Do We Need SCORM?

By Glynn Jung, Non-Executive Director

Tracking E-learning

At a recent CEdMA Europe I was asked “what use is SCORM going to be in the future?”

Now, as this was in a discussion group composed entirely of the commercial Training Services divisions of the top IT hardware & software companies in Europe with a historically important revenue stream from Certification products, the question was pretty loaded.

I’d been reporting on trends amongst my clients who have recently been questioning the automatic assumption that all e-learning content must be (a) SCORM compliant, ensuring tracking and reporting and (b) delivered on an learning management system (LMS) of one sort or another.

We’ve been seeing a new philosophy developing, one which suggests that not all learning needs to be tracked: certainly personal development programmes falling out of performance reviews should be recorded and reported, as should continuing professional development (CPD) and certification or accreditation status. But with the certified/accredited status… effectively “license to operate” stuff, there’s a growing consensus that it’s the official assessment that matters and that SCORM hinders the design of engaging, effective learning programmes.

We know that those brilliant people at Rustici (www.scorm.com) are forging ahead with “Project Tin Can”, (essentially research of the ADL Consortium into next generation SCORM, including “Is there a need for a new SCORM?”) and that they regularly post new information on research and development, but they’ve recently launched their cloud version of IMS BLTI. BLTI provides a simple way for LMS users to incorporate remote tools into their system.

SCORM is underutilised in the education market. This is partly because the tracking that SCORM provides hasn’t always been valued in academic circles the way it is in corporate circles.

While it’s unlikely that Rustici will drop out of the world of SCORM, it’s clear also that IMS – including the MTI guidelines – and AICC are coming back into the picture as organisations choose to separate eLearning from mastery assessment and concentrate on assessment and learning as separate design activities.

In my own clients I am further seeing the use of pre-test or test-prep versions of the assessment, which includes feedback to the learner, whilst the master assessment simply posts either a Pass or Fail (or final marking) to SCORM.

Finally some of my clients involved in commercial certification and accreditation services are now discussing whether or not to make the e-learning content free-to-download or use online, whilst concentrating on enhancing the design and value of the assessments, which will then become as the principle revenue earning products.

 

Aurion Learning forms a Scrum

Article by Barry Kelly, Product Development Manager

I know the rugby world cup is over and The Six Nations doesn’t start until next February, so why am I writing a blog about scrum?

Well for starters, it’s not that type of scrum. The scrum Aurion Learning is seeking to form, implement and adopt is an agile framework for completing complex projects.

What is agile project management?
Agile project management refers to methodologies for developing complex software; characterised by flexible and adaptive working processes, rapid response to change, iterative and incremental development.

There are many agile methodologies in practice today, such as Crystal Clear, Extreme Programming (XP), Feature Driven Development (FDD), Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM) each with their own merits. However I have selected scrum as in my experience, it’s the best agile development methodology (and if you don’t believe me ask the leading Fortune 500 companies who use it.)

What is Scrum?
Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber created the scrum process in 1993, and the name “scrum” comes from a 1986 study in which Takeuchi and Nonaka compared high-performing, cross-functional teams to the scrum formation used by rugby teams. Scrum is now used by 75% of agile teams worldwide.

Ok, so what really is scrum? Well Scrum Alliance explain it very well in 30 seconds:

  • A product owner creates a prioritized wish list called a product backlog.
  • During sprint planning, the team pulls a small chunk from the top of that wish list, a sprint backlog, and decides how to implement those pieces.
  • The team has a certain amount of time, a sprint, to complete its work – usually two to four weeks – but meets each day to assess its progress (daily scrum).
  • Along the way, the Scrum Master keeps the team focused on its goal.
  • At the end of the sprint, the work should be potentially shippable, as in ready to hand to a customer, put on a store shelf, or show to a stakeholder.
  • The sprint ends with a sprint review and retrospective.
  • As the next sprint begins, the team chooses another chunk of the product backlog and begins working again.
  • The cycle repeats until enough items in the product backlog have been completed, the budget is depleted, or a deadline arrives.
  • Which of these milestones marks the end of the work is entirely specific to the project.
  • No matter which impetus stops work, Scrum ensures that the most valuable work has been completed when the project ends.

Scrum originally was formalised for software development projects, but works well for any complex, innovative scope of work. The possibilities are endless and the framework is deceptively simple.

My Scrum Hopes for 2012
In 2012, I hope to complete and deliver several large scale product development projects for Aurion Learning using scrum.

So what qualifications or skills do you need to rollout scrum in your organisation? Well first of all you need a Scrum Master. That’s me (second right).  I gained my CSM certification in Dublin, Ireland on June 05, 2009 under the excellent tutelage of Jens Ostergaard.

It’s now time to walk the walk. It will take a while to adopt and run smoothly and will certainly require a change to the status quo, but I have great hopes for its success and hopefully we can achieve the Toyota effect: (well-run scrums) four times industry average productivity and twelve times better quality.

I will provide you all with an update at the end of the first quarter and let you know how our scrum experiment is progressing.

Regards Barry

For Further Information on Scrum
If you would like to know more about scrum, check out the following video and website links which will give you all the information and certification details you require to get started.

