Thank you for interacting with our Xyleme content.
Monica: 00:00 Hello everyone and welcome to today’s 30 minute how to webinar three ways to faster and better learning content brought to you by Xyleme and principal technologies. Today’s speakers, Leslie and Tracy have over 30 years experience collectively building and delivering winning learning experiences for their clients. And they have some awesome tips for you today. By the end of today’s webinar, you should have some really actionable items that will help you deliver learning at the speed that your business requires. And they picked out their three productivity accelerators that they’re going to share with you today and they really talked to your process, your people in your tools. So on that note, I’m going to hand it over to Leslie Farinella of Xyleme to talk about how we can work more collaboratively.
Leslie: 00:47 Excellent. Thank you, Monica. I’m very excited. It’s one of my favorite topics. So the first thing they have for you is how to work collaboratively. So please think about the old world which was dominated by desktop tools. We were pretty much tied to one design or one project because it was hard to share the different files. However, now with all the cloud tools that are out in the industry, we can start to work more collaboratively. So we can work in groups where we can have many specialists all working on one project. So what this does is allows us to condense our cycle times. So instead of having one person work for one month on a project, we can accelerate our timeline by putting three people to work in parallel in the project for two weeks. So we have the same amount of effort, but we’ve shortened our delivery time to the business.
Leslie: 01:32 So these cloud based tools provide a few advantages. One is the working parallel and now there is, we can easily share those files so that work in process, we don’t have to ship those files back and forth. We don’t know which one’s the latest version. Everybody has it, they can access it any time. It also allows us to do online review sessions, which is a huge time saver and I’m going to come back to that one later. And finally it allows us to manage that content life cycles. Now we have a single source of truth. All of our files in one place. We find them, we know where they are. We can start to reuse and leverage our existing content. We can track review dates and expiration dates so that we can do that full content management life cycle. So using these cloud tools allow us to work much faster. So Tracy’s team actually did this, so throughout the webinar Tracy’s going to share her experience with her team as they work through this process.
Tracy: 02:23 Okay. Thanks, Leslie. Um, so just to also some context for the case study that I’ll be sharing, uh, throughout this webinar, principle technologies offers custom e-learning design and development. Um, our side, we have about a hundred individuals full time on staff. We’re based in Durham, North Carolina, and we develop interactive content using a variety of different tools. A lot of those are cloud-based. Um, we use storyline, captivate, custom HTML five, but in this case I’ll be sharing, we use Xyleme, uh, as our development tool. Uh, so the case was this one of our largest clients, which is a fortune 500 technology company, approached us, um, to write design and develop eight hours of interactive content, which included filming 36 videos in less than 10 weeks. So when we mapped this out originally in an Addy or even an agile method, we came up with a, an ideal of 18 weeks to get the project done.
Tracy: 03:24 So we really had to rethink our process and the first thing that we did was to restructure how our teams worked and communicated. Um, we certainly couldn’t use a waterfall method. So what we have on screen here are the different parallel teams that we had working on this project to condense that timeline. Um, there may be some roles here that you might not think about in a traditional learning project. For example, we had folks that were curating content that already existed that we could leverage for this project. So we weren’t writing everything from scratch. Um, we did also have another group of folks that were writing, um, what I’ll call core content. That core means that could be used across roles. And across, uh, different delivery vehicles, uh, that we’ll use for this project that, uh, freed up our instructional designers to add those examples, stories, context, um, as well as to design some new interactions that would really bring this project to life.
Tracy: 04:24 In addition to the templates that we were already using. We also use the instructional designers to develop right in the tool because the tool is easy to use. They were also the ones going through and identifying what photos, videos, etc., That we needed to add that visual interest. And we had different group of developers who were creating new templates for us to use throughout the project. So these are the ones that the instructional designer had identified meeting. Um, and then throughout the project, our studio team was producing those identified assets, videos, photography, um, custom illustrations, things of that nature, even screen captures. Um, and then of course we have the stakeholder reviews, uh, both internal and external and quality assurance. Um, and then project management was that single thread. Uh, and we think of it almost in terms of a producer producing and television shows and bringing all these different roles together in a tight timeline project.
