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Dive deep

At Ziiva, we offer more than a comprehensive, tailor-fit Learning Management System. We are always seeking ways to enrich your company culture and improve the online learning experience that you offer to your students, employees, customers, or users.


Corporate Training: Well-trained workers save time and money

Posted by susan reuter on Wed, Sep 01, 2010

Why train employees?

If you’re using Ziiva’s Prosperity Learning Management System as part of your corporate training efforts, your answer will likely be to roll your eyes and ask, “Duh? Why NOT train employees?”

Sadly, online learning isn’t a no-brainer for everyone. Here are four ways that a lack of proper employee training can hold your business back:

It will cost you time: California’s inspector general recommended that a contracting company which received nearly $3 million inemployee training, education, learning management, employee development federal stimulus money to weatherize homes stop work because it did not train its employees, the Associated Press reported. The inspector general also said state officials should verify that the 38 other companies receiving stimulus money to weatherize homes are using properly trained workers.

Now, even if these other companies have a trained workforce, they could lose business while they gather the documentation necessary to prove it. In a case like this, using an LMS that tracks individual employee development and provides instant documentation can resolve the situation quickly.

It will cost you money: Last month, an untrained employee dumped 100 gallons of sour milk down a storm drain outside a grocery store in Santa Rosa, Calif. The milk could have harmed wildlife if local officials hadn’t cleaned it up before it reached a nearby creek. “This was just an untrained employee who didn’t know the difference between a sanitary sewer and a storm drain,” police told the Press Democrat newspaper. Nonetheless, the store may end up on the hook for the cost of cleaning up the spill, as well as a possible fine.

It will corporate training, online learning, cost savings, employee developmentcost you customers: There are numerous sites where consumers can register their displeasure with you for any reason, including having to deal with untrained employees. It’s important to monitor these sites and respond to legitimate complaints, but it’s even more important to train your workers so that you can avoid the sort of issues that lead to complaints in the first place.

It will cost you your reputation: The examples above came up in a simple Google search. If your would-be customers do even the most rudimentary due diligence, they’ll find any potential problems with your organization this way, as well.

The bottom line: Corporate learning isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity.

Topics: lms learning, employee training, corporate learning, learning management system, employee development, online training





LMS Implementations: Four corporate learning lessons from NASCAR

Posted by susan reuter on Fri, Jul 30, 2010

Nascar, lms

The LMS is at the starting line, the crowd is pumped, the flag drops and it’s off to the races.

Hold on just a second.

Employee training shouldn’t be a street race. It’s not sound business to jump into the shiniest hot-rod in the parking lot, find a reasonably straight stretch of blacktop and go hurtling off into the night, racing to meet your corporate eLearning goals without any thought to what lurks around the corner.

It’s better to steal a page from NASCAR and take a more methodical, professional approach to training development. Figure out where you want to go, find out who’s going to be in your way, and use the best equipment you can to get across the line first.

Here are four lessons for employee development from the world of racing:

Know the course

Professional racers don’t show up at the track and hit the gas, first they study the ins and outs of the course. You need to do the same. How long will the training take? How many people will be involved? Have you scheduled your pit stops effectively? Are there any quirks you need to account for that are particular to this course?

Use the best tools and technology available

Even the driver who finishes last – or crashes and burns – is an elite member of their profession, the best of the best. Sure, raw talent, guts and luck are important, but the machines themselves play a crucial role in who wins and who loses. Does your learning management system meet the needs of your learners? Do you have the eLearning software and hardware to go the distance? Is it easy to handle? Does it give your pit crew the data it needs to make effective assessments?

Have a capable pit crew

There’s a crew of unsung heroes behind any driver. Without them, the wheels will come off – literally. When it comes to computer-based training, you need a strong pit crew, as well. From the course developer to the administrator to the trainer to the back-end IT muscle to the vendor support, every link in the chain must be able to participate as needed.

Have fun

Drivers love what they do. It’s more than a job to them, it’s who they are. That may be asking too much of someone doing compliance training, but that doesn’t mean training still can’t be fun (or at least not un-fun). Make sure your online training provides a positive user experience.

OK, with these lessons in mind, now it’s time to wave the green flag: Ready, set, learn!

