Entries by Ryan

Looking for Compliance Training?

Uncanny Owl can help! Compliance training is one of the highest-growth areas of workplace training and it increasingly needs to be about more than just checking off boxes. With a recent survey finding that the frequency of compliance communications increased by 51%, and PwC reporting more scrutiny by regulators and auditors of program effectiveness, compliance training is on every company’s radar. Our new overview of compliance training outlines some of the reasons that elearning solutions by Uncanny Owl are a great way to deliver elearning programs that reduce risk, costs and instances of non-compliance. More than just an easier way to track compliance training completion, our elearning programs let companies track performance trends and behaviours changes. They’re also fun and interactive! To find out more about how we can help with your compliance training, tell us about your project.

What BYOD Means for eLearning

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies are quickly gaining enterprise support and many elearning programs aren’t ready. In the past, elearning professionals could design and test for a handful of devices and be confident that their materials would work. That’s all changing. A 2013 Cisco study revealed that 9 in 10 Americans currently use their phones for work purposes, and 62% of companies planned to support BYOD officially by the end of 2013. In a recent article on eLearning Industry, I reflected on the effect BYOD will have on elearning. Design and testing will require significantly more attention, and testing tools like Sauce Labs and eLearningQA may soon become part of the elearning professional’s arsenal. Mobile and HTML5 will also figure heavily into BYOD elearning strategies. To find out more, check out the full article .

First eLearning Project? Start Here

A lot of our website visitors come from Google and are looking into elearning for the first time. I’m sure it’s the same for many elearning companies; new clients find you because they need web-based training, but they don’t necessarily know what’s involved or how projects work. We really want people to know we’re a trusted partner that’s looking out for their best interests, so we decided to put together some guidance to help businesses tackle their first elearning projects. To help businesses, Uncanny Owl now offers a free 7-day email course to introduce businesses to elearning projects. We don’t want to mislead businesses or sell services that don’t add significant value, so the email program we created is simply to help businesses make informed choices, whether it’s with us or with someone else. We cover whether or not elearning is the right choice, how to prepare for elearning, how to promote success, how to choose a vendor, how to manage implementations and how to measure outcomes. If you’re a business interested in elearning, sign up below to learn more about elearning projects! If you’re another vendor reading this blog and want to create something similar, we’re happy to provide […]

Pitching eLearning to Small Businesses

I’m still new to elearning consulting and marketing my business. My partner and I have a really broad set of skills, so we started off by saying we did “everything”, which of course meant that nobody knew what Uncanny Owl did. Worse, our networks aren’t that big (I was at the same company for 9 years) and we quickly discovered that all of the big corporate projects we could do in our sleep weren’t interested in an unknown company with a small team. Forget Google; they only found companies through word of mouth and existing relationships. Of course, even though we knew that, we continued to pitch to the big companies in big company language because that’s all we knew. That changed a few days ago. I went to my first networking workshop hosted by our regional chamber of commerce. My original plan was to make an appearance and find out what they do, knowing that there are very few big companies in the region and even fewer doing elearning. How much benefit could there really be in talking to small business owners? So I started the morning talking about what I thought I did (“I create online training for […]

Improving eLearning Usability

What makes people want to use your elearning? How do you remove barriers to learning and make your programs accessible? I recently examined these and other questions in an article on elearning usability published by trainingindustry.com. It’s available online at http://www.trainingindustry.com/learning-technologies/articles/improving-e-learning-usability.aspx. It isn’t hard (or expensive) to make your elearning easy to use and engaging, but it is something that needs to be planned. Good elearning should consider the quality of the learning, the quality of teaching, the quality of the learning environment and the quality of interaction. If you create elearning that’s strong in all of those areas and is relevant, learners will get more out of it. Your learner’s time is valuable and should be spent learning the subject matter, not your system. Testing for usability issues in elearning should also be on every learning professional’s radar. This is not something you and your team can do yourselves; you’re too close to the project, as are your other key stakeholders. Get testers who are representative of the audience, plan your testing, and make sure you observe rather than coach. For professional help with elearning usability testing, take a look at eLearningQA.com.

