Evaluation Training: The Assessment and Planning Part of eLearning

Written on May 7, 2015 at 9:42 pm, by

chartsandgraphs-lowres

Don’t worry, we’re not going to give you a pop quiz! In the realm of training, the word “evaluation” can mean a few different things. When we hear this word, most of us tend to think of a traditional, closed-book test administered by a teacher or other authority. Others may think of a sequence of events that tests our physical performance in an activity like driving a car or operating a piece of machinery.

In the e-Learning world, when we use the term “evaluation” we’re referring to either:

  • An assessment of knowledge, skills or attitudes brought into a training program, learned during, or applied after training. These proficiencies may be assessed using a variety of means before, during or after training.
  • A comprehensive plan, developed during the needs assessment phase of training design, that outlines success factors and metrics to determine whether or not training was effective and served the intended purpose.

We’re going to focus on the latter point in today’s blog. After all, what’s the purpose of designing and deploying training if it isn’t effective or isn’t aligned with your corporate objectives? You want the biggest bang for your training dollars, and Xpan wants to help you achieve that.

Again, we must mention the essential training needs assessment phase – this is where you determine your real training need, and your current and desired state of affairs. Evaluation seeks to answer whether or not the gap between your current and desired state of affairs has been adequately filled, or whether additional training or separate control measures are required. The information from your needs analysis ends up flowing directly into your evaluation phase.

Xpan’s Senior Instructional Designer, David Welichka, recommends that evaluation occur at multiple stages post-release of your training program. For example:

  • A 1-month post-training evaluation to determine whether or not LMS data shows high rate of course abandonment, high requests for instructor assistance or technical support, or if certain exam questions are consistently being answered incorrectly by a majority of learners.
  • A 6-month or 1-year post-training evaluation to determine whether or not the organization’s business goals (identified in the needs assessment) are being reached. For example, are:
    • Sales or profits increased %15,
    • Customer complaints decreased by 50%, and/or
    • Productivity rates increased by 20%.

Note that most of the values above are measurable, or quantitative. If we can’t measure it, is it fair to say that the training is working just because learners are completing the course? Are skills or behaviors on the job changing, or is the status quo simply being maintained?

If we review the data and find that a course is being abandoned, that certain sections have high requests for support or clarification, or that certain exam questions are being answered incorrectly on a regular basis, we look at our instructional design and subject matter to rectify the problem and modify the course content or technical architecture.

If we review the data and find that business objectives are not being met, we look to our needs assessment, our learning objectives, our timeline for evaluation, and attempt to connect lines to any additional content or concepts required, any non-training reasons (i.e. ergonomics, compensation, complacency, procedures, leadership skills, etc.) that may be contributing to the less than satisfactory results.

It is important to note that over time, most training programs will require updating, both content-wise and technology-wise. While we always try to develop on the leading edge of technology, your processes, information, content or the links/resources in your training program should be revisited regularly to ensure they remain relevant. Don’t worry, we can help you keep your training investment fresh.

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xpan-logoXpan develops digital learning solutions for companies all over the world. From design to deployment our team is making heroes of Learning and Development Officers and contributing to the worldwide number of individuals bettering their workplace experience (and lives) with better learning.

 

Our Training Needs Assessments Go Beyond the Band-Aid

Written on April 30, 2015 at 5:14 pm, by

Office

We see many reasons that companies and organizations reach out to us for support – some of these reasons identify a problem, and others represent an opportunity.

For example:

  • Increased costs (training or operations)
  • Decreased productivity
  • Increased number of customer complaints
  • Decreased sales or profit
  • Organizational changes or growth
  • New processes, procedures, software or equipment

In fact, a customer may be experiencing one of these problems or opportunities – or they may all blend together into a challenging conundrum at the same time.

This is where training needs assessment comes into play.

Needs assessments are used to identify whether or not training can in fact solve a problem or opportunity – it also sets a framework for the process of evaluating a training program, but more on that at in a future blog post.

Let’s face it, training can be overused and abused. It may be viewed as a Band-Aid or duct tape solution for a surface-level problem, of which the root or source hasn’t been properly identified. In some cases, the training is designed, deployed and evaluated, and low and behold, the problem (or opportunity) still exists post-training. Sure, a proper needs assessment takes time, but it helps lessen the possibility of an expensive training solution missing the mark.

