Archive for the ‘ELearning Business’ Category
First off, let me ask you this. Does anyone know what a lemming is? Well, I’d be happy to enlighten you! See a lemming is a small rodent type creature that has a tendency towards mass suicide. It works like this. When the population gets too large, lemmings will throw themselves off cliffs in huge numbers. It just takes one to get things started and then this seemingly never ending wave of tiny rodents voluntarily tosses themselves down into the sea. It’s one of those things that is horrifyingly interesting to watch.
So here’s the question. How could lemmings possibly relate to E-Learning? (more…)
As part of wrapping things up last year, we looked at some of the best free learning tools out there. A sort of looking back on the year and hitting the high points so to speak.
Now a few months into the new year, I am more than ready to move forward and greet this year with everything I have.
Want to come with me? Awesome! Then let’s go check out what might just be 10 great ways to expand your learning.
After our users have created a package with Package Wrapper, many of our users to choose to distribute there packages via CD-Rom. A question we’ve been asked in the past is how to burn the CD-Rom so that the packaged EXE file will start automatically.
Depending on what burning software you use (Roxio, Nero, etc.) it is possible to set a specific file to ran automatically. However, for the purpose of this tutorial I’ll be going over a different method that can apply to any burning software, including the burning functionality that is included in Microsoft Windows.
Autorun.inf is a file that is stored in the root directory of your CD-Rom. It tells the computer the location and name of which file to run when the CD-Rom is inserted into the drive. What we’re going to do is create our own autorun.inf using a text editor such as notepad that we will be burning to CD along with our package EXE file.
The first step is run Notepad from either inside of the Start menu or via the Run Dialog (notepad.exe) in Microsoft Windows.
We only need to place two lines of code inside of the text file in order to create our autorun.inf file. Place the following into notepad (or the text editor you are using):
Where filename.exe is the name of the executable file that you created in Package Wrapper and plan to burn to CD-Rom.
In the example above, the name of the package I created in Package Wrapper would be mytest.exe.
Once you’ve entered the lines into notepad, simply save the file to the same folder where your package EXE file is stored with the filename autorun.inf. When you are ready to burn your software to CD, all you need to do is burn both your packaged executable file and the autorun.inf file. When your user inserts your CD-Rom into there computer, your package should start automatically.
NOTE: Microsoft Windows allows the user to disable the autorun feature. That means that even if you create the CD-Rom so that your package will start automatically, it will only do so on systems where the feature has not been disabled.
For more information on creating and using the autorun.inf file, you can view Microsoft’s How-To for a wealth of information: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/818804.
The online trainer has to take into account many considerations. Proper preparation is vital to keeping your training running smoothly and your audience engaged. Use this checklist to ensure that you are prepared for your next virtual classroom training event.
Materials Checklist - well before the class start date.
Participants have been sent:
___ pre-work instructions
___ installation instructions for virtual classroom software
___ logistics such as links, passwords, and conference call information
___ contact information for questions
You and your co-trainers have the following materials ready:
___ slides and other files
___ instructor notes
___ activities and exercises
___ contingency plans
Technology Checklist – on day of class
___ computers and equipment have been checked and tested
___ computers have been re-booted
___ applications and necessary files are open, available, and ready
___ audio technologies such as telephones and microphones have been tested
___ all non-essential applications are closed
___ virtual classroom has been joined at least 30 minutes early
___ “sidekick” computers are logged into virtual classroom as participants
Trainer Checklist – on day of class
___ delivery area is ready (free of distractions, glass of water available, etc)
___ training materials are readily available
___ technology tools such as whiteboard and chat windows are enabled
___ phone number and contact information for IT support is available
There’s only so many hours in a day.
So how can someone who is a teacher, trainer or consultant make more money at what they do?
A bigger classroom? — Maybe. Gain more knowledge to become more “in demand”? — Probably.
What about technology?
Is there a way to use technology to leverage your income potential?
Frank Morris, President of Tri-State Consultants, has been in the Construction and Building Code industry for 33 years. He talked to us recently, and revealed this information that may be helpful and profitable to you …
“In my waking hours, I make money giving live seminars. Now, I even make money while I sleep – selling my seminar testing and training content online or on CD’s (using Atrixware’s Test Pro Developer and Weblearning software)”.
How much money? Frank conservatively estimates his overall income has already increased 25%. In addition, he explained he has only “…scratched the surface. We’re even selling CD’s at the live seminars. The attendees get the info live, then they can study it again and retake the tests when they get home.”
Want more secrets?
(1) Get technology that’s FLEXIBLE.
Before discovering Atrixware, Frank used another “testing” software program that lacked the flexibility to randomly generate questions and answers. He noticed his clients were just memorizing the answers (question 12 is C) without knowing why or thinking about the question. He looked for a solution that would require clients to think and know the material they were learning. Test Pro Developer Enterprise Edition gave him this ability while publishing to CD rom or as a download link on his website.
