Rapid and Compliant e-Learning Content Development for Corporate

Various small industries who had seen the potential of e-learning are today leading players servicing big clients in ensuring continuous and focused learning benefits their customers to achieve better ROI and improved productivity. The reasons of various successful implementations of e-Learning models are many but primarily it’s the core value proposition of using technology to learn anytime, anywhere for workforce skill base improvements, enhanced knowledge acquisition and productivity improvement which makes it exceptional and almost irreplaceable. The need of rapid and compliant e-Learning content for quick deployment on learning management server is ever growing.

Infosys has a global footprint with offices in 18 countries and development centers in India, China, Australia, UK, Canada and Japan. Infosys has over 58,409 employees covering 57 nationalities. Infosys focuses on creating strategic long-term relationships with its clients. Over 97% of it’s revenues come from existing customers.  Infosys is rapidly differentiating itself from the competition to achieve rapid growth. The focus of this differentiation is to provide unique business and sourcing solutions to the clients that improve their odds of success by increasing their competitiveness; and to deliver these solutions with the industry-benchmark Infosys Predictability that lets them sleep peacefully.

In line with this vision statement and the recruitment philosophy of learnability, the training process at Infosys has been conceptualised to provide high quality education and training to the employees. This is done through Continuous Learning Programmes, which focuses on technical process, management and leadership training. This processes which enable and develop Infoscions, encompass all sub-processes to provide education, training and development for entry-level, ongoing and specific requirements of Infoscions. For all-round development, key dimensions of training and associated prime responsibilities are identified as a virtual Infosys university.

Experienced instructors including those having Doctorate and Masters degree with academic and industry exposure, impart the training. Individual and team training needs are identified based on inputs from business goals, departmental action plans, performance appraisals, role based competency,  client satisfaction survey, 360 degree feedback. Project level training is imparted on specific technology needs and a part of the project effort goes into on-the-job training on technology / process areas. In order to provide best in class services for its customer Infosys has to constantly focus on its workforce talent development using “Technology Competency Center” and it has  developed an exceptional hybrid model (Traditional/e-Learning) to train the fresh hired graduate in a different environment and train other workforce in an ongoing basis all using state of the art infrastructure and world class technology solutions. In its pursuit to build a world-class training facility, Infosys decided to consolidate its learning activities in Mysore and started the Global Education Center.

Be it Technical Training, Quality process training, personal effective managerial programmes or behavioral programmes, “Technology Assisted Learning” e-Learning model supports all and allows to match the scale we look for. Various stake holders can create the e-Learning contents rapidly based on the internal published guideline for quick and easy deployment of the same on Infosys LMS (Technology Assisted Learning) to provide easy accessibility for geographically distributed people. Being operating as one of the biggest corporate university, Infosys not only understand the constraints academia faces but are also involved in resolving the same. The research in e-Learning and programs like “Campus Connect” to benefit academia has helped both industry and academia bridge the knowledge gap in order to produce better equipped and industry ready professionals.

Characteristics of a good Learning Management System
The main advantages of the “Learning Management System” is self paced learning, knowledge anytime  anywhere, increased availability of trained resources due to efficient time utilisation, better learn-ability and better knowledge retention for immediate production use and knowledge anytime anywhere. “Learning Management System” is fast becoming a proven approach for skill-based trainings, competency development and informing or attracting customers or business partners at a rapid pace.

Learning through this mode can provide substantial and immediate rewards, but developing a strategy is complicated for several reasons such as acceptance, usage of appropriate and scalable technology, etc.

e-Learning industry standards and specifications

With the emergence of the word e-Learning various bodies and organisations started developing specifications and standards. However this definitely never met the end user need due to non compliance with factors such as interoperability, reusability, manageability, etc. The early work in this was done by many such as ARIADNE (Alliance of Remote Instructional Authoring and Distribution Networks for EUROPE), DUBLIN core Meta data initiative, IEEE. However collaboration among them was missing and there was a need of someone to drive them and others in one direction. US Department of Defense took the lead role to bring in the work of all together into a common and usable reference model popularly known as SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model).

Various standards and specifications

Advanced Distributed Learning
The Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative is a strategy  sponsored by the government, industry, and academic leaders to facilitate instructional content development and delivery using current and emerging technologies. Specifically, its Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) project focuses on next generation open architecture for online learning, including standards for run-time communication, course structure, and content meta-data.

Aviation Industry Computer-based Training Committee
The Aviation Industry Computer-Based Training Committee (AICC) is an international association of technology-based training professionals that creates guidelines for the development, delivery, and evaluation of training technologies. The AICC pioneered the most widely accepted interoperability standards for computerbased and web-based training.

IEEE Learning Technology Standards Committee
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Computer Society Standards Activity Board has chartered the Learning Technology Standards Committee (LTSC) to develop technical standards, recommended practices, and guides for computer implementations of education and training components and systems – specifically, the software components, tools, technologies, and design methods that facilitate their development,  deployment, maintenance, and interoperation.

IMS Global Learning Consortium
The IMS Global Learning Consortium, Inc. (IMS) is a non-profit corporation that began with a focus on higher education. Today, they’ve expanded their specifications and projects to address a wide range of learning contexts, including school, university, corporate, and government training. Available specifications include: Learning Resource Meta-data, Enterprise, Content Packaging, and Question and Test Interoperability.