Our Senior Instructional Designer, David Welichka, has implemented a modified method of training needs assessment, in a nutshell, that compares the present state of affairs (now) with the desired state of affairs (future). This is essentially a comparison between the problems and/or opportunities and the desired outcome post-training. For example:

  • Present: A decreased quarterly revenue and increased amount of customer complaints
  • Desired: A 15% increase in the next quarter’s revenue and a 50% decrease in amount of customer complaints during the same period

Using Data

Obviously, when we discuss needs assessments some form of data is involved. This data may be pre-existing (sales reports, customer feedback cards, HR records, etc.) or may need to be divulged through a combination of document review, interviews, surveys, and job observation. When it comes to obtaining data we try to source it from the largest pool available, which may include executive, management, consultants, employees, customers, community, etc. After all, a problem may have vastly different sources and solutions, depending who you speak with. For example:

  • Management may report a decrease in productivity they feel is attributed to improperly trained or complacent staff. Speaking to front-line supervisors and workers may uncover that a recent software upgrade is causing problems with the existing process, or physical layout of the workspace is leading to the inefficiencies.
  • An increase in customer complaints may be documented, and executive may feel that training in customer service and soft-skills will solve the problem. A training needs assessment may uncover that customers are actually frustrated about the rules of a promotional contest and taking out their frustrations on staff who is simply upholding corporate processes and procedures according to their training.

Who, What, Why

As you can see, training needs assessments seek to understand the Who, What, and Why of the training business. Without a properly conducted and impartial needs assessment before embarking on the task of creating a training program, you’re left guessing whether your proposed learning objectives will in fact bridge the gap between your present situation and the desired outcome.

Take the necessary steps while planning your training and it will create a much more effective program that is dialed in to your target learners’ and organization’s needs.  Want our help? Contact us today and we’d be happy to guide you on the right path to reaching your training goals and objectives – even if you need our help to identify what those should be.

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xpan-logoXpan develops digital learning solutions for companies all over the world. From design to deployment our team is making heroes of Learning and Development Officers and contributing to the worldwide number of individuals bettering their workplace experience (and lives) with better learning.

Work-Life Balance Tops Our Reason For Virtual Office

Written on August 20, 2014 at 1:40 pm, by

Virtual Office

While Xpan has been growing over the past few years, our mandate to maintain a virtual office remains the same. Crazy, don’t you think? Well, we don’t and here’s why.

Reduced Costs

The clearest reason we’ve chosen to work in a remote environment is the large amount of money we save on not having that fixed cost of a physical space. Office space in Calgary and Chicago is seen as some of the priciest in North America.

Agile

Being a technology company focused on building innovative corporate digital training solutions for our clients, having a remote work environment means we can work with the best people in Canada, the U.S and around the world without them having to move to our head office in Calgary. Instructional designers, user experience specialists, writers, multi-media developers, graphic designers… we can hire any of these people no matter where they live and we love having that ability.

Work-Life Balance

The most important reason we hold a virtual office profile is to maintain a great work-life balance for our team. We’re all creative people at heart, and to that end, enjoy being able to work from home, a park, our favourite coffee shop or while we’re away from home on a trip. This flexibility has labeled Xpan a desired place to work by our employees and you know what, we can’t blame them.

Even though our office is “virtual,” Xpan does have a physical address we call home. Our physical address is located at the Alistair Ross Technology Centre at in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The Centre is a designated innovation hub where many technology and software companies call home. If we ever needed to talk about an eLearning solution face-to-face, for instance, we’d do it here. It’s got everything we need. We also have a similar location in Chicago, IL, where Xpan serves our U.S. clients.

What are your thoughts on a virtual office? Does it work for you as well as it does for us? We’d love to hear your comments.

User experience for eLearning

Written on January 24, 2014 at 8:32 am, by

football plays

eLearning is a lot like football. It’s a full contact sport.

Studying the plays is easy. Running the plays with consistency and discipline is what wins games. People play best when provided the opportunity to know, feel and do the experience.

When it comes to eLearning, a well-designed user experience is the difference between knowing the play and winning the game.

Full contact design

eLearning is complex and dynamic. Of course it starts with the learner. Add in the other layers — instructor, social technology, digital storytelling — and you’ve got a broad learning ecosystem.

Xpan’s full contact design improves learner outcomes by providing a seamless experience that not only looks good, but works flawlessly. We use the power of design to surround learners in knowledge using powerful technology and social interaction.

The end result is a better experience, improved knowledge retention and enhanced user engagement.

It works everywhere

Xpan was born as a digital agency. We bring past experience to play on every job.

Our team is well versed in interactive design, marketing and communications. Xpan user experience design manages change and human behaviour.

Xpan learners don’t just study. They know, feel and do the course, igniting their natural curiosity in a fun and intuitive eLearning environment.

For improved outcomes

At the end of the day, eLearning isn’t about the test. It’s about absorbing knowledge and improving outcomes like safety, efficiency and the bottom line.

