Friday, July 22, 2011

Interview with webcast superstar James Hillyard

We recently interviewed webcast superstar, James Hillyard, to find out more about his experiences in the virtual classroom realm. We thought you'd enjoy some of his thoughts.

Question: What were some of the craziest experiences you've had while conducting webinars?

One time the host of a webinar got his time zones mixed up and found himself in an airport at the time the class was going to start.  He snuck into an airport lounge (to which he didn't belong) to get an internet connection and he began the session. After about 10 minutes the airport security found him and manhandled him out of the lounge, much to the dismay of the webinar participants.

Another time an executive at a Fortune 50 company blew off all of the preparation calls to teach him how to run the webinar software -- telling his staff he knew what he was doing. During the webinar he missed his cues, forgot to activate polls, and became very flustered rushing through his slides. After handing over the controls to the moderator (James), the executive thought he put his phone on mute, instead he put it on speaker-phone and started yelling at his assistant for a full 45 seconds. "Why didn't you ever teach me how to do this," he bellowed! James had to try and speak over him because he didn't have the ability to mute him out.

Question: What do you are think the top best practices when it comes to webinars?

1) Practice...out loud. It will take longer that just reading the slides to yourself, but it gives you a better opportunity to hear yourself present.
2) Practice...with the technology. It's important to understand the technology at more than a superficial level.  When something goes wrong, and it probably will, you need to know what to do in an instant.
3) Deliver what you promise. If you are going to give a sales pitch, that's fine. Just make sure the attendees are expecting it.  If you promote that you'll have Q&A at the end, be sure to leave enough time to do so. People aren't that forgiving -- especially if you waste their time.
4) Don't read every bullet point in your presentation. People are educated and know how to read. Even more important is to give them something to look at in place of a lot of bullet points. Bullets have their place, but it gets really boring if that's all you have.
5) Be sure to turn off all instant messages and other applications that may pop up on the screen. You don't want an embarrassing or career-limiting message to appear inadvertently for the whole audience to read.

A bit about James:
James is the founder and president of Hilly Productions. He began covering the latest technology trends and business developments as a reporter in 1999 with ZDTV, then to CNET and ultimately at top broadcast news and talk radio station in the San Francisco area.
Since 2005 James has hosted/moderated 1000 plus virtual events and Hilly Productions has become a trusted partner for companies such as AT&T, Oracle, Sophos, Intel, McAfee, CBSi and PC Connection.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Why are some organizations so slow to adopt elearning? (Part 3 of 3)

In part 1 of this three part series we asked, "why are some organizations so slow to adopt elearning?" 

In part 2 we will look at why some ARE making the move, in this last post we will share some recent market research supporting the adoption of elearning.
  • U.S. Corporate E-Learning Market to reach $69 Billion in 2015 (Research & Markets Global E-learning Study)
  • e-Learning unseats ILT as Top Training Method in 2009 (IDC Research, Bersin & Associates Corporate Factbook 2009) "In just one year, from 2008 to 2009, the use of virtual classrooms increased from 45 percent to 60 percent, making these tools the most widely adopted learning technology...Although ILT remains the dominant delivery method, its use declined from 67 percent of training hours in 2008 to 60 percent in 2009."
  • According to ASTD’S “State of the Industry Report, 2009,” even in a recession year, online learning still accounted for a third of all learning. (ASTD State of The Industry Report, 2009.)
  • The 2010 Sloan Survey of Online Learning reveals that enrollment rose by almost one million students from a year earlier. The survey of more than 2,500 colleges and universities nationwide finds approximately 5.6 million students were enrolled in at least one online course in fall 2009, the most recent term for which figures are available.
    Nearly 30% of all college and university students now take at least one course online. Almost two-thirds of for-profit institutions now say that online learning is a critical part of their long term strategy. The 21%growth rate for online enrollments far exceeds the 2% growth in the overall higher education student population.
  • The U.S. Department of Education, in a 2009 report, estimated that more than one million students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 were enrolled in online courses in 2007, and a study by “Project Tomorrow” found that the number of high school students taking an online class nearly doubled from 2008-2009. Importantly, studies show that online instruction is at least as effective – and often more so – than the traditional face-to-face interaction of teachers and students contained in a single classroom in a physical school. 
 These are just a few of the studies showing that while ILT is still here to stay for a while, elearning in all its forms is slowly gaining ground. In light of all this persuasive data and obvious trends, why are companies so slow to adopt elearning? Well, that is a question for you to ask your employer. All we know is that those companies that have aggressively embraced elearning have seen immediate results. Maybe your company will be next.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Why are some organizations so slow to adopt elearning? (Part 2 of 3)

In part 1 of this three part series we asked, "why are some organizations so slow to adopt elearning?" 

