Edvance360 Tips & Tricks: Alerts & Announcements

April 21, 2015 at 10:00 am | Posted in Weekly Tips | Leave a comment
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Communicating with users on your Edvance360 site can be as simple and effective as using ALERTS & ANNOUNCEMENTS. 

For a global announcement the Admin may select the ALERTS tool in the Admin panel, create an announcement and save it be launched immediately or at a specific date. This alert/announcement will show up “front and center” of each users’ Home Dashboard right above the Personal Alerts. 

For a course or community announcement, the instructors/facilitators of the particular course or community may select the Announcement tool on the left-hand panel, create an announcement and save it to be launched immediately or at a specific date. This alert/announcement will show up “front and center” of the particular course or community. 

Note: When users remove the alert/announcement from either the Home Dashboard or the Home page of their course or community, it is not deleted forever. Each one is preserved and viewable at any time by the user through their “ALERTS HISTORY” tool on the left-hand panel of their Home Dashboard.

Create a Global Alert explaining how the new users may navigate Edvance360 efficiently. You may chose to link a customized video to the announcement for the new users reviewing their tools

Edvance360 Tips & Tricks: Communities 

April 16, 2015 at 10:00 am | Posted in Weekly Tips | Leave a comment
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Communities in Edvance360 are designed for groups of people collaborating on various projects and topics. Some may want to change the word “Communities” to “Groups” by using your Custom Language Pack Editor in your Admin Panel. If you do not have the Custom Language Pack Editor turned on for your site, please submit an Edvance360 Help Ticket to get it active.) 

Our clients utilize communities in unique ways to keep their users connected: 

  • Some use it for their employees to have access to company resources, or create Dropboxes for them to submit quarterly outcomes or reviews. 
  • The discussion tool is a great tool to have open discussions about projects, team scenarios, how to upgrade work areas, improve student results, etc. 
  • Create surveys to gain feedback. 
  • Use wikis to work on a project together like a handbook or other shared document. 
  • Post links to other software or website inside the Settings link.

Have you ever considered having communities designed for students: Student Government, Financial Aid, Foreign Language Groups, Work Spaces, etc. Or, have you considered communities designed for staff: Strategic Planning, Training, Brainstorming, Human Resources, etc.

Keeping users connected and collaborating is vital within online learning. We encourage you to actively use Communities on your site!

Edvance360 Tips & Tricks: Blogging

April 14, 2015 at 10:00 am | Posted in Weekly Tips | Leave a comment
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Each user on Edvance360 has a Blog, unless the school/business has turned this feature off. Blog stands for web-log. It is the client’s personal journal or where they may share opportunities or thoughts, articles they are writing, get immediate feedback from peers or students, and more. Blogs may be accessed by clicking “Blog” at the top of the page. 

How to Create a New Post 

 From the Blog page, users may start a new post. To create a new post, click on the New Post link at the top of the page. Users may enter in a title, enter information, pictures, hyperlinks, etc. into the body, and add tags or keywords for their blog. When the user is finished, they may click “Submit.”

Immediately beneath their post (the start of the conversation or blog), users may see the most recent posts or comments. On the right-hand side of the page, the user may access a list of most recent posts on that blog. 

 Accessing the Blog Directory 

The user may also access the Blog Directory from the left-hand navigation panel. The Blog Directory has two sides to it. On the right side there is a list of all the Bloggers in the user’s network. Users may choose from a list of bloggers, by clicking on their hyperlink. By clicking on the blogger you will be taken to their profile page. Each user’s Home page displays their name, picture, biography, and a link to their personal blog. The left side of the Blog Directory consists of all of the Latest Blog Posts. The user may choose to select from the list of Latest Blog Posts by clicking on the blog post. 

 The Blog Directory may also be accessed from the main Contacts tab, on the left-hand navigation panel. Users may choose from a list of bloggers in their network by clicking on the hyperlinks. The user may also choose to select from a list of Latest Blog Posts to access specific posts from each blogger.

Using Edvance360 to Facilitate Brainstorming

April 13, 2015 at 11:20 am | Posted in Weekly Tips | Leave a comment
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Looking to use collaborative tools and leverage technology in a way that boosts team performance? Consider using Edvance360’s tools to make team-brainstorming sessions more creative and therefore more effective.