He also had an Internet solution for those government clients or other companies who don’t allow software “downloads” but only allow access to online web-based content.” Weblearning allows for creation and delivery of online content, tests, and file exhibits including: images, sounds, office documents, flash videos, presentations, and more. In addition, hyperlinks can be included in questions that point to files or documents that reside anywhere on the Internet or Intranet.
(2) Get technology that’s EASY to use and offers TECH SUPPORT
Weblearning is ideal for “non-technical” instructors or trainers. It allows you to go from purchase to publish in about an hour. Multiplying his time and talent has become easy for this veteran knowledge expert in the consulting business. He can now create eLearning courseware, certifications, licensing tests, presentations, and surveys. It is a foundation building block product for developing an eLearning platform for content sold for profit or resale as a business. He researched several other software competitors but said, “Their websites were mostly fluff where as Atrixware was in plain layman’s language, understandable, and best of all, if I have a question, I can talk to a real live person”.
(3) Get technology that’s AFFORDABLE
Weblearning is available on a monthly or annual subscription basis hosted on Atrixware’s servers, or it can be hosted your own internal servers which eliminate the monthly or annual fees all together. Start creating & using eLearning to increase productivity, automate test preparation & reporting while improving your client’s success rate. Frank Morris did.
Are you considering purchasing an LMS for your company? Below are some tips or a “checklist” of things you may want to consider. Please provide feedback whether this was helpful, or provide suggestions to add to the list to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tip #1. Do your “Due Diligence”
More features usually means more complexity – What level of complexity can you handle?
___ Did you identify your core current needs or requirements for your LMS?
___ Did you identify your future needs? (see scalability below)
___ Which LMS Features are “need to have” versus “nice to have”?
Tip #2. My Server or Yours
___ Decide on a hosted solution LMS (by the vendor) or…
___ Decide on an LMS that you host (on your company’s servers)
Does the vendor offer both solutions? If so, Which solution is better for you?
If the vendor hosts, you probably don’t need an IT manager or department involvement.
If you host, did you identify LMS techincal requirements and get IT involved?
Tip #3. Try it before you buy it
___ Does the Vendor offer a FREE LMS Demo or LMS Presentation?
___ Is it “Live” so you can ask questions during the demo, or is it “pre-recorded” so you can watch it anytime?
___ Does the vendor offer a working “sandbox” implementation so you can “pilot” or evaluate the LMS using your data and conditions?
Tip #4. Batteries not included (Know the LMS limitations)
___ Are all the features you need included “out of the box”?
___ Are there any features you need that are available but at an additional cost?
___ Are there any features you need that are not available at all? (the “deal” breakers)
Tip #5. Get a user-friendly LMS
___ Does the LMS interface have easy navigation and ease of Administration?
___ Is the LMS end-user centered for your student, employee and/or customer?
___ Is it an intuitive LMS? can the instructor use it immediately or is training involved?
___ Are there simple and time saving edit functions and Help available in the system?
Tip #6. Get a user-friendly Vendor
___ Do you get a “Live” vendors who take the time to talk with you?
___ Does the Vendor have experience with organizations similar to yours?
___ Does the Vendor align with your strategies and commit to your long term business goals?
___ What is the Vendor’s history, vision, and current successes?
___ Is the Vendor a Stable company? Who are their current clients?
___ How successful have their clients been with implementation? What is the vendor’s overall reputation?
___ Can the vendor provide to you a list of customers currently using their LMS?
Tip #7. Get a Scalable LMS (an LMS thats expandable like your business)
___ Is it a Configurable LMS?
___ Can you customize the interface to reflect your companys color scheme, logo, branding, etc?
___ Can the LMS automatically generate certificates for end-users with the necessary information?
___ Is it a Customizable LMS?
___ Do you need an LMS with e-commerce automation and integration?
___ Is it a for-profit LMS or a not for profit LMS?
___ Do you need your LMS Integrated with other systems?
Tip #8. Get a Flexible LMS
___ Does the LMS offer online tracking, self-registration, and front-end authentication?
What is the LMS Authoring capability?
___ Can you store different types of media including: .doc, .swf, .html,etc.
___ Is it easy to import existing elearning content or elearning materials?
What is the LMS Reporting capability?
___ Can reports prove your LMS training is both effective and cost effective?
___ Can you get easy access to standard reports and export the reports to varied formats like Excel?
Tip #9. Get a well Supported LMS and Secure LMS that is Easy to Implement
___ Will the vendor get you thru implementation and successful launch of the LMS system, or is there additional costs involved?
