Since the launch of Mpirical in 2002, we have seen significant changes in not just the technology we train people on; 3G, 4G and 5G, but also the methodologies we adopt in doing so. This has never been more evident than today as the next generation of telecoms professionals represent an ever increasing proportion of the telecommunications industry.
Two of the most significant terms being used in Learning and Development right now are “on-demand” and “point-of-need” or in other words, it’s making learning resources always available to help employees to develop their skills whenever and wherever they need. This could be enabling staff to access refresher training for a specific technology or to support engineers as they begin their 5G journey.
Clearly classroom training cannot satisfy this requirement and although it has a number of good points, getting a group of people together in the same room with the exact same learning requirements is going to be problematic, especially when we consider that workforces have never been so distributed as they are today. At best, courses will be scheduled two to three months in advance where in every likelihood, the need has changed. Virtual classroom may reduce the associated travel costs but unfortunately does not satisfy the requirement for “on-demand” or “point-of-need” training.
Over the past three years, we have recognised this changing landscape and have invested significantly in our video based OnlineAnytime training portfolio. This has not been a simple case of placing a video camera in the corner of one of our training rooms and just carrying on as normal or, overlaying an audio track on some flat PowerPoint slides. Instead, we took a fundamental look at how knowledge transfer needs to take place in the workplace, wherever that may be.
To this end, we have identified three key pillars of a successful on-demand system;
- Content – as the expression says, “content is king” and this is equally as important for video based training as it is for the more traditional classroom delivery. In fact, in video based delivery, you don’t get an opportunity to clarify a point with a confused looking audience, you have to make sure you explain it clearly and unambiguously first time. That is not necessarily an easy skill, even for the most experienced trainers so at Mpirical, we have spent time not only continuing to develop our technical expertise but honing our presentation skills with the aid of actors and voice coaches.
- Delivery – like many training organizations, we have utilized a Learning Management System (LMS) to support our students since the very early days of online training. However, with the advent of video based training we soon realized that not all LMS are equal and the majority were focused on eLearning and hosting SCORM packages. To this end, we spent time testing numerous commercial solutions before we realized that to provide a truly engaging delivery platform, that puts video based learning at the heart of its design, we would need to build our own – The LearningZone.
- Engagement – needs to be at the core of course design and development. You can’t give someone 12 × one hour videos to watch and expect them to be engaged. Videos need to be of a relatively short duration which focus on a specific topic. They need to be arranged in a logical structure, which satisfies both the student who wishes to cover the entire course in sequential order, as well as the point-of-need student who simply needs the answer to a question. At Mpirical we have taken this a stage further by embedding our technical videos into NetX, our award winning network visualization tool. Now students using NetX can access content specific videos from the interactive map, engaging in knowledge transfer as they undertake their day to day role within the network.
Having adopted this strategy over the past few years, we have seen a fundamental paradigm shift in the way our students engage in learning. We still continue to deliver live classroom based training, but this tends to be to groups with very specific and customized requirements such as network troubleshooting etc. For our video based OnlineAnytime courses, training is now fully “on-demand” or “point-of-need”. In fact, you can start learning within one minute of accessing our website rather than waiting weeks to attend a classroom based course.
Over the past 12 months we have been analysing our data and discovered some amazing statistics; some of which could never have been achieved through traditional methods. We have delivered OnlineAnytime training in 197 countries – from Albania to Zimbabwe and in so doing, broadcast over one million minutes of video. We have also discovered that the typical student spends an average of 1 hour 20 minutes engaged in training during each visit and returns to our LMS (LearningZone) 2.8 times per month. Over a 12 month licence period, the majority of our students return to watch the videos for a second time, whereas others will prefer to select certain modules of a course to focus upon, rather than completing the course in its entirety. Tuesday is the busiest day of the week (28%) but learning continues to take place during the weekends (9.1%). Training runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 52 weeks of the year but this is probably down to the fact we have learners spread between New Zealand and Hawaii. The world is never asleep, so our training delivery never stops.