Empower Social and Collaborative Learning With Spoke Community

If you’ve ever used social media to ask for advice, you know how powerful it is to get just-in-time feedback that helps you accomplish your goal. Whether you’re trying to find a great plumber or get restaurant recommendations, social, collaborative learning gets the job done.

In your professional career, it’s no different. You and your employees often rely on ad hoc, informal best practice sharing to excel in your work and delight your customers. That’s why ever since the earliest Spoke® designs, we wanted to create a safe place for learners to share and collaborate. Over the years, we’ve seen tens of thousands Spoke Community posts—each one a reflection of the power of collaborative learning.

Even still, we wanted to make Spoke’s Community even better. Watch this quick video to see how the redesigned UI inspires users to share what they know:

Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of social learning.

Embrace collaborative learning, get A Return on Investment

Although some find the benefits of social learning to be self-evident, available research on the topic should interest even the most committed skeptics.

Here’s why: studies indicate social learning encourages employees to have a collaborative mindset, and social learning technology makes it easy for them to help each other. Over time, this leads to greater organizational success and delivers a return on investment.

The Association for Talent Development report Building a Culture of Learning says top companies are almost five times more likely than lower performers to have extensive learning cultures: “In high-performance organizations, employees share knowledge with their colleagues at a rate four times greater than that of workers in lower-performing firms.”

In a Bersin & Associates research bulletin, The Changing Social Learning Landscape: Why You Need a Social LMS, Karen O’Leonard writes, “Today’s workers still need formal training that is built around specific problems and talent needs; however, they also need a complete learning environment that provides support, as well as the ability to collaborate, network and share information to solve problems.”

“At the leading edge of this technology are social learning management system (LMS) solutions that not only embed social learning into the workflow, but also blend different types of social learning such that people are learning from peers and experts in more organic ways than we have seen in the past,” O’Leonard explains.

According to ATD, the type of collaboration made possible by social LMS solutions develops a company’s culture of learning and yields impressive financial benefits. When Rite-Solutions used its social platform to solicit product development ideas, it developed 15 new products that represent 20% of their total revenue.

That’s why the Spoke Community user interface (UI) inspires users to share knowledge, thought leadership, and encouragement in an engaging, respectful way.

collaborative learning with Spoke, by Unboxed Technology

 

Learners, admins, and managers can also share resources and job aids in formats such as Excel and PDF.

Share resources and collaborative learning

Drive continuous learning, promote recognition

To foster a culture of learning, companies must look for ways to drive continuous learning through a variety of formal and informal channels.

Spoke’s Community enables fast feedback and just-in-time training. Plus, the Spoke Community appeals to learners’ curiosity. They want to log in and see what’s new. Why? Spoke’s Community algorithm automatically curates trending content and critical conversations relevant to learners based on their team and permissions. Trending conversations move to the top of the feed so they’re easy to access.

Learners can also filter their feed a few different ways, such as by “My Activity,” “Posts I Follow,” and “People I Follow.” Or, they can go directly to a topic they’re interested in.

enable collaborative learning with Spoke from Unboxed Technology

 

They can also earn Spoke Coins for joining the conversation, completing training, and sharing best practices. Then, they can redeem their coins for tangible Spoke Rewards like company apparel, swag, or even paid time off.

According to ATD’s Building a Culture of Learning report, high-performing companies fuel their learning cultures by:

  • rewarding workers for learning
  • providing tools and resources for creating and sharing learning content
  • making knowledge sharing a performance expectation at all organizational levels

With Spoke Community’s social and collaborative learning and next-level gamification capabilities, companies can easily embrace these best practices.

Simplify administration and moderation

While the advantages of a social LMS outweigh the potential downsides, enabling Spoke’s Community is still optional. Your organization can turn the Community on, or keep it off. Excited about the benefits of social learning, but want to make sure there are safeguards in place? Here are some things you should know.