___ What post implementation services are available?
___ What levels of ongoing support are included and what is the cost of those services?
___ Is it email (ticketing system) support, phone support, both or none?
___ Does the Vendor offer System Backups?
___ What about Upgrades? Online Help? What type of training if offered?
Is is a Reliable LMS?
___ Is Reliability and Stability and continuity of LMS service guaranteed?
Tip #10. All that and a bag of chips… Affordability
___ Is it a cost-effective LMS?
___ Is the cost of the LMS within your budget?
___ Is it an affordable LMS (remember to include annual tech support, upgrades, etc)?
Anyone who has something to say about elearning may find the below ( L thru Z ) collection of elearning terms and definitions helpful. (compiled by Eva Kaplan-Leiserson on behalf of ASTD (American Society for Training and Development))
Click here to view the ( A thru K ) definitions.
LAN (local-area network): A group of personal computers and/or other devices, such as printers or servers, that are located in a relatively limited area, such as an office, and can communicate and share information with each other.
LCMS (learning content management system): A software application (or set of applications) that manages the creation, storage, use, and reuse of learning content. LCMSs often store content in granular forms such as learning objects.
Learning: A cognitive and/or physical process in which a person assimilates information and temporarily or permanently acquires or improves skills, knowledge, behaviors, and/or attitudes.
Learning environment: The physical or virtual setting in which learning takes place.
Learning object: A reusable, media-independent collection of information used as a modular building block for e-learning content. Learning objects are most effective when organized by a meta data classification system and stored in a data repository such as an LCMS.
Learning objective: A statement establishing a measurable behavioral outcome, used as an advanced organizer to indicate how the learner’s acquisition of skills and knowledge is being measured.
Learning platforms: Internal or external sites often organized around tightly focused topics, which contain technologies (ranging from chat rooms to groupware) that enable users to submit and retrieve information.
Learning solution: 1) Any combination of technology and methodology that delivers learning. 2) Software and/or hardware products that suppliers tout as answers to businesses’ training needs.
LMS (learning management system): Software that automates the administration of training. The LMS registers users, tracks courses in a catalog, records data from learners; and provides reports to management. An LMS is typically designed to handle courses by multiple publishers and providers. It usually doesn’t include its own authoring capabilities; instead, it focuses on managing courses created by a variety of other sources.
M-learning (mobile learning): Learning that takes place via such wireless devices as cell phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), or laptop computers. Multimedia: Encompasses interactive text, images, sound, and color. Multimedia can be anything from a simple PowerPoint slide slow to a complex interactive simulation.
Online: The state in which a computer is connected to another computer or server via a network. A computer communicating with another computer.
Online learning: Learning delivered by Web-based or Internet-based technologies.
Online training: Web- or Internet-based training.
Scalability: The degree to which a computer application or component can be expanded in size, volume, or number of users served and continue to function properly.
SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model): A set of specifications that, when applied to course content, produces small, reusable learning objects. A result of the Department of Defense’s Advance Distributed Learning (ADL) initiative, SCORM-compliant courseware elements can be easily merged with other compliant elements to produce a highly modular repository of training materials.
Soft skills: Business skills such as communication and presentation, leadership and management, human resources, sales and marketing, professional development, project and time management, customer service, team building, administration, accounting and finance, purchasing, and personal development.
Synchronous learning: A real-time, instructor-led online learning event in which all participants are logged on at the same time and communicate directly with each other. In this virtual classroom setting, the instructor maintains control of the class, with the ability to “call on” participants. In most platforms, students and teachers can use a whiteboard to see work in progress and share knowledge. Interaction may also occur via audio- or videoconferencing, Internet telephony, or two-way live broadcasts.
TBT (technology-based training): The delivery of content via Internet, LAN or WAN (intranet or extranet), satellite broadcast, audio- or videotape, interactive TV, or CD-ROM. TBT encompasses both CBT and WBT.
Teaching: A process that aims to increase or improve knowledge, skills, attitudes, and/or behaviors in a person to accomplish a variety of goals. Teaching is often driven more toward the long-term personal growth of the learner and less toward business drivers such as job tasks that are often the focus of training. Some people characterize teaching as focused on theory and training as focused on practical application.
Training: A process that aims to improve knowledge, skills, attitudes, and/or behaviors in a person to accomplish a specific job task or goal. Training is often focused on business needs and driven by time-critical business skills and knowledge, and its goal is often to improve performance.
Tutorial: Step-by-step instructions presented through computer or Web-based technology, designed to teach a user how to complete a particular action.
WBT (Web-based training): Delivery of educational content via a Web browser over the public Internet, a private intranet, or an extranet. Web-based training often provides links to other learning resources such as references, email, bulletin boards, and discussion groups. WBT also may include a facilitator who can provide course guidelines, manage discussion boards, deliver lectures, and so forth. When used with a facilitator, WBT offers some advantages of instructor-led training while also retaining the advantages of computer-based training.
