What is an LMS?

If content is King, then the Queen is your Learning Management System (LMS). Without a robust Queen, your King is essentially inaccessible and powerless. An LMS is the gatekeeper to all that good content your team has built or wants to build. So what is an LMS, and what can it do for your company?

An LMS is a technological platform to aid in the training and development of a business team. With features like anytime, anywhere training access, LMSs have become the standard in good training and development for sales teams the world over.

They allow companies to track and manage key aspects of training, such as identifying areas of weakness and funneling just-in-time information to those in the field.

Though every LMS has different features, they universally have a space where business teams can access course content, take quizzes, and track a team member’s educational journey. So with the ubiquity of LMSs, how do you determine what you need?

 

Determining What You Need from an LMS

The biggest decision you can make in training is determining how that training will be delivered. LMSs offer you the option of anytime, anywhere course access, which is critical for on-the-go sales teams. Figuring this out is simple. What’s not simple is being confronted with all the bells and whistles of various LMSs and not knowing what you really need. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you determine what will be most useful to your team:

1. Look at your business goals. That’s right, every aspect of your training should roll up to your business goals, and that includes what features you have in your LMS. If your LMS isn’t collecting the data you need to track whether your team is meeting goals, then it’s not fulfilling your mission. In fact, it’ll feel like your LMS is consistently coming up short because it is.

2. Look at your training needs. Who will you be training? How many people will be training? What departments? Will you be primarily focusing on in-person training, and using the LMS platform for testing and sustainment? Will all learning go through the LMS? Are there webinar components to be tracked? Will you track attendance, quiz grades, and pass/fail rates? There’s a lot to consider. If you answer these questions up front, your search will be laser focused.

3. Examine the features of various LMSs. That’s right, take a good, long look at the different features of various LMSs like Spoke. You will find nuances in how quizzes can be scored, reporting features, and in pricing. Align your training needs with the features of the LMS you ultimately choose, so you can maximize your company’s training efforts.

4. Consider customer service. If you’re looking for a platform that will be managed outside your company, you need to strongly consider customer service. There is nothing more frustrating than when you need help meeting a reporting deadline, and the hosting service is unavailable or slow to respond. We recommend being diligent and reading service reviews for each LMS service you are considering.

 

Meet Spoke®, the social LMS that makes training easy.

Everything you need, nothing you don’t.

Key Features

Using your business needs to guide you is important. There are some key features that we here at Unboxed feel are non-negotiables. Look for these features to set your team up for success:

1. Easy interface. If your team can’t quickly and easily find training, they will get discouraged. It’s often a challenge to find the time in our busy lives to take training, so make sure the LMS you choose makes sense, has a clean and simple user interface, and has clear instructions just in case a team member gets stuck.

2. Opportunities for social learning. Our brains are built for social interaction, hence why Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram permeate our lives. An LMS that doesn’t have social learning may not be able to meet the emotional needs of your learners and therefore could be less effective than an LMS like Spoke that builds in social learning.

3. We know you take your work seriously, and so do we. That’s why gamification can be important. Allowing learning to function more like a game, means that you have higher rates of engagement among your team members, and they learn the material better.

4. Robust data reporting. Data should be collected at the individual, the class, and the company level to get a snapshot of whether you are meeting your goals. For this reason, you should thoughtfully consider what you want from your data reporting allowing your company goals to drive what data you ask for from the LMS.

We know choosing an LMS is a big deal, that’s why we are here to help you discuss options. Finding the sweet spot for your team is a challenge, but we believe we can help you meet that challenge. Finding the right balance for your team is what it’s all about, and the right LMS can be the keys to your company’s learning kingdom.

Contact us now to learn more about Spoke and how Unboxed Training & Technology can help you meet your business goals for 2019 and beyond.

