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Archive for the ‘USA’ Category

Learn New Skills

Monday, October 13th, 2008

It’s been a crazy few months between banks and stock markets and the big recession that is slowly gripping the world.  In an atmosphere like this it is up to everyone to improve their employability and career prospects by learning new skills and upskilling.  You don’t need to wait until your employer arranges this or even leave it so late that your social welfare officer arranges it.  Take the initiative and seek out the training that can make a difference for you.  If you want to keep up with the times, your old skills must be continually sharpened and new ones must be acquired.

Always keep in mind the following:

  • There is no such thing as “Finished Learning.” One who stops learning, stops growing.  Work hard towards sharpening your Foundation and Transferable skills.  It pays to spend some time sharpening your axe before attempting to fell a tree.
  • Keep an eye open for new skills and master them. At the same time, improve the ones you already have.
  • Do some research to find out what skills are and will always be most valued in your industry.  Two sites that may help you here are ‘A Career Guide to Industries’ and ‘Tomorrow’s Jobs’.

Issues that people typically have include the following:

What can I do? – You can do whatever you want to. Right from cooking to eating, you will find information pertaining to any interest that you may have.

Where to look? – Keep your eyes and ears open. There’ll always be something happening in your locality to match your interest.

Universities/Colleges: – Usually, universities and colleges have clubs, societies and student groups which bring together students with similar interests. You can be sure to fit into at least one of them and learn from those who have more experience than you and build networks.

Leisure Centers & Gyms: – These are places where you will find people who like physical activity like hiking, swimming and traveling.

Evening Classes: – Collect details of all evening courses conducted in your area. Learn a language you don’t know, or get trained to do creative things like sewing or origami.

Volunteering: – Though not as glamorous as a lot of other things, the feel-good factor is immensely high! Giving something back to society is an amazing way to boost your morale. And of course, it looks impressive on your CV too and can be used to reinforce your skills and validate new ones.

Distance and Online Learning: – If you prefer to spend more time at home and if that’s the only hindrance you are facing to learning new skills, this is perfect for you. Learn Skills is one of the places where you can start hunting for relevant information about courses and as for online courses, it is the best place to start looking for what you want with a very comprehensive range of courses that cover both skills and compliance based training.  If you have any specific needs you can contact Learn Skills.

Source: CvTips.com article “Learn New Skills”.

E-learning helps USA retailers dump classrooms for the anywhere, anytime Internet

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

By Elizabeth Gardner

USA – 1st March, 2008 – Walk into a City Furniture store in Florida on a slow morning and you’re likely to find a store associate at his computer. It may look like he’s web surfing, but he’s probably brushing up on his knowledge of couch construction or crib safety standards using the retailer’s e-learning system. For the past year, the 15-store chain has been moving its employee training away from classrooms and paper manuals and onto the Internet.

With stores all over south Florida, City Furniture’s 1,100 employees are far flung. “Imagine how challenging it is to get people to come an hour north, or two hours south, or an hour west, for a full-day training session,” says Janet Wincko, director of recruiting and learning. “Every moment they’re driving here and sitting in a class, they’re not selling.” And for employees in the 24/7 distribution center, scheduling classroom training to fit everyone’s odd hours is an additional challenge.

With e-learning, employees can complete little chunks of training; anything from five minutes for a quick briefing on a new product to a 20-minute module on store procedures, whenever they have a spare moment. Their reward is anything from lavish praise to bonuses or promotions. City Furniture’s reward is more training completed at less expense and potentially lower employee turnover and higher sales.

Internet-based e-learning is transforming how stores train their employees, whether it’s how to fold a sweater, how to deal with an angry customer or how to work the point-of-sale system. And sometimes that point-of-sale screen carries the lesson of the day.

“First-tier retailers: those with more than $2 billion in annual sales, all have embraced e-learning”, says Sunita Gupta, executive vice president at the LakeWest Group, a retail consulting firm. It recently completed a survey of 100 top retailers, and more than 70% said better training of store personnel was their top priority.

“Among second tier retailers: those with $500 million to $2 billion in sales, adoption of e-learning varies, and it’s most often used to introduce new technologies or programs”, Gupta adds.