Webinar: (Web + seminar) A small synchronous online learning event in which a presenter and audience members communicate via text chat or audio about concepts often illustrated via online slides and/or an electronic whiteboard. Webinars are often archived as well for asynchronous, on-demand access.
Want to “speak” elearning language? Anyone who has something to say about elearning may find the below ( A thru K ) collection of elearning terms and definitions helpful. (compiled by Eva Kaplan-Leiserson on behalf of ASTD (American Society for Training and Development))
Click here to view the ( L thru Z ) definitions.
Assessment: The process used to systematically evaluate a learner’s skill or knowledge level.
Assessment item: A question or measurable activity used to determine whether the learner has mastered a learning objective.
Authoring tool: A software application or program used by trainers and instructional designers to create e-learning courseware. Types of authoring tools include instructionally focused authoring tools, Web authoring and programming tools, template-focused authoring tools, knowledge capture systems, and text and file creation tools.
Blended learning: Learning events that combine aspects of online and face-to-face instruction.
Browser: A software application that displays World Wide Web pages originally written in the text-based HTML language in a user-friendly graphical format.
CAI (computer-assisted instruction): The use of a computer as a medium of instruction for tutorial, drill and practice, simulation, or games. CAI is used for both initial and remedial training, and typically does not require that a computer be connected to a network or provide links to learning resources outside of the course.
CBL (computer-based learning): See CBT.
CBT (computer-based training): An umbrella term for the use of computers in both instruction and management of the teaching and learning process. CAI (computer-assisted instruction) and CMI (computer-managed instruction) are included under the heading of CBT. Some people use the terms CBT and CAI interchangeably.
CD-ROM (compact disc read-only memory or compact disc read-only media): A computer storage medium similar to the audio CD that can hold more than 600 megabytes of read-only digital information.
Certification: 1) The awarding of a credential acknowledging that an individual has demonstrated proof of a minimum level of knowledge or competence, as defined by a professional standards organization. Professional certification can be used as a screening tool and verification of an individual’s skills and knowledge. 2) Program that evaluates products or tools according to predetermined criteria
Classroom training: See Instructor-Led Training.
C-learning: See Instructor-Led Training.
CMI (computer-managed instruction): The use of computer technology to oversee the learning process, including testing and record keeping.
CMS (content management system): A centralized software application or set of applications that facilitates and streamlines the process of designing, testing, approving, and posting e-learning content, usually on Webpages.
CoD (Content on demand): Delivery of an offering, packaged in a media format, anywhere, anytime via a network. Variants include audio on demand (AoD) and video on demand (VoD).
Content: Information captured digitally and imparted to learners. Formats for e-learning content include text, audio, video, animation, simulation, and more.
Courseware: Any type of instructional or educational course delivered via a software program or over the Internet.
Customer-focused e-learning: Technology-based learning programs offered by a company and targeted at their current and prospective customers. The intent is to increase brand loyalty among existing customers and attract new business
Default: A setting that the computer system uses automatically, unless it is changed by the user.
Delivery: Any method of transferring content to learners, including instructor-led training, Web-based training, CD-ROM, books, and more.
Disc/Disk: Floppy Disk or CD-ROM.
Disk drive: The part of a computer that reads and writes data onto either a floppy disk, a hard disk, or an optical disk (CD, CD-ROM, DVD, DVD-ROM, WORM, and so forth).
Distance education: Educational situation in which the instructor and students are separated by time, location, or both. Education or training courses are delivered to remote locations via Syncronous or Asyncronous means of instruction, including written correspondence, text, graphics, audio- and videotape, CD-ROM, online learning, audio- and videoconferencing, interactive TV, and FAX. Distance education does not preclude the use of the traditional classroom. The definition of distance education is broader than and entails the definition of e-learning.
Distance learning: The desired outcome of distance education. The two terms are often used interchangeably.
Download: (noun) A file that’s transferred or copied to a user’s computer from another connected individual computer, a computer network, a commercial online service, or the Internet. (verb) To transfer or copy a file to a user’s computer from another connected individual computer, a computer network, a commercial online service, or the Internet.
E-learning (electronic learning): Term covering a wide set of applications and processes, such as Web-based learning, computer-based learning, virtual classrooms, and digital collaboration. It includes the delivery of content via Internet, intranet/extranet (LAN/WAN), audio- and videotape, satellite broadcast, interactive TV, CD-ROM, and more.
End user: The person for whom a particular technology is designed; the individual who uses the technology for its designated purpose. In e-learning, the end user is usually the student.
E-training: See TBT.