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Spoke LMS: The 9-Time Winner

We’re proud to announce The Craig Weiss Group has named Unboxed’s Spoke LMS as the #1 LMS for Consumer Goods for 2019, #5 in their Top Nine LMSs for the United States. And the #11 LMS in 2019. The Craig Weiss Group continuously monitors the training marketplace for the best providers and services, and we are pleased to receive such an honor.

read more

What is an LMS?

An LMS is a technological platform to aid in the training and development of a business team. With features like anytime, anywhere training access, LMSs have become the standard in good training and development for sales teams the world over.

read more

Galileo Maintains Renowned Culture While Moving Training from In-Person to Online with Spoke®

Since 2002, Galileo relied on a two-day, in-person training session to prep their counselors for the coming camp season. But as their team grew to 2,000 plus members, so did the tactical challenges. After trying another industry-leading LMS, Galileo realized they needed a partner who also practiced and supported innovation to support their dynamic learning and teaching environment.


Backstory

Galileo logoGalileo Learning is a summer day-camp provider that offers children pre-K through 8th-grade confidence-building challenges and one-of-a-kind summer fun at over 70 locations in the Bay area, SoCal, and Chicagoland. Their mission: to develop innovators who envision and create a better world.

The curriculum is hands-on, iterative, and designed to reinforce the mindset, knowledge, and process needed to innovate in the modern world. In pre-K, campers may build a functional catapult or design their own space vehicle, all with simple materials. By 8th grade, they may program their own video game, design a fashion line, or build something entirely of their own invention.

“Something powerful happens at Galileo that doesn’t happen at other camps. Kids have fun, but they’re also encouraged to explore and fail without fear, which is the essence of innovation,” says Tom Bowen, Galileo’s Director of Professional Development & Training and Director of Technology.

Opportunity

Only the most talented instructors, counselors, and interns are trained to facilitate Galileo’s innovation approach. Since 2002, they had relied on an all-hands in-person training model of up to 2-days to impart new methodologies and curriculum, exchange experiences and ideas, and strengthen the vision and relationships that facilitate their mission.

Galileo Spoke News Post

The yearly meeting was enjoyed and cherished, especially by returning staff, but as Galileo grew to over 2,000 counselors, so did the tactical challenges. Aside from the time and travel costs, the lectures and break-out sessions had so many attendees that it was difficult to ensure that each trainee’s learning objectives were being met. And, while memories of conference camaraderie lingered, once camp was in session, there was no easy way to revisit key points and best practices covered in training.

“We needed a modern solution that could help us move our training from in-person to online without losing the incredible culture we’re known for. We also needed a way for counselors to access role-based content and answers to their questions on demand. We were concerned a traditional learning management system couldn’t deliver what we needed. I guess we wanted the best of both worlds: the convenience of an online community and an immersive cultural experience – a tall order, ” Tom explained.

“We needed a modern solution that could help us move our training from in-person to online without losing the incredible culture we’re known for. We were concerned a traditional learning management system couldn’t deliver what we needed.

After trying another industry-leading LMS, Galileo soon realized they needed more than “bells and whistles” to support their dynamic learning and teaching environment. They needed a partner who also practiced and supported innovation.

Partnership

Wiser and more determined than ever, Galileo connected with the Unboxed team and soon became convinced that Spoke, Unboxed’s collaborative and social learning management system, met their criteria.

Members of Unboxed’s Spoke team met with the Galileo team to identify and prioritize their goals – and to address obstacles to adoption. For example, the returning group of counselors was a little anxious about losing the connections they made at the annual conference. It was a powerful bonding experience that they were hesitant to give up for an online application.

The Unboxed and Galileo teams partnered together to work towards the solution: relevant content and connections could be developed and accessed on Spoke Community; while the more interactive and improvisational training exercises would be held in-person at each location’s discretion.

Galileo Spoke Training

And to “hook” the skeptics who were missing the action and excitement of the annual get-together, Unboxed recommended tapping into Spoke’s gamification features like Spoke coins, badges, levels, and a competitive leaderboard to spark competition and keep learners motivated.