Because e-learning systems are often available as a hosted solution and companies can pay per user, retailers of any size can potentially benefit, says Don Cook, senior vice president of marketing at Learn.com Inc., which includes about 30 retailers, including City Furniture, among its 500 e-learning clients. “We target the mid-market, between 10,000 and 30,000 employees is our sweet spot, but our biggest growth area is companies with less than 1,000,” he says. “Small companies should take training seriously. When you have three stores, it’s easier to develop a training system than if you wait until you have 50 or 100.”

Computer-based training has been around since all screens were black with green letters. The rise of the commercial Internet has made networked computers ubiquitous and inexpensive, giving retailers the ability to easily link trainees with centralized training. And the evolution of Internet technology has spawned a toolbox of presentation techniques as useful for developing training materials as they are for creating flashy web sites. Course developers can choose online video, Internet gaming techniques and other tools that appeal to the young people who form the backbone of many retailers’ sales forces. And those forces can take their training at any Internet-connected computer whenever it’s convenient, whether during a lull at the store or at home in their jammies.

“Retailers realize that e-learning offers a better toolset than traditional training,” Gupta says. “It’s interactive. They can add remedial sections if someone is taking longer than usual to understand something. They can be creative with learning protocols. And they can test as they go to gauge a person’s progress.”

Last year, Hudson’s Bay Co., one of Canada’s largest retailers with more than 580 locations and 50,000 to 70,000 employees depending on the season, realized a two-fold increase in the number of online training courses completed by employees, says Jason Hubbard, senior manager of e-learning and virtual classroom.

His in-house staff of five has produced dozens of e-learning courses over the past four years, not only on specific products and store procedures but also on personal growth topics like dealing with stress and improving language skills. Each course takes about three weeks to create and 15 to 20 minutes for a learner to complete. Hudson’s Bay employees completed more than 160,000 courses in 2007.

And often they revisit those courses for a refresher. “Any trainer will tell you that when someone gets training for a whole day, they’re overwhelmed and don’t remember everything they’ve learned,” Hubbard says. “With this system, you can go online to review specific things. If I do a spreadsheet once a month and I’ve forgotten how to do a PivotTable, I can use the Excel course as a reference tool.”

The courses run on a learning management system from GeoLearning Inc. GeoLearning hosts the system, which provides a platform not only for delivering the courses but for tracking participation and assessing the overall “skill health” of individual employees. The learning management system can serve as a general employee development tool for human resources departments, says Will Hipwell, GeoLearning’s senior vice president of product development.

E-learning can help geographically dispersed organizations develop a common corporate identity, says Angela Vazquez, director of instructional design at AMC Theatres, which operates 300 movie theaters throughout the U.S. and Canada. The company has been using e-learning for about four years. Its system provides courses for about 2,700 employees, including line managers at theaters. Vazquez plans to roll out courses this year for the 20,000 crew-level employees, the ones who pop the popcorn and clean between the seats.

“Having a centralized training function at the home office really helps us standardize and share our culture with remote locations,” Vazquez says. Each course uses the same branded template to give a consistent look and feel.

Face to face?

However, some subjects are still best taught in person, especially if they involve role-playing or lots of personal interaction, says Hudson’s Bay’s Hubbard. But even then, e-learning can streamline the process.

“A class that might have run a full day before can now run half a day because you can play around with the material a little bit online before the course and do follow-up online,” he says. City Furniture, Hudson’s Bay and AMC all use some classroom training in addition to e-learning for a blended approach.

Costs for e-learning vary widely, and the return on investment is sometimes difficult to identify, especially in the first few years when a company is incurring substantial expenses to set up a system and develop courses.

When City Furniture’s Janet Wincko was selling management on e-learning, she stayed away from squishy projections on increased sales or reduced turnover and stuck to the obvious. “Paying a dollar to an instructional designer is comparable to paying a dollar to an instructor,” she says. “But I have to pay the instructor every time he teaches a class, and I only have to pay the designer once.”

For Hudson’s Bay, direct return on its overall e-learning investment isn’t a primary concern, Hubbard says. Sales and management staff have to be trained one way or another, and his most important metric is successful course completions (defined as not only being exposed to the course, but passing the post-course test with an 80% score or better). Nonetheless, he can point to cases where introducing a course on a specific product: for example, digital cameras has resulted in increased sales. “Associates are much more likely to sell something when they’re knowledgeable about the product.”

In general, benefits from e-learning are significant, especially when viewed enterprisewide, some experts say.

“It’s hard to measure what you get back from having sales associates who can actually assist customers,” says LakeWest Group’s Gupta. “But many corporate initiatives fail because the execution doesn’t happen at the store level.”

