In my recent blog, “What Is Education Services?” I covered the basics of what the definition of education services is, and even touched upon what it isn’t. In this post, I will briefly cover the traditional forms of delivery used by most Education Services (ES) organizations and then discuss less traditional delivery options that are proving to be successful.
Instructor-Led Training (ILT), Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT), and E-Learning
About ten years ago, training delivery was fairly straight forward, primarily consisting of instructor-led training (ILT), delivered either in a classroom or on-site at a customer location. While virtual instructor-led training (VILT) has been on the scene for at least 10 years, it really didn’t become a staple in ES organizations’ portfolios, until about six to seven years ago. For clarity, VILT is inclusive of the capability to conduct remote lab work during a class session, versus merely delivering a lecture via a web-conferencing tool. E-learning, like VILT, has been around for quite a while, but has only gained significant traction as a delivery mechanism, in the past three to four years, thanks in part to the micro-content trend.
The diagram below provides a view of various delivery options. I've briefly discussed ILT, VILT, and e-learning in prior blogs and research reports, which are now mainstream forms of delivery, but what about the other items listed? Are these truly forms of education services delivery?
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There are many ways for Education Services organizations to deliver content, ranging from formal to informal methods.
In-Product Performance Support System (IPSS)
In the effort to drive product adoption, more companies are looking at an in-product performance support system (IPSS), which enhances user performance by providing in-application help. The help provided is contextual, meaning that the learning nugget that is “served-up” to the user is specific to the task that the user is trying to perform. When one considers that 70% of learning is forgotten in about 48 hours if not reinforced, IPSS becomes a logical delivery mechanism (for details, refer to the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve). IPSS aids users who may have learned something previously, but no longer recall the next step to complete a specific task, or perhaps the user never took training. IPSS provides guidance, at the moment of need, and while it is not end-to-end training, it provides enough information to assist a user who is temporarily stuck.
70% of learning is forgotten in about 48 hours if not reinforced.
So, is in-product performance support a good training delivery mechanism? Absolutely. Based on TSIA’s Education Services Benchmark Survey data, as shown in the graph below, it is not yet however, a common practice. TSIA defines a common practice as one in which 51% or more of Education Services organizations adhere. As learners continue to want just-in-time training in easily consumable nuggets, it is likely that more education organizations will pursue IPSS as an additional form of training delivery.
Audio Podcasts and Videos
Podcasts are not widely used by TSIA’s Education Services membership, but that doesn’t exclude them as a form of training delivery. Podcasts tend to be conversational in nature and for this reason are a good medium for delivering high-level, overview material, perhaps as a prelude to a deep dive into content that is delivered online or via an instructor. They can also be used to deliver refresher material. Get creative and interview a product manager about the top three ways to use a particular product. Talk with a customer, in a case study format, to reveal successes that have been achieved with the product. If your company has a user group, consider asking the user group community to contribute.
The beauty of a podcast is that it doesn’t have to be produced solely by a content developer. Establish a podcast template that outlines the practices to follow in creating a podcast and go to the Customer Support organization, product managers, and others, and ask them to speak about a topic that aligns with the curriculum. Additionally, publication/distribution is easy. Podcasts can be distributed publicly through iTunes and other sources, or privately, through an internal network. People remember stories, and it is the story aspect that makes a podcast memorable and worthwhile as a training delivery option. Additionally, it melds perfectly with the mobile era; A mobile device is a great way to listen to a podcast, especially during that long drive home from work, sitting in commuter traffic.
So, what about video? If you’re not using it yet, you will be. The graphic below shows the four most popular types of video, based on a 2017 study conducted by Vidyard, an online video platform company.
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Source: Vidyard's "16 Video Marketing Benchmarks You Need to Know" infographic.
Here are some brief descriptions of each type of video:
- Explainer Videos: An explainer video is a short, animated video that explains an idea in a simple, concise and engaging way. While explainer videos tend to be used in the context of explaining what a company does, the same approach could certainly be used to explain what a product or feature of the product does, and thus provides an overview to a new user.
- Product Demo Videos: Product “demos” are not new to Education organizations. Tools like Camtasia have been used for years to demonstrate how a product works and/or how to complete specific job tasks. The usage of video in this regard will continue to increase, as companies seek to build new, or enhance existing, digital learning platforms.