Tracy: 05:23 So with all of these teams working together in parallel communication between all of the groups was essential. So some of the keys to success on this project were that we had stand up meetings at least twice a week. Uh, we started with twice a week at the beginning of the project as the project accelerated. So did the stand up meetings and by the end we were meeting almost on a daily basis, only for about 10 or 15 minutes. Um, but it really helped. We also had some collaborative spreadsheets that kept us organized throughout the project and that, and that was cloud based as well. We use the um, Slack for communication platform. It’s similar to Skype, um, but we, because the project was so rapid, we really needed that instant communication tool. We also did use for file sharing, um, between both us internally and, and with clients, um, box and then a project, um, another product called teamwork PM. Um, but it was important. And while we were sharing those files to agree upon, uh, the protocol for sharing those, where they would go, where they would live, how they would be organized as well as what to name those files because things were moving, um, all the, all over the place, all the time. So organization was critical.
Tracy: 06:36 We also did use Xyleme’s, um, inherent, um, review tool, which we’ll talk about a little bit more. Um, that allowed us to check things in and out, which helps with version control and also kept things very organized. Um, and then we also use resources flexibly. So those teams, multiple hats playing different roles. And so they would jump in and out of different roles as it was needed throughout the project.
Tracy: 07:01 so this is one of those spreadsheets that we created. Um, this was just in Google spreadsheet. So you’ll notice that the content is, this is our content checklist. So as we were writing this of content and curating bits of content, we tracked it in the spreadsheet. So it’s grouped by objective. And then it also includes lean to where that content piece live. So it’s all here in one spreadsheet. There were certainly other columns as well for the important thing is you know what’s needed, who’s on top of it, where is it going to live, what is it called? And the status. Similarly, a media checklist. So this was um, you can keep this in the same spreadsheet spreadsheet if you’d like. We did separate them out because we had so many different assets. Um, and this included video, the photos, um, screen captures, etc. Also, um, grouped by the same objective and also the who’s responsible status, where they live, et cetera.
Leslie: 08:02 The review session is a huge time saver. It’s one of the favorite things about our product with our customers. So similar to the word review tool, or have you or can highlight a section of text and add comments. They thing that makes it better than word is it’s managed in the cloud. So now your reviewers can see existing comments and they can add onto those comments. The wonderful thing about that is you’re no longer in the middle of this conversation. The reviewers can have that conversation with each other and you’re capturing, just like if you are doing an I am chat, you’re capturing that back and forth and the final resolution. So now you have all of your comments in a central place and then you can manage those. So we provide tools to help filter those, those comments, and then you can start to disposition then.
Leslie: 08:47 So you can say, yes, except these we’re going to do some things we always know we reject, reject. I’ve heard of maybe a harsh for that, but those are the things like nice idea, but you know, we’re not going to change it to purple, we’re going to keep the blue and then move on. And then you can also check those that are completed so you can track your progress. The wonderful thing is that now you have an audit trail. So when a customer internal customer comes back later and says, Oh, why did you do this? You can pull up and you can see the chatter about the uh, change and why that with me?
Tracy: 09:21 Yeah, we, um, thanks. Lovely. We love using that tool. We use that, the Xyleme review tool, for all of our stakeholder reviews. So we could continue working on other pieces as certain pieces were checked out. And in review, um, for our internal reviews we did, uh, we used a different process than we typically would and we tried to do those live as much as possible. So literally we would crowd in a room, um, maybe four or five people behind a giant monitor and go through the course. And we would have folks in there representing copy editing, technical writing team. We had folks in there representing, um, you know, our technical QA folks. And then we had the books that I had were, uh, have Xyleme open and can make those changes live as we went through. So at the end of that, one hour or two hours, we had done all of those reviews and made the changes.
Tracy: 10:12 So that did condense, you know, certainly, um, there was no emailing back and forth. And can you now review this, you know, everything happens live. Um, and in fact, throughout the project we used almost no email. So that was a huge shortcut for us. Um, you know, just I think we all spent a ton of time in email. So to skip that step was great. We also skipped storyboarding, which we wouldn’t typically advise, but in this project that was why we use the instructional designers to do a lot of the, a lot of the development so they could design while they were developing and because we did have some existing interactions, we were able to, um, come up with it. The interaction that we want, match that to the content and develop that quickly. That was a big time saver as well. It also gets a review stage, um, because we had a lot of backups for backups, for backup plans, B, C and D. we, even though this happened over the summer, we did not have to take any downtime for folks being out on vacation.