Topics: lms, employee training, corporate learning, e learning software, learning management system, training development, employee development, computer based training, corporate e learning, online training





Client profile: Prosperity LMS takes air ambulance company to new heights

Posted by susan reuter on Mon, May 17, 2010
Simple geography has always been a training challenge for Phoenix-based PHI Air Medical Group, which flies out of nearly 50 bases in 11 states.

The company, a full-service air ambulance provider that serves more than 30,000 patients each year, needs to ensure that its employees - nurses, paramedics, respiratory technicians and pilots - are not only current on their mandatory certification training, but also have the opportunity to increase their skills with programs that incorporate industry-wide best practices. Up until a couple years ago, that meant training coordinators assigned to each state had to travel extensively to run face-to-face sessions; in addition, employees sometimes had to travel up to three or four hours - on the company's dime - to attend a class. The situation was costing PHI Air Medical time and money.

Mike Harmon, PHI Air Medical's Manager of Clinical Education Standards, began looking at learning management systems as a possible way to provide web-based training for the company's geographically diverse staff.

Among the elearning software he looked at was Ziiva's Prosperity Corporate LMS, which had the features he needed - SCORM compliant, able to run detailed reports, strong customer support - at a very competitive price. "I was looking for something I could sell to administration," Harmon said. "Not knowing how much we would be able to save from an LMS, cost was a factor."

Since implementing Prosperity - first for medical staff, and then for pilots - PHI Air Medical has saved between $300,000 and $400,000 in training-related costs while increasing employee development opportunities available to its staff. The company also has been able to cut three days from what was once was a two-week, on-site new employee training program in Phoenix, which provides additional ongoing savings.

Harmon now has more than 125 courses available online through Prosperity - 13 recurring courses that employees take annually to maintain certification, 24 more courses specifically for new hires and many more for continuing education.

Harmon is also pleased with Ziiva's reporting capabilities and ability to randomize tests, which makes it easier for the company to maintain its certification from the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Services (CAMTS).

Because of the nature of its business, PHI Air Medical still conducts some site-based training, but the company has been able to maximize the face-to-face sessions by having staff do much of the prep work online. "Adult education in the medical world is scenario-based problem solving," Harmon explained. "We use Ziiva to build base-level knowledge before (the site-based training) so trainers get to spend more time on problem-solving and critical-thinking programs."

The ease and availability of online learning has also allowed the company to provide remedial education for employees who may have previously been fired because it was cost-prohibitive to send them away for individual employee training.

Although Prosperity has its own course-creation program, Harmon was more familiar creating modules using Microsoft PowerPoint and Adobe Articulate, which Ziiva's learning management system can easily accommodate. He's uploaded a number of new and existing courses that way, as well as some training videos.

Now he's looking at using Prosperity's own tools for expanding the company's online offerings, including higher-level learning, more interactive courses and more. Harmon admits that, as satisfied as he is with Prosperity, he's still only scratching the surface of what it can do.

Overall, employee feedback has been positive.

"Pretty much every course they do has a course evaluation," Harmon said. "We've probably had between 80 and 90 percent approval - fours and fives (on a five-point scale) and even the watercooler talk about it is generally pretty positive."

Things have gone so well, in fact, that PHI Air Medical's parent company replaced the LMS it was using for a larger subsidiary that provides helicopter transport for the offshore oil and gas industry with Ziiva's system. In all, PHI, Inc., has about 2,600 employees.

Down the road, Harmon is looking at making some computer-based training available at a nominal fee to local fire departments and ambulance companies in areas served by PHI Air Medical. The courses can be used by these organizations for employee certification.

When asked what he liked best about Prosperity, Harmon said the price and the ability the software gave him to "advance education opportunities and knowledge level of my staff."


Topics: lms, employee training, e learning software, learning management system, employee development, computer based training, web based training





What to look for in an Learning Management System

Posted by susan reuter on Mon, May 10, 2010

LMS experts, trainers agree on one thing: Usability is key

What is the most important thing to look for in a learning management system?

When we asked a dozen elearning and training professionals this question, we thought it was the kind of query that wouldn't have a simple answer. After all, while everyone has similar needs - employee development, customer education, executive training - they don't have the same needs.

We were flat-out wrong.

Yes, there are plenty of things that people want in an LMS - cost, adaptability, tracking, etc. - but the item at the top of pretty much everyone's list is even more basic: ease of use.