Introducing eLearningQA

At Uncanny Owl, we like to experiment with new product ideas. Our latest is a service called eLearningQA and it’s targeted at elearning professionals. In our experience, many elearning companies and designers don’t have a strong grasp of testing. Learners are rarely (or superficially) involved in the development process, even though their use of the elearning ultimately determines a project’s success of failure. Moreover, elearning professionals typically do technical testing themselves using platforms and devices that don’t necessarily reflect what their audiences are doing. With the rise of Bring Your Own Device environments, mobile learning and bigger audiences, robust testing is becoming even more important. Unfortunately, many companies don’t have the tools or expertise to perform testing themselves. We created eLearningQA to try to address that gap. It focuses on 4 testing areas to improve elearning programs: usability testing (is it easy for the audience to use?), cross-platform testing (does it work for everyone?), load testing (will our LMS go down when the launch email goes out?) and expert feedback (is it actually a good program?). Most elearning companies can’t do these things themselves, especially with objectivity. They may not have the tools or people to perform neutral usability testing, […]

Introducing torontoelearning.com

We’ve decided to try our hand at connecting Toronto’s elearning community and local businesses. We’re not the first, but we are the first that isn’t either national, behind a paywall or out of date. Torontoelearning.com is a community site where anyone interested in elearning can  share and connect. On the business side, there’s a vendor directory and boards for elearning jobs and projects. On the social side, there’s a calendar with Toronto’s latest elearning events and a news feed that captures everything Toronto’s elearning pros are saying in one location. Everything is completely free and there are no ads. We created the site as a networking experiment, not a source of income. If you’re an elearning provider, we hope you’ll drop by and submit (or claim) your business profile. While you’re there, check out the postings and submit your social news URLs to info@torontoelearning.com. We’ll make sure they’re included in our consolidated Toronto elearning feed! If you’re a business, check out Toronto’s rich selection of elearning providers. Post your jobs and projects to connect with the region’s experts! If you’re a student, check out the discussion to learn more about the industry and what’s happening in Toronto. And if you […]

Cloud LMS Security

Thinking about using a cloud LMS? They’re convenient, easy to maintain and scalable. But how safe are they? I recently wrote an article for eLearning Industry about the security practices of cloud LMS vendors. What I found wasn’t particularly reassuring. With few exceptions, cloud LMS providers don’t perform security audits, they don’t deliver your data over secure connections exclusively and they store all of your personal and learner data (except passwords) in plain text. Using a cloud LMS product carries additional risk if you care about where your data is stored. One of our recent projects included a requirement that data not be stored in the U.S. Since all cloud LMS providers seem to host in the U.S., we couldn’t use any of them! Moreover, most providers use Content Delivery Networks to provide a better experience, which means they use servers close to your users to deliver your courseware and, as a result, your learning is potentially stored in dozens of countries. When you’re shopping for a cloud LMS solution, make sure you do your homework and ask lots of questions. Are their security practices aligned with your expectations? Your clients trust you with their information; make sure you can […]

For Discussion: eLearning Pre-Launch Testing

I need your help. I’m trying to get an idea of what elearning professionals are doing with regard to prelaunch testing. More companies are adopting Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) environments and making their learning more accessible, some by using cloud LM S products rather than hiding their learning behind firewalls and gateways that make learning painful. This should mean that learning is more vulnerable technically, since it’s harder to deliver the same experience across platforms and external servers can’t be as tightly controlled. But is it a problem? Are companies running into more technicals problems when launching to large audiences? I’ve never seen a big interest in (or budget for) significant technical testing of learning products. Developers might click around from a few browsers, or recruit a handful of users to test, but it’s hardly realistic when it’s a small group of testers (and platforms) doing manual testing. Moreover, with the increase in HTML5 over Flash for rich elearning output, layout and rendering issues should be on the rise because each browser handles things a bit differently. Tell me about your experiences and expectations in the comments. Does elearning need more performance and compatibility testing? How are you working […]

Free Tools for Learning & Training Professionals

If you work in training, make sure you check out the free tools posted on our Free Learning Tools page. No-one should have to waste time creating common tools, so we did the work and made a few of the forms we use available to everyone. They’re all posted as Microsoft Word files, so you’re welcome to do whatever you want with them. You even have our blessing to remove the Uncanny Owl branding! Our Evaluation Form for In-Class Courses helps trainers assess Level 1 learning for programs delivered in the classroom. It can be quickly adapted to captured feedback on course content and the facilitator from your audience. The Evaluation Form for Online Course captures reaction scores for training developed online. This can be used for capturing feedback on course content and the approach to elearning. Our Venue Selection Form helps people choose the best location for hosting training sessions. With this form you’ll never have to worry about overlooking an important selection detail or having insufficient data to back up your venue choices. Right now we have 3 forms available but we expect to add more in the near future. We hope you find them useful!