 

Live, in-meeting brainstorming is widely used in organizations, despite the lack of evidence that it works and in the face of pretty compelling evident that it actually leads to a productivity loss.  However, using technology to make brainstorming more effective by replacing physical and oral sessions with virtual ones (sometimes called “brainwriting,” “braindrawing” or electronic brainstorming) can make it more effective…by as much as 50-70%, according to the meta-analyses.

 

According to Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, in “Why Brainstorming Works Better Online”, the advantages to virtual brainstorming are three-fold.

 

First, it tamps down on the dominant personalities, eliminating what Chamorro-Premuzic calls “production blocking”:

…the process where dominant participants talk too much, taking over the session and eclipsing their colleagues. This leads to cognitive overload and hinders creative idea generation in more introverted participants. In virtual brainstorming there is a clear positive relationship between group size and performance, whereas in traditional, in-person brainstorming sessions, things tend to get messy with more than six participants. Online, there are no real limits to group size: the cost of having 5 or 50 participants is nearly the same, and you actually save costs by allowing to people to work remotely and in dispersed locations.”


So, virtual brainstorming lets everyone have equal opportunity to be creative and to express their creativity, it’s scalable, the more you have, the more creative you can get, and it saves costs. With E360 Live!™, Edvance360 users can host large virtual meetings, share a whiteboard, poll attendees, and generate discussion that won’t end with the live meeting but rather continues into actionable items via Edvance360’s Wiki tool. Additionally, debate can continue via Edvance360’s Discussions and Group tools. Even Edvance360’s Agents can play a role of notifying group members when items have been completed.


Second, he says:

virtual brainstorming enables feelings of anonymity since ideas cannot be attributed to a specific person. This reduces evaluation apprehension, particularly in less confident individuals who would underperform in traditional brainstorming sessions. Anonymity also means that ideas are judged more objectively. In traditional sessions, the process is as biased and political as in any other physical group interaction – the powerful people take over, and though democratic in theory, in fact decisions are driven by one or two powerful individuals. Conversely, when team members rate ideas anonymously and without knowledge of the author, politics are out of the way.”


He uses a fun, quicky example:

An example of this is textsfromlastnight, a site that allows users to anonymously submit quirky text messages, which are then rated – good or bad – by other anonymous users. Organizations would do well to copy this process: have a live, real-time, virtual depository of ideas for new products, services, or processes, which can then be rated or evaluated by other employees, and perhaps even clients.


So, have a live, real-time, virtual depository of ideas for new products, services, or processes, which can then be rated or evaluated by other employees, and perhaps even clients. Sounds like Edvance360 tools would come in handy here:

• Secure social network to keep all these creative members active
• Community for all these creative members to belong
• Discussion forum (which is live, real-time, and virtual) as a depository of ideas

As ideas gain traction through votes/replies, the idea becomes the apparent leader of the pack. Additionally, concerns and challenges could be addressed in real-time rather than once the creative idea has been implemented.


Third, he says that if virtual sessions are designed intelligently, they can increase the diversity of ideas:

In traditional brainstorming, being exposed to others’ ideas causes uniformity and regression to the mean: the most creative people will descend to the level of the group average. But by preventing participants from being exposed to each other’s ideas during the idea-generation phase, virtual brainstorming encourages participants to offer a wider variety of ideas. In line with this, studies have shown that individual brainstorming, where people write down a number of ideas on a piece of paper, often produces more and better ideas than group brainstorming. Virtual brainstorming preserves this mechanism while providing a searchable archive of ideas for the team to weigh in on later.


So, virtual brainstorming comes after the idea-generation phase (or before, if you are going to lay out the challenge via a brainstorming session), which can then be used to “hash out” issues and challenges but only after a searchable archive of ideas are gathered, a clear leading idea is apparent, and many challenges/issues are already addressed. This leads to creative people becoming more creative, producing more and better ideas.


Finally, in summary, he says:

Thus virtual brainstorming retains the original postulate of traditional brainstorming – that teams can crowdsource creativity by curating the ideas they collectively produce in an informal, free-flowing, stream-of-consciousness, session – but overcoming the main, originally unforeseen, barriers.

Edvance360 Counts Down to CODiE Awards Announcement

April 10, 2015 at 12:43 pm | Posted in E360 News & Events | Leave a comment
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CODiE2015Edvance360 LMS-SN™ eagerly awaits the announcement of CODiE Awards to all the finalists, including those in the categories of Best Corporate Learning/Workforce Development Solution and Best Postsecondary Learning Management Solution, the latter of which Edvance360 has been finalists for seven years running (and took the award in 2011). Live interview included in press release, click here to view the full story.