Tracy: 11:14 So that flexible resourcing, almost a cloud model of resourcing was very helpful. We also, instead of waiting until the whole design was put together, or even a first draft of the course was put together before filming the videos that we needed, we were able to very quickly at the beginning as that core content was coming together or even as the outline. So the content was coming together to go ahead and film the videos that we needed. A, I mentioned we had 36 videos that we needed to, to write, shoot, produce, edit, um, and finalize in the course of this eight week project. And so that was critical. Get started on that right away. So all of those shortcuts really helped us condense that time frame.
Leslie: 11:59 Excellent. So as Tracy has been demonstrating, our second tip for faster and better content is to divide up the work amongst specialist and generalist. So just as Henry Ford discovered, specialization of labor allows teams to work in parallel. So because specialists are experts in the field, they can often produce higher quality work faster. This also allows you to maximize your budget because you can use a combination of in house experts and vendors. So you can hire, hire vendors to complete specialized work such as doing videos or creating interactive branching simulations. You can hire a graphic designer to add some Polish to your images, but then you can determine what can you do in house. So maybe some of the copywriting, the editing and the assessment questions you can do in house. So you can start to maximize your budget, the differences because you’re working in the cloud, you can pull these pieces together into one place. So it’s hard to orchestrate all the different groups without having some cloud-based tool. So Tracy is going to share a little bit of how these roles looked in her room.
Tracy: 12:59 Yeah. So where I’ve bucketed them into four different groups here are content, media development and then that organization and approvals bucket. So under content, um, we listed the content curator, that person who is identity defined what already exists and we don’t have to recreate the wheel, the core content writer and the copy editors and then the IDs, which in this case became more of a storyteller. Those folks writing the case studies and example. Um, and then of course we have subject matter experts. In this case I put um, sneeze on their, both the content bucket and the organization and approvals bucket because they were reviewers for us as well. And then under media and we have all the, the studio team that you can see their, um, development. We had folks as I mentioned earlier that were developing new interactions as well as those that were taking the content that was ready to go and putting it in to the development tool.
Tracy: 13:58 We also had developers who were, uh, performing a QA role to make sure everything was working as intended. Um, and then the organization, we have that PM or producer, project coordinator, uh, that person’s making sure everything is well organized and named accordingly. Um, and then the stakeholders, internal and external and the approvers. Um, you may be looking at this and thinking my learning team is not as large and that’s okay. I think it’s just good to think in terms of, do I have these, these roles sort of covered, uh, with the folks that you do have. So you may have one instructional designer who was performing multiple, multiple roles. Same with your your media enabling graphic designers and doing all of that. And that’s okay. We broke these out here. So you can think in terms of how to use this specialized skills.
Leslie: 14:44 Excellent. And I’d love, one of the tools I love is the RACI chart. So many of you might be familiar with this, but when you to get a team together, we all know it’s really the communication that becomes important. So this simple chart helps to aid in that communication. So it allows you to identify who’s responsible for the tasks. So who’s going to do the work, who’s accountable, who’s going to be the approver? But even more importantly, it’s who needs to be consulted and who needs to be informed. Because those are the people that I think are usually left out. So while this chart only takes about 30 minutes to create, it saves a lot of time and headaches throughout the chart. So it’s a really good tool for your project. So our third tip for faster and better content is offering templates. So today we tend to approach every project as a new design.
Leslie: 15:29 I think it’s just the creative part of us all. We’ve got a blank sheet of paper now I can go create, but we can really accelerate our timelines by using a set of templates that we know we can apply to 80% of our projects. We’ll always have those outliers. That’s a special case. But if we really look at our projects, I think you’ll find that 80% of them can follow some sort of template. So these templates also allow us to build in best practices and feedback on the learner. One of the things with templates is designers are creative and like I just said, they love nothing better than to create something new. So many times designers will resist the idea of templates initially. So I like to use the analogy of TV and movies. So if you look at a popular TV show, the Property Brothers, it pretty much follows the same template or format week after week.
Leslie: 16:16 So you meet the family and they’ve outgrown their new, their current home, and they really need to move. So they go look at their dream houses, but of course they can’t afford any of those. So they’re kind of ugh, then they look at what they can afford and oh, they’re just horrible. It’s just not really what they want. But then the Property Brothers step in, they say, don’t worry, we can renovate this house. So they show them the design, then they started the construction, and of course some disaster always occurs, but they worked through it. And then at the end you have the reveal. So it’s the same template. It’s essentially the same story every week. But you’re able to put your content within that structure. And I don’t know about you, but I’ll binge watch three or four of these in a row and it’s not boring at all.
