Establishing a Habit of Learning

In 5 Steps

Establishing a Habit of Learning

5 Ideas for Supporting Employee Learning

to Empower Your Learners

5 Ideas for Supporting Employee Learning

6 Ways to Learn When Your Interests Are Always Changing

6 Ways to Learn When Your Interests Are Always Changing

The Experience API (xAPI) is a technical specification that makes it easier for learning technologies to connect to each other. Basically, it’s a rulebook for how learning tools communicate about online and offline activities of an individual or group of people.

How does xAPI work?

We like to use a USB analogy to help describe how xAPI works. Your computer is likely equipped with a USB port or two, which means you can connect certified USB peripherals to your computer to transfer files, connect devices (e.g., printer, keyboard), or even back up data. As long as your computer’s manufacturer and the USB drive manufacturer formatted their equipment according to the USB specification, the equipment will work together.

The xAPI specification works in much the same way. If tools conform to the “rules” of the xAPI specification, they can, in theory, connect to different products (e.g., LMS, social learning platforms, learning experience platforms, etc.) and automatically transfer learning records. In all cases, there’s a Learning Record Store at the center receiving, storing, and returning the data as required.

Aren’t learning and business systems already able to share data?

Not really. Previously, most learning technologies had data locked down internally, allowing the information to be extracted only via CSV, custom connectors, or the SCORM specification.

CSVs require manual reporting work, custom connectors often take lots of time and money to build, and SCORM—though useful—is limited to very basic activity data from an LMS. xAPI eliminates these constraints.

Why do systems need to connect using xAPI?

First, without a standard format, systems are siloed, or trapped on their own islands of data. With xAPI, the info is communicated between systems with statements in an actor + verb + object format (i.e., “I did this” or “Lizelle wrote a blog.”)

Think about how many different types of sentences you can build with just those three parts of speech:

  • Actor (who)
  • Verb (did)
  • Object (what)

You’re capable of communicating quite a bit more than just scores, completions, and duration, right?

This opens up many opportunities for the types and complexities of experiences you can capture and report on. Especially if you consider that learning happens everywhere—across many devices, locations, both online and in the real world.

Stay tuned for part two where we will explore how to get started with xAPI and what to do with your learning data!


lizelleAbout the Author:
Lizelle Holstein is the Marketing Director at Watershed.

 

A huge thanks to Lizelle and our friends at Watershed for part 1 of this 2-part guest series.

According to the creators of Scrum and its body of knowledge, the Scrum Guide, Scrum is a simple framework for effective team collaboration on complex products. Scrum consists of Scrum Teams (a Product Owner, Development Team, and Scrum Master) and their associated events, artifacts, and rules.

scrum

As successful organizations continue to nurture their ability to deliver with greater agility, they are increasingly turning to the Scrum framework to improve the way their teams work.  When applying Scrum, teams work together to continuously inspect and adapt how they work.

Even more good news

Scrum.org and Degreed have partnered to make learning and developing your Scrum skills even easier! The agreement will enable enterprise employees with a subscription to Degreed to learn general Scrum topics and those specific to their roles on the Scrum Team, helping organizations and individuals deliver higher value products.

By partnering with Degreed, Scrum.org has opened up an avenue for individuals on Scrum Teams to evaluate what they know (inspect) and continually learn (adapt) to enable continued professional growth.

“We are excited to have found a partner in Degreed who, like us, is focused on improving how people work in professional environments,” said Joel Lamendola, Vice President of Business Development of Scrum.org.  “By partnering with Degreed, we can bring Scrum learning paths to individuals within their enterprise clients to help those individual Scrum Team members become more effective in how they work within their Scrum Teams.”

To learn more about scrum and visit Scrum.org for further information on the organization’s Professional Scrum assessments, training, and global community; follow us on Twitter @scrumdotorg and read more from our community of experts on the Scrum.org blog.

User-Generated Content (UGC)

Short for user-generated content, UGC is the term used to describe any form of content such as video, blogs, discussion forum posts, digital images, audio files, and other forms of media created by consumers or end-users of an online system or service and is publicly available to others consumers and end-users.