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Social Learning & Collaborative Tools Still Push the Learning Envelope

April 8, 2015 at 9:58 am | Posted in Interesting Facts | Leave a comment
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In an interview with Harvard Business Review (see article here). Peter Hirst, director of the executive education program at the MIT Sloan School of Management, highlighted the importance of face-to-face and collaborative interaction even in online learning. His role is to help lead MIT into a new era of online learning.

 

Basically, old is new again. Only different.

 

When asked if the goal of virtual collaboration is to mimic real-life interaction, or if they are fundamentally different, his answer was perfect:

I think they clearly are different. What we’ve been doing is two-fold. On the one hand, we’ve been trying to say, ‘Are there ways we can use technology that don’t cause us to have to completely re-think and re-write how learning happens, how our faculty teach, how program participants interact collaboratively?’ So in that sense it is trying to mimic the in-person experience.

And then there’s the very different approach. There’s a lot of activity around this now, through things like edX, which MIT is one of the founding partners of. [This approach] is really not trying to mimic what we would do in the physical world, but starting from an entirely digital form, and really being very thoughtful about what the learning outcomes are that we’re trying to achieve, and how can the technology enable us to achieve those outcomes. There are many things that are very different about how you would design learning and work, if you really are doing it from a digital-first standpoint.

So, it’s different and the same.

He also said:

We very much have the MIT philosophy of ‘mind and hand.’ The actual application of the knowledge and frameworks [we teach],is vital. And I think we’re all getting better at getting people engaged, creating compelling video content and graphics and animations, which are necessary to bring alive the content in digital programs. But really, we have to match that up with effective activities — whether those are digital or real-world activities that people do [when] they walk away from their computer screen – to actually apply the learning and the ideas.

Did you catch that? Adding a compelling video to a course or animation to a PowerPoint isn’t going to cut it. The learning activities need to be effective. They need to be able to apply the idea by doing the action required. So a paper isn’t going to cut it either.

If you look at a lot of the MOOC-style programs that proliferated in the last couple of years, I think their starting point was to try to capture a professor teaching a class that they’re already teaching. Just put that out in a very long-form video for people to watch.And that’s evolved into trying to break those up into something more like a collection of TED talks. [But even that is] still linear — you progress through the class through a sort of a syllabus.

What we’re seeing most recently, and what I’m very excited about, is going from that linear model to a much more non-linear idea. The digital learning experience is becoming really a collection of inter-related learning nuggets, that you might take very different paths through, depending who you are and what your needs are, and how you learn most effectively. So that’s where I’m seeing some interesting changes happening.

Adaptive learning is a paradigm shift. And not one that is just asynchronous vs. synchronous.It’s also webinars, video conferencing, 3D virtual worlds, social networking, collaborative communities, wikis, etc.

It’s nice to know that networked learning environments like Edvance360 – complete with synchronous tools, video conferencing, and social learning tools are still pushing the proverbial envelope.

 

 

Technology Alone Isn’t Your Solution

April 6, 2015 at 9:33 pm | Posted in Interesting Facts | Leave a comment
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Mark Mortensen, an associate professor of Organizational Behavior at INSEAD, published an interesting article on Harvard Business Review about collaboration and technology—er, rather our expectations of technology and collaboration.  You can read it here.  The title caught my eye: “Technology Alone Won’t Solve Our Collaboration Problems.”  I’ve been preaching this for years – technology alone won’t solve anyone’s problems.  Often, it merely exacerbates them or at least exchanges one set of problems for another. 

You might be saying “But you’re with a technology company!”  True.  Edvance360 is the creator of a learning management system—the very first to be built on the principles and tools of collaboration over ten years ago.  When it comes to collaboration, Edvance360 has been on the front lines for a very long time.  From the very beginning we saw that (what was then brand new) collaborative technology would be useful.  We helped to coin the term “social learning tools” at a time when no one had a clue.  Not. A. Clue. 

Online learning was at its infancy.  Social networking was just born.  Social learning was in its gestation period. 

I’m very proud of our record of enhancing online learning to fill in the missing piecesrelationship and collaboration.  So many of our institutions and corporations have found our tools to be exactly what was needed to create and capitalize on a sense of community online, rather than on campus or at headquarters. 

