Elearning! September

2014

Elearning! Magazine: Building Smarter Companies via Learning & Workplace Technologies.

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Tey are all very natural to use, require virtually no training, and create high levels of user engagement. You could even call them addictive. BUT HOW CAN AN LMS BE MORE OF A COMMUNICATIONS TOOL? Largely with the help of evolving technologies, such as machine learning and natural language process- ing. As these technologies advance, we should be thinking about how we can apply them to enterprise systems to make user interactions more natural. For instance, in the not-too-distant future, I can envision an employee dictating naturally-spoken an- swers to an assessment on her iPhone, with the LMS translating her speech into written words. I can also envision a system that then analyzes those words and computes a preliminary score. It's not a stretch to imagine a Siri-like assistant who can help you search through resources — both internal and external — to fnd immediate answers to job-related questions and even prioritize results based on your skill profle. We're already seeing evidence of the "consumerization" of learning-related sofware. WHEN DO YOU THINK WE'LL START SEEING SOME OF THESE THINGS? About three years ago, we knew we wanted to avoid getting caught up in creating another feature- bloated learning solution. So we developed an application platform for our products to help us transi- tion to developing a range of smaller, more focused products. For example, our social product, Tribe, can be used on its own, but it's much more valuable when integrated with our Exceed LMS. Our appli- cation platform creates a bridge between the two products so they can automatically share users, data and functionality. Te use of algorithms — combined with user behaviors across applications, profle information, preferences, likes, and comments — will make resource recommendations smarter, more relevant, and much more personal. But the next phase — where a lot of the really cool stuf is going to happen — is natural language querying of data. For instance, in the future, you may be able to ask your LMS, "What is the correlation between the number of hours of training and total closed deals by North American sales reps?" You might even ask your LMS to tell you when 50 percent of employees in a particular department have each completed 10 hours of training. We'll also see changes in how data is collected. When specialized apps give you the ability to provide free-form answers to questions — such as with learning assessments — you can collect more meaning- ful data. When data collection becomes less painful and time consuming and clunky user interfaces for querying are replaced by more natural interactions, truly exciting things can happen and the value of data goes up. In coming years, I bet you'll be hearing more about the transition from GUIs to NUIs: user interfaces based on natural language. IS THERE ANYTHING CORPORATE BUYERS CAN DO TO ACCELERATE THE EVOLUTION OF LEARNING SYSTEMS? Absolutely. Corporate training professionals should be open to experimentation and failure. If we stick to only safe and proven solutions and training approaches, nothing will ever really change. One of our customers made the decision to build an entire corporate training initiative around curated and self- produced content and social-based learning, most of which was conducted through personal mobile devices. She took a big risk when she asked her fellow senior executives to trust her that it would work. And it did. Not only did adoption and resource usage exceed expectations, the company saved huge dollars by avoiding content licensing, equipment purchases, and administrative overhead. Corporate professionals should also seek partnerships with their vendors. We expect to shoulder some of the risk — and some of the work — required to make such experimentations work. Forging the future of learning will take contributions and innovation from both sides. Neither side should be satisfed with status quo. 16 September / October 2014 Elearning! Leader's View

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