What’s New in Meridian Global LMS 17.2

The 2017 Summer Release of Meridian Global LMS adds seamless integration with OpenSesame’s eLearning Marketplace, exciting new gamification capabilities and effortless efficiency advancements.

 

Reston, Va. – June 24, 2017 – Meridian Knowledge Solutions, a leading learning management system (LMS) provider, today announced the availability of Meridian Global LMS® version 17.2. With the newest release of its flagship learning management product, Meridian makes the jobs of LMS administrators and instructors easier.

Meridian Global LMS 17.2 streamlines the way users find and manage content, giving learners access to more items from the learning catalog, and providing a tool for increasing user engagement.

“Providing a great experience for administrators and instructors is just as important as it is for learners.  In this release, we’ve introduced more tools to allow administrators to grow and manage their learning catalog and increase engagement with learners.”

— Geoff Perry, Chief Product Officer

Meridian Global LMS® 17.2 release includes:

Navigation Enhancements: Navigate with confidence. Meridian Global 17.2 delivers an improved navigation experience, allowing easier, more direct ways to access necessary functionality.

  • Streamlined Navigation
  • Quick Create for Learning Content: Meridian added a universal content create button to the navigation bar, allowing for quick creation of content from anywhere in the system.
  • Edit from catalog details: Content administrators can now jump directly to editing a content item from its catalog details page.
  • Enhanced Predictive Search: Predictive search results now display below the search field and include both the title of the item and its content type.


Classroom Section Updates: Designed with Administrators and Instructors in mind, classroom section updates improve frequently used workflows, easing the burden on your time and resources.

  • Easy-print roster: A printable sign-in sheet that can also be exported to Excel has been added to classroom courses.
  • Information repository for course notes and files: Administrators and instructors can now add files and notes to classroom section details that can be shared between authorized users.
  • Completion Codes: Users can now indicate they have enrolled in, attended, and completed a course, all in one step.
  • Time zones in Section Management: When authorized users create, or edit a classroom course section, they now have the option to associated a time zone with course section start and end times.

Extended Permission Scope

Let your LMS work for you with extended permission scope. Administrators can more effectively delegate administration and increase a user’s influence in the system.

Administrators now have the option to assign individual “scope of control” permissions to users, allowing for more specificity in designating which users a particular administrator can see in Manage Users and Manage Enrollment.

Gamification

Meridian Global 17.2 delivers a new tool, Gamification, designed to spark user engagement and motivation – Administrators have the configurable option to assign points to content items and create badges to be awarded to users based on point accumulation. There is also an optional leaderboard, allowing users to view their progress as well as that of their colleagues.

OpenSesame Integration

The OpenSesame eLearning Marketplace is now integrated with the Meridian Global Learning Management System, making it easier than ever to build your library of online content. Choose from more than 20,000 courses in a variety disciplines and expand your users’ professional skills in a seamless, comprehensive learning experience.

Find the courses you want, choose the number of seats you need, and let Meridian Global LMS import the courses for you. No more uploading courses one at a time.

OpenSesame Integration Highlights:

  • Seamless integration with Meridian Global Learning Management System
  • Access to a library of more than 20,000 carefully curated, professional development courses
  • Choose the courses and number of seats to meet your training goals
  • Maintain complete control over learner access to content
  • OpenSesame courses are automatically added to existing Meridian LMS™ course catalog
  • Single sign-on purchasing and synchronization of content

Availability

Meridian’s 17.2 release is available on June 24, 2017.

Request a live demo of Meridian Global LMS.

 

About Meridian Knowledge Solutions:

Meridian Knowledge Solutions, LLC, is the leading provider of enterprise, web-based learning management software. Meridian’s powerful yet easy-to-use solutions are leveraged by organizations dedicated to building world-class learning enterprises inspired and focused on delivering exceptional results. With over 7 million users worldwide, Meridian offers a flexible, best-of-breed learning management system that gives organizations and users alike a seamless, integrated experience, all while strengthening the bottom line. The company is headquartered in Reston, VA.

Media Contact:

John Carmean
Director, Marketing and Communications
Meridian Knowledge Solutions
jcarmean@meridianks.com

The Anatomy of a Great RFP Requirement

When I’m not giving demos or travelling to tradeshows to meet potential and existing clients, I spend the majority of each day evaluating client RFPs and RFP requirements to determine if our product and solution provide a good fit for your various business needs.

 

After doing this for a decade, I estimate I have evaluated almost 100,000 written requirements from clients across approximately 750 proposals.

 

Accordingly, I can speak with professional expertise that there are generally three types of RFP requirements… the good, the bad and the ugly.