ILS (integrated learning system): A complete software, hardware, and network system used for instruction. In addition to providing curriculum and lessons organized by level, an ILS usually includes a number of tools such as assessments, record keeping, report writing, and user information files that help to identify learning needs, monitor progress, and maintain student records.
ILT (instructor-led training): Usually refers to traditional classroom training, in which an instructor teaches a course to a room of learners. The term is used synonymously with on-site training and classroom training (c-learning).
Internet-based training: Training delivered primarily by TCP/IP network technologies such as email, newsgroups, proprietary applications, and so forth. Although the term is often used synonymously with Web-based training, Internet-based training is not necessarily delivered over the World Wide Web, and may not use the HTTP and HTML technologies that make Web-based training possible.
At least once a month I will be reviewing a business related book and how it may be applied to the E-Learning industry. (with specific applications to the Education, Corporate, Government, or Entrepeneur segments)
This month, author Jefferey Gitomer answers the above question in his book “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless.” In a nutshell, his answer is that satisfied customers will shop anywhere! Loyal customers will encourage others to buy from you and FIGHT before they switch! To put things in perspective, Gitomer asks,
“Would you rather your spouse be just SATISFIED or would you perfer LOYAL?”
What is a loyal customer?
One who insists on dealing with you because you meet or exceed their needs. You give great delivery, great service and a memorable experience every time. They will proactively talk about and refer people to you. In a word – you WOW them.
What do customers want?
The bottom line is that they only want 2 things. They want to know you CARE about them personally, and they want to know you can HELP them, now.
How should we treat customers?
We should create frequent, lasting, memorable impressions -
treating every customer as though they were our favorite celebrity, hero, friend, neighbor, or grandma.
(that reminds me…)
Are you using the ”Grandma” Self-Test?
Why? To determine if “what you say” to the customer will be acceptable or irritable.
How? Put “grandma” at the end of everything you say. If it sounds like something you would say to your grandma, use it, if not, don’t.
Want Examples? Sorry we’re closed, grandma. It’s our policy, grandma. What is this in reference to, grandma? (got the picture?)
Is the customer always right? (and does that make us always wrong?)
It’s not about right or wrong. It’s how you react to and handle the problem. Let’s face it, people don’t stop doing business. But they can stop doing business with you, which means YOU’RE FIRED! by the real boss – your customer.
Why would the customer not return?
Because you are : not showing personal or genuine interest, responding poorly, unavailable, unfriendly, rude, over-promising, inadequately capable of handling the customer’s problem, too pushy, poorly presented (image), giving dumb excuses, nickel and dime-ing, a part of poor: product quality-service delivery-or training.
So, what are you doing to build loyalty and ensure repeat purchases?
In the book there are lots of ”Principles of Customer Service Success.” Here are just a few:
1. Your customer is your paycheck
2. Your attitude determines the degree of excellence of service you perform
3. Customers call, contact, or visit for one reason – they need help!
4. The value of a customer is 20 times his/her annual salary
5. Your friendliness and willingness to help is in direct proportion to your success
6. The customer’s perception of good or bad service is the measure of your success or failure
(in the end, the customer perception is all that matters)
Once you realize that “satisfaction” is the lowest level of acceptable service, then you understand the power of “loyalty.”
The only way to measure loyalty is… unsolicited referrals and re-orders.
Do you have a Customer Service Training Program?
Get the message out to your employees about how to treat your customers. There’s a ton of valuable information in this book. Use it. Teach it. Create a course and test your employees on it. Use this content (or your own) to deliver it:
Online - using a LMS (learning management system)
On a LAN (Local Area Network)
Need more information?
To find out more information about Jeffery Gitomer, this book, and his other products, go to http://www.gitomer.com/
To find out more about putting your course content into an e-learning solution so you can distribute it to your employees, customers, or students, call or email me. I would be happy to offer you a free consultation.
(1-866-696-8709 x922 email@example.com)
Usability is one of the most important things to take into account when designing a website. Proper usability techniques can greatly improve the “stickiness” or amount of time spent on a site. It can also generate many more sales if users can easily find and purchase what they are looking for. One of the best resources on usability standards is a site called useit.com and I urge anyone interested in this topic to visit this site.
In my case, I do a lot of designs for online e-learning businesses. It is a perfect example of why you must have a flexible website that can be effective for a variety of users. The ultimate goal is to enable the same online quiz or study guides to be used by anyone. Online quizzes and online presentations have to accommodate for this diversity to create a pleasant experience for all users.
Like many people, when I visit a new web site, I tend to look at a site very briefly. If my intended topic or item is not immediately available, I will leave the site and search for another one. Using clear keywords on links and navigation tabs is very important to keep the user focused on the task at hand.
A couple tips…
User interaction is a key to the success of a site. By adding some Flash animations, it is possible to generate a more interesting and interactive experience for your visitors.