  1. If you’re an admin or moderator, it’s easy to restrict the ability to comment on a specific Topic or discussion if necessary:
    Don't be afraid of collaborative learning. Spoke let's you enable or disable commenting.
  2. How-to videos, shared in the Community, are a great way to demonstrate behaviors and techniques that drive favorable results. Albert Bandura, the social psychologist who coined the phrase “social learning,” observed that when we watch someone doing something, and then try it ourselves, we’re fairly successful. When admins, leaders, and peers can post how-to videos easily, companies can solve problems faster and be more productive.
  3. Spoke admins can curate Community Topic feeds and Featured Posts. If your company is launching a contest, wants to promote a training course, or needs to drive awareness about an initiative, Spoke admins can easily designate Community Topics and Featured Posts. Community Topics appear in a learner’s left navigation, and Featured Posts appear at the top of a learner’s feed.
Put collaborative learning topics front and center in Spoke using Featured Topics.

With the redesigned UI, it’s easier than ever to administer and moderate the Spoke Community for teams of learners.

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Want to see collaborative learning in action through the redesigned Spoke Community? Contact us. We’d love to show you Spoke can help you train, engage, and reward your teams.

8 Modern LMS Features That Drive Learner Engagement

On the hunt for a new learning management system and interested in modern LMS features?  Based on our experience, any LMS can host your training content, but an LMS with modern features lets learners take training into their own hands. This list includes 8 modern LMS features that will set you and your team up for success.

 

smiling-woman

1. SOCIAL AND COLLABORATIVE LEARNING

Community functions like discussion boards, content ratings, upvoting, and the ability to follow specific users make it easy for learners to collaborate with peers, instructors, and managers long after the training course has ended.

Educational researchers have been touting the benefits of discussion features in online learning for decades now because they allow participants to mindfully reflect on their peers’ contributions before responding—and this type of thoughtful collaboration may be one of the most important elements of effective online training.

Capturing and encouraging conversations that surround your business’ training content and best practices is a powerful way to help your team learn more efficiently and effectively. It also gives you insight into what training content is working (and what’s not).

 

2. INTEGRATED COMMUNICATION TOOLS

The “If you build it, they will come” approach doesn’t work in L&D. Not only do you need to develop great training—you also need an effective communication strategy to let people know there’s exciting new content in their LMS.

It’s more like: “If you build it, market it internally, give learners multiple ways to engage with it, and reward the effort, they will come.” 

That’s why one modern LMS feature on the rise is integrated communication tools. Integrated communication tools allow you to create training alerts on users’ dashboards, send email notifications and newsletters, display pop-up notifications, and even have a news portal where users can quickly see what’s happening in the company.

 

3. REAL-WORLD GAMIFICATION

Don’t think of gamification as a distraction. Instead, think of it as a way to hook learners and get them excited about training. We’ve seen real-world gamification drive results like a 5.5x increase in course completions and nearly a 2x increase daily logins.

Incentives like points, leaderboards, badges, and levels motivate users to engage with your LMS and increase their social capital. They also create friendly competition.

The concept is simple—show people their progress, reward their performance, and they’ll want to do more. Truly modern LMS platforms go the extra mile and allow users to trade in their points for real-world rewards like apparel and company swag.

 

4. BLENDED LEARNING

Blended learning occurs when the best delivery methodologies available for each specific learning objective are incorporated into a curriculum, according to ATD.

And based on our experience, to create a perfectly blended learning experience, you need to let the subject matter inform your modality, embrace learners’ constraints, and choose a learning platform that supports blended learning.

If a learning platform has modern capabilities, its LMS features should supports and encourage blended learning. How? Its user interface should make it easy to upload and complete courses across a variety of modalities—from ILT and VILT to eLearning and interactive learning guides.

 

5. GREAT CONTENT

You can have a platform with every learning management system feature available, but if you fill it with boring, uninspiring content, you’re not going to get very far.

Boring PowerPoint presentations don’t cut it anymore. Your employees can’t learn if they’re sleeping through their training. Training content that gets results is short, personalized, and engaging.

 

6. EASY TO USE

A modern user interface isn’t enough. An LMS with nice visuals can still be a nightmare for learners and administrators to use.