 

The Good—A good requirement is a single question or statement clearly organized into the context of the surrounding requirements placed in a clearly defined section of the RFP.  Good requirements are easy to respond to, clear and concise, and are logically presented in the context of the surrounding requirements. For example, reporting requirements are presented with other reporting requirements, for instance.  Good requirements allow your potential vendors to best present their solution while still giving you an apples-to-apples comparison.

 

  1. Example: Do you support classroom course scheduling?  Please describe these tools with brief narrative and screen captures where applicable. 

This requirement is clear, concise, and provides detailed instructions on the preferred response format. 

 

The Bad—A bad requirement is often multiple, non-related questions laced into a single requirement.  Some of the questions might apply to the context of the surrounding requirements but outliers often tend to sneak in and muddy the waters.  Two part and even three part questions are okay and even expected.  However, LMS buyers should be aware that increasing the complexity of requirements can often lead to responses that may address all elements of the requirement in a compliant manner, but are ultimately non-responsive in nature.  It is tough to answer reporting, hosting, and customer support questions in a single response with clarity.   Instead of the details you were hoping for, you will instead receive generalizations and high-level information.

 

  1. Example: Please describe your reporting tools, company mission statement, compliance capabilities, and provide a disaster recovery plan. 

This requirement goes in four different directions and is vague.  Instead of getting the details you seek in this type of requirement, you will get four general statements on the various aspects of the requirement without any real detail or compelling information. 

 

The Ugly—Ugly requirements generally fall into one of three categories.

 

  1. The first type of Ugly requirement is one that is not clear and does not make sense or one is that repeated multiple times throughout the RFP. Typos are forgivable and understandable.  I often see client requirements repeated multiple times throughout the document.  These force respondents to either be redundant or to ask the RFP evaluator to jump back to previous responses in the proposal. Keep in mind that redundant requirements make a proposal more difficult to evaluate.
  • Example 1: We want to use reporting to drive eCommerce and tie into classroom courses.  This requirement does not make sense and would force respondents to seek clarification.

 

  1. The second are requirements from industries like manufacturing that sneak their way into software RFPs from existing company templates. These requirements are just not relevant to a software purchase and should be removed from your RFP template prior to distribution to potential vendors.
  • Example 2: Please describe your warehouse security. This is not relevant to software vendors as they do not warehouse physical products.  

 

  1. The third type of ugly requirement is one that is best demonstrated in a live presentation of the software. Vendors understand that often an RFP is unavoidable, we also understand that the best place for our product to shine is in the demos.
  • Example 3: Please show us the procedure for an end user to access the LMS, register for a course, and check their compliance. This seems like an innocuous requirement but screen captures can be edited and selectively chosen to make processes and elements of the system seem easier than they really are.  Workflows, uses cases, user scenarios, etc. are all best left to the demonstration phase of the procurement. 

 

At this point, careful readers have noted that I have promised the anatomy of a great RFP requirement, yet we have only discussed the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.  So, what makes a Great RFP requirement?

 

The answer is, one that eliminates all but the most capable vendors in a manner that keeps the process efficient and illuminating for the evaluators.

 

Most RFPs contain 3-5 minimum and critical requirements that will disqualify any vendor that cannot meet them. These are often referred to as “must haves” or “minimum requirements” and allow vendors to make easy go/no-go decisions while also ensuring the client is not flooded with bids from unqualified vendors.  These requirements are your critical ones, the requirements that determine if you will move forward or not.  They are often hot button issues driven from either your client base of employees or customers or from a lack of features with the incumbent vendor solution.

 

Forgive me for trotting out this old cliché, but time is money and evaluating and responding to RFPs takes a lot of both. The more upfront you are about your mission critical requirements, the easier you will be able to identify the right vendor for your business. Smart unqualified vendors will disqualify themselves before you must if they are given the information they need in the RFP to make an educated decision.

 

Example:  We must have single sign on with SAML 2.0 or other industry standard authentication scheme.  Our current solution does not support this and it is critical to our future eLearning initiatives.  Vendors who cannot meet this requirement will be disqualified from the bid process and their RFP will not be considered for evaluation.

 

Example:  We use WebEx to deliver virtual classroom training.  Please describe your support for this tool.  Vendors with a built in WebEx integration will receive preference during evaluation.

 

A Great RFP requirement then meets all the characteristics of a “good” requirement as it is clear, concise, and easy to respond to while also giving vendors the information they need on which requirements are your most critical.

 

Get off to a great start in your search for a learning management system with Meridian’s best practice LMS RFP template.

