Saturday, December 26, 2009

Holiday Hopes

In a haze of happy post-Christmas cheer and relaxation, I'm hoping you've had a wonderful holiday. In fact, I hope you're still on holiday and won't read this for another week. I'm so filled with hope, I hope that you love this blog so much, you checked in to see if there was a new one today even though you don't have to return to work for another week!

I hope the roads and airways are safe for all those traveling over this holiday. I hope that it snows a lot before I go snowboarding again next week. I hope that my family loves the Christmas gifts they received, and I hope my son who's away at college didn't suffer too badly spending his first Christmas alone. I hope my 16-year-old new driver uses good sense and doesn't drive too much like a 16-year-old new driver.

I hope that you kept your job this past year or found a new one quickly, and that 2010 is a good year from your company. I hope that your workplace is safe and that your company nurtures and values a positive training culture. I hope that your boss treats training as an investment, not a cost center.

I hope GCP has a successful year: I hope we sell lots of online training at, and I hope we continue to give it away for free to those who need it at! I hope lots of our free training members post their stories and photos there, and that our GTP professional community blossoms, grows, and serves its members well.

I read Hope is Not a Strategy by Rick Page a couple years ago. An extended quote from the introduction still resonates with me. It's about sales and selling, but I think it relates to home, health, and work hopes as well:
I believe that hope, along with faith and love, are essential to life. Hope is what you do when you have no control. But a strategy is made up of actions and tactics that convert visions to results for those who can make things happen. The title of this book was chosen to accentuate the differences between positive attitudes and positive actions and the flaw of counting on on without the other.
I bet you have a lot of the same hopes I've written about here. And I hope you have taken time to make a strategy to achieve all your hopes!

Here's to a happy end of 2009, and a 2010 filled with hope.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Happy Holidays to all! Be safe, be smart, enjoy!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Why Not Video?

People hear "training" and often assume "video." At GCPLearning, we've never included video in our online courses. It's not a mindless choice; we've considered our options thoroughly. There are technological, logistical, and pedagogical reasons for that choice.

Historically, trying to deliver video online to the typical e-learning client was just a bad idea. Existing bandwidth simply wouldn't support it. In the early 2000s, when we thought that most client companies would have at least a T-1 connection, we designed for 56kbps dial-up speeds, as we still had a significant number of clients stuck in the dial-up era. We even had a client in 2002 who still used a 28.8kbps modem in a shed to access our training when it was too rainy outside to work. (I believe they also walked barefoot in the snow to work and back home, uphill both ways, and they liked it like that!) Although high-speed connections are now entirely the norm, there are plenty of demands on a company's internet bandwidth without adding to that a lot of users pulling down video.

I mentioned logistical reasons for not using video. Regular readers of this blog know that I do tend to go on and on about AGILITY. Video is not an inherently agile medium (though it can be if you go lo-tech... topic for another day!). The content of our courses is necessarily dynamic - regulations change, best practices evolve, and the equipment pictured in the illustrations goes out of date. Besides, we provide source code with our content so that our clients can freely customize the courses they purchase from us. Video production is costly in both time and money; revising courses becomes a much more convenient, economical, and doable proposition when it amounts to rewriting sections of the storyboard, recording fresh narration, and swapping photos in the flash content files. Of course, in keeping with our key principle of agility, our Global Content Player is equally adept at wrapping Flash videos as it is our standard Flash screens, so the option to include video remains open. We are more agile without video, and so are our clients.

So that's technology and logistics, but most important of all is obviously the pedagogical principles. If it's not good instruction, it doesn't matter how easy it is to download it or edit it. Ultimately, video COULD be an engaging element in some of our courses, but the feedback we've received from countless clients and a few focus groups we've organized support our contention that a series of photographs is just as effective - or even more effective - than video. Photos capture decisive moments in time. (Henri Cartier-Bresson said about photography, "The decisive moment, it is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as the precise organization of forms which gives that event its proper expression.") The photos zero in on decision points or the most important steps in processes, without the distraction of intervening frames that would be present in video. They allow us to meet our learning objectives through that focus.

When we balance the three reasons - technological, logistical, and pedagogical - photo series wins out over video in our media selection for our courses.

