Big Data and Big Learning Data

big data and big learning data imageIf you live in today’s world, read the papers, listen to the radio, or (more to the point) get on the Internet, you’ve heard the phrase: BIG DATA. And maybe you’ve heard of BIG LEARNING DATA too.

We know big data is about data, and we know if we consult our friends at Merriam-Webster, they’ll tell us that in general terms, data is “facts or information used usually to calculate, analyze, or plan something,” and in terms that are more specifically relevant to this article, data is “information that is produced or stored by a computer” (bonus points if you happened to know that “data” is the plural version of “datum,” grammar junkie).

And of course, we know that the word “big” placed before “data” means there’s a LOT of data. It doesn’t really matter exactly how much data you’re talking about. It’s enough data that it’s hard to manage, analyze, and make sense of with common software applications (read: Excel spreadsheets).

But how much do you know about big data? And in particular, how much do you know about how it’s being used and will be used at your workplace, and how it will be used in your training programs and your learning & development programs?

If you’re a little fuzzy on all of this yourself, take a few minutes to read this article. It may provide a few “a-ha” moments, give you an insight or two, and help you better prepare for the big data revolution we’re told is coming soon.

We’d also very much value your own insights, thoughts, predictions, opinions, and comments in the comments field at the end of this article.

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Level 4 Training Evaluations (Mind Those Business Goals)

level 4 training evaluation imageKnowing if your training program is having a positive effect on relevant KPIs, and is helping move your company toward its business goals, is a good thing.

Trainers do this by performing what’s known as a level 4 evaluation (in the traditional four-level Kirkpatrick training evaluation model). There are other training evaluation models as well, and it’s worth exploring them too, but we’ll stick to Kirkpatrick and level 4 in this article.

By focusing on level 4, we’ll be paying attention to the real reason you’re creating training in the first place: to create desired behaviors, to improve performance, and ultimately to contribute to progress toward business goals like higher profits, lower costs, fewer accidents, etc.

Here we go. 

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9 Times When eLearning Is Better Than Instructor-Led for Safety Training

When Online Training Is Better Than Instructor-Led Training Image

A lot of people think that instructor-led training is ALWAYS better than e-learning, also known as online training.

And, based on our experience, it seems that this opinion is held especially strongly among safety professionals.

But, the truth is, there are often scenarios where elearning is as effective (and at times possibly more so) than instructor-led training. In this post we’re gonna take this topic head on, and give some examples when elearning is the most appropriate training method to use.

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Training and Balanced Performance Measurement Frameworks: What They Are And How They Work

Performance Measurement Frameworks Image

Job trainers have a lot of things to check off their to-do list.

One is to evaluate the learning of employees who have completed training. This means things like assessments and tests, seeing if people can pass tests, have necessary knowledge, and (most importantly) have acquired necessarily skills/can perform necessary tasks.

The second is to determine if the training is having a positive effect on the relevant performance metrics for the company and, if possible, to determine an ROI for the training (this is how you’re going to really prove your worth and really prove your training is effective). In terms of Kirkpatrick’s training evaluations, we’re talking about the elusive but equally important Level 4 here.

But a lot of trainers go to school and learn a lot about instructional design theory while learning next to nothing about performance metrics (this includes me-guilty). As a result, it’s not always clear how to start showing if training has had a positive effect on those performance metrics.

To help solve this problem, we thought we’d give you an introduction to some of the theory behind the development of meaningful workplace performance metrics, and in particular to what are known as “balanced performance metrics.”

This will be one of a series of articles we’ll write on how training is related to performance metrics and KPIs not just for the training department but for the company as a whole, so keep your eyes on future articles for more on this topic.

What you’ll learn here is based off a handy little guide called Designing Metrics: Crafting Balanced Measures for Managing Performance by Dr. Bob Frost. We found this book to be really helpful, pleasantly brief, and to-the-point. We recommend you buy a copy if this article sparks your interest, and we note that Dr. Frost has written a few other books that look interesting as well. In particular, Measuring Performance: Using the New Metrics to Deploy Strategy and Improve Performance looks like it might be good and a logical next step to this book.

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12 Ways to Administer Instructor-Led Training with an LMS

Administering Instructor-Led Training with an LMS

When many people think of learning management systems (LMSs), they think of “online training” or eLearning courses.

On the flip-side, what many people don’t think about is instructor-led training, classroom-style training, face-to-face training, field-based training, OJT, weekly safety meetings, and similar things that happen when people are working together to learn.

But you CAN use an LMS to administer instructor-led training and similar face-to-face training in different working environments, and doing so makes life easier for training administrators and for employees as well.

In this article, we’ll look at some examples of how you can  use an LMS to administer instructor-led training at your workplace and show how doing so makes work easier and more efficient and also makes your blended learning training solution more effective.

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Online Training Basics: Learning Management Systems, Authoring Tools, and SCORM

Online Training Basics Image

New to eLearning? If so, there are some things it helps to learn sooner instead of later.

But don’t worry, they’re not hard to pick up.

So let us get you up to speed on a few 100-level, eLearning basics in this article:

  • Learning management systems (LMSs)
  • Authoring tools
  • SCORM

Get a handle on these three and you’ve pushed yourself ahead from complete novice/deer in the headlights to someone who’s not lost in conversations with eLearning developers, trainers, and instructional designers, and other folks who talk about online training. Nice!

Once you’ve got these three basic terms down, feel free to move on to our Online Safety Training Glossary to learn even more (most of the terms apply to all online training, not just safety training).