“It was the perfect solution. And even though we bombarded the Unboxed team with new information and questions as we learned more about Spoke’s capabilities, they were always patient, professional, and as excited as we were. I soon discovered that was typical of the “white glove” service Unboxed delivered.”

“[Spoke] was the perfect solution. And even though we bombarded the Unboxed team with new information and questions as we learned more about Spoke’s capabilities, they were always patient, professional, and as excited as we were. I soon discovered that was typical of the “white glove” service Unboxed delivered.”

Solution

Galileo realized that making gamification the launching pad for Spoke was a stroke of genius. Plus, Spoke’s simple and modern user interface made it easy to navigate and explore all the content, news, eLearning, videos, classroom training, job aids, etc.—all in one place.

Galileo Spoke Devices Lockup

But the real magic happened in the Spoke Community. For the first time, it was easy to connect with and learn from one’s peers, from SoCal to Chicagoland. Now, if a new instructor wanted her kids to build a go-cart and had no idea how to design the steering column, she could simply search or ask for help on Spoke and advice would come in from across the Galileo ecosphere.

Spoke not only facilitated the exchange of knowledge, it created friendships and strengthened the culture. Soon Spoke was no longer viewed as a “second-best” substitute for in-person training, but rather an enhancement and extension that could grow and change with the culture.

Results

For Galileo, it was always important to measure counselor acculturation and training progress, so they appreciated Spoke’s ability to provide metrics and insights into areas like course performance, social participation, and counselor engagement.

Galileo Spoke Dashboard

The benefits of Spoke were almost immediate. Everyone loved the gamification and social elements, and that provided the “gateway” to more logins, higher engagement and, eventually, more training completed.

“We were super excited when Spoke revealed a 15-20% increase in new staff engagement. And while Spoke was busiest before camp started, with staffers completing on average 54 courses each, counselors continued to log in and benefit from Spoke during camp sessions (8.6 per user on average).”

“Honestly, we couldn’t imagine working with a better partner than Unboxed. The entire team consistently has our back. We have a partnership where we have the opportunity to influence the product, and that feels really good as a customer.”

“Honestly, we couldn’t imagine working with a better partner than Unboxed. The entire team consistently has our back. We have a partnership where we have the opportunity to influence the product, and that feels really good as a customer.”

Learn more about Spoke and Galileo Learning.

 

Social Learning Tools: Debunking the Myths

Social media might be a modern invention, but social learning certainly isn’t.

For almost 100 years now, educational theorists have recognized social learning’s power to extend and reinforce traditional learning methods.

Put simply, social learning is the modern day water cooler – or the modern breakroom where employees share on-the-job knowledge and creative solutions.

As our employees are increasingly spread across multiple cities or are working remotely, social learning is becoming even more important to company culture. According to the 6th Annual Learning in the Workplace study, 93% of employees ranked “on-the-job experience” as essential to how they learn, followed closely by social learning at 90%.

And, in a smaller study on top-requested LMS features by employees, 24% self-reported a desire for discussion boards on their LMS, while 23% also wanted the option to upload and share content with their peers. That’s roughly 50% of learners asking us for social learning tools to extend their formal learning!

So, if social learning is so desirable, why are some companies reluctant to adopt social learning tools into their organizational culture?

social learning tools - debunking the myths

The Biggest Barrier to Social Learning

Remarkably, the Masie Learning Consortium has discovered the number one barrier to social adoption is organizational culture. If you’ve been around the corporate training world for while, this probably doesn’t surprise you. It can be difficult to sell the value of social learning up the ladder.

And let’s be honest: most LMS’s social learning functions have been subpar for a long time, hampered by bad user interfaces that make good, helpful content hard to find. But that’s not the case anymore. Modern LMS platforms with social learning tools, like Spoke, make it incredibly easy for both moderators and learners.

So, in the spirit of dispelling myths, here are four common misconceptions and fears we hear from training professionals about social learning – and why there’s no need to be afraid anymore.