Leslie: 16:55 So one of the things is to help designers understand that these templates are very useful. Some of the advantages are, one, you can focus more time on the content itself, so you’re not worrying about or trying to recreate that structure. And over and over, you’re really thinking about how do I reach this particular audience? What are my great explanations? What do I really need to say within this format? You spend on less time redesigning the format. You already know what that is so you can accelerate that timeline and you can also start to build in those best practices, those things that you know that work into your template. So you make sure you’re using those again and again. So I like to think of a structure, kind of like a recipe card. Again, if you pull any book, a recipe book off your shelf, it has slightly different formatting, but it still has the same pieces or elements to the contact.
Leslie: 17:43 So we saved time by eliminating, the need to map this out, but more importantly think we lower the cognitive load for the learner because the structures are familiar. It allows the learner to quickly digest the information because they don’t have to spend time trying to interpret a new navigation theme. They were already understand how your your content is going to be laid down on the page. This is particularly valuable for experts and performance support. So in these cases, the learners are really skimming the content to get exactly to what you need. And predictable structure makes content very easy to skim.
Leslie: 18:23 So if we think about using tools like Xyleme, we can also start to reuse the content. So when they have some consistency and structure, I can start to eliminate that redundancy and duplication with significantly changes, um, brings down that cycle time. And also reuse allows you to more personalize your learning. So I think that’s is something we’ve all aspire to, but it’s hard to maintain and sustain over time. So using technology can help you to start to create these reusable blocks of information. And what you do is you separate your content, like how to log in, how to access your billings, some, um, from your context, which I think is the story. So we know that storytelling resonates with our audiences, but it’s hard to maintain different stories for each audience. So we can start to wrap that were usable content in with the story. And because we have the technology, it makes it a sustainable process.
Leslie: 19:17 And what happens is now, if I need to update the login, I update in one place and it will propagate that change to all places. It’s been used within your different outputs.
Tracy: 19:28 And it was important to Leslie and I that we provide you things that are actionable so you can go and use tomorrow. And one of those things is this link on screen, but that has links to a blog. It’s a lethal blog article that contains, um, places that you can find templates if you don’t already have them. Of course Xyleme has been built into the tool, but there are certainly other sites that offer templates, Storyline templates, etc., Uh, that you might use.
Leslie: 19:56 Excellent.
Leslie: 19:57 So we’ve mentioned Xyleme several times throughout the webinar. So if you’re not familiar with Xyleme, does, Xyleme is a learning content management system or LCMS. So basically it enables you to do some of the things you’ve talked about today. For example, you can work collaboratively in the cloud. You can share your templates, do content versioning. We also have the review session we talked about. And really our most powerful feature is that ability to start to reuse your content and bring down that redundancy. I think if you or I, we have one customer went through and they found they had 12 different segments on how did you hand washing, they were in the health services field. So you’ll find there’s a lot of redundancy in your content so it helps to bring that down. So today we’ve shared with you our three ways to faster and better content learning. We hope it was be useful. And so we have plenty of time left. I’m Monica, what type of questions do we have out there?
Monica: 20:51 Hi, I’m going a couple of questions for Tracy. First of all, someone asked if we could put that link into the chat pane. So I will be typing that as we go here and putting it in there for you can, you can add that to your list of takeaways. But um, Dan is asking specifically about video production because you said you had 36 videos that you needed to produce in a very short amount of time and he, his curiosity was mostly about, you know, managing the change in the production. How much change did you have to manage and how did you manage it?
Tracy: 21:26 So change as we as we were developing because we were developing early is my guess there. Um, we knew we had to factor that in, um, by jumping in and starting to film those things early. Some of the things we did is we found a little bit more footage than we thought we might need. So if we needed it, we could, you know, if we needed to make changes to what we had edited together, we already had the footage there in place. Um, but it was important and I think that really helped as we had our subject matter experts, um, on site live as we were filming those videos as well. So even because they knew the process that we were ultimately training on, they were able to say, make sure we video this and make sure we video that. Um, so that helps as well. Um, and our, it was also helpful that our video crew is on staff. Um, so we could run downstairs and refilm if we needed to, uh, which made it more fluid.
Monica: 22:19 Yeah. That’s cool. The, um, question that came up was also really around what is, how do you define content really around when it comes to reuse. And maybe Leslie, you might want to take this one, kind of asking about the unit of measure. You showed a content block, which obviously is a very small unit and potentially, um, you know, it could be a smaller, a paragraph, um, to other units of measure. So talk a little bit about reuse and the size of those kind of reusable parts.
