What Is The Internet Of Things ???

Amazon Echo. FitBit. Even your coffee pot.

While you might be thinking “one of these things is not like the other,” they are all examples of the Internet of Things (IoT).

They are all everyday objects that can be connected to the internet and be recognized by other devices and contribute info to a database. The Internet of Things describes Internet V.2, where data is created by things.

Kevin Ashton, digital innovation expert who is credited with coining the term, defines the Internet of Things in this quote:

“If we had computers that knew everything there was to know about things—using data they gathered without any help from us—we would be able to track and count everything, and greatly reduce waste, loss and cost. We would know when things needed replacing, repairing or recalling, and whether they were fresh or past their best.”

Now that the Internet of Things has made the physical world one enormous information system, how will the Internet of Things impact business in 2017?

It’s only the beginning for the Internet of Things

While some would argue IoT got off to a rocky start with a lower adoption rate than was predicted, most would agree the IoT is growing and will continue to grow in 2017 and beyond. Whether it reaches the lofty predictions of 50 billion connected devices by 2020 remains to be seen, but I strongly believe that businesses who learn to harness the data created by the Internet of Things are the ones who will survive and thrive in the future.

There are several new products and innovations now available due to the Internet of Things.

Smarter homes

There was certainly tremendous adoption of smart home technologies in 2016; experts believe Amazon sold nine times more Echos for the 2016 holiday season than the year before. Expect smart home technologies to become even more important in 2017. Seventy percent of people who purchased their first smart home device believe they are more likely to purchase more, according to a Smart Home Technology Survey.

 

Wearable technology

There were 78.1 million wearables sold in 2015 and the market is expected to grow to 411 million by 2020. All wearable technology, which includes smart watches, fitness trackers, VR headsets and more, generates a ton of data that businesses are just beginning to understand the possibilities and potential applications for.

Are you an ID Superstar???

Instructional Designers are indispensable in an eLearning courseware development process. They are involved since the identification of the learning need to the learning solution implementation phase. They understand the problem, develop corresponding solution and devise a plan for its effective implementation.

Let’s discuss what qualities an Instructional Designer should possess to deliver these responsibilities.

An instructional designer should be a…

Quick Learner
As a professional courseware developer, Instructional Designers are ought to develop learning solutions on any concept under the sun. To do this, they must be quick learner with minimal assistances from SMEs.

Creative Explainer
An instructional designer should possess ‘Teacher’s Instinct’. Considering the Content, Learner and the Learning Outcomes; an instructional designer should adopt simple and intuitive explainer models at both, macro level (curriculum designs) and micro level (instructional strategies) of a learning solution.

Expository Writer
Writing has different styles to express your thoughts; but an instructional designer should possess an expository style of writing or developing the learning content. The content must be plain and easy to comprehend in simple efforts. Each piece of content should be put in a pattern that it construct one concept after the other.

Instructional Content Visualizer
Instructional Content incudes text, images, illustrations, videos etc. An instructional designer should represent these elements in an appropriate flow and graphic design sense. It includes the use of colors, symmetrical shapes, arrangement patterns and animation sequence.

Keen Reviewer
An instructional designer should have an eye for detail focus and correct every feature of an effective courseware development. High precision reviewing capability is vital to identify mistakes and loop-holes in content as well as other cosmetic designs. Even a minute element of the course should serve its intended purpose.

Innovator
Every learning need is unique with respect to the desired outcome behavior, learner and the content. An instructional designer must be an innovator to blend different instructional strategies and develop a unique learning solution for the problem. It requires an instructional designer to be well-versed in various instructional models, approaches and technologies.

Researcher
Developing a course requires lot of material to review. Quite often, clients supply content if it is related to organizational policies, specific products and services or in-house developed content (if any) etc. In normal course of work, an instructional designer define and get approve the learning objectives in specific behavioral terms and then develop content through their own research on Internet, Books, Videos etc. They ensure, the final content should help the leaner achieve the desired objectives.