Social Learning Drives Formal Learning

Misconception:

“Our eLearning and ILT courses are really effective, so we don’t need social learning.”

Reality:

Informal learning tools extend and reinforce formal learning experiences.

Remember the old Cone of Experience model? It states that people remember 10% of what they hear, 20% of what they see, and so on. If your training still relies on the Cone of Experience, then it’s definitely time to explore a new model.

The truth is, we know that “chunking” information into bite-sized courses increases retention rate and that this mode of formal micro-learning has to be reinforced with informal learning practices, like social learning.

In Chip and Dan Heath’s Made To Stick, they refer to this as “talking shop,” or sharing personal workplace experiences. In marketing or training terms, we call this storytelling. People love to share experiences, and when we encourage those conversations, they result in greater learning.

Here’s how Jeff Cobb explains it in Leading the Learning Revolution:

“As much as 80% of our learning happens in an informal manner, and a great deal of it is based on our interactions with other people. Why does it matter? It is very often in the context of this 80% that we make decisions about more formal learning opportunities. If you are not there, not engaged, not providing value, then the chances that a prospect will come to see you or your organization as the source to go to for more formal, paid learning experiences diminishes dramatically.”

In other words, our informal learning experiences drive our desire to seek out further formal learning content in our organizations. When we don’t provide social learning tools, our learners seek out ways to connect elsewhere.

If it’s my money, I’d rather provide social learning tools to my teams, watch them flourish, and then analyze the discussion to learn how I can provide better training experiences.

Moderating Social Learning Tools

Misconception:

“I don’t have time to moderate discussion boards and police wrong answers or bad behavior.”

Reality:

It’s easy to designate moderators and enable safe content filters.

Good leaders all have one skill in common: they know how to delegate.

Moderating each and every social interaction in your LMS shouldn’t be your sole responsibility (even if you are a one-person army). And, with a social learning LMS like Spoke, features like moderators and profanity filters means it doesn’t have to be.

As a training strategist, I always recommend identifying influential subject-matter experts (SMEs) and designating them as your social community moderators. Here’s how you can do it.

First, like your favorite social media platforms, Spoke calculates how engaging posts are to your audience, and how many people have found the post content helpful. This makes identifying your company’s top influencers easy, and you can always see who’s at the top of the list (check out the screenshot below).

social learning tools - top influencers leaderboard

Next, identify the right top influencers and key SMEs for each training topic and give them moderator permission in the LMS. Spoke allows you to designate moderator permissions without giving people full-admin access, so you never have to worry about too many cooks in the proverbial kitchen.

And finally, if you’re worried about profanity or illicit content, both you and your moderators can enable the safe content filter to give that extra peace of mind.

Moderators can also deprioritize discussions they don’t want to trend, or if needed, they can turn off commenting functions for individual posts. On Spoke, we also ask every user to agree to community guidelines when they first join the platform, which reduces the risk of unwanted behaviors.

Finding The Right Answer is Easy

Misconception:

“It’s impossible to find good answers to topics, because they’re buried in old discussion threads.”

Reality:

Global search and linking news stories to courses and discussion topics make content super easy to find.

If you’ve spent time comparing LMS platforms, you know many of them boast social learning tool suites, but it’s little more than a text-heavy, hard-to-navigate message board. A truly modern social learning LMS extends and reinforces training by building “deep hooks” into formal content and elevating the learning experience.

To develop these deep hooks, you need a platform that allows you to create what we call horizontal link structures between content.

For example, in Spoke, it’s easy for a manager to post a news update announcing new sales packages and include a link to relevant course content or discussion threads. This moves learners seamlessly between news, course, and discussion content, eliminating the old problem of “siloed content.”

To make discussion posts easy to navigate, Spoke’s interface replicates well-known social media user experiences by building threaded conversations to keep everything all in one place. Users can also upload their own image and video content to a post for things like practicing a sales pitch or showing how you properly executed your planogram.