Monday, December 14, 2009

"global" and "collaboration" and "partners"

I was asked to participate in a research survey recently that included some questions about brand awareness in the area of e-learning content providers. I hadn't heard of several of the companies named in the survey, but I did come away with a sense that if we'd hired branding gurus to help us name our company, we probably wouldn't have ended up calling ourselves "Global Collaboration Partners." We'd have certainly had "learning" or "training" or "E-something" in our name. But the survey caused me to reflect that when we started GCP with stars in our eyes, the name seemed perfect, and more importantly, as we've matured as a company, it's crystallized into a mission and a set of guiding principles.


GLOBAL works for us in multiple directions. I blogged last week about, our site where we give away 20 courses for 20 days for free, with a worldwide reach. It hasn't mattered a lick that the US regulations our courses are based upon have no authority in Ghana or Uzbekistan - the best practices that those regulations espouse help our training make people around the smarter, more efficient, and most importantly, safer in their work. GLOBAL also means that we have made our own operations more agile by tapping talents wherever they may come from. We've been fortunate to be able to flexibly enhance our team with talented programmers, media specialists, voiceover artists, and more, from across the US, Singapore, India, Argentina, Mexico, Sweden, France, Brazil, and on and on. Global network!


The quip was only half-joking when one of our senior partners opined that any member of our team would likely be unemployable solo; that only our combined talents, skills, and personal quirks added up to make one highly capable human being. That was a little extreme, and when I reread the words, doesn't paint us in the absolute most positive light, I guess. But even though it's an exaggeration, the fact is that our team collaborates exceedingly well. Using technology and a deep personal and working relationship to meld us, our team is able to develop accurate and superbly designed courseware, write insightful articles, navigate the business world and marketplace we play in, and provide value to the world around us. That's just internal workings; our clients also tell us again and again that collaborating with us to produce their custom training is easy and even fun, as we do it so well!


We've collectively been in the e-learning business long enough that we knew what part of that field we wanted to play in, and most importantly, what roles we did NOT want to play. We rock at designing and creating excellent and effective training materials. And we like that work, a lot. So that's exactly what we've narrowed our focus to. We've been involved in the other aspects of e-learning: creating software tools, hosting a learning management system and providing the associated services, nurturing a stable of programmers... adding those tasks and responsibilities distracts us from that part we are most passionate about. So globally, and collaboratively, we PARTNER with folks whose passion and talents lead them to focus on those aspects of the business.

Global Collaboration Partners: not such a bad name for our company!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Will to Train and the Will to Learn

An interesting paradox is seen in two surveys reported by Madbury, N.H.-based NFI Research.

According to Chuck Martin, NFI CEO, fully 87% of 2000 senior executives and managers surveyed responded that the top characteristic they look for in new hires is "willingness to learn." (Only half of the respondents went on to say that most of their current executives, managers and employees were willing to learn, however. )

Interestingly, two thirds of respondents to a subsequent NFI survey complained that employees are not actively participating in learning opportunities that are provided to them. "Although the level of learning provided is high in many organizations, the number of individuals taking advantage of these opportunities is lacking," Martin notes.

So... executives desire a trained workforce. The training is available. But in many cases, employees are not getting that training. Where is the disconnect?

According to Rebecca Hefter, Senior Vice President for Training at Boston-based Novations Group Inc., time is an important barrier to getting training done. Corporate trainers are under increasing pressure to limit the time employees spend off the job. "The trend is toward reduced classroom hours, more training done on-the-job and greater reliance on e-learning."

E-learning, however, can be its own "tough sell" in many organizations. Pull people off the job for a classroom session, and there they are in the classroom – a captive audience. But make training available "anytime, anywhere" via online means? Many busy learners will avail themselves of the training "sometime, somewhere" – but probably not here and now, given their overloaded schedules.

Perhaps one of the most important solutions to this problem lies in internal marketing of crucial training programs. The research that goes into an internal marketing plan is the topic for a whole other article, but at the core of the effort is the communication that is critical to getting the word out.


At GCPLearning, we have years of experience with clients who purchase our content and then need help to get their e-learning program going. We've created a 33-page workbook we call Maximize your E-Learning Investment with Change Management that spells out in detail the 10 well-documented critical steps you can implement quickly to maximize effectiveness and eliminate the costly mistakes so many organizations make in launching e-learning. We sell this workbook for $299, but I'm making it available to you, faithful readers, through the end of the year - click HERE to download it for free.

