Field-service personnel are responsible for timely implementation of new products, rapid response to service requests and high-quality development of infrastructure. Field-service employees need a tremendously wide and deep level of training. The field-service technical-training curriculum is extensive, covering various topics from truck driving to pole climbing to complex installation procedures.
Management employees need a great deal of application and systems training to keep up with the ever-changing needs of the enterprise. New and continually improved systems and processes are a way of life at Verizon, and timely training is an integral part of these changes.
Historically, training content was developed using a wide array of tools and was “force fitted” into the corporate LMS. As a result, most online courses were not in a standard format. This posed severe resource penalties during times of integration and modification. An average of 80 labor hours was required to integrate every single course that was either newly created or recently modified. This was not acceptable since the resource requirements exceeded existing resources. Verizon can have up to 40 courses in development at any given time.
The need to republish these non-compliant courses into a single format became critical as their numbers increased, and the need to keep them updated was apparent. As a result, Verizon decided to standardize on the SCORM specification in order to reduce the time and effort required to integrate courses with the LMS.
Verizon chose the OutStart Evolution LCMS for the creation and management of its online course library. Eli Munzer, chief learning strategist at Verizon, said, “Evolution enables our developers to export courses as SCORM-compliant learning objects that can be easily deployed to our custom-developed LMS.” Verizon is now converting a fairly large library of content using Evolution. The initial content conversion ROI currently exceeds 1,000 percent when compared to average industry course-conversion pricing. This initial ROI does not yet include reuse or integration savings.
Evolution was selected because it not only provides full support for SCORM, but it is also flexible enough to allow the development staff to make decisions about specific learning object nomenclature on their own. Evolution also enables Verizon to leverage previously authored materials (e.g., Microsoft Word documents) by importing them into the LCMS as content objects. They can then be enhanced with assessments and delivered as an online course.
Verizon’s investment in a standards-based LMS and LCMS has enabled it to respond quicker to changes in business needs. The company is now able to make modifications to existing courses and create new ones with significantly less time and effort. The technology infrastructure has also enabled Verizon to achieve the following benefits:
- Asset Repository: Prior to using an LCMS, the e-learning development team was spending too much time keeping track of assets. Outstart Evolution has provided a repository to store learning content so that it can be easily retrieved when edits need to be made. The use of an LCMS has improved developer productivity by more than 100 percent. Developers use a variety of off-the-shelf content-production tools, such as Macromedia Flash.
- Standardized Processes: The adoption of the LCMS enabled the content development group to standardize its e-learning development processes, which has also contributed to developer productivity.
- Investment Protection: Taking advantage of the SCORM packing specification enables Verizon to leverage various systems and technologies while protecting its investment. Learning content and courses can be easily transferred between the LMS, LCMS and the authoring tools. The content does not have to be re-created should Verizon decide, for example, to install a vendor-supplied LMS.
Verizon anticipates being able to further leverage its technology investment to begin reusing learning content. Munzer said, “We estimate that developing a new course with no existing learning content takes 40 to 80 hours of development and costs from $15,000 to $30,000 per instructional hour.” This estimate includes all costs for instructional design, project management and outsourcing of content development. Munzer thinks that once Verizon can assemble new courses from existing learning objects, it could take five hours or less to develop a course. And the price per hour of training could drop below the $10,000-to-$15,000 range because the work would consist of creating the missing learning objects instead of an entire course.
Verizon also anticipates being able to take advantage of the workflow and process management capabilities in Evolution. Geographically dispersed teams consisting of content authors, reviewers and approvers, as well as the critical publisher role, can all collaborate faster and easier using these capabilities.
Chris Howard is an e-learning industry analyst with Bersin & Associates, a leading provider of research and services in e-learning technology and implementation. E-mail Chris at email@example.com.