Hello Moodle friends!
I realize that a large percentage of you are supporting universities and classrooms and am impressed by all of the stories I read and hear. I just attended the Australian Moodle Moot and took copious notes to improve my own e-Learning program.
I just published a short blog about my success with Moodle in the corporate environment and wanted to share. Hopefully this is the right forum.
For those not wishing to click an external link, here's the text in entirety (although probably not formatted quite so nicely):
I work for a cool company that allows me to wear many hats. One of those hats is as an educator, teaching our partners about the wonders of distributed Linux systems. I still do this today, but the demand for this information long ago outpaced my ability to always deliver it in person.
A year ago, I went looking for a solution to provide an automated and repeatable way to train our partner community. Today, I run the first-ever certification program of its kind with close to one thousand students from the top technology companies in the world.
If you're in a similar situation and are thinking about developing an e-Learning program for employee on-boarding, sales enablement, or technical certifications, read on to learn what has worked for me.
Step 1: Pick a Platform
After some initial research, I decided on Moodle - an open-source LMS that powers tens of thousands of sites around the world. It's free, well documented, and supported by a large library of community-developed plugins. Moodle is highly leveraged by schools and universities but also has a solid presence in corporate environments.
I really like Moodle, but there are a ton of other options out there. If you're looking for a fully-baked solution designed specifically for training a sales force, MindTickle has a very cool product which might work for you.
2.) Prepare Your Content
This is where the bulk of my time is spent - initially at set up and ongoing to keep the content fresh. I started with what was already working for my in-person training and began to break out the concepts into smaller sections that could be accessed individually.
My students work in sales and are very focused on the well-known concept of a sales cycle. This has distinct phases like Target Identification, Opportunity Qualification, Discovery and Needs Analysis, Pursuit, Proposal, and Closing.
I designed the flow of our courses to match this sales cycle, giving students the information they need to succeed in an order that makes sense to them. I am still using PowerPoint as part of the learning experience (ugh, I know!), but I've interlaced this with hands-on activities as much as possible.
Many of my students speak English as a second or third language, so I try to talk clearly and I always provide a written transcript.
3.) Keep Your Audience Engaged
There are many studies covering short-term memory and how that applies to the learning process. The general idea seems to be this: give your students information in short increments, then provide them an interactive activity that allows them to commit that information to long-term memory.
My audience is not comprised of full-time students - they are busy technology professionals with complex projects, challenging revenue targets, and high-stress deadlines. I have to respect their time while still delivering an effective learning experience.
Beyond video lessons and quizzes, I designed a final project that is a dry-run of a customer opportunity. This can take several hours (or more) to complete. Instead of leaving it until the end, I introduce the project right at the beginning of the course so that students can understand what they are working towards and connect the learning concepts with a real objective. Then, after each major section of learning and quizzing, I refer them to the final project with tips on what sections they should be able to tackle at that point in time.
The final project itself involves presenting their opportunity back to a specialist at our company. Building this presentation requires them to leverage the same resources and tools they would use to build a real-life solution for their customers. It reinforces all of the learning modules, allows them to make a connection with a human resource local to their area, and gives them a template that they can use to generate revenue in the real world.
As students interact with materials and complete activities, we provide visual indicators of their progress. This allows them to easily see what they have completed and what still remains. Completion Progress and Level Up are two interesting plugins specific to Moodle - the latter provides gamification capabilities if you have a group that thrives on competition.
4.) Provide Recognition
Time is money. When a student completes our program, they have made a significant investment and we want to give something back. We are careful to track those who have made this commitment, providing them things like free access to our software and promoting them as subject-matter experts in their regions.
In addition, we provide a digital certificate that can be easily validated online and shared to social media like LinkedIn and Twitter. I've used a Moodle plugin to integrate with a certificate service from Accredible. This is the public-facing portion of the program and provides a really nice, professional badge of honor for those who we refer to as an "Ambassador".
The program in general has been a great success, and I look forward to improving it as we grow. At the top of my list is to remove PowerPoint content in favor of more engaging activities where possible, shorten some of the longer technical videos, and look into making videos interactive.
If you're in the process of building a similar program, I'd love to hear your thoughts.