You want an eLearning platform that not only looks great, but is also well organized, easy to access and navigate, and just makes sense for users.

 

7. Integrations

From CRM tools like Salesforce to HR and recruiting systems, you have many software products you already use to manage your day-to-day. Who wants to remember another username and password?

That’s where integrations come in.

When choosing an LMS, consider features like APIs (application program interface) and SSO (single sign-on). APIs, SSO, and other integrations can help you work your eLearning platform into your workflow seamlessly.

 

8. Analytics to prove roi

It’s time to look beyond baseline reporting to help determine ROI. Course completion and pass/fail rates are a good start, but your LMS should deliver other valuable data and insights.

For example, track how popular and helpful discussion threads and resources are. Track course ratings and reviews. And merge your LMS data with other business results like VOC scores (Voice of the Customer), sales, revenue, how long it takes to get new employees up to speed, etc.

Armed with these analytics, you can identify training gaps. You can also see what content and formats resonate most with learners, and use all of these insights to inform how you design your next training module.

 

Put Them All Together

Think finding a single platform with all these LMS features is a pipe dream? It’s not. In fact, we call it Spoke®.

Spoke is a modern learning platform that combines personalized, social, and collaborative learning with real-world gamification and built-in communication tools to keep learners engaged.

How much more engaged? Compared to other leading platforms, companies using Spoke have seen up to:

  • a 5.5X increase in course completions,
  • 3.5x increase in logins, and
  • 2.5x increase in non-required activity

If you’re not seeing those results with your current learning platform, check out Spoke LMS.

 

What LMS Features Matter To Your users?

If you’ve completed your LMS requirements checklist, let us know which of these 8 modern LMS features made it to the top of your must-haves list. What other items did you prioritize? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Training Video Production, Humanized

Training Video Production Humanized - the Director of Photography on set

As a kid I wanted to be Alfred Hitchcock. As a graduate student I won a screenwriting award. Today, as the Director of Content Strategy at Unboxed, I’ve had the honor of being part of a team that’s produced hundreds of microlearning videos for our clients.

You’ll often hear me say, “Use as much video as possible!” However, over the years I’ve observed how corporate training video production intimidates most people in the market for it. They have justifiable concerns about production costs, timelines, actors, branding, and quality.

In an effort to make the production process a little more human-friendly, we created the Training Video Production, Humanized guide. The guide covers enough video terminology to make you dangerous, plus what you can expect during pre-production, production, and post-production.

 

Video Works

Before you read any further, you need to know why training videos work—and why it’s such a worthwhile investment of your time and money. Here are a few helpful stats:

  • At least 65% of people learn by seeing.
  • As we discuss in the article Employee Training Videos—What Style is Right for YouCisco projects 82% of all Internet traffic will be video by 2021; An estimated 75% of the workforce will be Millennials by 2025and Millennials are some of the heaviest consumers of video as a medium.
  • Entering the workforce on the heels of Millennials is Gen Z, and 70% of Gen Zers watch more than two hours of YouTube each day.
  • Video-based training programs can deliver impressive results—like 70% completion rates for training considered optional. (I mean, who takes optional training?! People who like videos, that’s who.)

 

Training Video Production: Things to Know Up Front

So, let’s go ahead and assume we’re creating microlearning training videos, not feature-length films. This has positive implications when it comes to your training video production costs. For training to be considered microlearning, it should be 5 minutes or fewer (we usually target 2-3 minutes) and focus on a single topic. Your microlearning video could be live action, animation, or a combination of both.

To feel comfortable throughout the training video production process, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with a little bit of terminology. Let’s start with the people you’ll meet.

People You’ll Meet

In most cases, the higher the fidelity and complexity of the video, the more team members are involved. Higher-fidelity training videos often involve sophisticated lighting setups, professional actors, additional sound and camera equipment, and extra crew. In our frequent participation in the 48 Hour Film Project, we’ve seen how the absence of the right equipment—particularly lighting and sound—can significantly reduce the impact of your content. Sometimes an iPhone just won’t cut it.

