Delivering powerful learning solutions to the organization requires that at least some of that learning be customized. With a new partnership between Thomson NETg and OutStart, companies will be able to provide customized education to their workforce. By combining Thomson NETg’s learning objects with OutStart Evolution, enterprise software that enables companies to create and deliver learning and that provides an advanced content management solution, learning executives and their teams will be able to create, customize and deliver enterprise learning solutions that are company-specific and fit with each job role.
NETg learning objects will be added to the Evolution content repository, enabling authors to create learning through OutStart Evolution. These learning objects can then be repurposed or combined with other content to create customized courses. The learning objects can be delivered through Evolution or through a company’s existing learning management system.
According to James Lundy, vice president and analyst at Gartner, producing company-specific content has been in high demand, but the capabilities have been lagging behind this demand. “Customers need to make learning more strategic within their organizations,” he said. The partnership between NETg and OutStart will allow companies to cross the barriers between off-the-shelf content and learning software, he added.
The partnership will allow learning departments to edit, update and save more than 100,000 NETg Learning Objects (NLOs) to create company-specific and needs-specific learning. They will also be able to repurpose NLOs using their own company-specific information, allowing them to create customized content that is unique to their organizations. Finally, they will be able to combine and deliver various NLOs, along with updated learning objects and their own company-specific content.
Customers who acquire the OutStart learning content management system will be able to install as many as 100,000 NETg learning objects, said Joe Dougherty, president of Thomson NETg. “Through a mutual engineering effort, we’ve enabled OutStart to accept those objects, recognize them, create customized objects to pair with them and team with them,” he said. “Content is important, but the context of learning is every bit as important. So while a course is great, a new employee orientation program is greater, and for that to include some technology courses, some basic skills courses depending on the position and some custom content from a company—this is just going to facilitate that.”
Prepackaged, off-the-shelf courses can be a drawback in some instances, where content needs to be targeted for specific learning audiences. According to Dougherty, content that is not customized can be incomplete. “Some information has to be customized,” he said. Other content does not need to be designed with company-specific information. “For example, Ritz-Carlton customer service takes tremendous pride in how they train people, and it’s held near and dear to them, but if they are going to teach people to be Cisco Network Engineers, there’s no need for a Ritz-Carlton spin on that. Some things are very standard. It’s the ability to take something tried and true and really integrate it with a signature process, and to be able to facilitate that is what clients need.”
Most learning solutions are a combination of off-the-shelf and custom content, Dougherty said. “Great teachers combine them on the fly in the classroom. A great teacher teaching economics will bring in some supply and demand, but also some language or examples, or they’ll contextualize,” he said. “Companies behave the same way. No one solution is perfect: 100 percent custom is too expensive; 100 percent off-the-shelf is too generic. By giving clients the flexibility and by being open, which is what we’re trying to stress, we let our clients do what they need to do to solve their own problems.”
Interest in the customizable learning is very strong, Dougherty said. “Conceptually, it’s a stimulating idea for people,” he explained. “It’s more than just learning. It’s an opportunity to integrate enterprise-wide communication and learning into one system so you can actually teach a salesperson, for example, about a new product and provide a sales tip sheet, and it can be nicely integrated into the same experience.”Filed under: Technology