When designing a site with text heavy articles, online quizzes, etc. for the web, it is very important to manage the materials to suit the needs for a wide variety of users. Keep paragraphs relatively short and try to limit yourself to about 10 words per line. Split up blocks of text with images and design elements.
Here is something that you may not have realized: the ability to scale text and image size by using ctrl + (Windows) command + (Mac). Many design elements will become jumbled and the site becomes very hard to read. Make sure your site will scale properly to ensure a pleasant experience for all users.
As one of the main designers of the Atrixware.com site, I have tried to make sure is a good example of a site that scales text and design elements very well (although its always a work in progress).
It’s not often I get to personally meet our customers, but each time I do, I spend as much time as I can learning about them, their successes, ideas, how our products and services have helped them so far, and how we can help them get to the next level.
I recently had the pleasure to meet on of our long-time customers in person. Steve Terepka took the trip from his e-learning business in Florida all the way up the east cost to our offices in New Jersey. Steve has asked me to not mention his company name or industry.
Steve is not short on ideas. At one time, he was one of a few companies competing in the e-learning space of his industry (while other companies were sticking just to classroom training). However, those other companies took notice, and it keeps Steve on the cutting edge of e-learning technology.
He and I discussed many ideas and concepts – and I think I learned more than he did. Just like any other evolving trend, e-learning is expanding into many forms and industries, and becoming more of a core part of training and development than ever before.
I see Steve’s e-learning business maturing at an incredible speed. He started by offering a complete study kit which included texbooks, training video’s on cd-rom, and a variety of practice quizzes on cd-rom. He is using a combination of e-learning authoring tools, including the use of Test Pro Developer to create his practice quizzes and flashcard quizzes, and Visual E-Learning Design Studio to create e-learning front-ends for his videos and his quizzes.
He is now preparing an offering for online e-learning delivery. This is important, since many people now expect to be able to study and get their training online. However, many companies today totally miss out on the desktop/cd-rom e-learning offering, forcing their students to be ‘connected’ and online. There are many things that can be done more efficiently via a cd-rom, for example, high quality video, or large presentations. If you are looking to offer e-learning on cd-rom, consider our desktop e-learning authoring tools for the task.
I have no doubt Steve will continue to be successful. He is always looking to improve his offering with better content, and more ways to access it.
Are you going to be in the Southern New Jersey area? Please feel free to stop by – I would really enjoy meeting you.
That’s what Ed Cormier is doing. Ed is the founder and President of IEI (International Education Institute, LLC) which is his 5th corporate startup company. Ed has a background in Marketing, Management, PR, Sales, and Advertising. He is also a Certified E-Learning Designer. Ed is in the process of creating “demo” courses and developing “License Exam Prep” courses for several “niche” industries.
Ed and I first met via a phone conversation in early 2007. Through the months, we had several conversations, and he even began using our Weblearning 8 Online LMS System. He told me his work schedule is 24/7, so I was happy but surprised to hear he was going to visit us.
During his visit in January of 2008, he told me again (in person) that he works 24/7, but this time he clarified that it’s “24 hours a week, and 7 months out of the year.”
Besides getting to know Ed’s humerous side, he also revealed some very creative and cutting-edge e-learning ideas. Then he shared with me a few “surprises” (and I promised I would not tell) that he will be integrating into his courses that will make learning for his end-users more fun and interactive than anything available now!
Ed is creating content for several end-user markets including: students, customers, and employees. I had a chance to demonstrate for him the new Weblearning 9 System which proved to be flexible and scalable enough to accommodate all his ideas, plans and markets.
Ed’s next stop on his busy schedule was to visit some of his family in Pennsylvania. But before he left he told me about some of his “other” projects. When Ed is not starting up a new business, he is either teaching “in class” and “online” at Southern Connecticut State University, or he’s working on his PHD dissertation in Educational Leadership. WOW – How does he do all that in his 24/7 schedule?
Our goal at Atrixware is to help make Ed’s dreams, ideas, and plans, a reality. With Ed’s knowledge and content, and Atrixware’s technology background and e-learning systems, we know we can make it happen for Ed. And, we can also make it happen for you.
What are your business dreams, ideas, and plans? Call me at 866-696-8709 x922 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know. Maybe I can help.
Are you planning a visit to the Philadelphia/Southern NJ area? Come and see us. I would be happy to introduce you to our staff, show you what’s new and maybe I’ll even buy you lunch! (the Philadelphia Cheesesteaks are awesome).
After developing many websites, I have come to rely on a few tips to improve page ranking in Google and other search engines. This is by no means every search engine optimization tip. It is more of a basic guideline you can use to help improve page ranking.
