Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Connecting Learning to Needed Competencies

A short explanation of competency-based learning centers.
Many people understand the inherent potential of using education and training to develop needed skills of their employees.  With the growth of MOOCs, short-course formats, eLearning and competency-based education, it seems like a great idea to harness the innovative programs that are rapidly evolving in the marketplace.

Think about it. Your employees are hungry for relevant learning opportunities that will help them to grow in their careers. And every day more learning content is developed from accredited institutions and training providers.  When managed properly, enabling the learning is good business for you. It can lead to increased retention, higher productivity and more engaged employees.  

How exactly do you, as an employer, link these very different worlds together? More to the point, how do you get access to the learning that matters for your employees? And do this without paying for more than you need, dedicating precious resources that are already overstretched, or getting bogged down in yet another IT-dependent project?
Competency-based Learning Center

At Knoitall, we have taken a novel approach to this challenge. We use software to map the world’s learning opportunities directly to the needed skills and competencies of an organization. The result is a competency-based learning center that is unique for each organization.  

There are many advantages to this approach:
  • Connects employees to learning options that foster the skills and competencies desired by employers. When I led the tuition assistance business at EdLink one of the biggest concerns of employers was spending money on education that did not benefit their organization.
  • Supports the skills development of millennial employees. Educational opportunities and career development are the top retention drivers for this group.
  • Integrates all of the learning options into a single learning center. It eliminates the scattered approach to managing learning assets, which is common at so many organizations (e.g. separate portals for tuition assistance options, internal training programs, leadership development programs, partner school programs, etc.).

Magic behind the curtain
To support this approach, learning providers “list” programs with Knoitall. They can be degrees, certificates, individual classes, self-directed videos and more. Just as importantly, face-to-face as well as online programs are supported. As long as it delivers a learning outcome, it has a place within Knoitall

Every time a learning opportunity is listed, it is mapped to a proprietary list of almost 600 competencies. The competencies are relevant to employers and include categories such as business (e.g. project management), computers and software (e.g. cybersecurity) or science and math (e.g. bioinformatics) among many others.

The power for the employer comes from selecting the right competencies to jointly build the skills of individual employees and the skillset of the organization. We work with employers to support their process of selecting competencies. In many cases, the employer has already identified the relevant competencies. If not, we can guide them through obtaining this information within their organization.

Once the needed skills and competencies are defined and shared, our software maps the learning to the skill needs of an employer. The result is a learning center that directly corresponds to the employer’s needs. This starkly contrasts with standard learning catalogs of randomly aggregated learning content, which may or may not be relevant to an employer.

About the Author
John Zappa is a co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of Knoitall, which help employers develop the skills of their workforce through private learning marketplaces.  An industry expert on lifelong learning, John has spoken at numerous industry conferences including Chief Learning Officer Symposium, Society of Human Resource Management, and The Conference Board, and has co-authored articles on corporate tuition assistance programs and talent management.  

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

How knoitall supports the education assistance activities of an organization

For some organizations a private corporate learning center powered on the Knotall platform may be enough to support your tuition assistance needs.  For others, a learning center can enhance your existing education assistance activities and coexist with your current third party software and/or administration.

Key to this is the ability to filter learning content within a private marketplace to support some of the key organizational requirements of most tuition assistance programs, such as:
  1. Filter by regionally accredited content-the knoitall platform can limit your learning center content to those offerings provided by regionally accredited educational providers. These would primarily be community colleges and universities, a key requirement of most tuition assistance policies.
  2. Filter by competencies-most tuition assistance policies require that the education being pursued apply to needs of the organization.  The Knoitall platform supports this requirement by giving you the ability to filter the accredited educational content to those competencies you are looking to build in your organization.
  3. Filter by format-content within your private learning center can be filtered by format to support the particular types of programs that may be covered under your policy.  For example, you can limit the viewable content to degree programs, or you can increase the viewable formats to include certificates and individual classes.  

Management Approval
The Knoitall platform can support a simple management approval process where the employee emails a link to the program of interest for the manager to review.  The manager can access the program of interest and review key program variables like cost, learning outcomes, program schedule, duration, course syllabus (if provided), and provider reviews.  All communications between the employee and manager regarding the program is stored in the employee's transcript, including the manager's approval or denial.  

For some organizations, a Knoitall private learning marketplace can support their critical tuition assistance policy requirements and provides an inexpensive alternative to more traditional software licensing approaches or outsourcing engagements.  For those organizations who have already made an investment in tuition assistance software or administration, Knoitall provides a value-added enhancement to these efforts by pointing employees towards programs and learning providers that support both the employee development goals as well as the skills needs of the Organization.  

A private Knoitall learning center can help enhance the education return on investment for an Organization by improving the employee discovery process and, thereby, enhancing completion rates across the enterprise.  Current Department of Education statistics show that < 50% of working adults complete the formal education covered under their company's tuition assistance policy.  Those organizations that view tuition assistance activities as an investment in their human capital find this statistic troubling.  AND those organizations who simply view education assistance as a retention tool are losing out as well since employees may not be staying through to the completion of the program.

We believe there is a direct correlation between finding the Right program and completing it.  Knoitall helps direct employees to the programs that meet the needs of the organization while providing the employee with tools to asses between the educational options being considered. These include reviews, location and pricing data, learning outcomes, long form descriptions and direct access to advisors at the schools being considered.

Knoitall has developed APIs and has direct relationships with most of the leading third party tuition assistance administrators and can support a seamless employee experience from discovery through to program completion.

If you are interested in leveraging the Knoitall platform to support your tuition assistance activities, please let us know...or get started building your private learning center on the Knoitall platform today.