Source: InternetRetailer.com

Elizabeth Gardner is a Riverside, Ill.-based freelance business writer.

Learn Skills aims to have a comprehensive range of essential skills and compliance training for the Retail Sector available soon, for both individuals and large groups of employees and learners.

Online Education Reaches New Heights in the USA

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

USA – Oct 22 2007 – Nearly one in five higher education students now takes at least one class online, according to a new study of more than 2,500 colleges and universities nationwide. The 2007 Sloan Survey of Online Learning, released today by the Babson Survey Research Group, reveals that online enrollment rose by nearly ten percent in fall 2006, to 3.49 million students. Approximately 3.18 million students had at least one online course in fall 2005.

“The growth in online learning continues to far outpace that of the broader student population,” said study co-author Dr. I. Elaine Allen Associate Professor of Statistics & Entrepreneurship, Babson College. “Enrollment has increased at an average annual rate of 21.5 percent over the past five years compared with just 1.5 percent average annual growth for the overall higher education population.”

The fifth annual survey, a collaborative effort between the Babson Survey Research Group, the College Board and the Sloan Consortium, represents the state of online learning in the United States. The complete survey report, “Online Nation: Five Years of Growth in Online Learning” is available at www.sloan-c.org/publications/survey/index.asp.

“The survey results speak to the significance of online learning in America today,” said Frank Mayadas, Program Director, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “With online students making up about 20 percent of the higher education population, we are seeing – and will continue to see – online learning playing a major role in the education of America’s college students.”

The Babson Survey Research Group in the Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurial Research at Babson College conducts regional, national, and international research projects, including survey design, sampling methodology, data integrity, statistical analyses and reporting.

The College Board is a not-for-profit membership association whose mission is to connect students to college success and opportunity. Founded in 1900, the association is composed of more than 5,000 schools, colleges, universities, and other educational organizations. The College Board is committed to the principles of excellence and equity, and that commitment is embodied in all of its programs, services, activities, and concerns.

The Sloan Consortium is the nation’s largest association of institutions and organizations committed to quality online education and administered through Babson College and Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering.

Source: Sloan-C News

Nearly 3.2 Million Higher Education Students Taking Courses Online

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

USA – Nov 9 2006 – The Sloan Survey of Online Learning, Making the Grade: Online Education in the United States, 2006 shows tremendous growth in online learning in America. The complete survey is available at www.sloan-c.org/publications/survey/index.asp.

“This is the largest study to date and it tells us online learning is growing without any sign of a plateau,” says Jeff Seaman, chief information officer and survey director, The Sloan Consortium. “There were nearly 3.2 million students taking at least one course online this past fall, up from 2.3 million just last year.”

The fourth annual survey is a collaborative effort between the College Board and the Sloan Consortium. It’s based upon responses from more than 2,200 colleges and universities nationwide and represents the state of online learning in U.S. higher education.

“We include Sloan questions in the College Board’s Annual Survey of Colleges to better understand the state of online learning at our country’s institutions of higher education,” said Hal Higginbotham, chief information officer, the College Board. “The insight we gain from the survey enables us to better serve those who benefit from online courses, those who traditionally wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to connect to college success.”

The survey also finds a larger percentage (62 percent) of chief academic officers agree the learning outcomes in online education are now as good as or superior to face-to-face instruction while 57 percent say it is critical to their institution’s long-term strategy.

In addition 73 percent agree online education reaches students not served by face-to-face programs. “Offering courses online increases enrollment particularly among populations like working adults and others who traditionally have not been able to access higher education,” says Frank Mayadas, program director, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

The Sloan Consortium is the nation’s largest association of institutions and organizations committed to quality online education and administered through Babson College and Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering.

The College Board is a not-for-profit membership association whose mission is to connect students to college success and opportunity. Founded in 1900, the association is composed of more than 5,000 schools, colleges, universities, and other educational organizations. Each year, the College Board serves seven million students and their parents, 23,000 high schools, and 3,500 colleges through major programs and services in college admissions, guidance, assessment, financial aid, enrollment, and teaching and learning. Among its best-known programs are the SAT®, the PSAT/NMSQT®, and the Advanced Placement Program® (AP®). The College Board is committed to the principles of excellence and equity, and that commitment is embodied in all of its programs, services, activities, and concerns.

Souce: Sloan-C News