“UGC – user-generated content.” Beal, Vangie. Webopedia. February 2018. IT Business Edge. https://www.webopedia.com/TERM/U/UGC.html (accessed February 2, 2018).


In a Learning & Development context, user-generated content (UGC) is unofficial educational content created in one person’s area of expertise for others to learn from. UGC can be an article, a video, an infographic, a chart, or any other representation of information.

Some UGC is internal, on your company intranet or wiki sites. Other UGC is public, on sites like YouTube or Medium that allow users to share content they’ve created. If you choose to use UGC, you can rely on internal content, or curate public UGC.

UGC can help you promote peer learning and learning with technology. Internal UGC transforms employees’ institutional knowledge to collective wisdom distributed throughout your company. You no longer need to limit your L&D offerings to topics you have instructional design time for. SMEs can recommend public UGC when it exists or create UGC, freeing your L&D team to focus on the highest-value skills your organization needs.

Next post: Resource

Today is a milestone for us as we announce $42M Series C financing, along with new executive roles for David Blake and Chris McCarthy.

First, though, a huge thank you. We are incredibly grateful not just to our investors, but to all of you – our employees, our clients, our partners, and our families and friends – for supporting us in this journey, for sharing our vision, and for helping Degreed to get this far. I am excited and humbled, then, to share the details of our this funding and what that means for our product, clients, and team.

Our strong history

In the spring of 2013, Degreed raised $1.8M in a Seed Round from top investors in the world of business, venture capital, and edtech, including Deborah Quazzo, Mark Cuban, Mike Levinthal, Chris Eyre, Larry Rosenberger, Kaplan, and Walt Winshall. Since then, we have raised $32M more in our Series A and Series B financings, which added Jump Capital, Signal Peak, GSV Acceleration and Rethink Education to our investor list.

Mark Cuban explained his excitement about Degreed nicely. “Degreed allows organizations to inventory their existing employees, train them, and track it all,” he said. “And, when employees do have external training or experience, have the company give them credit for it—I think that’s critical.”

This $42M Series C financing brings our total funding to $75M. It was co-led by Owl Ventures, a fund that invests in the world’s leading education technology companies, and Jump Capital. Founders Circle Capital, along with existing investors, GSV Acceleration Fund and Signal Peak Ventures, also participated.

Why? Because “this methodology evolves the traditional learning model to today’s social environment through increased interaction and engagement,” said Paola Mazzoleni, the Chief Human Resources Officer at Tenaris, one of our customers. “Employees have autonomy and accountability in defining and designing their development plan to reach their professional goals; they are investing in their future.”

Our experts

At the beginning of 2013, Degreed was a team of five people. Today, we are 150 strong and growing weekly. Each of our employees are driven by a respect for the company principles and the desire to provide our clients the best experience possible. And we’re all guided by 12 core  principles:

  1. Balance
  2. Moderately flat
  3. Equality
  4. Empathy
  5. Flexibility
  6. Dedication
  7. Family
  8. Excellence
  9. Candor and coachability
  10. Transparency
  11. Learning
  12. Mission-first

Focusing on these values allows each member of our organization to be intentional about our time. We believe operating this way has set the foundation for healthy tension, growth and most importantly, trust among teams.

IMG_1044
As we continue to pursue our founders’ original vision, a portion of the proceeds from this funding will also be used to expand on Degreed’s newest product, Degreed Skill Certification – the world’s first system to both certify and rate any skill. To guide those efforts, Blake, Degreed’s co-founder, has taken on a new role as Executive Chairman. Blake and the Degreed board named Chris McCarthy, formerly Chief Operating Officer, as the company’s new CEO, to lead the continued growth of the company and its award-winning learning platform.

“Keeping people’s skills in sync with fast-changing markets is the biggest challenge of our time,” said Chris McCarthy, Degreed CEO. “That’s why Degreed exists. We believe there’s a better, smarter way to help everyone keep their skills sharp for whatever’s next, to measure their progress as they grow, and to communicate their readiness – both to current and future employers.”

