Engaging the online learner.

By | Blogs | No Comments

When people hear about online education and training, they sometimes fear that learners will be missing a great deal of interaction and participation.  It’s a misconception that needs to be addressed so that people begin to appreciate the advantages of online training and what it has to offer.  This can be made possible by detailed planning and active management.

Consider a German organization wanting to launch their product in India. To share product knowledge, they create short 15 minute videos explaining various aspects of the product or conduct webinars and share them across the organization. Unlike the classroom, the product manager conducting training does not have visual cues and needs to make an effort to try and gauge participant responses beforehand.  This can be done by keeping the video short, giving adequate breaks during the session and making it activity based. Activities can include quick surveys/questionnaires as the training progresses.

During a webinar, being able to ask questions is crucial.  Being able to look around the room and see other people with puzzled expressions on their faces makes it easier to interrupt.  That’s hard to replicate when it’s just you, staring down your computer.  Hence it’s essential that the product manager make adequate provision for feedback apart from periodically encouraging questions from participants. In this way his listeners in India don’t feel less engaged or distracted.

All things said and done, online training requires different kind of preparation and demands openness and flexibility on part of the presenter. Kpoint makes his job easier.

“Prepare more but still save time”.

By | Blogs | No Comments

Bad economic times are just not going away.  Executives, who were used to spending 200 days a year on road till 2008, are spending 300 days with family.  Good for them.  It looks like more marriages would survive the corporate travel grind now!  But business has to continue so more and more executives have moved to web-based marketing and training.  Now that they have mastered the art of effective communication through this medium, I doubt majority would go back to old ways when the good times would return.

I recently attended training on how to design a training course.  The biggest take away was, while the success of training depends on delivery and execution; more than 50% of success depends on the preparation.  What about web based events?  How important is the preparation?

As far as effective web events go, I have seen both sides of the spectrum.  There are sessions where most attendees stayed till the end. There was lot of interaction and even the recordings were viewed and searched heavily.  And then there were sessions where the presenter was the only person left at the end of the session…not even the moderatorJ. The combination of an interesting topic, a real subject matter expert, and attendees with a need for that knowledge is not common. What is common is the preparation.

From experience I can say a lot depends on preparation. You can make an average event better with detailed preparation.  In case of the web events, you not only need all the preparation that you need for a regular face to face session but also need some extra preparation for technical set up, presenter prep, interactivity etc.

Even if we say the success depends 70% on preparation in web events, it is important to consider the economics of this extra time spent.   One web based event allows you to reach more people. Let’s say it is equivalent to on an average 10 face to face meetings.  If we divide the extra preparation time across the 10 meetings where you also need to travel, worry about directions, and traffic, this extra preparation is worthwhile. Also the success dependency on preparation would go down significantly as one becomes familiar with the process. This is where I would say…”prepare more yet save time”.

Does face-to-face training work?

By | Blogs | No Comments

The title questions an age-old practice firmly established everywhere.  In fact, we are all used to being asked ‘does on-line training work?’ more often.  Our real intention here is answer this: ‘How can face-to-face training be enhanced?’  This blog has articles about flipping training and viability of classroom-based training.  As we interact more with end-users who need technology for training, we realize that the debate about on-line versus face-to-face has not remained relevant.  In the enterprise setting (as against K-12), on-line and face-to-face are two sides of one coin.  And the outcome expected is: improved productivity.

We all learn better by applying our learning in practical on-the-job situations, right?  We are all adults pursuing a career and are expected to be self-directed, motivated individuals, right?  In the kPoint approach, recognition of these two facts about people forms the crux of the training mechanisms provided to an enterprise. While we talk a lot about how the millennials learn,  higher level aspects of adult learning have not changed.  Two key aspects of such learning: (1) It is problem-centered and not content-oriented.  (2) It needs to be relevant to the immediate problem at hand.

So, this means that any learning experience must have two characteristics: the problem solved needs to be in focus more than the sophistication of the content.  And user needs to be taken to points of interest quickly.

kPoint has made specific attempts to provide and sharpen both these aspects.  It focuses on (1) quick video content creation and (2) deep video search.  If kPoint kapsules are made available as a part of the pre-training and/or post-training material, we believe every face-to-face training session will have a higher impact on productivity

Consistency in live training.