And, the cherry on top? We added a sorting function so you can search discussions by trending topics, and a search function so you can look up a topic like “retention” and see the most relevant discussions across the company.

Social Learning Tools with global search

And finally, for all the techies in the room, Spoke uses an advanced algorithm that calculates engagement, recognizes top influencers, and looks at up-votes to display the content that is most relevant to your learners.

If you want to see all these tools in action, check out our short, two-minute introduction to Spoke Community.

Social Learning Tools vs. Enterprise Social Networks

Misconception:

“We already have Slack, so we don’t need social learning features in our LMS.”

Reality:

Using enterprise social networks (ESN) for learning creates confusion about where to find the right answers.

If you’re already using an ESN like Slack or HipChat, then you know it’s a great workaround for quick, internal email. But there’s a two-fold problem with relying on ESNs to solve your training department’s social learning problem.

First, humans are not naturally great at organization or communication. Shocking, I know!

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), simple miscommunications cost small business around $42,000 a year, and up to $62 million a year for enterprise companies. ESNs were supposed to solve the problem of getting too many internal emails, but they simply added another communication channel into our work stream that actually makes finding answers even harder to do.

Now, instead of using ESNs as a silver bullet to solve our communication woes, companies are facing the single source of truth problem. Increased communication channels mean increased confusion.

Is that Excel file pinned to my Slack channel, or did I email it to our group chain?

Did Maryanne post that troubleshooting solve in the LMS or in our technician’s group channel? 

To solve this, drive users to a single source of truth for answers to their questions – and what better place to send users looking for answers than to your LMS?

When you migrate informal learning to your LMS, you increase your week-over-week login rate, which means you drive new workplace behaviors for your learners. And as we all know, creating behavioral change is the road to true personal growth.

Time To Get Social!

Let me end with a short story.

In 2010, employees at a major, global retailer asked the management team if they could start a local Facebook group to share sales tips, connect with co-workers, and coordinate shift swaps. The official response was that social media groups were against corporate policy. So what happened? The employees started their own Facebook groups and the management was never invited.

The moral of the story is, when your employees are asking for social learning tools, figure out the best solution and give them what they’re asking for, or, run the risk of them developing an informal system of learning on their own.

Get started creating a robust culture of social learning today, because informal learning is a critical component in delivering true behavioral change in the workplace.

Take a look at Spoke or schedule a demo, and come see what a truly modern social learning platform can do for your organizational culture!

Spoke Wins Two 2017 Brandon Hall Group Excellence Awards

We’re thrilled to announce Spoke, our next-generation social LMS, won two highly-coveted 2017 Brandon Hall Group Excellence Awards in Technology, including:

  • Gold for Best Advance in Rewards and Recognition Technology, and
  • Bronze for Best Advance in Learning Management Technology.

Brandon Hall awards

The awards recognize two innovative features we added to Spoke in 2017 – Spoke News and Spoke Rewards.

Enterprise organizations using Spoke have measured a 5X increase in training completion and a 2.5X increase in non-required activity since introducing these two new features.

Spoke News

Spoke News helps training leaders improve the execution of training initiatives by using targeted and engaging news articles, notifications, and email newsletters to announce new training content, share company updates, and keep their teams in the know.

Spoke-new-homepage

Spoke Rewards

Spoke Rewards allows employees to earn and redeem Spoke Coins for real-world rewards for completing their assigned training.

Brian Leach“We’re thrilled to add these awards to our growing trophy case,” said Brian Leach, Unboxed’s CEO. “Brandon Hall has long been viewed as the industry experts when it comes to researching the human capital management space, and it’s exciting to receive their recognition for the success our clients are experiencing using our innovative training and technology.”

“Brandon Hall has long been viewed as the industry experts when it comes to researching the human capital management space, and it’s exciting to receive their recognition for the success our clients are experiencing using our innovative training and technology.”