When you think about it, that makes perfect sense. Good traininglms, training, corporate education software shouldn't have a large learning curve, or, for that matter, any learning curve. It should be practically invisible. Users should be able to hop right on and begin training without being challenged by a confusing interface. The same goes for trainers: they shouldn't have to jump through hoops to create online training modules or generate the reports and documentation they need.

The director of an elearning consultancy in the United Kingdom summed it up this way: "My life for the last 10 years seems to have been trying to work around illogical LMS functionality that simply isn't user friendly for the learner!"

Our admittedly unscientific survey of professionals on LinkedIn and current Ziiva Prosperity LMS clients was intended to develop a list of starting points for businesses thinking about purchasing an LMS system. While we found a common, overriding theme in usability, we also heard about some other important factors you may want to consider as you conduct your own search for learning management systems.

Here are some of the other key points raised by survey respondents:

  • Implementation: How fast can I deploy the system? How much support will I need?
  • Security: Does the system allow secure remote login? Does it protect proprietary corporate materials?
  • Adaptability: Can the system support various file types such as Flash, streaming video, podcasts, etc.? Can it support classroom elearning, instructor-led training and self-paced web-based training? Can the system be modified to accommodate new or revised learning modules, as well as scaled to organizational growth?
  • Cost: What are the startup costs? What are the long-term costs of service fees and licensing?
  • Data collection: Can the system retain records and monitor learners' progress at the level you need to document employee completion of safety, ethics/compliance and similar classes?

These items should provide a useful starting point for anyone looking into LMS software, but if you have any other issues you want to add to this list, please add a comment below.

Topics: lms, learning management system, learning management, executive training, learning management systems, employee development, web based training, online training





eLearning and Learning Management Systems News & Notes for April

Posted by susan reuter on Tue, Apr 27, 2010
Here is this month's installment of recent e-learning-related blog posts and articles that are worth a second look:

Measure for the right fit

A recent post Amit Gautam on the Upside Learning blog looked at Five Ways to Use an LMS for Effective Learning Measurement. Admittedly, this isn't an easy exercise, since, as Gautam points out, "Learning Measurement is a very challenging exercise and not one that can be executed easily or quickly with some calculator. The best way (but probably the most difficult one) to measure learning is to measure for the right business indicators like sales figures, productivity measures, defect ratios etc."

We agree with that assessment, and also agree that measurement needs to be part of the process from the beginning - or even before the beginning, that is, when you first start looking for a learning management system vendor.

 Training lessons from India

Part of the secret of India's business success is workforce training, entrepreneur-turned-academic Vivek Wadhwa writes TechCrunch. In his post, "Why America Needs to Start Re-educating Its Workforce Again," he notes, "Workforce education increases productivity, decreases turnover, and leads to greater corporate growth. I was myself surprised to see this correlation when I researched the secrets of the success of Indian industry."

Wadhwa's post of pretty detailed - and persuasive - but if you want to learn more, you can download the report published by his team from Harvard and Duke, "How the Disciple Became the Guru," which looks at the employee development practices of 24 of India's top companies.

Pitfalls to effective learning

The reality of employee training doesn't always (or often) meet its promise, writes UK-based learning and performance consultant Charles Jennings on his blog, but he offers some suggestions for businesses hoping to change that by explaining the Five Barriers to Effective Learning in Organisations.

‘Awesome' elearning tips

The eLearning Brothers (Shawn and Andrew Scivally) put together their "Top 10 Do's to Create Awesome eLearning" for a presentation at this year's Learning Solutions Conference. Even without hearing the actual presentation, the 55-page .pdf gives you the gist of their Do's, which include dead-on suggestions about style, text, graphics and much more.

Last-minute checkup

Over at the Rapid e-Learning Blog, Tom Kuhlman offers "10 Things to Consider Before Your E-Learning Course Goes Live."

All the tips make sense, but our favorite is "Is your course too sexy for its body?" (i.e. don't go so far out of the box that the learner can't follow you.)

The buzz on corporate learning and elearning tools only gets bigger, so if you don't have time to track down all the relevant news yourself, stop on by and we'll pass along what we found. Your suggestions are always welcome, of course, so please post a comment if there's anything you want to share.

Topics: lms, employee training, e learning tools, corporate learning, learning management system, employee development