In part 2 we will look at why some ARE making the move online...

In a business world controlled stiffly by a “bottom line” mentality, the irony of moving to elearning formats is that it is not only cheaper to build and run than traditional training, but in many respects more effective than the live experience (see USDLA 2009 Study). While many are not yet moving their learning initiatives online yet, there are a few big guns who are. Perhaps it would behoove us to quickly scan a few examples of these before we move on.
  • In an effort to enable a company wide audit, powerhouse Cisco adopted an aggressive elearning initiative. In just one five week period, they managed to reduce training costs from $1.4 million to only $16,000, and training time by almost 60%. And in case you where questioning quality, they also delivered excellent results helping them receive the #2 ranking among 500 companies.
  • Launched as part of a blended-learning solution at more than 5,000 GM dealerships in North America, GM partnered with Dallas-based Raytheon Professional Services LLC (RPS) to build virtual-classroom training that replaced a satellite based distance-learning system that has helped train dealer employees for over a decade. John Palmer, manager of GM Learning, reports that the solution is winning over employees and management alike with its broad functionality, ease of operation, and cost-saving features. Some 200,000 employees in North America alone will rely on the system, as well as thousands more in other countries. “I actually believe it’s a better delivery method than having an instructor in the room,” says Palmer. He calls virtual-classroom training an invaluable tool for reaching the widely dispersed population of GM dealer employees. Our legacy satellite-learning system was state of the art in its time, but virtual-classroom training is a far superior technology,” Palmer told the group. Yet, as valuable as virtual classrooms and other training tools have become in today’s learning landscape, their benefits are only realized when they are properly supported by sound management. GM points out that the entire training program is supported by the people, processes, and governance necessary to ensure quality and success.
  • Morgan Stanley is in the process of testing a pilot program that would allow its financial advisers to interact with clients and others on social media websites Twitter and LinkedIn through pre-approved public updates and private LinkedIn emails, invitations and introductions. In an internal memo released (May 25, 2011), Morgan Stanley Smith Barney (MSSB) told its 18,000 brokers that they would soon be able to post pre-approved “static” updates on LinkedIn and Twitter. Starting (in June, 2011), Morgan Stanley will begin allowing a small test group of approximately 600 advisers to send pre-approved tweets and status updates on the popular social media sites, according to the firm’s internal memo, which was reviewed by Registered Rep.
  • Jack Welch Management Institute. Even the prototypical businessman’s businessman Jack Welch, with the encouragement and vision of his business partner, Suzy Welch, has created an accredited online MBA program. No board room lessons here.
From these examples (any hundreds more like them), it is apparent that formal learning in all its rigid forms is giving way to a litany of informal learning opportunities. This steady move from the classroom to the web is not only due to individual preference but also due to several other influencing factors; A skittish world market (even after a huge U.S. bailout), ongoing world disasters and disease, decreasing training budgets, growing global workforce, a new generations preference anything online, altruistic initiatives to save the planet, increased wireless coverage world-wide, and dramatic advances in technological devices like smart phones and tablets. 

Next...current market trends that clearly indicate that elearning is moving on up.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Why are some organizations so slow to adopt elearning? (Part 1 of 3)

Think back to what you did in the past few days, when you had a private or professional question. If you are like the 95% of business professionals surveyed in a recent SocialStrat study, you probably searched for an answer using a browser like Google or Bing. 

This is informal learning in practice. You not only chose the quickest and easiest path, but also one that you trust. For example, lets say you are new to the Twitter world, and want to learn how to follow someone. So, to “google” you go where you run a search for the phrase: “How do I follow someone on Twitter?” You end up with about 384 million results to pick from. Reviewing some of the most popular result headings you can quickly (within minutes) find the answer you seek from several different sites, and in several different forms, like text, images, and video. Now you can tweet like a pro. That’s how people want to learn, like to learn, and choose to learn. 

There is no question that traditional learning and training is undergoing a major make-over. The in-person conference room or lecture hall presentation is rapidly loosing market share and prominence to elearning alternatives. The research and data supporting this is undeniable. 

However, even with the writing so clearly on the wall, or screen, why are many organizations so slow to adopt eLearning? (By eLearning we mean webinars, virtual classrooms, asynchronous self-paced courses, mobile learning, informal learning and social media best practices.)

We'll start answering this question next week in part 2 of this part 3 series...