experiences” in various Compliance courses.

    I will illustrate three of these approaches used in Compliance courses featuring:
    1. Partial Gamification
    2. Formative assessment strategy to visually highlight the impact of learners’ choices
    3. Story-based learning
    Read more »
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