The internet is full of optimization tips so if you would like to learn more, search for something like “page ranking” “search engine optimization” etc. Here goes…
Make sure all of your title and Meta tags are as descriptive as possible. This is very important for your site and is one of the most basic elements a search engine will view.
It is always a good idea to have a site map to increase the search engine coverage of your website. It also helps search engines learn the structure of your site.
You also want get as many links to your site on “high quality” websites (ex. Newspapers, Blogs etc.). Each site that links to yours is counted as a “vote” in Google and increases ranking. The more “votes” the better.
The use of many keywords in the body of your site is also very helpful. Always try and make all text on your site HTML text whenever possible. This includes text that is over an image or rendering text in a flash animation as HTML text.
Finally, you also want to submit your URL to Google and other search engines. Search engines also offer free online applications that will help improve your page ranking.
We used a chat program several years ago, and wound up ditching it – primarily because it lacked a few features we wanted. This year, we decided to take another stab at it – and this time, it appears the chat systems (often called ‘Live Chat’ or ‘Live Assistance’) have grown up a bit.
If you go to our website www.atrixware.com you will notice the chat image (look on the right-hand-side near the top). It will either say something like ‘click here to chat live’, or ‘leave a message’ (if it’s after hours). If you just sit on the page, or, browse the site for a while, eventually a larger pop-up window will ask you if you need live assistance. Perhaps a bit annoying to some, but it makes it very clear to anyone that the live assistance is available (and consequently, we get about 3 to 4 times more chat requests than we did last time we tried this).
Conversing with your prospects (and your customers) is a major key to your business’ success. As a small company, all of us here at Atrixware ELearning Solutions try to converse and communicate with our customers as often as possible without being annoying. The chat is just another way to do that, and is especially effective if your market is global (where a phone call to you would be cost prohibitive). It’s also increasingly ‘normal’ for your prospect to prefer chat over a phone call, as many people feel like they remain more anonymous via chat as opposed to a phone call.
The chat application offers many other benefits as well. You can track a visitors steps to see how long (how many clicks) it takes them to get where they need (potentially identifying problem pages). It also tracks keywords visitors used to get to your site, and some other statistical data that mirrors what something like Google Analytics gives you.
If you are interested, the chat application is actually free (although the author accepts donations). You can get it here: http://www.craftysyntax.com/. Admittedly, the admin interface (which is what YOU will be using) is not as refined as the offering we used a few years back, but again, it comes at no cost to you.
Its a PHP/MySql application, so if you host with us, or just about anyone else, you will be able to use it on your website.
If you need Atrixware to implement this into your web site, a typical implementation takes only about 2 hours – so even then it’s a low-cost way for you to improve your customer service and your sales.
Here are to videos I have personally created to show two popular and easy to implement concepts. Note that these concepts can be combined, and are most effective when used in combination with activation technology.
This one shows how to set up a date limit for using your software.
This one shows how to limit the # times a quiz can be accessed.
If you have spent any time doing SEO research, you will certainly find quite a lot of information (and mis-information) on the Internet. It is extremely difficult to sift through the avalanche of sites proclaiming to be the best SEO company.
I have spent quite a bit of time across the past year or so, and recently, have been trying various tools and online products for evaluation.
The most interesting one I have come across to date is an online system called hittail: (http://www.hittail.com)
In a nutshell, this system tracks keywords used to get people to your site, and ultimately begins ‘suggesting’ phrases you can use for your SEO optimization. I have just started using it, so I do not have anything good or bad to say about it, however, it *seems* like it may provide some useful information that isn’t otherwise obvious.
I know you don’t want to give some of your profits away, but it *may* be worth it if you can increase your sales.
We (Atrixware) recently partnered with an affiliate management company to do just that.
If you are interested in becoming an Atrixware affiliate, go here.
If you are interested in starting your own affiliate partnership, be prepared to spend some up-front money (prices are all over the map depending on the affiliate program you choose, but minimally about $500), and spend some some tweaking your offering.
Once we have spent some time and effort building our affiliate program, I will be sure and post back here with the results. To be honest, we have minimal expectations, but we do expect some results.
Many of you (especially those of you I personally work with) are building an e-learning business using our software and services as part of the solution.
Of course, once you build your product, you have to let people know about it, and that’s where marketing comes in. I am no marketing genius mind you (which is why we hire professionals to do that job), but I am always ‘tinkering’ around with is (as I find it quite fascinating), and consequently, I have found this article very interesting reading – I think it may give you some ideas to get started:
I notice quite a few customers I work with, that already have their own websites, do not have an email address there, but instead, continue to use thier @aol or @msn (or whatever else) email address.
No No No!
You need to set up an email address at your company web site immediately, and start using it immediately. It’s there – you can do it, you already have the web site — you can set up an email address (probably 10 or 50 or 100 or more) for no extra charge.