Tech Savvy Developer
Every piece of courseware such as content, visuals, courseware development tools, learner interactive strategies etc. conveys some-meaning to learner; an instructional designer tries to have control on these and ensure learner receives the intended meaning. This require instructional designers to be conversant in learning science as well as in learning technologies such as eLearning authoring tools, sound editing software, image editing software etc.

Integrating Video Into Training

A growing number of training managers are becoming increasingly interested in incorporating video into their learning programs because of its benefits for bringing dispersed employees together, while driving effective communication within the organization.

These managers realize that providing their employees with effective training tools that include video can have a profound impact on their business. But, even though there is little doubt that people respond better to video, creating one for training can still be challenging. That’s why learning and development departments are constantly looking to develop content that is not only engaging, but also helping the trainee retain the information better.

Using Video

Any training manager would tell you that they personally want to nurture each employee’s development and provide him or her with the tools necessary to succeed. But, that’s in a perfect world. These days, it is becoming increasingly difficult to provide the appropriate training due to limited training budgets and time.

But, that’s where video integration comes in.

There is a good reason companies such as Apple and SAS maintain employee quality — using video training in their employee development strategies. People just respond better to video. Educational research shows that 83 percent of human learning occurs visually, and combining pictures with an audio soundtrack can be quite compelling and effective. In fact, an effective training video not only engages its audience just as well as a television show or movie would, but, also arms employees with the training and knowledge needed to properly carry out day-to-day tasks. Additionally, an engaging video can do what a traditional training manual can’t – demonstrate complex concepts or processes.

Alex Salop, Director of Enterprise Product Marketing for BrainShark, said his company helps design programs that incorporate video into training.

A one-minute video equals almost 1.8 million words in terms of retention,” said Salop, whose company creates platforms for how businesses create and share content. “Effective training videos incorporate subject matter experts, not just instructional designers.”

Ensuring Consistency

It is almost impossible for training managers to sit down with each employee, especially ones who are a part of a global workforce, for proper onboarding and knowledge transfer. This often results in a lack of connection between the company’s strategy and its employees — who are in most contact with customers and suppliers. Furthermore, this contact can be damaging to any organization’s success if not properly managed.

“Branding consistency is key, especially if there are regulatory implications,” Salop said. “Video integration in training ensures consistency across the board resulting in each employee receiving the same message and not straying from the organization’s standards and guidelines.”

 

Taking Control

Even the best trainers admit that incorrect information often slips through the training cracks, especially if an organization is dealing with a global workforce. Additionally, the message’s quality can vary from trainer to trainer. Incorporating video into training allows the company to control the message — content and delivery, no matter the location.

Lowering Training Costs

Even though video integration, especially high-quality ones, can be a tremendous expense for any company’s training budget, it is important to note the return on investment it delivers over a time period. Typically, training videos have a shelf life of about five years — an investment that has a long term pay off, since facets of it can always be reused over time.

Salop said that training videos also help with volume training.

“We were able to help save one client more than a $1 million by incorporating video to train their 1,000-person sales force,” he said. “We did so by interviewing subject matter experts [on camera], as opposed to sending them in the field to train the employees.”

Spreading the Word

Learners these days tend to use the tools provided just before they really have to. And, to meet this need, training managers are now looking for ways to provide asynchronous or student-centered learning.

Audrey Polce, a solutions consultant at BrainShark, works with L&D departments. She said that video integration helps with training since it can be delivered to an audience in several ways.

“You can send employees an email with a link to the video,” she said. “Most videos these days are mobile-enabled allowing viewers to watch them on their own time from any IOS device.”

Training videos continue to evolve with users accessing them in several different ways. Additionally, research shows that combining audio and video reinforces the content in several areas of the brain — increasing the likelihood of the material being stored in long-term memory. Learning managers are paying close attention to this developing ways to provide effective training tools that incorporate video into their programs.

Tips for Effectively Using Video

Taking your Message from Being Informative to Transformative

Do not rely on testimonials. Instead, gather footage of employees’ day-to-day activities. This helps the trainee gain a better understanding of the company and its expectations.