Our future

Innovation has always been our focus, and throughout our history, that’s been a key attraction for many of our clients. And it’s working. Nine out of 10 clients agree they’re building more productive learning cultures, they’re adapting to shifting business needs faster, and they’re investing in L&D more efficiently.

“Our people are our competitive advantage and Degreed is further optimizing the way that we address current skills and development needs in the short term, and how that will translate to performance as part of our longer-term strategy,” said Sarice Plate, Senior Director of Global Talent Acquisition and Development at Xilinx, another one of our clients. “Our learners are no longer having to guess at what’s quality or what might benefit them.”

With this new war chest, we are planning to develop new features and functionality that will improve the client and user experience, including:

  1. Best-in-class learner experience with AI-powered content curation – making Degreed the daily learning destination for all of our clients.
  2. The ability to unlock the ultimate currency of learning (skills) across each enterprise, along with the ability to enable targeted and curated skill development – fueling career mobility for all.
  3. Enabling an ecosystem of HCM technology and content partners, empowering our channel to build and expand business with Degreed and with our customers.

“We face the biggest challenges humanity has ever encountered,” our co-founder and Executive Chairman, David Blake, likes to say. “We need extraordinary experts to solve those challenges and make the unthinkable reality. Experts who can heal, discover, challenge, and advance.”

The future depends on our commitment to be our best selves and discover our own personal missions. To become experts—each of us. The challenges of the future won’t care how you became an expert, just that you did. And that you made a difference.”

Thank you for joining us on this rewarding journey. We look forward to what the future holds, for all of us.

I have been around in the learning space for approximately 25 years and been known to make my share of assumptions, quick judgments and mistakes. I have also been known to be very excited and passionate about learning. I have been privileged to be a part of some incredible learning journeys that had lasting impacts on organizations, and also ones that have been a failure. I am here to share some of my most valuable lessons with you.

One of the common threads in the demise of a corporate learning rollout (guilty!) is a myopic view of communications, course descriptions, and change management approaches.  So much is focused on the corporate initiative and why this will be good for the company and so little is really focused on the employee.

From a learning veteran, here are 3 lessons learning leaders could adopt to be more successful with initiatives.

  1. It’s not you… But it is.

When we roll out new tech, all the employee hears is “another program that we will get excited about for the next several months and then it’s just another program.”  You know you’re guilty of a one-dimensional launch when you hear the dreaded excuse: “I don’t have time for learning.”  Employees are really telling you “I don’t see value in taking time.” It’s the same thing you heard when your High School love broke up with you – “It’s not you, It’s me.”  But really, it is you. When bringing in something new, be sure to highlight the value to the employees. Over and over again.

  1. So you’re sayin’ there’s a chance.

We know it – our employees can be selfish. Most of the time, we’ve got one shot to get it done right. If not, it’s very hard to get them back again.

The solution? Everything you do from the beginning of your learning program needs to be marketed solely to employees. I mean EVERYTHING! The communications and change management efforts but also when you are building out governance. Make sure you focus on the employee in your learning descriptions and /or anything from your program that requires your learner to take action.

Ask yourself these 3 questions:

  • If your life depended on someone opening this course, how would you market it to your learner?
  • Does your course description sound fun and interesting?
  • Does it sound like another corporate learning course that will put you to sleep in 2 minutes and ask you a bunch of irrelevant questions that will make you feel stupid?

Employees are judging the book by the cover but you have the power! You are the one that has the ability to get them to buy what you are selling.

  1. You don’t know Jack. Or Jane.

Research. Ask them. Find out what attracts them, and then do it! “Customer is always right,” right? The success of all your efforts is based on getting them excited about your new program and once it’s not new anymore. Bring sexy back!

The world of learning can be a wonderful place – you just have to open their eyes. I hope this lesson inspired you.

Thousands of dollars.
Thousands of hours of training and preparation.
A team of experts who offer support.

All those resources boiling down to a few hours of performance with limited results: a win or a loss. Sound like a situation we in Learning and Development know too well? How about every time we create a course or formal training.

So, what can learning learn from these exceptional Olympic athletes? You don’t become a world-class expert from one training session.