“Human capital management is evolving faster than at any time in its history, and it is powered by innovative technology developed and implemented by organizations big and small,” said Rachel Cooke, Chief Operating Officer of Brandon Hall Group and head of the awards program. “The technology innovators who won Excellence Awards this year were focused on providing users with a better overall experience. That is what our research says employers want, and our award winners are leading the way.”

Mike Cooke, Chief Executive Officer of Brandon Hall Group, said, “Our technology award winners are truly outstanding and set a high bar for others. We have learned a great deal from what they have accomplished. The awards programs supplement our quantitative research in providing our team with unique insights to share with our members and clients.”

A panel of veteran, independent senior industry experts, and Brandon Hall Group senior analysts and executives evaluated award entries based upon the following criteria:

  • Product: What was the product’s breakthrough innovation?
  • Unique differentiators: What makes the product unique and how does it differ from any competing products?
  • Value proposition: What problem does the product solve and/or what need does this product address?
  • Measurable results: What are the benefits customers can expect to experience as a result of using this product?

Meet Spoke

Want to get a personal tour of Spoke News, Spoke Rewards, and everything else that makes Spoke a next-generation LMS, reach out!

About Brandon Hall Group, Inc.

With more than 10,000 clients globally and 25 years of delivering world class research and advisory services, Brandon Hall Group is the most well-known and established research organization in the performance improvement industry. We conduct research that drives performance, and provides strategic insights for executives and practitioners responsible for growth and business results.

Brandon Hall Group has an extensive repository of thought leadership, research and expertise in Learning and Development, Talent Management, Leadership Development, Talent Acquisition and Human Resources. At the core of our offerings is a Membership Program that Empowers Excellence Through Content, Collaboration and Community. Our members have access to research that helps them make the right decisions about people, processes, and systems, combined with research-powered advisory services customized to their needs.

Training Industry Names Spoke® to Its 2017 LMS Watch List

2017-Training-Industry-Watch-List-Learning-Portal-LMS

We’re proud to announce Training Industry has named Unboxed’s Spoke® to its 2017 Learning Portal Companies Watch List. Training Industry continuously monitors the training marketplace for the best providers and services, and we’re honored to be considered one of the best.

According to Training Industry, the 2017 Learning Portal Companies Watch List is intended to help buyers of training services evaluate learning portal providers, representing emerging or unique strengths or capabilities.

Spoke has also received numerous awards and recognition over the past few years for its modern, intuitive user interface and social, blended learning capabilities. They include:

  • 2017 Top 50 LMS, The Craig Weiss Group
  • 2016 Top 50 LMS, eLearning 24/7
    • #2, Gamification
    • #3, Social Learning
  • 2015 Top 50 LMS, eLearning 24/7
    • #5, Social Learning
    • #8, Next-Gen LMS

Recently, Spoke was also part of the blended learning strategy that won Spoke client Ultraceuticals a 2017 Platinum LearnX Award.

Spoke Account Manager Kiersten Hoffman said:

It’s so exciting to see Spoke recognized. Our learning strategists, software engineers, and UI/UX designers work so hard to push the envelope and innovate continuously. It’s nice to see that hard work pay off!

“The companies selected for this year’s 2017 Learning Portal/LMS Companies Watch List are up-and-coming organizations making great strides in support of learning technologies,” said Lea Johnson, market research manager at Training Industry, Inc. “Through their work, organizations are able to create customized portals and learning systems for their employees to drive engagement and information retention.”

We want to thank our clients, who provide user feedback that helps us continually improve our Spoke platform; and our hardworking Unboxed team members, who continue to raise the bar.

 

About Training Industry, INC.

Training Industry serves as an expert resource for learning professionals seeking information about best practices and innovative approaches and create an environment for trust and information sharing among learning professionals, including those in the learning and development function, and experts from companies serving the training industry.

About SPOKE®

 

Spoke is the modern social learning management system that connects training, communication, collaboration, and gamification to help you train, engage, and reward your teams. To learn more, visit our Spoke LMS page or request a demo.