Involving Leadership in the Video

Globally dispersed employees often feel disconnected with leadership and struggle seeing the big picture. Try incorporating short interviews with leadership to add to the training. This not only allows you to translate strategic objectives to ground-level trainees, but also, shows the collaborative and unified spirit at your company.

Thinking Visually

Gone are the ways of over-produced videos with unrealistic scenarios, aspiring music, and bad graphics. Do not just narrate expectations. Sometimes, it is just better and effective to show visuals detailing a process instead of talking about it.

Assessing Return on Investment (ROI) of E-learning

One of the biggest challenges that ELearning professionals experience is demonstrating the return on investment (ROI) of their training programs. In order to attract project sponsors and to justify resources invested in the development of ELearning, projects need to prove that they deliver real benefit to an organization. This article discusses considerations that need to be factored in when calculating ELearning ROI.

Assessing Return on Investment (ROI) of ELearning

How to Measure ELearning ROI?

ELearning has revolutionized how individuals (personally as well as in corporate settings) learn. There are a number of reasons why businesses and individuals gravitate towards ELearning programs, including:

  • Flexibility
  • Cost effectiveness
  • Standardization
  • Repeatability
  • Convenience
  • …just to name a few.

However, as with any business venture, ELearning projects need to show that they deliver real benefit to an organization. If they cannot demonstrate such value, then they are likely to not attract champions and sponsors within the company and without a strong champion, the program is not likely to take off.

Measuring ELearning success

The benefit of an ELearning program for any organization is measured in terms of the Return On Investment (ROI) that it delivers. As the name suggests, it is a measurable unit that represents an excess of value received (Return) over the cost (Investment) incurred for the program. A successful program will deliver greater returns than costs.

The question however is, how does one go about measuring ELearning ROI?

A few key factors must be taken into consideration when calculating ELearning ROI.

The Investment (or Cost): This component of the ROI calculation seeks to address the question “What will it cost me to put ELearning in place?”, In addition, here, the term “cost” includes:

Personnel

Calculate the cost of people (both internal and external consultants) that will be needed to build the program. Personnel costs may seem straightforward to identify and track, but sometimes they tend to be obfuscated, especially when existing staff are pulled into an ELearning team while also playing other (non-ELearning) roles. Project direction, development, management, and administration costs also need to be factored into the equation.

ELearning Technology

ELearning is largely a technology driven initiative. When calculating the cost for technology, organizations must consider what new technologies (Application tools, Virtual Classrooms, Learning Management Systems, Remote Learning infrastructure etc.) are needed, as well as the cost of changing any existing technology (existing desktops, networking systems, replacing existing laptops/tablet devices) that may not support the new system. Often, organizations need to tailor newly acquired technology to assimilate it into the company’s existing IT infrastructure. While such configuration is normally part of acquisition cost, there may be a sizable cost associated with it that is not covered under the initial acquisition.

ELearning Content

Major costs should also include content development (in case unique content needs to be created), or off-the-shelf content acquisition costs. Additionally, where pre-packaged ELearning content does not easily integrate into an organization’s existing learning environment, additional costs to modify or customize them may be required.

Hidden costs

There are always costs associated with transitioning from an existing (conventional) learning environment into an ELearning model. Personnel disruptions, resource reallocations, existing project deferrals, (short term) team realignments, all of these costs are not readily visible. ELearning entails making a cultural change within an organization, and since (by our very nature!) human beings are “change resistant creatures,” there is bound to be hidden costs associated with managing those changes.

The Return (or Benefit): This component of the ROI calculation seeks to address the question “How will embracing ELearning help me?”. In addition, here, the term “benefit” includes:

Flexibility

ELearning offers individuals and groups of learners the flexibility to learn anywhere and anytime. That means there is less likelihood that learners will shun away from embracing a learning opportunity, since they now have the option to learn at their own convenience. The benefit of flexibility can be measured in terms of a cost: For instance: How many employees don’t learn (how to follow a new process, or how to operate a new tool) because of a rigid learning schedule, and what does it cost the company as a result.

