OpenSesame’s non-stop process of building a comprehensive library of corporate learning content is praiseworthy. More than 20,000 items continuously updated, a strict Quality Assurance process, and a focus on seamless curation and integration makes the company worthy of its place among the pantheon of eThink Education partners.
With careful analysis, OpenSesame’s operations become a window into the future questions, needs and demands of professional learners. Paige Kracke, the company’s Curation Manager, is as open as the company where she belongs. She and Randy Jones, VP of Business Development and Strategy at eThink Education, discussed findings alongside the HR.com State of Learning Solutions and Learner Engagement 2019 report on a recent webinar. Here’s what they shared…
Want to encourage L&D? Make your LMS as user-friendly as possible
If you are out of the HR loop, this statistic might paint a stark picture: While HR operations are broad and vast, the importance of Learning & Development (L&D) across the field is becoming mainstream. From a technological standpoint, it already is: 86% of HR departments implement some form of technological solution for their L&D initiatives. Jones points out how different this landscape is from only 5 years ago.
Using technology to support corporate L&D initiatives is becoming the norm. Senior leadership, in particular, has been increasingly buying into the importance of elearning in the workplace as well. 82% of respondents feel their leadership does support their L&D efforts.
So if technologies being adopted with higher-level support for corporate learning initiatives, the mandatory question becomes whether the are done so faithfully. The report begins to show some of the challenges still open in 2020. While a majority (59%) confirm they provide online training through a single medium, the technological complexity for users is one of the first and biggest roadblocks towards successful L&D implementations. Throghout 2019, it was common for workplace learners to take their elearning through an assortment of LMSs, websites and apps. And even where it was one or a few, usability complaints are commonplace.
Consolidation and user experience (UX) are the most critical L&D needs at the start of the new decade. They propel secondary issues: Only 22% of respondents agree that their learners tend to be engaged. And only 31% moderately agree that their culture of learning is “top notch.” (For those who agree strongly, the figure is 16%). Inquiring into “why” opens up a forest of answers, but one that unmistakably takes us to the central issue: Confusion, both in the technology mix and the experience as a whole.
Make no mistake: The LMS space has reached ‘feature parity’ — and that’s why openness matters
As your L&D efforts expand and diversify, a new problem emerges: Measuring and keeping track. Only 17% of respondents believe they have “good metrics” to measure learner engagement. And with learning happening in several places, embedding a reporting and analytics solution without addressing outstanding issues could make the technology bundle even more maddening. Furthermore, the lack of integration with an L&D program with clear intention will leave the collected analytics at the choosing of the vendor. It will likely not provide all the answers senior executives are looking for.
But in good open source advocacy fashion, it’s important to take a pragmatic approach when evaluating your elearning solution, instead of just opting for one out-of-the-box. With the pace of innovation and software coming up with new features, the choice cannot be limited to one app. HR departments agree: For a given piece of learning technology, a poor ability to integrate is the most widely cited weakness. The solution: Learning technologies that can talk to one another and speak a common language, especially in terms of what is being measured.
At this point, it almost seems deceitful when one of the 700 LMS out there promotes their features as unique. More often than not, it’s a spin to a feature already available across the spectrum, with little value added. Focusing on features can also distract you from looking into the elements of the offering that might be missing: Fair and clear pricing, level of expert support available, and overall support across the decision-making process.
One more advantage about open-source learning platforms is the fact that organizations can more readily switch technologies if they find that they are not helping them achieve their “learning ecosystem” vision. Open-source companies do not have to stick with one specific technology, nor insist on it for their clients if it is not the right fit. eThink Education aims for the “best-of-breed” both for the technology and the partnerships they build.
Quality content: The next frontier in HR
Of course, the best learning technology out there is moot if the content isn’t great. Analytics can help figure out ways to enhance its quality and effectiveness, but they should not really be the first line of defense. Common issues with the content, from grammar to structure and pacing, are visible to the naked eye.
Technologies like analytics excel when paired with content solutions like OpenSesame’s content library. If the content quality is not a concern, analytics can provide more insightful results. In this sense, “quality” stops being an intangible concept.
Budgetary constraints are one of the most important factors when making choices in L&D initiatives, but in 2019 these were slightly dethroned by “Business impact.” This illustrates the growing understanding of L&D not as a cosmetic, fashionable or goop-like wellness effort, but as a series of standardized practices that are essential for enterprise maturity and organizational growth.
OpenSesame understands that quality cannot be an empty word, or only an internal mantra. It must be reinforced and measured throughout the L&D lifecycle. This means the content development process should encompass the curation and integration into the LMS and other platforms. Every piece of content is vetted for its accessibility, relevancy and several formats and approaches: Мobile, microlearning, humor, gamification, etc. OpenSesame’s library offers access from reputable partners, including content leading to certifications in Microsoft, PMI, Cisco and HIPAA among several others. Language learning content is also available.
As a result of fine-tuning the content and how users access it in relevant ways has direct implications in usage ratings. Their data shows students enroll in more courses, complete more activities and get higher grades than similar solutions. OpenSesame metrics focus not on sheer numbers, but on capacity exhaustion.
Is there room for the LMS in the future of elearning? Answer: The LMS is the room
Jones views the LMS as a cell among the “honeycomb” of digital learning solutions. A modular arrangement where the “best-of-breed” remain interconnected and actively used. This includes content solutions and analytics, but also other systems across the technology suite of the enterprise.
So when it comes to the future of learning, the only answer eThink and OpenSesame can provide is one that is built continuously and relentlessly over time. Improve the experience whenever it can be better. Knit every technological cell ever tighter into the honeycomb. Remove what cannot fit in or no longer performs. Ultimately, promote a culture that guarantees this long-haul refinement effort becomes part of the DNA of a company and its partners.
Understanding this leads to the final key element of “future-proof” solutions: Тhe importance of a service-heavy model. eThink has accomplished a customer support operation that provides unlimited and uncapped guidance to instructional and technical issues, and one that is also capable to support partner solutions.
eThink Education is a sponsor of LMSPulse. To learn more, watch 4 Workplace Learning Trends to Bring Your L&D Program into 2020 with eThink Education and OpenSesame. Reach out at ethinkeducation.com or opensesame.com.