The Training Video Production, Humanized guide outlines the roles involved in a typical Unboxed training video shoot. Some of our corporate training video productions require more hands on deck, while some require less.

Here’s a sample of the people you’ll meet. Download the guide to meet the whole team.

Training Video Production Humanized - People you'll meet on set

 

What to Expect During Pre-Production

We can break training video production down into three phases: pre-production, production, and post-production. In a nutshell, pre-production includes all of the up-front scripting, storyboarding, casting, and planning. Your Content Strategist and Producer will handle most of the heavy lifting during this phase, and they’ll be asking for your feedback and approval along the way.

 

Pre-Production FAQs

Will we get to see what the actors look like to make sure they reflect the diversity and tone of our organization? Yes! We’ll work closely with you to understand the right demographics and find talented actors that represent your company well.

What if I can’t afford professional actors? In our experience, professional actors deliver the best result and keep your content evergreen. However, if you’d prefer to use your own employees, we can share some best practices with you to set them up for success.

Will we get to recommend locations? Absolutely! In addition to that, we’ll also let you know if we can achieve the right look near our Richmond headquarters. If our crew doesn’t travel far, we can save you money.

Who should plan to be there on shoot day? We’d love to invite at least one subject-matter-expert (SME) on set with us. This person can be a great resource on shoot day and help ensure scenes are true-to-life.

 

What to Expect During Production

If you’ve never been on set during a training video production, you’re in for a treat. It’s exciting to see all of the scripting, casting, and planning come together. It’s also busy—the Unboxed team is efficient and works hard to capture a lot of footage in a day. Wear comfortable shoes!

You’ll enjoy watching our Directors in action as they coach talent and keep things moving from one scene to the next. They’ll check in with you often and make sure you’re satisfied with what’s being captured.

Production FAQs

What should I wear to the shoot? We recommend wearing something casual or business casual. You want to make sure you’re comfortable. Pay special attention to footwear! Flats typically work best.

What is my role on set? We love having clients on set because you can make sure each scene is a realistic portrayal of your organization. You’ll have the opportunity to consult with our directors to make sure they’re giving the talent the right direction according to your brand and subject matter expertise. Keep us honest and confirm we’re doing a great job.

Training Video Production Humanized - On set

Other Terms You’ll Hear

MOS. Lower thirds. Slate. Camera speed.

There are plenty of other video production terms where these came from. While you’re on set, the Unboxed team will be more than happy to go over any questions you have about what something means or why we’re capturing footage a certain way.

 

 

What to Expect During Post-Production

In the post-production phase, we create your final training video. Our Director of Photography sits in a dark room for three straight days, wearing headphones and moving pixels around. He only breaks for lunch.

Just kidding. Post-production can actually be very collaborative, as our Content Strategist, DP, and Producer work together to agree on the best shots, make smart editing decisions, and keep the project on budget. By the time you see the first cut, it’s already been through at least one round of internal review.

Post-Production FAQs

What’s my role during post-production review? We’ll send you the first cut of the video and ask for your feedback or approval. At this stage in the production process, we can still edit music, transitions, and text on screen, and if necessary, we can also look into alternate takes and shots.

How many rounds of review do I get? Your training video production budget includes one first cut review. Once we get your feedback on the first cut, our editor makes any changes you requested and delivers your final, polished video.

I have late feedback from an important stakeholder. What should I do? Talk to us! It happens, and our goal is to deliver training you’re happy with. Help us understand the request, and let us come back with a recommendation in case it impacts scope and timeline.


Training Video Production Humanized - Reviewing the final footage

 

 

Lights, Camera, Action!

When it comes to corporate training video production, gone are the days of talking heads. With so many training video styles available, video is one of the best ways to engage your learners. Sure, production planning takes work, but it’s exciting and fun, and in the end you’ll have training you’re proud to show off. With the right team in place, shooting video doesn’t need to be intimidating—or a hassle.