Tools for rapid e-Learning content development for deployment in industry
The concept of developing e-Learning contents for effective learning is not old. However some sophisticated tool usage requires specific skill and additional domain knowledge for appropriate usage. At the same time there are tools which are easily available at almost no cost which can be used to generate quick SCORM compliant contents that can not only act as re-usable learning objects but are also easily deployable to any Learning Management System. Although there are many standard products in the market, here in this article, the objective is to demonstrate two of such easily available solution for rapid e-Learning content generation and deployment.

PowerPoint is a tool used to make presentations. At the same time this tool can also be used for designing e-Learning contents quickly. PowerPoint, if used appropriately can help you create rich, compelling, and instructionally sound e-Learning content. In most of the cases Subject Matter Expert (SME) uses Power Point to develop the initial content. e-Learning developers and instructional designers often use PowerPoint to create outlines or storyboards as it is easy, convenient, and quick.

An e-Learning developer or instructional designer can take the existing base materials and enhance it further. And this enhancement can be done in PowerPoint – the native format of the content. Rather than convert the SME’s training presentation over to another tool, the instructional designer or developer can augment and improve the original within the same tool using the same format. This means a SME’s PowerPoint presentation can be used “as is” with narration added in Breeze if the delivery need is immediate. If more time is available the original materials can be enhanced to add richer media, interactivity, quizzing, and improved instructional design. Links can also be added to slide content to provide non-linear navigational design. Materials can also easily be enhanced by inserting pre-existing Flash movies or software simulations directly into a PowerPoint slide as objects.

PowerPoint comes with numerous design and presentation templates. The design templates get you started with the graphical look and feel and the presentation templates provide a skeleton for arranging and outlining your actual content. Interactivity in any form of e-Learning greatly enhances both the appeal and the effectiveness of learning. The PowerPoint Breeze plug-in makes it very easy to add quizzes, tests, and surveys to e-learning content. (The scores and data from these can be sent directly to your AICC/SCORM LMS.)

The Breeze plug-in simplifies the addition of audio narration. Adding narration to online training content has been proven to increase retention rates. In most cases it is also the learner’s preferred mode of receiving instruction or information. Very often the simplest approaches to a problem are the most effective. Tools designed specifically for e-learning authoring can be  used to produce some wonderful online content However it demands time which could be a constraining factor. Power Point usage can significantly increase the speed of development of e-Learning by using an authoring tool with which your SMEs are already familiar.

MS Producer
Free to licensed users of PowerPoint, Microsoft Producer features include improved audio and video quality, better synchronisation, and presentation-sharing tools. Microsoft Producer for Microsoft Office PowerPoint is a software which is used to capture video, audio, and still images from a Web camera, a video camera (digital or analog), or from your computer screen. The captured content can be used in Producer presentations. Producer can also be used to import existing Microsoft PowerPoint presentations, Windows Media files, still images, and HTML files, and then synchronize narrations with video and PowerPoint presentations. It can then publish the presentation to LMS, an e-Service provider, to a corporate intranet site, on a corporate network, or to the Web. Thus using MS Producer we can create a SCORM compliant e-Learning course quickly.

MS Producer can be used to capture various objects like voice, video, presentations etc or import the same from a pre-existing setup. One can then synchronize them for appropriate integration. It has various templates to use which allow minimal effort from the person designing the e-Learning content to avoid development from scratch. Not only this, it can generate the contents to be played back at multi bit rate later or based on the available bandwidth for play back at run time.

Here are the simple steps which need to be followed in order to have your e-Learning content ready for deployment on any Learning Management System.

Getting content into Producer
In this step all digital media is added into Producer Project. The files which are added can include audio, video, Power Point Slides, HTML files, etc. If some of the objects are already available then they can be imported otherwise they can be captured using connected devices such as Web Camera, Microphone, etc.

Editing in Producer
After digital media is available this can be arranged in the project. Timelines can be added. It basically is the Producer workspace in which various elements that appear in the presentations can be arranged. The timeline enable to edit the entire project or elements of the project, such as individual audio and video files. Unwanted video and audio can be trimmed out of the presentation. Further enhancements can happen by adding video transitions and effects.

Synchronising your presentation
This step allows synchronising existing video and audio files with your PowerPoint slides. This is important feature of Producer because it lets you take different digital media files, such as audio, video, still images, and slides and then quickly synchronizes them to create a rich-media presentation. Synchronising is done through the synchronise slides features.

Previewing your presentation
In this step entire presentation can be reviewed. This is an important step to have a check before the contents are published.

Publishing your presentation
After project editing is over its ready for the final publish. While publishing the project as a presentation, all the digital media in the project, including any video, audio, HTML files PowerPoint slides and templates, is compiled into one final presentation. This final presentation and the files contained in it can then be published to a local computer, Web server, Windows Media server, e-Service provider, Learning Management System or even to a CD that can be used for later distribution.

The need for e-Learning in a corporate university or academia is more or less the same due to the challenges they have. e-Learning has existed in some form or the other for more than 20 years now. However, its current form is the most attractive and promising. Many of our customers, associate partners and academicians in university are either trying to implement the e-Learning solutions or going for a solution available on the shelf with little or no customisation. No organisation can grow without focusing on development of their precious human resources. Learning Management System in its current form provides an excellent approach to achieve this with a great flexibility. There are various methods of developing the e-Learning contents. SCORM compliant Rapid content generation today is very easy because of widely available tools in the market. Some of the tools like MS Producer; Power Point, etc can be used to develop the contents for quick results and easy deployments. More sophisticated course development requires the usage of tools beyond this.