PLUS, you can read (or watch a recorded webinar) to learn how to use an authoring tool to create an eLearning course in SCORM format and then import it into a learning management system (LMS)!

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What is Online Health and Safety Training, Really, and What Can it Do?

What Is Online Safety Training ImageAre you thinking about getting your health and safety training program online but maybe you’re not entirely sure what exactly online safety training includes?

If so, you’ve come to the right place, because in this article, we’re going to explain what an online health and safety training program is and what it can do.

You may find it’s bigger than you’re thinking right now. So with those beginnings, let’s get on topic, huh?

But before we get going, please know we’ve got a free recorded on-demand webinar called Evaluating Online Safety Training Solutions that you may be interested in, too.

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What Is an eLearning Authoring Tool?

eLearning authoring tool image

Some people in learning and development are old hands with eLearning authoring tools (also just called authoring tools). In some cases, perhaps, to the point that the authoring tool becomes a bit old hat.

No, I doubt that. I just wanted to make an old hand/old hat joke.

Because what eLearning authoring tools let you do is pretty amazing, pretty powerful, and pretty darned fun.

On the other hand, though, almost every week I meet people in training almost who don’t use eLearning authoring tools and don’t even know what they are. Sure, once you explain what an eLearning authoring tool is, they can tell you that they figured there must be some software application that did something like that. But they’re always pretty interested to know more, too.

So, especially for those who are new to eLearning authoring tools, we’ve put together this quick explanation. If we only whet your appetite and leave you with more questions, please use the comments section below.

On the other hand, if you’re a authoring tool power user, we invite you to add your insights down below too. Let us know what your favorite ones are, and why, in particular.

We’ll follow up this blog post by taking more “deep dive” views at various eLearning authoring tools and by creating an eLearning authoring tool comparison article at some point in the (hopefully near-term) future.

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8 Important Training KPIs You Should be Tracking

KPI-top-graphicKPI stands for key performance indicator(s). KPIs are numerical ways to track the progress of a business as it strives to reach different business goals. KPIs have to be something you can count and measure objectively so that you can track progress.

A business as a whole may have its own set of KPIs. In addition, each site or department may also have its own KPIs. And so it stands to reason that the training department might/could/should have its own KPIs too. We’re going to look at a few of those in this article.

There are many different kinds of KPIs to track for a training program. Some focus on things that are directly related to training–like how many workers are complete or how many are overdue. Others focus on how the training program is affecting business results–like a comparison of profits or production or quality before and after a training program began.

In this article, we’re going to focus on those KPIs that are directly related to your training program, and in particular KPIs you can track using a learning management system (LMS). In future articles, we’ll look at some of those KPIs related to business results. If you’re not familiar with what an LMS is, the short video below will make it more obvious.

Having a learning management system (LMS) can make it very easy to track these training KPIs because they automatically capture training data and make it easy to generate reports. The same KPIs might be very hard to track accurately if you have training records in multiple spreadsheets, paper-based documents, and/or various computer systems.

Before you continue to read this article, feel free to download our free LMS Buyer’s Guide.

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Using Metaphors, Similes, and Analogies to Create Better Training

Metaphors, Similes, and Analogies for Training ImageWhat would you do if someone told you something entirely new and you wanted to make sense of it, remember it, and use it later?

For example, say I started telling you about a game you had never heard of. While you’re trying to figure it out, is it possible you might compare the new game to a game you already know? For example, when learning chess, did you ever compare and contrast it with checkers? Have you ever done anything like that when you’re trying to learn something?

Even better, would it also help if, while I told you about the new game, I explained how it’s similar to and different than a game you know? For example, if I know you understand soccer, and I’m trying to explain American football to you, would it help if I explained some similarities between the two sports (they’re played on a rectangular, grassy field; there’s a ball; you score by moving a ball down the field to a goal or zone at the other end) and also explained some differences (a soccer ball is round, a football is ovular; in soccer you kick the ball, in football you run with it or pass it; in soccer you score by kicking the ball into a net, in football you score by passing a line at the end of the field, etc.)? Don’t you think that process of comparing and contrasting something you already know and something brand new to you helps you learn and remember?

In this article, we’re going to see how using metaphors, similes, analogies, and comparisons/contrasts to create better training materials can help your workers understand, remember, and later use new information on the job more effectively.

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8 Training Mistakes to Avoid

8 Training Mistakes to Avoid Image

Normally when we write about training here, we write about how to design, create, and deliver effective training.

You know-training that works.

Meaning, training that’s designed and delivered in a way that helps your employees learn. That helps them understand, remember, and later apply that training on the job. Training that builds real job skills and changes on-the-job behaviors. Training that makes your workers better at their jobs and more successful. Training that helps your business reach its business goals (which is why you’re providing training, right)?

But today we thought we’d have a little fun and turn our normal blog post on its head by listing some ways to create bad training. And so we’re offering you some tips of training mistakes to avoid.

We all have some ideas about this, no doubt. And so we ask you to please use the comments section below to give some “tips for bad training” or “bad training you’ve observed.”

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4 Good Books about Training We’ve Read Lately

We thought we’d pull together a list of a few good books about training or instructional design that we’ve read lately.

If you’ve read any of these, it would be great to hear your thoughts on them. If not, you might want to check one or two out.

Of course, you’re invite to use the comments section below to give us some additional book suggestions as well–we’re always looking for good ones.

And if you’re wondering what’s next on our reading list, it’s this book about “lean” training: Training Within Industry: The Foundation of Lean.

(Note: It’s been a while since we originally wrote this post–so you can read our article about TWI and Lean Manufacturing now, too).

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