And now that you know what to expect during the corporate training video production process, find the right partner who can help you decide which type of video treatment is right for you, estimate costs, and deliver better results. We’d love to tell you more about our custom training solutions.

What’s the Time Commitment? Best Practices to Engage SMEs

Whether you’re developing training content on your own or hiring a custom training partner like Unboxed to create content for you, you’re going to need SMEs, or subject matter experts. SMEs help you — and any partner companies you work with — make sure your training content is accurate and sounds like you.

As you plan your next training project, it’s helpful to be aware of a few best practices to engage SMEs, so you can set expectations and start things off on the right foot. When it’s time to round up a great group of SMEs, don’t worry, we’ve got your subject matter expert roles and responsibilities covered.

So, Why Be a SME?

When you’re gathering a team of SMEs, you’re asking people to do a little extra work. That can seem daunting to some, but remember this: there are a lot of benefits to being a SME.

SMEs get to share their expertise in order to create great training for your company. They can contribute to truly meaningful change within your organization.

Plus, being a SME can lead to great personal and professional growth and potential career advancement. When you’re gathering your team and talking with them about SME time commitment, roles, and responsibilities, make sure you outline the benefits.

Characteristics of a Great SME

Obviously, a great SME has excellent knowledge of the topic you need to train. But being a SME is more than that.

The ideal SME will:

  • “Get” the ins and outs of your business so your training matches your company’s needs and culture.
  • Be able to review training content for accuracy.
  • Add crucial details to content by offering their own experiences, tips, and stories from within the industry.
  • Care about the success of the company and the people being trained.
  • Want the training to be of the highest quality.
  • Be willing to make time in their schedules for the project.

Let’s explore that last bullet further and take a look at each step of the training development process to get a better sense of the SME time commitment.

Friendly caveat: These are estimates. Longer and more complex projects may require more SME involvement, but no matter the scope of the project, it’s important to make sure SME duties don’t negatively impact their day jobs. Let’s set them up for success.

YOUR SMEs AND THE FOUR Ds

Creation of your training content will likely follow a process that goes something like this: Discovery, Design, Development, and Delivery. There’s typically a SME time commitment at each step.

Discovery

SME time commitment per week: 1 hour

Typically, this phase includes at least one initial discovery call that lasts about an hour. However, sometimes before the first discovery call it’s a good idea to have a kick-off workshop or meeting with your SME team so you can align internally on the extent of their involvement and what to expect.

During the discovery phase, SMEs may be asked to help define the business needs, audience, and learning objectives. They’ll also use their expertise to answer questions about the topic being trained.

The initial SME call may lead to more questions in the future. Your team should be available (typically via email) in case the training development team reaches out for additional information.

Design

SME Time Commitment per week: 1-2 hours.

During the design phase, the training team you’re working with will develop content outlines, often called high-level designs. From there, SMEs need to confirm that the outlines adhere to the learning objectives and that the information is accurate.

Depending on the type of training being developed, the training team may also pitch creative concepts during the design phase. SMEs may be asked to review these concepts and approve any talent or location specs for live action videos, if applicable.

The Design phase typically includes one SME check-in call. Materials will be sent prior to the call and shouldn’t take more than an hour to review.

Develop

SME Time Commitment per week: 1-2 hours

In this phase, the training development team brings the high-level designs to life to create the actual training content.

The Develop phase usually includes one check-in call. SMEs will help sign off on any materials being sent to final production by:

  • Verifying language, tone, and style.
  • Pointing out any gaps in the content.
  • Approving visual direction.

Materials are often sent prior to the call for review.

Deliver

SME Time Commitment per week: ~1 hour (maybe less)

The final phase doesn’t require as much involvement as previous phases. Typically, content is complete, and SMEs may just be asked to confirm no errors have been made and approve the final product.

The delivery phase can be extremely rewarding for your SME team. It’s so exciting to see the final product come to life.

Next steps

When your training launches, celebrate your SME team’s hard work. Thank them for their time commitment and dedication. As a custom training company, we’ve helped our clients plan training release parties, schedule screenings of new videos, and put together SME thank-you gifts.