Download Meridian’s best practice RFP template now.

How to Make Harassment Training Sexy

Just the thought of harassment training makes our eyes roll back in our heads. Why? Because at some point we have all been dragged through an outdated, awkward and painfully boring harassment training course. But it doesn’t have to be that way!

 

Last week I sat down with Kris Dunn, CHRO of Kinetix and Founder of Fistful of Talent, to discuss how to make harassment training more interesting, relevant and, dare I say, sexy. Check out the replay of the L&D Hangout where we cover:

 

  • Why harassment training is in dire need of a revamp
  • Why managers should take harassment training seriously and how they can communicate its importance to their team members
  • How to start a dialogue about harassment and address grey areas with team members
  • Key elements of engaging and interactive training exercises, including social collaboration and video usage

 

 

The Nuts and Bolts of Creating an Engaging Training Program

It is no secret that today’s workforce is distracted. According to a 2013 Towards Maturity report, 88% of employees don’t have time, or make time, to engage with learning and development (L&D) offerings. When you add in the fact that the average attention span for adults engaging with learning is only 8.25 seconds* (…….sorry, what was I saying?) you can see why competing for your employee’s attention can be challenging when it comes to learning.

 

On a recent Training Magazine webinar, Odette Santiago-Elmer, Meridian University training manager, shared her insight into how the basics of creating an engaging training program really come down to a well thought out strategy that is balanced between focusing on the needs of the company, as well as the needs and overall experiences of the learner. It’s hard to make time for webinars in our busy day, so here are some of the top takeaways from the session that you can apply to your L&D programs right now.

 

What makes creating engaging learning so challenging?

It isn’t just a distracted workforce that makes creating engaging training programs difficult, there are several challenges at an organizational level that often also need to be overcome.

 

Doing more with less, has become a common theme for the expectations of L&D departments and limited funds put a strain on the amount of resources available to your team. A reduction of head count in the overall workforce means that the employees that organizations hire and retain need to be highly skilled, or need the necessary training to improve their current skillset so they can operate at a higher level. On top of this, a climate of constantly changing business initiatives can make it difficult to decide what is relevant when developing training.

 

Creating engaging and targeted training

Engaging training programs start with “focused” instructional design and a strategic plan.

  • Plan, plan, plan – Any training program starts with an idea or problem that needs to be solved. For internal training courses, think about what skills the people in a specific position must have. Who is responsible for identifying what that require training must be? Your HR department, direct supervisors for that role? When it comes to external training, think about the group of partners/vendors that you are targeting. What is in it for them? How will they benefit from completing the course or program (especially if they are paying you for that training)?
  • Know your audience – This seems like a no-brainer, but can often be an area where content doesn’t stack up. What line of the business are you targeting with this course? What is their work environment? Are they at a desk all day with access to a computer, or will the training need to be available on a mobile device? Odette’s #1 tip – Always target the lowest common denominator, not the expert that may be taking the course. It is better to cover information that may already be known than to assume that all learners have this prior knowledge.

 

Branding and Communicating Your Offerings

There are several key elements when it comes to successfully increasing exposure for your training program (for more check out the Nuts and Bolts of Creating an Engaging Training Program whitepaper).

  • Develop a brand for your learning offerings – It’s time to think like a marketer (or to reach out to your marketing team for their insight)! After putting a lot of hard work into creating your training, you want to make sure that it doesn’t go unnoticed. Think about a formal name and a logo that compliment your organization’s brand.
  • Establish a clear communication plan – Set up a cadence of communication that consistently reminds learners about the L&D offerings that are available to them and any new courses or options.
  • Share your success – Communication doesn’t have to only be to your learners, share the success of your program with the company and executive team. Show how each of your training assets is aligned with corporate objectives, and how your learning program addresses real challenges within the business.

 

View the webinar replay for all of Odette’s insights into creating an engaging training program that will keep your learners coming back for more!

 

How to Develop Future Leaders

There’s a big difference between managers and leaders. Leaders listen, motivate and lead by example. They know how to gracefully navigate through difficult and often uncomfortable workplace situations.

 

Training and developing future leaders is consistently ranked as a top priority. Leadership training goes beyond communicating what leadership styles are important. You can’t just throw up your corporate values on the careers page of your website or paint them all over the boardroom walls, you need a strategy.

 

We sat down with Kris Dunn, CHRO of Kinetix and founder of Fistful of Talent, and Tim Sackett, President of HRU Technical Resources and Fistful of Talent contributor, to discuss the characteristics of great leaders and how to instill those vales in your team members. Check out the recording of the L&D Hangout!