Leslie: 22:49 Very good question. I think of it as a pyramid. So the biggest part of reuse isn’t necessarily the sexiest, but it’s your front matter. Your back matter, your copyright. I don’t know about you guys, but when I have to go change the year on the copyright across all the materials, that takes a lot of time. So that’s one level of reuse, which is really easy to accomplish. The next level I think is more of your con, your topic level. So you might have, for example, how to wash your hands, that’s big topic. Or you might have, you know, listening, active listening skills, which pretty much you can pick up and put different places. Particularly just think a little bit about how you write it. Then the next level of reuse would be more like what I think of the how tos, which can be used within a story because usually the story is I’m a clerk and now I need to log in or I’m out in the field and now I need to log in.
Leslie: 23:38 But you have different stories around it, but also it’s what you might plug out for your job aids, right? So it might be your quick reference guide, your job aids might be in other materials. So those how to statements. Another category I think of is like many organizations have their vision statements or these are the three pillars of leadership or you know, there things that you think about are everywhere. So a good rule of thumb is think about those things that somebody came to you tomorrow and said, Oh, we’re gonna update this that you just grown and you think about, Oh my gosh, less than a hundred different places and now I’ve got to go find all those things. Those are the things you want to reuse. You can go too crazy with it if you try to do too much. It’s not sustainable, but there are huge efficiencies being made just for finding those types of things.
Tracy: 24:26 I would just add real quickly that we didn’t cover it today, but an important part of the project is to identify who those learners are. There’s different personas so you know which content is going to be needed, um, for each role. Yeah, that’s a really good, good point on that. Um, a couple of process questions for you, Tracy. One was around, um, the type of agile process you were using scrum, agile. Um, the question came up around the LLAMA Llama approach. I’m not familiar with that. Yeah. Okay. I would say we used essentially a hybrid of agile and LLAMA. Um, and Sam, I guess all of those together. Um, in that we were working, we divided things into bite sized pieces that we could work in over sprint. Um, and we certainly had the stand up meetings and those elements. Um, we did not use a Kanban tool. We use it a different tool, um, internally called Teamwork PM but it achieves the same types of thing. So yes, that method did work to our advantage on this project. Yeah. Well now you have shown your, you have proven right to this client now that you can deliver learning in half the time. Right. Then you thought it would take. So the question is around, you know, what does, what kinds of concerns do you have now going forward, um setting such a high bar?
Tracy: 25:55 No, really concerned. We, I mean at the same time this project was going on, we had dozens of other projects also going on. And so, um, necessity became the mother of invention on this project, but now seeing what the results were, we’re able to go and apply those across the organization. So while we started just with this one project and that would be something I might advise if you are interested in trying it, try it on a project and see how it goes. Um, but for, for us now, this is enabling us to increase the pace on all our projects, which of course is, is always a good thing.
Monica: 26:44 Yeah, that’s great. Um, a question, I think the question that will probably the last question we can answer is about how’s Xyleme fits in with the other tools that you have in your toolbox, such as Storyline and maybe even a little bit about how you got your people up to speed so that they could work with Xyleme into the production mix.
Tracy: 26:51 Yeah, that’s a great question. Um, we did use Storyline as well in this project. Um, there were some, um, simulation in our interactions that we wanted to have that we developed in Storyline and then just imported them into Xyleme. So I didn’t mention that here, but we did have a Storyline team as well working on some of those. Um, how we got up to speed. Honestly, the Xyleme group was great at offering training and upskilling us. Um, we got up to speed this well before this project, but I would say within a period of two to four weeks. So we were, we had daily assignments that we were all working on. Um, so we were learning by doing but um, it was pretty easy to use the tool, especially if you’re familiar with other learning tools it’s not real hard.
Monica: 27:38 Well that’s great. Well, we’re out of time and thank you guys both for sharing your experiences and your expertise with the audience. Um, be clear, we will be sending out a link to the recording as well as a PDF of the presentation. So if you want to go ahead and use some of those ideas within your own groups, certainly would advise you doing so. These guys have worked really hard at coming up with a process that lets them deliver learning at the speed of business. And if you would like any more information on either of the companies, please visit our website and you know, reach out to us. Again, thanks to Leslie and Tracy for your time today and thanks everyone for coming.