Our clients are successful, but I have also seen a number of non-client institutions implement a learning management system or course management system at a very high cost (both in terms of time and resources) only to bust within the same year of implementation.  Simply because they didn’t consider the following question: 

Will our people use the system? 

Sounds logical, right?  You’d be surprised how many RFIs and RFPs I’ve filled out (it’s in the several hundreds) that ask every question under the sun.  I’ve even answered questions about my current employee’s previous work history!  (Trust me, knowing where my receptionist came from isn’t going to guarantee success.) Absolutely NO ONE asks the right question: If we go with you, can you guarantee our users will USE the system? 

Professor Mortensen must feel the same.  He says “I’ve seen plenty of examples of massive and costly undertakings to put KMS (knowledge management system) systems in place that in the end were largely ignored—or at the very least failed to live up to the hype.” 

I believe you can include really any system in the above sentiment.  So does he. He also says: 

“A system only works if employees are socialized to look to it for information and keep that data current. In putting in a KMS, or switching to a new one, it’s less important which technology you choose and more important that you align it with how people do work. Too often, a new KMS often conflicts with the way that employees currently use informal networks to seek and provide information. The chances of a new system—knowledge management or any kind of system—succeeding is dependent on choosing a technology that aligns with how people already work.” 

Notice he said “it’s less important which technology you choose and more important that you align it with how people do work.” 

Yep.  If you are a school, make sure the LMS you choose was designed by faculty so their natural, ingrained, impossible-to-change processes are the same in the LMS as the were in real life.  For example, faculty don’t grade essays one at a time.  Faculty grade all essays for the test at the same time.  Make sure the LMS has one click of a button to enable this.  If you are a corporation working with a non-used intranet by adding an LMS, make sure the LMS has single sign-on and all the enterprise software systems embedded in the LMS for click-through navigation.  Put EVERYTHING on the LMS and make it your intranet.  Don’t embed the LMS in your unused intranet and hope it will drive “traffic” to the intranet.  (However, if it a well-used intranet, put the LMS there.  It’s all about what the normal processes are.) 

And he didn’t say it, but I will: Even if you pay one dollar for a system and no one uses it, you’ve paid too much.  I don’t care how many whizzy-bang features it has, if no one uses it, it’s unsuccessful. 

This is why at Edvance360 we guarantee a 95% or higher usage rate and we get to that usage rate every single time. 

We get there partly because our tools are easy to use.  Partly because they were designed by the people actually using them.  Partly because their value is obvious to any user, rather than being cool-but-not-needed.  Partly because our training is hands-on and (after initial training) one-on-one.  Partly because we have a team of wonderfully committed people who use, test, and develop new features all the time.  But mostly because the tools are those that users WANT to use, not just have to use. 

I’ll end with a great quote from Professor Mortensen: “While we often think of the future of collaboration resting on the shoulders of technology, that is only part of the story. Sure, technology provides opportunities, but it’s important to view technology and social systems as partners. The promise of tomorrow’s collaboration requires actively considering, designing, and fine-tuning both. 

Mark Mortensen is an associate professor of Organizational Behavior at INSEAD. His work focuses on the changing nature of collaboration, particularly fluid, interdependent, and global teams.

 

Edvance360 Named SIIA Education CODiE Award Finalist for both Best Corporate Learning/Workforce Development Solution and Best Postsecondary Learning Management Solution

March 30, 2015 at 10:00 am | Posted in E360 News & Events | Leave a comment
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Congratulations to the 2015 CODiE finalists. Edvance360, a leading provider of eLearning solutions, one of the top ten tools for online teaching, as well as 2011 winner and seven-time-finalist for the CODiE Award for Best Course or Learning Management System today announced that Edvance360 LMS-SN was named a finalist for the 2015 SIIA Education CODiE Awards for both Best Corporate Learning/Workforce Development Solution and Best Postsecondary Learning Management Solution.

Click here to view the full story.

Human Resources Has a Dirty Little Secret

March 30, 2015 at 9:30 am | Posted in Interesting Facts | Leave a comment
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Harvard Business Review, posted an excellent article written by Keith Ferrazzi  (access the article here) on the extremely high turnover rates (new employees leaving their new employers).  He presented the following statistics:

  • Nearly 33% of new hires look for a new job within their first six months on the job. (Among Millennials, that percentage is even higher…and it happens earlier.)
  • 23% of new hires turn over before their first anniversary.
  • The organizational costs of employee turnover are estimated to range between 100% and 300% of the replaced employee’s salary.
  • It typically takes eight months for a newly hired employee to reach full productivity.