By | Blogs | No Comments

Big Business Process Outsourcing organizations (BPOs) have dedicated accounts departments.  They hire fresh graduates in large numbers to handle billing or sales; each of whom needs training in handling confidential company data and processes.  A number of trainers are also hired for this purpose.  However, there is no consistency in the training messages each batch of employees receive from the various training sources the company employs.  A trainer might fail to communicate certain important aspects to some of his students while another might adopt different techniques to get his point across.

Training has far more to do with behavior change than it does with information exchange. It doesn’t always work for many companies because the behavior change is never implemented as the trainees are confronted with so many different presentation styles.  If you want your course to be delivered in the same way each time, then e-Learning is an excellent choice. The content and delivery is exactly the same each time.

On the other hand there are certain courses that seem to always be changing. The system is constantly being updated or the product details are a moving target. How will these changes be handled? How will you update material? Will you need to retrain those who previously attended the course? Online content can be changed once from one location. There is no need to get trainers up-to-speed and no need to reprint materials.

Online training also offers a better way to evaluate learners as everyone gets the information from a single source.  Thus, the training and development departments in organizations could use videos to train new employees across all locations. They can also keep a track of who has viewed which lessons and gauge how trainees are responding to it by way of feedback.  Kpoint helps you achieve all this.

Improving online learner’s motivation.

By | Blogs | No Comments

Motivation is one of the most important elements of learning.  In classrooms, poorly motivated students can benefit and build their interest and motivation through teacher intervention. On the other hand, keeping students motivated is critical for successful online education, where they take more control over the learning process.

Let us divide the learning process into three stages: the beginning of the learning process, during, and the end of the learning process. At the beginning, in order to motivate students to learn, you must gain and keep the learner’s attention. Learners can be engaged by providing visual stimuli like interesting graphics, animation or any kind of event that introduces incongruity.  During the learning process, emphasis should be placed on stimulation and effect. Learners should be encouraged to engage with the trainer and other learners through question answer sessions and discussion boards.  Most importantly the course material should be relevant to the students.  On the one hand students need to be a part of the community, but on the other hand they also need to learn by themselves.  Finally, the end of the learning experience should focus on competence and reinforcement.  This is possible through frequent feedback and communicating learner progress.  Students must gain confidence from the activity.

It is very difficult to understand through simple observation what is actually motivating learners’ to behave the way they do in response to online training. Creating an individualized learning experience by fitting assignments to personal learning curves will go a long way in improving the online learning process. Kpoint helps you in this journey.

Biggest opportunity for higher education lies in going online.

By | Blogs | No Comments

Did you know the annual turnover of the coaching industry is a staggering $100 million, totally spent by parents?   Fast emerging as a parallel education system, the country’s multiplying coaching schools have become one-stop shops catering to every need of students from diverse backgrounds.
Today almost all the students attend private tuition from higher secondary level onwards.  But those from small cities and towns are at a great disadvantage as coaching facilities are the best at the metros. Due to no coaching class presence in their hometowns, aspirants do not get adequate guidance to prepare for entrance tests for admission to professional institutions.
On the other hand, a few big cities and metros have become famous for such coaching centers and students, often with parents shift there for two years. Others make do with correspondence courses or test series.
E-tutorials are a way to bridge this gap.  Having an online lecture series will give students access to a lot of information.  Online coaching classes can offer a combination of webcasts, live and prerecorded lectures as well as innovative features like classes with interactive animations and Q&A – answers to all queries of students through online interaction.  Kpoint makes all of this possible

Information at your fingertips.

By | Blogs | No Comments

The training function is typically a tradition-bound operation scattered throughout an enterprise. Its reliance on instructor-led training results in time-consuming classes that require expensive travel, money and time.

Today technology has radically enhanced the ability of companies to connect with their employees and customers. For e.g. every organization, big or small hires interns and temps who are part of the company for a small duration. Interns are looked upon as potential employees, and companies strive to give them the same orientation a new employee gets. Induction sessions and standard company policies can be video recorded and archived for on-demand viewing by such interns across distributed locations. This frees up considerable amount of time for busy executives and other SMEs in addition to saving training costs. It can be advantageous if these videos are interactive which the new joiner can use to reach out to seniors at their convenience.

Some knowledge is useful during the entire course of an activity rather than just in time. Retailers use online instructions to train their employees in everything from theft prevention and inventory/stock room practices to cash register operation. They need to keep revisiting such crucial instructions on a day-to-day basis. In this case, robust participant collaboration or mentoring will help in improving the performance as well as morale of the group as a whole.