If you’re interested in learning more about identifying a SME team or planning out your subject matter expert roles and responsibilities, reach out! We have years of experience building world-class programs, and we’d love to help.

How Much Does Custom Training Cost? It Depends!

So, you’ve decided off-the-shelf training no longer meets your company’s needs. Maybe you need to teach your employees about a complex system or product, or maybe you have specific customer service behaviors you need to demonstrate. Or, maybe it’s time for your training to match your company culture. In each of these examples, custom training solutions are definitely the right move. So, how much does custom training cost?

Well, it depends!

Something that’s custom-built for you rarely comes with a standard price tag. It all depends on what you want and need.

It’s a bit like remodeling a kitchen.

Let’s say you want new floors, appliances, cabinets, and countertops. When you ask the contractor for an estimate, two things probably happen next:

  • The contractor doesn’t give you an exact figure right away.
  • Instead, he or she asks you a few more questions.

While this might slow you down in the short-term, it’s a sign the contractor cares about your vision. After all, there are countless options for customization. Do you want tile floors? Linoleum? Do you need top-of-the-line appliances? What type of wood do you want for the cabinets? Are you interested in granite counter tops?

When you talk with a custom training partner, it’s no different, and if you can bring some key specs to the table, the process doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Use the framework outlined below to break down your vision and get an accurate custom training estimate.

IDENTIFY SPECIFICS

To get a better idea of how much your custom training project may cost, start thinking about the specifics. A custom training partner will ask you questions like this:

  1. How many topics do you need to cover? Will you focus on just a few topics, or do you need to create an entirely new program?
  2. Are you teaching knowledge, skills, or behaviors? If you’re teaching knowledge, a self-paced format could be the right approach. If you want learners to build new skills, they need a way to practice and get feedback. If you’re changing behaviors, your strategy will need a leadership component.
  3. How complex is the subject matter? Some custom training projects require more up-front analysis than others. Do you need a quick, fun hype video to encourage participation, or do you need to train employees on a highly complex product or system?
  4. What’s the right level of fidelity? Not all videos can be shot on an iPhone or a GoPro. Sometimes you need a full production crew, equipment rentals, and professional actors. Think about the ROI you’re after, and invest your dollars in your most high-impact content. The right training partner can produce a polished, exciting video that has that wow factor.
  5. How evergreen will the training be? Is this project “one and done,” or will it require ongoing maintenance? And, who do you want to be responsible for the maintenance–your internal training team or your training partner?
  6. What interactivity will you include? Should your content be highly interactive and immersive–with simulations, games, or even virtual reality? The more interactive the content, the more you’ll want to budget.

Consider Different Modalities

A major driver of cost is the modality–or training format–you’re interested in. In most cases, the subject matter will determine the best modality.

Make sure your training partner has a reputation for making helpful, strategic recommendations about your options. Here are some thought-starters you can use to identify benefits and costs of different modalities:

FACILITATED training

  • What type of seat time do you envision? A few hours? Two days? Three weeks?
  • Will the training be facilitated in-person or virtually?
  • Will you need any videos to support your facilitated content?
  • Do you need any quiz or assessment content to confirm learning?
  • Will pre-work and/or refresher training be part of your strategy?

eLearning

  • Are you interested in using any live action video content or animation in your eLearning modules?
  • Does your LMS support the type of eLearning experience you want?

Animation

  • Are you planning any systems training that requires a screencast?
  • Do you prefer a simple animation style, or something higher-fidelity like 3D?

Live action video

  • Do you have a general sense of the video length you’re interested in?
  • Would you rather use professional actors or your own employees?
  • Do you need to shoot the video in a specific location?

Custom training is personalized, engaging, and it gets results. In the end, the up-front time you spend to find the right custom training partner and articulate your vision will pay off.

It’s just like any great home improvement project. You have countless options, but the right contractor can turn your dream into a reality–and help you budget along the way.

So, how much does custom training cost? It depends! Use our framework to identify some specifics, then work with your training partner to choose the best modality and put together an estimate.