He says that HR has a dirty little, but well-known, secret: that almost a quarter of companies — by their own admission — pay little to no attention to the onboarding process.
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Ferrazzi says “The problem is that managers’ lives are busier than ever, so it’s simply not that easy to make sure an employee’s first few months at your company are as welcoming, stimulating, and productive as possible,” which is the key, he says, to getting them to stay and be as productive as possible as long as possible.

So, the problem is TIME.  Ferrazzi says that harnessing technology to push, track, and manage the onboarding process, which might include real-time mentoring to self-paced learning to feedback digestion to specialized skill assessment and development.

If you are looking to solve this problem for your own company, take a look at learning management systems – especially one like Edvance360 that contains several key features that add value to an employee’s learning path/lessons (ePortfolios to display professional development, etc.), host the self-paced and hybrid learning content, enable live training and mentoring, inspire and motivate via gamification tools (badges, etc.), and facilitate collaboration and communication (wikis, secure social network, communities, etc.). You might be surprised at just how inexpensive a LMS can be, especially when compared to the costs involved with losing your new employees.

The latest research suggests that onboarding may be the most critical time in an employee’s experience at a company – you can’t afford to miss the boat!

 

Edvance360 Finishes 2014 with Fast Growth in Corporate, Health, and Non-Profit Sectors

February 26, 2015 at 1:07 pm | Posted in E360 News & Events | Leave a comment
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Edvance360, a leading provider of eLearning solutions, one of the top ten tools for online teaching, as well as 2011 winner and six-time-finalist for the CODiE Award for Best Course or Learning Management System, announced that Martinrea™, BelieversTrust™, Typewell™, Netsertive, Inc™, Avoya Travel™, VPSA – University of Vermont Extension™, have recently been added to their user community.

“We are delighted to finish 2014 with strong growth in corporate, health, and non-profit sectors while still supporting continued growth in higher education and K-12 schools. We welcome each new client to the growing Edvance360 user community as each brings with them new and exciting changes that force us as a company to innovate and stay flexible as we meet each new set of challenges. These changes also always further enhance the experience of those who already belong to our Edvance360 user community.”

  • Cathy Garland, Vice-President of Marketing & Sales, Edvance360

We invite you to consider joining Edvance360. We offer:

  • Badges & Certificates – Edvance360 now offers a new and excited way to reward learners: badges. Badges, in addition to certificates, can build motivation and team morale as learners collect and display the badges they’ve earned in their learning path.
  • Unparalleled Personal Support – Edvance360 is a demonstrated leader in its commitment to personalized support for its clients and we commit to a 95% or higher faculty usage rate at all of our client institutions.
  • Affordable Pricing – Edvance360’s pricing is significantly lower than any of the other commercial vendors. Pricing is regularly 30%-50% below competitor prices.
  • Forward-Thinking Commitment – Edvance360 was the first LMS to combine social networking and other Web 2.0 tools (Wikis, Blogs, RSS feeds, etc.) with the features of a Course Management System and continues to lead the pack in innovation.
  • Mobile – Mobile versions and mobile apps are provided for free for both iPhones, iPads, tablets, and Droid phones, which gives the user access to the entire Edvance360 platform. Edvance360 also provides a streamlined mobile version that is fully accessible via tablets, laptops, and smartphones. The mobile version includes the most important tools for users on the go. For a video with more on our mobile version go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDW-eTtHEjY&feature=related.

About Edvance360
Edvance360 is an Internet-based Learning Management System (LMS) and secure social network that enables institutions to implement a successful online learning program. Edvance360 equips schools, corporations, and organizations to host online courses, implement modular courses, and revitalize residential courses. Edvance360 was designed by educators for educators, with insight provided by many of the leading educational design experts.

Our clients enjoy a high return on their investment, personalized support, and customizable solutions. We do not believe a one-size-fits-all approach is beneficial to our clients, so we are committed to adapting Edvance360 to fit the needs of the rapidly changing world of education.

Edvance360 is headquartered in Virginia Beach, Virginia, with operations along the East Coast. For more information, please visit http://www.Edvance360.com or call 866-458-0360.

Edvance360 and the Edvance360 logo are trademarks of Edvance360 Corporation. All other company and product names mentioned herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

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