One of the key topics in the workbook is planning for communication to get your e-learning program off the ground. Here, briefly, are some of the key techniques for effective communication to get that training done, not sometime, somewhere, but here and now:

E-mail announcing the e-learning initiative – A clear and concise message showing management’s support and expectations for e-learners

Brochures, posters, payroll inserts, and articles in the company newsletter – Don’t rely exclusively on electronic communication to communicate your training themes and priorities. Also, market both the subject matter and the change in medium to e-learning.

Scrolling message on your learning center homepage – This brief message should be updated periodically.

Publicize new and revised courses – Let people know whenever your library is updated.

Develop a training calendar - Consider developing a training calendar, for example, “January is Safe Driving Month.” This is one of the best ways to maintain the momentum once your e-learning initiative has gotten off the ground.

Buddy system – Peer support is a leading factor in the success of e-learning programs. Buddies can be assigned or self-selected. The buddy system gives e-learners someone to turn to if they encounter uncertainty while becoming accustomed to e-learning. Buddies also encourage and remind each other to complete their training on schedule.

Attend departmental meetings – Speaking at departmental meetings provides an opportunity to obtain valuable feedback, clear up any misconceptions, and recruit new e-learners.

Form a training advisory committee – By assembling an advisory committee, you’ll establish credibility, show that you value the input of all stakeholder groups, and gain perspective on future needs and trends.

Contests – When multiple groups or facilities are involved in your e-learning program, a little friendly competition might spice things up. For example, a competition could focus on course completion rates.

Find new, appealing ways to reward those who complete training on time – By rewarding users for the completion of training, you are reinforcing the value of training and providing motivation to continue.

Keep communication 2-way – Publicize the excitement and accomplishments of your e-learning (e.g., higher-than-expected enrollments, outstanding course evaluations, and student and management testimonials). But also be sure to provide opportunities for your learners to discuss both the pluses and minuses of the program. By having a voice, your employees will feel a vested ownership in the training program and will be more likely to participate actively and even enthusiastically.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

*Really* Global Training People. Dot Com.

GlobalTrainingPeople Logo
All right - it's a perfect time to write this proud posting, the week after Thanksgiving... hope you had a good one! (I was on the road and didn't get this posted earlier.)

This is an exciting development at GCP. We've had a free training program for the past several years, which we hosted at It has been a big hit - we've provided training at no cost to way more than 10,000 registered users in over 100 countries around the world. At first our thinking was that people in other countries (who would never be our clients) ought to have access to safety (and other) training, and it costs us very little to put some important courses up on our website and let those folks at it.

What we discovered was that this was an even better idea than we'd imagined. Word spread, links sprouted, and you saw the numbers above. Without doing any marketing of this site whatsoever, it's become known globally as a place to go for free training that isn't just a demo or throwaway stuff - it's actually courses that will send you home from your job with all ten fingers and both eyes intact, or will send you to a performance review armed for getting a promotion.

And not just overseas, as we'd imagined. We get people from US companies registering and taking our free training as well. We recently discovered that a large construction company in the South has a direct link to our free training from their training portal. (You know who you are... and we maintain hope that you'll become a client and get access to more of our courses as well as all the perks of owning your training content, tracking your employees' training, etc.! ;o) Meanwhile, as I said above, the important thing is that people who need this training - who might not have another source for it - are getting it.

One of the cool things about the old site was that we got letters from grateful trainees worldwide. What we should have recognized from the start was that we ought to have been giving these people access to each other rather than just corresponding with us - we had the seeds for a worldwide training and environmental health and safety community, and we weren't doing anything with it.

Thus: We've redesigned the site, gave it a new name that actually has something to do with what the site is, and built in several networking and community tools. There's a Story Wall where people can post feedback on the courses, a Photo Wall where people can personalize the site a bit, and a discussion forum where we have finally planted the seeds of that professional community we should have been building for the past couple years.

We're very interested to see what happens with one other aspect we built into the site. All our training (except for a 30-title library of safety training in Spanish) is in English. What if we gave people an opportunity to localize the training so that it would be more useful in Uganda, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, and all the corners of India where our learners come from? What if we set up a way for entrepreneurs around the world to start a business spreading this training around so more people work more safely and productively? We are already getting some interesting emails from folks exploring the possibilities of partnering with us to expand this thing out into the world in a big way. I can't begin to tell you how exciting this is for us!

Please drop by! Take some training, post a photo, give some feedback, join the community, and spread the word!