Kpoint, with its searchable media content, makes it easier to come back to such online videos everyday on the job.

Has classroom-based training had its day?

By | Blogs | No Comments

Picture a traditional classroom with rows of students and a knowledgeable expert at the front of the room. It is becoming increasingly difficult for people to find the time away from their work to attend such trainings. Moreover the expert isn’t available when you get stuck with something later. Ergo, there is no long-term shared interaction.

In 2012 learners’ expectations of how to get information have skyrocketed. Today’s kids have increasingly limited attention spans. In such a scenario, a four-to six-minute video lesson blends entertainment as well as practical application. How such instructional videos are integrated into an overall approach will make the difference. Let us take the example of an up-and-coming coaching class. In order to expand operations, they recorded the live classes they took each week at their Bangalore base and subsequently played these videos across various cities. After explaining each concept in class, the coach gave adequate breaks for students to practice what they had learnt. Additionally, he paid attention to key factors like the pace, the student’s reactions, the examples used and the visual representation as a whole. So, instead of being monotonous, students absorbed and enjoyed the video lessons.

Another important part of learning is relevance. It has to be just in time- searching for exactly what I need when I need it. Consequently by providing opportunities for reflection or feedback, the learning process is further accelerated in a way that is both personal and sustainable.

The truth of the matter is there are a lot of ways in which people can learn, and they all have their place. But it seems almost certain that instructional videos and online tools will continue to multiply.

kPoint has a new logo!

By | Blogs | No Comments

A few months ago we started thinking about changing our logo. The first question that came to our mind was “why is a logo important?” followed by “why change now?”

In the long history of corporate logo designs, many companies have undergone several logo changes. Many logos that we would recognize in our sleep such as Apple, Mercedes Benz etc did not start out elegant. For a good review of how some of the famous logos evolved, take a look at http://www.instantshift.com/2009/01/29/20-corporate-brand-logo-evolution/.

For a business, a logo is important for branding. With a simple image, the viewer of logo can conjure up thoughts about the function and quality of a company and its products. The Mercedes Benz logo instantly brings to mind luxury and top-tier cars. With the current prevalence of digital media through websites, blogs, mobile applications, web applications, a company’s logo becomes even more important as it is frequently in front of the stakeholders. It is, therefore, very important to have a memorable logo.

So, why did WE decide to change our logo? We have been using our current logo for over 2 years. It is a good functional representation of what we do, connecting people for learning/training. We felt that we needed to convey a more abstract thought of simplicity and boldness “ something that represented our company vision rather than just the product. We wanted to be able to use a logo on different backgrounds and we also wanted to have an image that could represent the entire logo, in short form. In other words, we wanted a simple, clean and bold logo which also would make a great image. We feel we have achieved this with our new logo! Please let us know what you think of it.

Flipping Training

By | Blogs | No Comments

Over the last 20 years, we have seen customer support evolve from a high touch, expensive, people-based model to a self-help, cheaper, and impersonal model. While this is not really a good move for those who have complicated issues which need resolution,it works well in most mundane situations, keeping costs low for everyone. What is really happening here is that the responsibility of finding the right answers is passed back to the paying users!

There is a similar movement in the learning space. There has been much talk and some implementation of a concept called “The Flipped Classroom”. Though made popular due to efforts such as Khan Academy or Udacity, the notion has been around for some time (see http://educationnext.org/the-flipped-classroom/). Simply put, the idea here is that students learn the basics on their own from some awesome online content and then apply it in the classroom where a teacher can assess the students’ understanding of the material. The online content provides some measure of what each student may have learnt and the classroom activity provides further insight into it. This is expected to enable the teachers to provide more individual attention to students and be more effective. While this idea has been discussed in the context of schools, there is no reason why it should not work for enterprise training.

There are some similarities between classrooms and training centers’ the format is lecture format, it can be long and boring, it is hard to review and absence is penalized. There are also some differences training can be , and often is , less structured , it is more interactive, time is of THE essence, and review after the training is more important than just assessment. What is really needed is a set of modern tools which allows trainers to create material that holds attention, is highly interactive and can be personalized.

Perhaps it is time for enterprises to consider flipping their training center to achieve the best results efficiently. kPoint strives to meet this challenge.