Scrum dk
Scrum Alliance
Scrum Alliance Facebook Page
Scrum Basics (5 minute YouTube Video)

Health Sector Focus: Identifying the Biggest Challenges in Delivering Learning

by Noleen Turner, Marketing Manager

In summer 2011, Aurion Learning hosted an e-learning masterclass in Dublin. Delegates came from the Irish Health Services Executive (national health service), health agencies, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies from across Ireland, and included human resources, IT and training professionals. They all had one thing in common – responsibility for delivering learning and development across their organisations. Several delegates were already experienced in delivering e-learning and blended learning projects, while others hadn’t yet started the journey of online learning.

During the event, we wanted to get a better understanding of the challenges learning and development professionals in the health sector are facing today and so we carried out some market research with our delegates.

Here are our findings:

What is the biggest learning & development challenge facing your organisation today?

Management Issues

  • Lack of funding /resources/manpower
  • Lack of time to develop training
  • Securing management commitment
  • Learners not being given enough time to actually participate in training
  • Lack of structured training / continuing professional development

Developing Training

  • Identify what we want to do and can do – moving from strategy to implementation
  • Responding to learning needs with small training budgets
  • Achieving relevance
  • Adopting a coherent coordinated approach across a large organisation – multiple departments & contacting trainees.
  • Speed of delivery
  • Lack of confidence/competence in use of e-learning

Getting others on-board / Culture change

  • Changing the organisational culture into a learning culture
  • Securing buy-in from management & staff to blended and e-learning programmes
  • Low staff motivation
  • Resistance to change (moving from traditional face-to-face model to e-learning)

IT Issues

  • Knowing which technology to choose to support learning (learning management systems, e-learning authoring tools, learning portals etc.)
  • IT support
  • Staff access to IT systems and technologies (restriction to many educational websites/firewalls)
  • Administration support & maintenance of any systems developed.

Top Tips: Marketing Your E-learning Programme

E-learning successIt doesn’t matter how great your e-learning programme is, if you don’t market it to the right people, get buy-in and get people to actually complete it, it will be a complete waste of time and money (two commodities that are in short enough supply today!)

So assuming you’ve got educationally sound content and your online delivery is engaging, how do you market your e-learning programmes, particularly when it isn’t mandatory or compliance based?

In my mind there are five key points to remember: start early; get support from the top; secure buy-in from your managers; get buy-in from your learners; and don’t stop.


1.    Start early

Don’t wait until you have a shiny new e-learning package ready to roll-out across the organisation. The marketing communications plan should start at the same time as project implementation. Inform people that the project is under way, highlight project milestones and tell them when it’s due to be delivered. Most importantly – explain why you are investing in e-learning in the first place and sell the benefits of this mode of learning. Use internal communications campaigns such as staff magazine, intranet, staff briefings, posters etc. to inform staff. Use external communications campaigns such as website, posters, leaflets etc. to inform external stakeholders, if necessary.

2.    Get support from the top

Get support from whoever is in charge of your organisation, for example your Chief Executive or Managing Director.  Make sure they know why you are doing the training in the first place – for example what changes or improvements to behaviour you are going to achieve as a result of the e-learning. Get them to lead by example by being the first to complete the e-learning programme, and show everyone that this is something the company is seriously committed to.

3.    Secure buy-in from your managers

Inform and involve your managers and team leaders about the e-learning programme from the very beginning. Sell the benefits of the training and of e-learning as this will help you get early buy-in and support from the people who work closest to front line staff.

 4.     Get buy-in from your learners

No-one likes being the last to know what’s going on. If you start raising awareness from the very start of the project, you’re more likely to get support from your learners. Tell them what’s going on and why. Use internal communications such as staff briefings, posters, staff magazine etc. to inform staff that the project is underway, and let them know when it will be rolled out across the company. Give regular progress updates.

 5.     Don’t stop

Remember – the marketing communications campaign doesn’t come to a stop when you roll-out the e-learning. It’s important to have sustained communications to remind everyone of why and when they should complete the training – and to chase up late completers. Some organisations publish completion statistics on a departmental basis – to encourage late completers to finish the training. Provide real feedback on how the training has been received by individuals in the organisation. This will convince others of the benefits of the learning. Most importantly of all – make sure you inform everyone of success stories – improved competence, cost savings, change in behaviour, return in investment etc.

Welcome to the Aurion Learning Blog

Hello and welcome the Aurion Learning Blog.

Aurion Learning is an award winning online learning solutions company, based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. We design, develop and deliver custom e-learning programmes, off-the-shelf e-learning catalogues, learning management systems, learning portals and continuing professional development (CPD) tools.

We’ve been around since 2000 but our staff have been designing and developing online learning solutions and software for many years.

In this blog we’ll be sharing some of our experiences (both good and bad) of designing, developing, project managing and marketing e-learning projects to help organisations bring about culture change, behaviour change, deliver compliance-based training, standardise training and improve performance.

We’ll bring you regular updates from our instructional designers, web designers, developers and project managers. We’ll also feature guest bloggers time to time.