We give learners a choice on how to engage with the course. For example they can do self evaluations, review content, and spend as much or as little time as they’d like on engaging interactivies before the final quiz.

Xpan specializes in designing for a positive user experience. We’re happiest when learners are pulled through the system, absorbing information along the way.

Xpan Interactive has experience delivering eLearning solutions across many industry sectors, on time and on budget. Feel free to learn more about Xpan Interactive eLearning solutions and how we can help. Or contact us to speak to someone right away.

5 Ways to Reduce Training Costs

Written on November 24, 2013 at 12:11 am, by

balance sheet

Training doesn’t have to cost money. With a thoughtfully designed eLearning platform, employee training moves from liability to asset on the balance sheet.

The Well-Trained Employee

There’s a saying in the human resources department: hire for attitude, train for aptitude. Knowing when to smile and what to recycle are everyday decisions that impact the brand and the bottom line. In other words, customer service and sustainability training programs matter. All it takes is a small upfront investment to reap the rewards. eLearning reduces training costs.

1. Relevant Knowledge

When you invest in eLearning, you find yourself in a position to get the right knowledge to the right people for right task at the right time. It’s called just-in-time learning and its revolutionizing academia, government and industry training. Knowledge transfer improves when it aligns tasks with users while reducing training costs.

2. Downtime Reduction

Why travel to learn, when learning can travel to you? eLearning removes the barrier to training by cutting travel, hotel and food out of the equation. With an internal eLearning platform in place (LMS – Learning Management System), the organization has access to effective training and improved job prospects.

3. Improved Pace

More often than not, the classroom is reduced to the lowest common denominator. It happens by design. The slowest person in the room puts the brakes on everyone’s abilities. eLearning improves the pace by working with people, instead of against them, reducing cost by maximizing efficiency.

4. Consistent Delivery

It’s time to treat institutional memory as an asset and bring knowledge transfer back in-house. Doing so will ensure consistent learning across the organization and improve customer satisfaction. eLearning makes this possible on an entirely new scale. Because the world doesn’t need another external training organization.

5. Internal Asset Development

Simply put, eLearning is an up-front capital cost rather than an ongoing operating expense. eLearning frees up valuable cash flow so you can focus on what matters – growing your business.

Call Xpan today to get started on your next eLearning project. Time is money. So what are you waiting for?

 

Alberta’s floods no match for its people

Written on June 24, 2013 at 4:23 am, by

flood

The floods across southern Alberta have taken a toll on the landscape, real estate and infrastructure of our towns and cities. What they have not done is diminished our spirit, resolve and sense of community. In fact, it has been an honor to witness such a commitment to exemplary citizenship. This energy will ensure a quick and efficient return to normalcy for all those impacted by the floods.

The floods did not have a significant impact to Xpan. A few Xpanners did temporarily lose access to their homes, but all are safe and sound. The worst that happened here is we had to cancel Saturday’s Xpan Family Paintball and BBQ. In its place we have registered volunteer teams with the Samaritan’s Purse (1-866-628-6565) and Volunteer Calgary. In the coming days and weeks our team is eager to help with cleanup and transportation of supplies.

If you are interested in helping, here are some places you can find more information.

Information
Calgary City News

Volunteering
Volunteer Calgary
Samaritan’s Purse

Donations
Red Cross

Public Transportation
Closure Information

Bombardier showcases TrackSafe at APTA Rail Conference

Written on June 4, 2013 at 2:17 am, by

tracksafeBombardier demonstrated its innovative TrackSafe system to APTA’s Rail Conference attendees today. Since the advent of subway operations, the task of inspecting and maintaining track, signals and related wayside infrastructure has been essential to moving millions of people every day. It has also been one of the most hazardous jobs in the rail industry. TrackSafe was developed to reduce these hazards and provide an additional layer of protection by providing highly relevant alerts to track workers and train operators in real time.

Xpan developed a 3D animated video demonstrating how TrackSafe works. You can view the video on our YouTube channel. This 3D animation was built by our in-house team of 3D and video experts. Learn more about our services or contact us today.

Xpan Sponsors APTF Charity Golf Tournament

Written on June 1, 2013 at 8:53 pm, by

Xpan sponsors APTF Charity Golf Tournament

Xpan sponsors APTF Charity Golf Tournament

Xpan is proud to sponsor the 2013 APTF Charity Golf Tournament. The American Public Transportation Foundation (APTF), is a non-profit organization that provides scholarships to young professionals pursuing study and careers in public transportation.

