Wednesday, May 15, 2013

#skillsoft Perspectives 2013 - Higher Ed Track

This year I decided to hang out in the higher ed track. 
See what other institutions using SkillPort are doing.

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- 2 of the 3 higher ed presentations I saw used either another LMS or a portal to access and curate SkillPort content. The 3rd that went to SkillPort directly had a very targeted audience (IT folks).

- The big theme at ALL of these sessions was curation and curriculum.  General finding - the free-for-all model just didn't work when it came to driving adoption. People got too overwhelmed.

Our Organizational Development and Effectiveness group does their curation through a website and deep linking SkillPort content to point to specific content around themes.

We are also taking a long look at how people access the content in SkillPort.

My thinking - the closer we can get to the user where he/she is working, the better off everyone is going to be.

Since we are in the process of re-thinking our "intranet" and portals (otherwise known as "the SharePoint implementation") - we will have to rethink how people access our content libraries.  Permissions, organization, the whole shebang.

This most likely means SkillPort becomes a (very big, very important) content library in our environment.  Not necessarily a bad thing....
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When the Java issue came up at the Higher Ed networking session - everyone nodded their heads. 
It took a LONG time for us to get off the topic. 

One of the SkillSoft reps commented that they didn't hear that as much from the corporate clients. 
A higher ed person shot back:

"Yeah - but they all have much more control over what people are using and how they are configured.  We have to support anything that shows up on campus! It's a free-for-all!"

So true...so true.....
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SkillPort seems to be used in 2.5 ways in the higher ed space
  + Staff development (often to a targeted audience OR to benefit-eligible employees)
  + Staff AND Faculty "enrichment" (the .5, often including adjuncts)
  + Academic use - students.

The schools I talked to that opened SkillPort up to academic use purchased it specifically for that purpose.

Our school is struggling with this particular issue.  We are starting to see demand for academic use, but we don't have the licenses or the personnel to support it.  I know my upper management is thinking about what to do.  The current thinking is to get the staff development side working appropriately.  But since we already opened it up for students in the initial implementation (no structure) - it may be tough for us to stick that genie back in the bottle.
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The eLearning adoption issue came up in a number of presentations.

More interestingly - most groups that started with a fully asynchronous eLearning strategic approach quickly shifted to a strategy that provided more "learning choices" (read - the re-introduction of ILTs). 

No one really discussed why this was beyond "some people prefer learning that way." The education = classroom assumption.  But from what I was reading between the lines - most people missed the conversation and interaction element. 

The only example where folks seemed to prefer the asynchronous eLearning approach was some network engineers studying for the CompTIA+ Network certification. And they, apparently, heavily leveraged the live mentoring function SkillPort offers.

My takeaways from this observation:
- Increase emphasis on the live mentoring functions within the courses.  Especially for on-demand topics we no longer do instructor-led training on (such as Office and Google Apps).

- Make sure we offer some interactive opportunity / human support if we can't do a synchronous class due to resource constraints.  We already do this to a certain extent - but it was a reminder of how important this feature is.
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A little rest - then off to Universal's Harry Potter area, to make ourselves sick riding roller coasters and the broom ride :)

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