 

Myths Debunked: Investing in Employee Training and Development

Are you worried that if you invest in your employee’s training and development they will leave? Your note alone. Many organizations struggle with investing in their employee’s soft and hard skills. However, the reality is that investing in skill development is the best path to great performance and retention! Employees feel more empowered and engaged at work, and are better prepared to go above and beyond what is expected of them.

 

There are still a lot of skeptics out there on the fence about how to approach organizational training and development. We sat down with Kris Dun, CHRO of Kinetix and founder of Fistful of Talent, and Dawn Burke, Vice President of People at Daxko, to debunk the myths around investing in employee training and development.

 

Catch a replay of the L&D Hangout and let us know what you think!

 

 

Making Learning Matter

Everyone wants to learn, but no one has the time.

 

According to Bersin, the modern learner is overwhelmed, distracted and impatient. To make matters worse, only 1% of the typical workweek is time that is available for employees to focus on training and development. That’s not a lot.

 

With limited time available, no one wants to sit through hours of soul-sucking, unoriginal training.

 

Here are a few tips on how to add some pizazz to your learning and development programs and get people coming back for more!

 

  1. Make it visible. I know what you’re thinking, this is obviously a no-brainer. However, your jaw would drop if you knew how many employees have no idea how to access training courses. You might have a spectacular learning management system (LMS) filled with hundreds of great courses, but if your team doesn’t know it exists, they’ll never use it. Start thinking of ways you can showcase your LMS. Develop a monthly learning newsletter that highlights new, popular content. Share learning news, tips and insights on your organization’s internal social networking tools. Shamelessly plug your learning and development options whenever and wherever you have the chance. If you want some more advice on how to market your learning courses, check out our “Why Learning and Marketing Should be BFFs” whitepaper!
  2. Make it valuable. Learning gets a bad rap because people think it’s going to be boring. And you can’t blame them. Everyone has had to sit through hours of soul-sucking training. It’s important that you create content and development paths that go beyond traditional on-boarding and management training. Learning doesn’t have to be serious. You can make it fun and interactive!
  3. Make it bite-sized. The fact of the matter is, people don’t have enough time in the day to dedicate to learning. Learning and development teams need to accommodate the distracted and impatient workforce. Rethink your content strategy. Create five minute videos and courses that engage the learners. A short training session will have far more attendance and impact than hour long courses.
  4. Make it a game. Gamification is the sexy new trend in the learning scene, and for good reason. Gamification engages learners. Yet, according to Gartner, 80% of gamification initiatives fail. It’s important that you apply gamification to the right content in the right context. Identify the problem you’re trying to solve, rather than just applying gamification for the sake of making learning fun. Explore the idea of creating leaderboards or showcasing the top learner of the month. A little friendly competition in your organization might be trick to getting learners engaged. For some great advice on how to get started, check out the blog post, Game On, from Fistful of Talent.
  5. Make it a conversation. Ask for feedback! Throwing learning content against the wall and seeing what sticks is a waste. Opening up the lines of communication is the only way to truly understand what is working and what isn’t. Survey and interview your employees to understand what they want to learn and how they want to learn. You will be surprised by the amount of meaningful feedback you receive.

 

Learning should be celebrated, not ignored. Not to mention the impacts of strong learning and development programs are profound. Bersin found that organizations that have a strong learning culture do better in their market than those who do not. These organizations are 46% more like to be the leader in their industry, saw a 34% increase in their ability to respond to the needs of the customer, and are 17% more likely to become the market share leader.

 

For more information on making learning matter, reach out to one of our learning gurus!

Lessons from The Bee Gees: How training can help hiring

Having been in the world of Talent Acquisition for nearly 20 years now, I have certainly seen some great progress in our industry. From better tools, improved processes and the realization (finally!) that we need to embrace employment branding, a lot of good has come along. Yet – along with the good changes some things just never change. One of the biggest problems I saw at the beginning of my career and still see to this day is the complete lack of foresight by most hiring managers around the need for experience as opposed to skills, attitude and aptitude.

 

The classic scenario:

Hiring Manager has a need on his or her team. Hiring Manager writes job description with several points of experience they need – describing a person – not a job. This list is usually filled with lots of experience requirements that either cost a ton of money to hire for or simply don’t exist in most of the business world. They want a plug and play hire that they don’t need to do much training or on-boarding for – after all, they are busy and need help now. Fast forward a few (several) months. Role still not filled and tensions flare.

 

So what does this have to do with learning and training? EVERYTHING.