Less disruptive

Along with this flexibility comes the promise of minimum disruption to an organization’s “routine.” Any disruption to an organization’s standard operating procedures has a cost associated with it. For instance, orders might be delayed, schedules may be changed, inventory might not be updated – all because staff are in training. Companies could hire extra staff to pick up the slack, or pay employees overtime to complete their usual tasks after hours. That, however, adds to costs too. If courses can be delivered with little or no disruption to an employee’s regular work schedule – for instance learning via mobile devices, or while at a gym or on a train – then it will reduce the disruptive cost of learning.

Personalized learning

Even within classrooms of apparently homogenous learning groups, there will be “outliers” who impede the learning pace of the entire group. Such interruptions do have a cost – even though it is hard to quantify exactly. With ELearning, individuals can learn at their own speed, thereby making personalized learning more efficient in delivering content effectively.

Travel

Training-related travel costs are the biggest reason large corporations embrace ELearning. These costs are a major component of any ROI calculation. ELearning can dramatically reduce such costs thereby delivering additional returns.

In conclusion, it is important to understand that all ELearning programs must be measured in terms of ROI. Not only that ELearning specialist should consider the investments such as personnel, technology, content, and hidden costs, but they should look at benefits associated with ELearning such as flexibility and reduction of travel costs. By accurately calculating the cost of a training program, ELearning professionals will be able to easily justify the investment in the program and decide if ELearning is ultimately a viable solution.

Four Keys to a No-fail Needs Analysis

When working with new clients, custom training providers are tasked with learning about the client’s background, vision, and goals, and then connecting that information to the right training solution. It is critical to establish credibility and build trusted relationships quickly with clients, and that starts with an effective needs analysis strategy.

There are four fundamental components in a strong needs analysis strategy, which allow a custom training provider to swiftly build the client relationship, understand their business need, and provide a successful training solution:

Authentic relationship: Each client’s relationship need is different, and the training provider must determine up front where he or she stands on that continuum, from transactional to strategic. One of the keys to building relationships is meeting the other person where they are — this means matching their energy, taking their lead on social interest (for instance, how much time to use at the top of the call catching up about your weekend), and taking an interest in their personal investments and strengths in the project. Mutual trust is essential.

Organizational design: The stakeholders of the solution go beyond the learning leader who collaborates with a training provider. It is important to know who the key players are in the client’s business. By identifying stakeholders, you are not just looking for the participants in the training solution. It is important to canvas both operational and executive leaders to understand the client’s organizational goals and to identify other teams, departments, and even customers that may be impacted by the training solution. You also need to understand the decision makers, both the supporters and detractors who could influence the training outcome or effectiveness.

The mind map of all of these stakeholders provides the client’s big picture: to see what’s been done before and how it was accepted, to understand how employees generally share with and learn from each other, and to piece together elements of the client’s organizational culture. This helps the training provider to focus questions and to stay relevant, and adds credibility to the solution by aligning it with other learning and change initiatives the client may be implementing.

Business need: It may sound like a no-brainer, but often talking through the business need with multiple stakeholders uncovers a lot of valuable insight about performance goals and performance gaps. What data is available that supports the need for this training? How success is defined? What will be measured?, and what should the business look like after training? What policies, business models, or management theories has the client adopted that will reinforce the training? It is important to know what the business problem is., how it is measured, and how the training solution will solve it.

Transparency: This is the client’s business. If there are any surprises from the training provider, trust can be lost. The client should know who the training provider is talking with and what questions are being asked throughout the process. One idea is to make all transcripts and recordings of interviews and focus groups available to the client, and to provide a detailed summary when the data collection is complete. This helps to clarify expectations, gain buy-in, and serve as a reference once development is underway.

Getting each of these components right can lead to a more productive and sustainable training solution for the client ─ and can make the difference between being a vendor and being a business partner. By approaching each needs analysis with this discipline, the training provider will be focused on the client’s goals and can deliver a solution tailored specifically for their unique culture and needs.