- How-To Videos: How-to videos are a perfect fit for education services organizations. Video is an easy way to break down how-to tasks into discrete units. Likewise, how-to videos are the juncture between Education Services and Customer Support organizations. Data from TSIA’s Support Services Benchmark Survey indicates that 48% of support calls are how-to in nature. As companies strive to drive customer success, the usage of video to serve both Education and Support audiences is a logical next step.
- Testimonial Videos: A testimonial typically has more of a marketing look and feel, so from a training perspective it may be limited. That however, does not preclude Education Services organizations from using video to promote education offers, with perhaps a fun learning fact or two thrown in.
So, is video a bona fide form of training delivery? Most assuredly it is. TSIA will be conducting an in-depth survey about the usage of video for learning in March and survey findings will be released in April 2018. If you are a TSIA Education Services member, be sure to keep your eyes open for an email with information about how to participate.
Surprisingly, mobile learning is not as pervasive as one would think. The data below shows that 56% of Education Services Benchmark Survey participants state that they do not provide mobile access to content and/or mobile learning applications.
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Source: TSIA Education Services Benchmark Survey
In fact, very few TSIA Education Services member organizations provide any type of mobile application. Most commonly, mobile access is to content versus applications and that content is dynamically rendered to fit the size of the screen that is being used by the learner. As the usage of mobile-friendly HTML5 continues to increase, and non-mobile friendly applications like Adobe Flash decrease, it is likely that more education organizations will incorporate mobile technologies into the learning experience.
Additionally, as the usage of video in training increases it is a safe bet that it will also prompt an increase in mobile learning. In a study conducted in late 2016, by Ooyala, a company that provides online video technology, over 52% of all video views came from mobile devices. So, expect to see demand for mobile learning options increase.
Given the pervasive usage of mobile devices noted above, it might be time to rethink podcasts, which can also be listened to from a mobile device. As mentioned earlier in this blog, podcasts are under-utilized as a training delivery vehicle. An audio podcast lends itself perfectly to a mobile format and while clearly it lacks the hands-on component of learning, it can very easily reinforce concepts and introduce new ones. In other TSIA Education Services publications, I have talked about “filling the white space,” the white space being all of the time between formal learning events. A podcast is the perfect white space filler.
In a study conducted in late 2016, by Ooyala, a company that provides online video technology, over 52% of all video views came from mobile devices.
Social learning has really just arrived on the scene in terms of its usage for training delivery. It leverages social media as a learning tool, and many things can fall into the social arena: chats, forums, blogs, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Jive, et al. One particular TSIA member, SAP, has leveraged social learning significantly in something called SAP Learning Rooms, which reside within their digital learning platform, the SAP Learning Hub. SAP presented at TSIA’s 2017 Technology Services World conference in Las Vegas and shared the stellar results achieved thus far with both Learning Hub and Learning Rooms.
As noted in a slide below from SAP’s conference presentation, "Social and Collaborative Learning Technologies Drive Engagement," a socially active learner is much more engaged and ultimately consumes more e-learning content than learners who are not socially active. The ability to build community, in which peer-to-peer learning occurs, is what makes social invaluable as a delivery option.
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Source: A TSW conference presentation by SAP, "Social and Collaborative Learning Technologies Drive Engagement." If you're a TSIA member, you can download the presentation here.
IBM, another TSIA Education Services member, has seen similar results regarding increased engagement and content consumption, with the implementation of its badging program, which contains social elements. IBM also presented at TSW, and the data below was shared in their presentation, “Digital Credentials as Mileposts on the Customer Journey: IBM’s Experience of Engagement.”
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Source: A TSW conference presentation by IBM, "Digital Credentials as Mileposts on the Customer Journey: IBM's Experience of Engagement." If you're a TSIA member, you can download the presentation here.
Clearly, social is indeed a training delivery tool worth employing. As mentioned with podcasts, social learning is a great way to fill the white space between more formal learning activities. While I am not getting into the usage of virtual reality, bots, or other related technology in this post, these also will most certainly play a role in the future of training delivery.
The good news is that Education Services organizations have an arsenal of delivery tools available in winning the training, engagement and content consumption battle, and all tools in the arsenal should be used to ensure victory. If your Education Services organization is looking for ways to engage learners and increase product adoption, reach out to TSIA today so we can figure out the best plan of action to helping you achieve your goals, together.