Mikaela Shiffrin, a 22-year old alpine skier currently competing at the 2018 Winter Olympics, strapped her first pair of ski boots on at the age of 3. Now 22-years old, she’s been practicing for 19 years. Her success comes from many things, including incredibly hard work, and a variety of activities.

According to The New Yorker, she starts her days with a 10-minute warm-up on the stationary bike and stretching. Interval training is a big part of her training, Strength training is a major focus of her program, including circuits filled with sprints pushing and pulling a weighted sled, squats, rowing machine work, and skating on a slideboard. But that’s not all. She also spends time working on her balance and…wait for it… sleeping! She sleeps nine hours each night, on average, and naps every single day.

As proven by Mikaela, achieving Olympic glory requires mastery, over time, using a variety of techniques, repeated in a variety of intensities and even locations. This recipe serves as an example of how employee learning should look: varied, available in multiple formats, and based on the individual.

According to Degreed, the learning journey is similar.

Degreed was founded on the idea that we build our skills over a lifetime, stitching together a variety of experiences. It takes courses and books, articles, videos and podcasts. It also takes lots of searching, practice, trial, and error. And perhaps most meaningful is the guidance, feedback, reflection and coaching along the way.

So what does this mean for L&D Managers and organizations?

Learning happening in a variety of ways means we have to support a variety of modalities to keep our employees engaged.

Much like training for the Olympics, there isn’t one magical system to create greatness. You need an integrated ecosystem that approaches training and learning from different areas.

These ecosystems often include LMSs, but they are increasingly supplemented by solutions for curating open resources, managing micro-learning and automating feedback.

The near future of learning technology is here, and intelligent networks of tools, content, systems, people, and data all working together to empower your workforce to be world-class. To help them learn better, faster and more cost-effectively.

For advice on how to pick the right tools for the job, check out Degreed’s Innovator’s Guide to the Near Future of Learning Technology.

As Learning & Development departments adopt more technology to further their mission, new terms spread dizzyingly fast and useful terms float in a sea of jargon and buzzwords. To help you stay on top of the trends, Degreed is launching a new L&D Dictionary blog series.

In each installment, we go over the traditional or dictionary definition of an L&D term before going on to explain its significance to the modern learning world. Armed with these definitions, you can cut through the hype to apply new concepts to your training offerings so your employees remain on the cutting edge.


Curation
cuˈration, n.

 1. The action of curing; healing, cure.
2. Curatorship, guardianship.
Draft additions  1993
b. The supervision by a curator of a collection of preserved or exhibited items.
“cuˈration, n.”. OED Online. January 2018. Oxford University Press. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/45958 (accessed January 19, 2018).


Curation is one of the hottest topics in Learning & Development, but dictionaries haven’t quite caught up.

Degreed defines curation as the process of evaluating, organizing, and sharing learning resources around a specific topic while adding context with your own instruction to create a personal, relevant experience.

If you’re new to curation, where do you start? Curation is a valuable tool you can use to provide more tailored instruction to employees with the same limited time you have.

Traditionally, if you wanted to share new material, you had to analyze the need, find Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), interview them, design your learning activity, draft material, review it (with your SME, whose time is also limited), provide the materials, collect feedback, and (hopefully) update the material for next time. That meant each content area was a real commitment, and lots of emerging topics just couldn’t make the cut. In today’s dynamic learning landscape, you need to move faster to help employees keep up with the ever-changing nature of their work.

When you curate learning content, you don’t have to create all-new materials yourself. Instead, seek recommendations for relevant materials from SMEs or research to find some yourself. These can be from professional organizations, luminaries in the field, or your SMEs’ own materials shared online. By combining content from other sources to cover the general portion of your material, you leave yourself more time to create new content where it really counts—about organization-specific processes or concepts.

Interested in learning more about curation? Check out this Degreed Pathway.

Next definition: User-Generated Content

Many of us are starting the year doing a lot of evaluation. Evaluating ourselves, evaluating our fitness and health, and at work, evaluating our contributions. And some of us have decided to make changes.

