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Archive for June, 2013

MOOCs to Bridge the Workplace Skills Gap

By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On June 27, 2013 NO COMMENTS

There are two trends occurring right now – one in business and Global blue Computer Networkone in education – that are majorly threatening their respective industries. In business a huge skills gap is hindering the ability of many organizations to achieve their goals because students are not graduating from school with the knowledge, skills, and abilities they need for critical jobs. In education massive open online courses, or MOOCs, are disrupting the traditional models and how people think about learning, delivery, and credentialing. However, out of disruption comes innovation, and if we can set these two trends on a collision course, we might find a perfect solution for the skills gap problem, which is predicted to take a heavy toll on U.S. and global businesses over the next several years.

According to Bridging the Skills Gap, a 2012 report of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), a recent survey found that 84 percent of ASTD members saw a skills gap in their company. That is a huge number, and it is predicted to grow even bigger. In some industries the numbers are particularly grim. For example, according to the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), 93 percent of employers in IT businesses report a skills gap.

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MOOC Analytics: What Corporate Training Can Learn from Big Data

By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On June 24, 2013 NO COMMENTS

Vector Big Data. Broken textWhat parts of your training program are the most effective? The least effective? When are your employees really engaged and when are they daydreaming? What training units / simulations / assessments / employee actions are most associated with learning? How does training influence the success of your employees and your organization? Would you like to be able to answer these questions? According to the ASTD 2012 State of the Industry Report, in 2011 U.S. organizations spent more than $156 billion on training, averaging just under $1200 per employee. For that kind of dough, companies want to see some results.

MOOCs (massive open online courses) are currently redesigning the educational and training landscape. In January 2013, the Harvard Business Review blog called “the advent of massively open online classes…the single most important technological development of the millennium so far.” Did you get that? The single most important technological development of the millennium so far.

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Gamification of Problem Solving

By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On June 20, 2013 NO COMMENTS

Gamification of Problem-Solving: It’s a relatively new term Highway Signpost "Gamification"and may be a little trendy, possibly overhyped, and tends to be misunderstood as a subject. Let me delve a little deeper into painting a picture of what it is able to do (and solve).  In essence gamification presents an innovative way to solve real-world problems in a simulated environment. We are seeing proven cases of success of it’s applications and it still has a lot of untapped potential and evolution to take place before making it full circle.

How can you solve problems through Gamification?

According to Karl Kapp, he states that: “It is one thing to teach someone how to solve a problem using gamification techniques; it is another to actually have people work on the problem itself. This is where gamification problem-solving projects like the U.S. military’s game platform for generating multiple ideas for defeating the Somali pirates, FoldIt, and Phylo come into play. Each of these gamified platforms has several similar components that can be employed when creating large scale gamification problem-solving efforts.

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The History and Direction of Gamification

By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On June 17, 2013 NO COMMENTS

A look back in the history books…Highway Signpost "Gamification"

When you stop to think about it we have been playing games in one form or another almost since time began. The meaning and application of games has changed dramatically over the years and although the concept of ‘game’ is not new, the term of ‘gamification’ is. Perhaps one of the first forms of gamification could be noted as a toy introduced through the infamous Cracker Jack box way back in 1912. Nothing really happened over the next 68 years, up until 1980. It was then that Richard Bartle co-created MUD1. This ‘game’ was a pioneer effort to introduce the first known massively multiplayer online game. This was the first time that people could experience a collaboration platform that was interactive (even though not interactive by today’s standards). It was MUD1 and others like it introduced way back when pc’s were more in the dinosaur age of evolution as compared to what they are today that helped to shape what gamification is and will be in the future.

It wasn’t until 2002 that another element of gamification came into play and that was in the form of ‘serious games’. Serious Games can best be summed up in stating that it’s a game, but one that is used for training/learning purposes through simulation, etc. It was this movement and the term coined as ‘Games for Change’ that began lying a path down for the real introduction of gamification. In 2007, Bunchball introduced the first ‘modern’ gamification platform. Since then a whole host of other companies have launched competing products revolving around a gamification-like platform and other systems.

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Measuring the Effectiveness of Gamification

By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On June 13, 2013 NO COMMENTS

Have you ever been gamified? My guess is that it’s happened Highway Signpost "Gamification"on many occasions without you ever even knowing it. Allow me prove my point. If you are a member of LinkedIn and have strived to achieve a level of completeness on your profile… you have been gamified! If you are a member of a Frequent Flyer Program (FFP)… you have been gamified! If you are a cardholder to a grocery rewards program…you have been gamified! These are just a few of many examples that come to mind that prove that gamification is all around us in a vast majority of things we do and see on a daily basis. By definition gamified elements take advantage of our human psychological predisposition to engage and strive to attain a higher level (or compete against one another). But how are we actually able to measure the effectiveness of gamification?

According to Gabe Zicherman on a recent Huffington Post entry he wrote “Since the beginning of the gamification industry in 2010, over 350 companies have launched major gamification projects. These include consumer brands like MLB, Adobe, NBC, Walgreens, Ford, Southwest, eBay, Panera and Threadless among others. For B2B companies Oracle, SAP, Jive, Cisco, Pearson and Salesforce, gamification has emerged as a key element in their consumerization of the enterprise strategy. And in 2012-2013 alone, consulting behemoths Deloitte, Accenture, NTTData and Capgemini began practices targeting gamification of Fortune 500 companies.”

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Gamification Techniques Transferring Over into Real Life- Life could be like a video game.