For example, if your website name is www.somegreatcompany.com, you want to have an email address like email@example.com, and even something like firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. These can all be configured to forward to your main firstname.lastname@example.org if you want, or, can be separate email boxes.
But let me not get out of hand here. The most important thing you can do right now is have an email address at your website instead of using your @aol address, which has ‘i am not serious’ written all over it.
Imagine if you placed an order with Walmart or BestBuy, and you received an email for your order confirmation from email@example.com — would definately reduce the credibility, right? Difference is, everyone knows who Walmart and BestBuy, but they don’t know you. You need to portray credibility, and an @aol address does not.
I came across this in my travels, and thought I would pass it on – looks like Scott has some nice (and useful) tips for marketing your small business, and while all of these tips are not focused on building an e-learning business, they are still extremely valid and helpful:
Here is the link: http://www.synapsoftware.com/blogit/
Does this sound like you?
- You want us (or someone else) to create a web site for your company.
- You have some practice quizzes (or online quizzes) you want to sell.
- You want the web site to do all the work and make you money while you sleep.
Not a problem – we do this all the time. That is what we do – help people get set up with their own online e-learning business. But when you are starting up, you will need to be realistic about how much time, and money it will take to get started.
In the years (and years) I have been doing this, the most common misconception I have found is that people starting up their online e-learning businesses do not know how much it takes to get the web site set up (money and time).
Be prepared to spend a lot of time, or a lot of money.
I don’t say this to scare you off, but to make you understand that you will be spending either a lot of your time, or a lot of your money to do it right. Have lots of money? Great – we can do it all for you. Have lots of time? Great – save the money and do as much as you possibly can on your own, and just broker off to us the pieces you cannot do by yourself.
Tips for those without a lot of money (most of us)
The reality is, most of us don’t have a lot of time or money. However, most people are able to squeeze some time more easily than money, so here are some tips you can use to shave off some expense in exchange for your time:
- Draw a diagram/flow chart of your navigation so you understand where users will be able to get from each page.
- Create your top-level menu (like home, products, support, store, about us, etc etc) ahead of time
- Create the bulk of the content to go on each page (this saves lots of billable time)
- Minimize the # pages to what is absolutely necessary to start (you can always add more later)
- Keep your purchasing system simple. You DO NOT need a shopping cart if you are only selling a few items. Simple “buy now” links for each product are easier and quicker (and cheaper) to implement
- Forgo the automated enrollment/automated keycode creation for your first go. Automating these things means paying us to write code, which takes our time (and your money) – this can be saved for when you are generating revenue from your site
By following the above steps, you could easily cut the development costs to less than 1/2 of what they would be if you had us do it all, and, you will learn a lot about the process along the way.
A common project I do here at Atrixware is integrating ECommerce into web sites, primarily to automate an enrollment of a student into an online couse (via the Weblearning system), or to automate the creation of an activation key (for a Test Pro Developer ELearning Package protected with Activation Technology).
This kind of integration is much different from a standard e-commerce site, because in addition to actually accepting the money, we want the web server to actually do something in order that we can avoid doing it manually.
For example, let’s say you are selling a book. It looks something like this:
Customer : Buy Item -> Enter CC Info -> Submit -> Wait for Shipment
You: Receive Email of what they ordered -> Pack Book -> Ship it
Here is the same thing for an online course (without the automated enrollment):
Customer : Buy Course-> Enter CC Info -> Submit -> Wait for Login Info
You: Receive Email of what they ordered -> Enroll Them -> Email them login instructions
Problem is, your customer probably wants to log in right after they purchase, and, you don’t want to be bothered with having to manually enroll students and email them instructions (especially for high volumes of enrollments).
So, here is the process for the automated ecommerce:
Customer : Buy Course -> Enter CC Info -> Submit -> See Login Info On Screen -> Also get email with info
Server -> Enroll Student into course -> Generate response page with login info -> Generate Email with login info -> Email YOU
Looks good, right? Ready to make money while you sleep? Well, there is a lot of ‘up-front’ work to do, and some money to spend as well to get this done.
Essentially, you are defining a business process for every product, and automating it (and we are implementing your process). Here are some things to think about:
1. What do you want the response page to say if their credit card was declined?
2. What do you want the response page to say when they are approved (login link to the course? name and password? link to your site?) What colors, fonts, and layout? Logo?
3. What do you want the email to say that gets sent to them with their course login info? How about the email subject?
4. Do you want a copy of the email?
5. Do you want to allow people to enroll into multiple courses in one purchase? If so, are the above emails and page responses condensed, or, do they get an email for each one?
There is a lot to think about, but once it is complete, it really works nice. I do these kinds of implementations all the time.