In learning and development, many want to improve the way we support employees. We’re asking questions like:

– How can I convince my employees to make time for learning?
– How can we make learning part of the day instead of a tedious activity?
– What can we do to make content more interesting?

I’ve been asking these questions too, and in my search for answers, I found the best place to start was better understanding my employees (learners).

Here are my top 3 recommendations for facilitating a good learning experience.

  1.    Support employees so learning can happen available anytime, anywhere.

Workers don’t confine their development to the “office” or typical work hours. In Degreed’s “How the Workforce Learns” report, 85% of people said they learn at work, 67% do so on personal time and 18% are learning during travel or commutes.

While this feels like you might have less control than you’d like, it’s actually a good thing for retention.

Benedict Carey, author of How We Learn and writer at The New York Times, actually recommends changing locations while learning. New scenery maximizes the number of associations tied to a certain memory and makes it easier to access when trying to reconnect with the content later on.

So, creating the environment and culture where employees feel that ALL the learning they do, wherever they do means increased valued and they’ll likely retain information and make connections more effectively.

  1.    Stop worrying about millennials and boomers and start worrying about learner preferences.

I led a panel discussion last year on the generational differences in the workforce with eBay and BlueBeyond consulting. We had a representative from the 4 generations in the workforce today, and what surfaced was that societal trends, more than age, influence preferences for digesting information.

70% of the time, learning still happens on PCs. But smartphones (17%) and tablets (13%) account for 30% of digital development.

While there is some broad truth to generational differences, there were plenty of boomers in the room who prefer YouTube “how-to’s” and a significant number of millennials who still to write things down and would choose face to face over IM.

The takeaway? Learning preference is just that, an individual’s preference. Regardless of generation, we should give each employee options that appeal to their unique learning style and  preferences in content themes

  1.    When investing in new tech, consider more than efficiency.

Many L&D teams are trying to do more with less. Content that appeals to a broader audience, templates that standardize and one system that can do it all.

But how does this approach cater to the reality that we build skills over time, and from a variety of sources including books, conversations, and experience?

As Degreed’s new Innovators Guide points out, the problem with this approach is that in a typical L&D environment, the content (as well as the systems, people, and work experiences) are isolated. They rarely work together to interact or share data. “As a result, they don’t give anyone a useful picture of our learning activities or, more importantly, our skill-sets,” said Todd Tauber, VP of Product Marketing at Degreed.

Instead, we need to consider the benefits of being in the age of technology, and thanks to things like APIs, organizations can form world-class systems from multiple, best of breed solutions. “This is the near future of learning technology: intelligent networks of tools, content, systems, people, and data all working together to empower your workforce to learn better, faster AND more cost-effectively,” added Tauber.

Ready to learn more? Check out Degreed’s Innovator’s Guide.

 

80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by the second week in February. Just 6 weeks after setting a resolution, the vast majority of people quickly realize their goals are unattainable. Setting unrealistic goals can be de-motivating for yourself and the teams you lead. Conversely, setting realistic goals can lead to inspiration and transformative change.

Sometimes it’s not easy to see transformation in-progress. In 2014, I lost 20 pounds when training for a marathon. I didn’t notice the daily changes to my body, but when I saw friends, they noted my weight loss as dramatic and transformational.

Learning is not that different from exercise; both benefit from attainable and clear goals that act as stepping stones throughout the process of change.

Here are 4 pointers to help guide you in setting achievable goals for L&D.

  1. Know the difference between a Point B and a North Star

Many of the organizations using Degreed seek a self-driven learning culture, where learners are empowered to drive their development. We encourage that vision, but it doesn’t happen overnight. Just like a North Star guiding a ship — it’s a directional aim that makes sure you’re headed in the right direction. However, the path to achieving that vision is formed from a series of milestones that transform your organization’s learning culture over time and in manageable increments. To start, assign each quarter of the year a clear milestone that serves as your stepping stones to achieving that greater vision. These quarterly goals are the Point B, Point C, and Point D on your way to a North Star.