By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On June 10, 2013 NO COMMENTS

Let’s just admit now, that most of you reading this blog post Highway Signpost "Gamification"have enjoyed some play time behind a video game controller whether it be mastering Tetris, Doom or any other video game for that matter. Although it’s scary to learn that three billion hours a week (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-22508983) are spent on playing games (mainly as a pastime) it also drives home my point of stating that simulations coupled with gamification techniques can be an extremely powerful tool and one that resonates with a wide audience. Games are everywhere; games will lead the way both now and in the future.

It always seems as though the video game industry is introducing sequels to popular games rather than re-inventing the wheel and developing a new game, why not just add another one onto an already popular money-making video game series? Not to name names here, but: Battlefield 3, Uncharted 3 and Mass Effect 3 are just to name a few. And while I’m at it I might just mention Play Station 3. The lure of the video game is to draw the player in, interaction if you will. Not only does one have the opportunity to play against another player but there is also the aspect of the leader board. This leader board drives one to achieve better mastery of the game and reach higher levels. The whole idea around leader boards, badges, community collaboration, achievements and the list goes on and on… is that all of these ideas transfer over to real life.

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How to MOOC: Technology-Enabled Learning Tools, Part 2

By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On June 10, 2013 NO COMMENTS

Web 2.0 and the rapid rise of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, andMOOC other communications platforms have made one thing abundantly clear: Everything is social. And researchers, educators, and trainers have begun to realize that learning is no exception. As the workforce grows to include more Millennials – digital natives who spend nearly four hours per day on social networking sites – the social impact on training cannot be overstated. According to a 2011 ASTD report, social media enables learning by providing platforms for people to exchange information, facilitating communication, personalizing the learning experience, and supporting informal learning.

Social media integration is one of the main advantages of MOOCs over traditional e-learning models, and MOOCs offer many ways to incorporate social media into training programs:

  • Discussion boards. Course discussion forums are the most basic type of social platform used in MOOCs, but they are powerful tools and almost all MOOCs have them. Discussion boards provide spaces for learners to ask and answer questions and hold conversations about the course content. Participation in discussions is often one of the requirements for course completion. These forums have an advantage over in-class discussions as participants have more time to reflect on course materials and formulate their ideas and contributions. Discussion forums are most effective as learning tools when they are actively monitored and directed by instructors. Most learning management systems (LMSs) have discussion board modules.

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How to MOOC: Technology-Enabled Learning Tools, Part 1

By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On June 7, 2013 NO COMMENTS

Just in case you’ve been under a rock lately, here is a newsMOOC update: the nature of training is changing, and fast! The recent explosion of massive open online courses (MOOCs) in higher education has brought with it a whole new set of technology-enabled learning tools. Education and training are no longer delivered exclusively in closed classrooms by experts, and learning is no longer something people do in isolation surrounded by textbooks. Today, through computers and mobile devices, education can happen anywhere and at any time, and learning involves students not only actively engaging with the content, but also using various tools and platforms to interact with instructors and fellow learners. In the education sector, this is known as Learning 2.0, and the corporate sector needs to be prepared: Training 2.0 is coming.

What exactly does this mean?

There continues to be plenty of controversy surrounding MOOCs, but one thing we can all agree on is they are changing the way we think about education. The main drivers and implications of this change are huge improvements and innovations in learning technologies. Technology-enabled learning tools are not a panacea, but they can go a long way toward solving many of the challenges facing training departments today, including high costs, a lack of qualified employees, the rapidly changing business and technology landscapes, and long training development times coupled with the need to educate employees quickly. Over the course of two articles, we will examine the main “MOOC tools” – online technologies that have made it possible to deliver highly engaging training programs to any number of employees, anywhere, at any time.

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The Gamification Design Process- How not to fail and what will make a project a complete success!

By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On June 6, 2013 NO COMMENTS

In a previous post (http://www.yourtrainingedge.com/gamification-and-the-hype-cycle/)Highway Signpost "Gamification" I cited a prediction from Gartner that by 2014, 80% of current gamified applications will fail to meet business objectives, primarily due to poor design. *After stating this prediction Mr. Burke went on to clarify by saying “The focus is on the obvious game mechanics, such as points, badges and leader boards, rather than the more subtle and more important game design elements, such as balancing competition and collaboration, or defining a meaningful game economy.” The above mentioned percentage might scare off a few decision-makers at first glance. But one must realize that good gamification design is the secret to making the training program a success, let’s examine a few of the key elements below that will lead to a successful implementation of gamification through simulation within your organization.

You may have heard the phrase “Build it and they will come”, well the same holds true when building/designing around a gamification process through simulation. Whether it is developing customer engagement platforms or employee/ student training, gamification certainly has a wide array of applications. By leveraging the unique elements in which games encompass, one can easily run a successful training program.

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Rapid Elearning and MOOCs: Keeping Up with Change

By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On June 3, 2013 NO COMMENTS

Technology is changing at an exponential rate. Think just about Global blue Computer Networkthe past year or so: mobile devices now outnumber people, online entertainment is rapidly eclipsing television watching, and you no longer have to leave your house to earn a degree. These changes have an impact on businesses in all sectors, but because of the intense pace, it is not always possible to develop new training courses or schedule employee training days fast enough. Companies that are not able to keep up with the all of the changes quickly find themselves on the sidelines. So, how can organizations help their workforce keep informed of the latest innovations so that they can remain competitive? Enter the “rapid elearning MOOC.”

The idea of rapid elearning has been around since 2004. The concept was developed by Jennifer de Vries of Bersin and Associates in response to a survey whose findings showed that 89% of organizations needed to create elearning in three weeks or less. And that was nearly 10 years ago – the current climate demands even more efficiency in training development. But so far, it doesn’t appear that training has been able to keep up: a 2009 ASTD survey showed that it took anywhere from 93 to 356 hours to develop a single hour of training content depending on the tools used and the level of interactivity. With the current rate of change, 93 to 356 hours is simply too long.

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