Having a fully trained staff is critical to doing good business, but getting there can be a massive, ongoing challenge. Did employees complete the required compliance training? Did they understand the information, have opinions on the content, do they have questions? Did they provide electronic signatures to verify they’ve understood the material? Depending on the content, completion of trainings can have critical, even legal, implications. The question then becomes: How can you track knowledge?
At Intralearn Software Corporation, we decided to tackle this question head on, and one thing we kept coming up against is that people learn differently now. Standard training courses are no longer…well, standard. I have learned from my own three millennial children that employees, particularly younger ones, prefer to learn from varied sources, in shorter bursts, and through different channels. Requiring employees to sit through that “Avoiding harassment in the workplace” video, followed by a few comprehension questions, just isn’t the best way to communicate information.
So our first question was, Where does learning come from? Well, it comes from all over: videos, PowerPoints, news sources, blogs, Slideshares, even social sharing apps like Instagram. Formal training has been the purview of the human resources or training teams, but a lot of knowledge sharing is informal – conversations in the lunchroom, questions asked via email or over the cubicle wall, articles read on the Internet. That’s valuable information that should be spread more widely throughout the organization.
However, our customers need to know what their employees know. Are the appointment setters up-to-date on HIPAA regulations? Has the entire staff been educated on changes to their 401k plans? Our challenge was to develop technology that made it possible for customers to design materials, provide learning access, and track results of training in their organizations so that everyone’s training was up-to-date.
Next question: How can we make it easy to share information widely? Our learning solution NanoLearn allows our customers to curate content from lots of different sources and gather it in one space. Content contributors can come from anywhere in the company – they identify all the information they want to include, assign point values to knowledge mastery, determine how to validate that mastery, then share or assign their set of content as appropriate. Intralearn has appreciated SharePoint as a terrific content management platform for our existing product; NanoLearn built upon that experience to provide the tracking and validation integrated with SharePoint that gives an organization visibility into what their employees are learning.
We’ve been a Microsoft shop since the beginning, so building on Microsoft technologies was a natural for us. With SharePoint, we can supply the Web Services customers need to make data accessible to employees, on any type of system. We created our products to be field-configurable, built on Microsoft Windows Server, and utilizing Microsoft SQL Server to capture, contain, link, and report all activity. And we’ve intentionally focused on organizations that have also embraced Microsoft products and technologies. If an organization has implemented SharePoint or SQL Server and has an infrastructure that’s Microsoft-based, then we have an ideal product for them.
Customers whose systems are built on Microsoft infrastructure can easily integrate with our learning management systems, so implementation is simple – LearningServer can be installed and running in a matter of hours, for example. The familiar interface and experience means end users can concentrate on learning the material, not mastering the learning software. Most learning management systems have to create their own content management system, but we don’t need one because we have SharePoint. Thanks to the high level of integration, it takes less work to integrate products, there are fewer product development issues—and less time is spent getting to market.
Learning looks very different now than it did even five years ago, so we’ve built our solution to match. Collaboration support is built in, so our customers can encourage social learning among their staff. Automatically generated progress reports make it easy to track progress and skill attainment. And the solution is affordable: using Microsoft technologies from the beginning meant we could keep the cost of our systems low. Providing and tracking employee training can be a high-stakes logistical nightmare for organizations. Solutions built to reflect the changing way we share information make learning easier for employees and the companies they work for.
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