This aligns with Xpan’s mission to produce eLearning solutions for rapid and effective workforce development. There are many challenges facing the public transportation industry including the mass exodus of senior talent and a generation of experience. Xpan is committed to capturing, producing and transferring this knowledge to a new generation of workers in this industry.

To find out more, please contact us. We are at the 2013 APTA Rail Conference in Philadelphia. Hope to see you there.

eLearning For Enhanced Customer Service

Written on May 6, 2013 at 8:19 pm, by

eLearning for enhanced customer serviceIn this current era of constant communication and 24/7 access, customer expectations have never been higher and more demanding.

Across industries and throughout sectors it is the front of office staff that has earned the power to make or break a customer experience through a simple smile and a friendly greeting.

Outstanding customer service is an obvious advantage and a little bit of training often goes a long way. Training your staff offers a consistent experience to your customers, increases their engagement and increases the quality of your services.

The benefits of customer service

If your business has customers, then you’re in the customer service business.

Companies that understand that any employee who interacts with customers can benefit from customer service training will see their brand image, and ultimately their client base, improve over time.

People tend to remember an amazing customer experience. They tell their friends about it. And they are happy to even pay more for it.

It’s true what they say: the power of wow really does win the day.

eLearning for enhanced customer service

Customer service training can be delivered in a traditional classroom setting, online, or as a mixture of both. At Xpan, we believe in a blended approach to training, providing the power of eLearning and the hands-on learning needed to practice those new found skills.

eLearning lets students work at their own pace to ensure that they have fully absorbed all the material and are in a position to wow new and returning customers.

Employers can also provide classroom training when needed to further professional development and build hands-on skills.

The bottom line

The best companies look at customer service as a bottom line item. They understand that an investment in customer service is an investment in the company.

eLearning is a simple and cost effective way to improve customer satisfaction that directly impacts the bottom line, improving revenues and encouraging happy customers.

When your company delivers an excellent experience your customers do your marketing for you. An investment in customer service training is a sure fire way to improve your business.

 

Xpan Interactive LogoXpan has delivered many solutions for on-ramping new employees as well as general orientation courses to ensure new hires receive the information to do their job in the best possible manner. Contact us to find a solution best suited for your company.

Project Management Bliss: How to Keep Your Project on the Rails

Written on April 23, 2013 at 7:23 pm, by

Keeping Projects on the RailsWe work in an increasingly diverse world where projects are carried out across multiple time zones by a mobile workforce of highly specialized professionals.

In this competitive business environment project management spells the difference between projects that sing and projects that fail to deliver as promised.

At Xpan we use a highly efficient eLearning project management process honed through hundreds of projects we have delivered since we started in 2001.  

Getting started

From the outset of an eLearning project our goal is to lead a discussion that results in a high level agreement on deliverables and budget. The design of an eLearning Program takes into account the business objectives of the client, the needs of the learner, and the requirements of the technical infrastructure. We deliver a plan that meets all of these outcomes.

With expectations set and lines of communication open our project management process will set the tone for a successful delivery of an eLearning project.

Getting the job done

At Xpan we focus on our core strength of eLearning designed to maintain low overhead. This allows our project managers the freedom to do what they do best — execute successful eLearning projects.

Xpan utilizes a number of systems to measure all metrics of a project on a daily basis, from resource scheduling to milestones, to every cent allocated to a budget. Our project management philosophy and approach is not solely dependent on these tools, methodology or personnel. Effective project management skills and approaches can only be acquired through experience. The end result is a well planned project that accounts for risk and saves time and money in the long run, minimizing surprises and maximizing return on investment.

It’s about the people

Xpan works with a highly specialized team of subject matter experts on all projects. Our collaborative approach ensures that deliverables are met with a minimum number of surprises.

Our distributed approach to talent development ensures that we work with the best curriculum developers, researchers, writers and content designers in the world. This approach cuts down on needless rework and endless, pointless meetings that don’t contribute to the end product.

Throughout the life of the project we ensure that lines of communication remain open and we monitor and control quality, time, budget and scope and provide detailed project reports and amendments as required.

When it comes to eLearning, Xpan excels at getting the job done. Our deep network of highly skilled professionals combined with years of experience in eLearning is what sets us apart from the competition.

Until next time

We believe in the power of eLearning to help keep your business competitive, retain employees and ensure the long term viability of your company.

Like you, we don’t quit until the job is done.

We believe in working with our clients to ensure that all projects stay in scope while executing to well defined timelines and budgets.

Project management that gets the job done? Now that’s something worth celebrating.

 

Xpan Interactive has experience delivering eLearning solutions across sectors, on time and on budget. Feel free to learn more about Xpan Interactive eLearning solutions and how we can help. Or contact us to speak to someone right away.