 

This whole scenario and the countless others like it played out around the world in hiring daily could be solved if companies focused on teaching. How? There are two ways investing time to train will lessen time to fill, increase retention rates and keep costs in check. I was driving to a client this morning and happened to be listening to the sweet sounds of the Bee Gees (not embarrassed to admit it) and was inspired to put this in relation to some of their biggest hits

 

More than a Woman (or Man)

First – let’s look at training for internal employees. Your current employees are already familiar with your systems, processes and products. They are part of your culture and have both legacy and interpersonal knowledge. In short – they know more than anyone coming in off the street would about your company. Retention is always important, and with the market for talent these days your employees also have more options than ever before to leave for bigger or better opportunities. With these ingredients in place, why would you not look internally to fill your openings first? Sounds logical, but 99.9999% of most companies don’t do this. Oh sure – they say they do – but in reality if the employees don’t have the particular experience in the skill set you seek, even though they may have the core skills to learn it, almost all companies say “well – we tried but we have no one in house who can do this” and then start posting jobs like teens post prom pics on Instagram. Now – what if instead of going out to find that elusive “purple squirrel” that you would need to train anyhow for months on the non “resume experience” pieces of the job you invested the same time on an existing employee who checks all the boxes except a few that he or she can learn?

 

The payoff here is tremendous in several ways:

 

  1. Retention – you now keep an employee in your organization that might have gone elsewhere for a similar opportunity. You also send a powerful message to the rest of your employees that you will invest in them and their careers.
  2. Cost – instead of going out an paying “market rates” you get a better value from an existing employee who is eager for the opportunity to learn and grow into a role
  3. Time to fill – this goes from potentially months to zero days. Yes – you will have to back fill the employees role, but what would stop you from using the same method to do that? See point 1 for why this might be a good idea.
  4. No “baggage” –  people who are seasoned experts in a specific skill set or experience often bring with them the ways they think it should be (or always has been) done. With someone new to the skills and the roles, you can often get some fresh new perspectives. Innovation anyone?
  5. Growth vs Lateral move – what is the motivation for someone to take the same position they are currently doing at a different company? Not always – but typically they are money, commute, bad bosses, etc. Call me crazy, but those aren’t necessarily the reasons I want someone joining my team. Not an absolute here – but something to think about. Your internal employee already is part of the fabric of your company, and if they are raising their hand to be considered for a role chances are they want to stay AND grow their skills and career at your organization. Hmmm – I think I like that.

 

 

How Deep is your love?

Second – let’s say we went through the process of looking internally and there just wasn’t anyone in house who could step in to the need. If you went through the process dutifully and this is truly the honest outcome, then let’s open that requisition. Now – the classic scenario here is that a hiring manager will list off oodles of experience and requirements that in most cases don’t exist – or if they do are really tough to find and will cost you big bucks. The search usually takes a long time, and more often than not the requirements keep getting lessened and lessened to make the pool deeper as the months tick away. What if – call me crazy here – you go for the candidate who might not have the latest version of the coding tool you are currently using but has some experience in other tools and would love to learn the tool you are using and ticks all the other culture, attitude and aptitude boxes? Now I used a coding example here (because I see this SO often) but insert any skill set here and think the same. If you spent the time after hire to teach these tools and skills you just might be getting a better hire in the long run than you would with the plug and play candidate. How?

 

Let me count the ways:

 

  1. Time to Fill – this will lessen considerably if you broaden the skills/experience needed
  2. Deepens the candidate pool – yes – instead of chasing the same candidates your competition is, you now have a much deeper pool of candidates to select from
  3. Growth vs Lateral – see above in example one. Instead of getting someone who is joining you for potentially the wrong reasons, you are hiring someone who sees this as a growth opportunity and not just chasing dollars or a better commute.
  4. Cost – market value for experience is at crazy levels these days. Good for candidates, but tough for employers to keep up and be profitable as a business. Instead of paying “market”, you can go a bit below market and get someone in the role who would love to learn these tools or skills and doesn’t cost what the market dictates you should pay.
  5. Retention – hiring someone who sees this as a growth and career opportunity is a better bet for someone who will stay vs the aforementioned candidate who is just looking for more money. The money motivation (or others in the lateral move category) will rear their head again once the next new shiny role comes knocking. Not to say this couldn’t happen to anyone, but the chances lessen with the growth candidate hire.

 

This problem is decades old and it seems we never learn. If we can take our learning and development mind set and apply it to hiring methodologies, we might just be able to get ahead of all of this nonsense. Leave it to the Bee Gees to make this clear.

 

Now, excuse me while I go jam out to “jive talking.”