  1. Set goals you can control

Whenever possible, set goals that you directly control. When there’s “skin in the game”, no one will work harder to achieve a goal. Things always take longer than you think when depending on other people. Rightfully so — those people have their own goals and priorities. If you’re focused on setting goals where you control all the levers, you can move more quickly. As an L&D team, you’ll likely need to work cross-functionally to enable learning in all parts of the organization. You’re your goals do depend on other teams, you’ll need to work hard to influence and lobby others to prioritize your initiatives.

  1. Attach measurable metrics to your goals and adjust when necessary

Picture yourself at the end of the year or the end of the quarter. You don’t want to come to the end unsure whether you achieved your goals. So before you even begin, establish clear metrics to track against on a regular basis, so that you can tell whether or not you’re headed in the right direction. Those goals should be tracked monthly, if not weekly. The more quickly you can identify whether you’re headed in the wrong direction, the more quickly you can adjust your tactics.

For example, let’s say one of your L&D Goals is to create a more social learning experience. How will you measure that result? You could measure through a survey that queries your learners, but you could also measure changes in takeaways, recommendations, or followers on Degreed as an indicator of that collaboration. Seeing clear increases in the sharing of learning items is correlated to more social learning.

  1. Determine specific tactics and strategies that support each goal.

If the goal is the end result, the tactics are the levers you pull to enable that end result. Most likely, you’ll need to deploy a handful of tactics , and these are the projects you’re going to do in the day-to-day to work towards the goal.

Tying it to learning, one of your goals might be to retain top talent in your organization. One supporting tactic to achieve that goal may be to enable FlexED (Degreed’s flexible spending account) to reward top talent and invest in their learning. A secondary tactic could be to establish a mentorship program, where you pair top talent with executives. A third could be to use skills ratings to show the learners progress and how much they are learning in their organization over time. These tactics support the achievement of the greater goal and are much more actionable. Remember that each of these tactics should come attached with specific measurable metrics. Even your top-level goal should have metrics, by measuring the churn rate of your top talent.

While these four suggestions can help you to start your year more effectively, your goals may shift throughout the year. External factors can cause priorities to shift, resources grow and shrink, so in my next post, I’ll talk through how to recognize when your goals need to change.

  • Do I need to completely change things, or just tweak them?
  • Is the goal wrong or are your tactics not effective?
  • How can I get to the core of why things aren’t working?

Ready to get started? Get going! and stay tuned for Part 2.

Degreed is proud to announce our partnership with IP Innovations.

Our partnership enables IP Innovations to offer Degreed to the commercial enterprise markets and makes Degreed the first skills-building learning platform in Japan.

As a country, Japan currently relies on traditional learning management systems (LMS) and formal learning processes and training programs. However, there is an appetite for informal, efficient learning platforms within the country. The forecast for the Japanese e-learning market in 2016 was 170 billion Yen ($1.7 billion USD).

Through the partnership with IP Innovations, Degreed will be the first informal learning platform offered within the country. Degreed allows Japanese companies to better and more efficiently build skills, track learning and measure mission-critical skills development.

“We’re thrilled to announce a partnership with IP Innovations,” said David Blake, CEO of Degreed. “IP Innovations’ brand equity in Japan uniquely positions us to reach thousands of businesses and offer them Degreed’s seamless learning platform. We believe the agreement is further validation of our mission, vision, and strategy and that informal learning has market appeal on a global basis.”

“We are really excited about partnering with Degreed,“ said Masashi Urayama, CEO of IP innovations. “Degreed is a learning platform that is based on the very different concept than the traditional LMS. While the LMS is a platform that supports formal learning, Degreed is a platform that supports the whole process of learning, including informal learning. In the future where the digital native generation accounts for more than half of the workforce, it is essential to have a platform like Degreed. Through our partnership with Degreed, we are going to foster the culture of learning and spread the method to support performance improvement in the Japanese workplace.”

About IP Innovations
IP innovations is a Japanese company where experts with long experience in the field of human resource development gather. We propose our customer’s distinctive approaches to help create innovative workforce and promote organization development. Founded in 2003, IP innovations is headquartered in Tokyo.

Learn more about IP innovations at their Website.

Interested in a partnership with Degreed? Please visit our partner page.

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