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Unlike other LMSs that either a) are totally separate, or b) need to synchronise the provisioning of learner groups with Microsoft Teams (a process that can take up to 48 hours), LMS365 lets you use native Team membership to control learner enrolments.

This video looks at how you can harness the power of Microsoft Teams to manage learner enrolments in the LMS356 Learning Management System for Microsoft 365.

This includes the provisioning of Guest accounts and the automatic onboarding of staff to essential reading and training when they are added to an ‘all company Team’

Microsoft recently announced Viva – an employee experience platform (XP) that pulls together the threads of a number of existing applications including Teams, SharePoint, Yammer, AI, Workplace Analytics, etc. to provide solutions in four key areas:

  • Viva Connections:  A way of curating, centralising and personalising workforce communications that builds on SharePoint, Yammer and Stream
  • Viva Insights:  Tools to bolster workforce wellbeing, both at a personal level (MyAnalytics) and an enterprise level (Workplace Analytics)
  • Viva Topics : A way of harnessing knowledge ‘in line’ leveraging (what you will have previously known as Project Cortex)
  • Viva Learning:  Learning content delivery ‘in the flow of work’*

We’re excited about this direction from Microsoft.

Our own experiences and those of the organisations we work with, tell us that migrating to Microsoft 365 was just the beginning.  Finding ways to get the most out of the ‘technology rocket’ we’re now all strapped to, is a whole other thing.  This is especially true now that we now have the challenge of supporting, nurturing and enhancing the wellbeing of a modern ‘hybrid’ workforce.

In the case of Viva Learning, learning content providers Coursera, Pluralsight and Skillsoft have been quick to announce their support for the Viva platform.  You’ll also have access to content from LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn, and of course, your own content (although there’s no mention of support for importing SCORM content that we can see with Viva Learning).

Similarly, learning management solution providers Cornerstone, Saba and SAP Success Factors have announced their plans to integrate with the Viva Learning platform.

We’re excited to say that the LMS platform Essential works with (LMS 365) is also going to integrate with Viva.  There can’t be much work to be done to achieve this in our opinion!  Why?  Keep reading.

*What does Learning in the Flow of Work Mean?

The Viva Learning approach is to use Microsoft Teams to deliver learning content, enabling users to organise, locate and share training in Teams chats, channels, and tabs.  That is to say: putting the learning experience right where they collaborate every day.

In fact, in describing its solution, Microsoft uses a sentiment that’s been the LMS365 mantra on the outset, namely training and development ‘in the flow of work’.

The fact is, anything that involves logging into a separate portal becomes a disjointed experience for the end user, and therefore risks being neglected.

Sharing learning in Microsoft Teams
Source: Microsoft

How to get learning in the flow of work today

The timelines around when Viva Learning will launch are not solid (perhaps towards the end of the year), but invitations have gone out for private preview.

Given that the cost for licencing Viva Topics (which is available for free evaluation now) is $5 per user per month, we anticipate that Viva Learning may demand a similarly high price.

So, if you want to get going with workforce development in the flow of work now and at an affordable price point, get in touch.  The fact that LMS365 is licenced as you go will mean nothing is lost if Microsoft Viva Learning evolves to have any extra functionality you require.

On this latter subject, in our experience of working with learning and HR managers, deep functionality is high on the agenda.  Viva Learning will be more about aggregating and presenting content, but not so much about managing enrolment flows and reporting.

We therefore predict it could be some while before Microsoft’s Viva Learning offers the management capability and flexibility that’s typically demanded of fully-fledged LMS.

LMS365 gives this depth of functionality combined with an embedded Teams and SharePoint experience, and many other things besides, such as handling the enrolment and tracking of Virtual Instructor Led Training (using Teams sessions).

Learning in the Flow of Work

If you want to find out more about learning ‘in the flow of work, how LMS365 compares with Viva Learning and indeed, what’s involved in migrating from an existing LMS system to LMS365, get in touch.

The ‘need for speed’ has always been essential in today’s highly competitive world, and the pandemic has called for even greater pace and agility on the part of businesses as they fight to adapt – and hopefully thrive – in these challenging times.

Just before Christmas a leading UK estate agent went live with its Microsoft Teams-based learning management system (LMS 365) from Essential.

Keeping its staff up-to-date on safety guidance and other changes in the housing market was vital, and speed was ‘of the essence’.

Up & running in 4 weeks (*or less) with LMS 365

For this particular customer it took just over 4 week to progress from ‘solution selection’ to rolling out their first training courses to their 1,800+ workforce with our learning management software.

A big contributor to their rapid deployment was the fact that the LMS we work with is specifically developed to run in the Microsoft Teams (pr SharePoint)| environment.  This significantly accelerates the job of setting up learners and managing content and access, with services that include:

  • Learner enrolment to courses according to existing AD groups
  • Access management & content protection according to already defined security policies
  • Support for SharePoint hub sites enabling connection of related content & common search, navigation & branding
  • Super-easy set-up of existing training content, including SCORM

The ‘not so good’ news …

The bad news (for us, at least) is that this particular customer intends to switch to a different LMS that is part of a much bigger all-encompassing ERP solution at a later date.

They confessed to this on the outset.  Their explanation was that the timelines involved rolling out their originally planned ERP system were much longer than the HR & Learning team wanted to wait….and they needed to get going with training asap.

This is the beauty of on-demand, software as a service and pay-as-you-go licensing.

The other factor that made this ‘throw away’ strategy possible was that the investment on the part of their workforce in getting to grips with LMS365 would be minimal.  This is down to the fact that LMS365 presents itself as a seamless extension to an existing Teams and SharePoint environment.

I guess their rationale is that a pain-free adoption will make moving to a new LMS in the future less of an ordeal for end users.  Easy come, easy go, if you will.

Our LMS team secretly thinks that they’ll get on with it so well, they’ll want to stick with it in the long run….we’ll watch with interest.

Related subjects:

To find out more about the benefits of delivering your learning management system in Teams & SharePoint, get in touch>.

* We are working on another project right now for a recruitment agency that will roll out within 2 weeks of purchase.  Other recent projects have run at 18, 22, 30 an 35 days from purchase to implementation. Projects typically commence within a week, installation within 2 weeks and training within week 3.

Are you, like many organisations, looking at how you can replace your previously ‘in person’ training with an on-line service?

The technology we have available in platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams video conferencing makes the delivery of content relatively easy.

And, let’s face it, video conferencing removes many of the costs and logistical headaches normally associated with getting a bunch of delegates together:  There’s no hotels and travel to book, no catering, no social outings or icebreakers to orchestrate…

Recently I helped a law firm convert some ‘in-person’ course work into an ‘eLearning format’ hosted on Microsoft Teams, but I came a bit unstuck at the part where course delegates needed to split into smaller groups to work through an example case.  Whilst it is possible to ‘fudge it’ using Teams channels, it isn’t ideal and takes a lot of preparation as you will see in this Microsoft article.

Microsoft Teams Breakout Rooms to the rescue!

Now rolled out, this Teams feature is designed to support exactly the scenario where you need to split out and reconvene a training session (and many other scenarios, such as team building and brainstorming) using virtual breakout rooms.

Once the breakout rooms are started, the organiser (or tutor) can virtually leap from room to room to check in on progress and provide assistance (delegates have the ability to get their ‘tutors’ attention via private chat or specifically requesting them to join).  Up to 50 virtual rooms can be created – which sounds exhausting.

At the end of the allotted time (you can set a countdown timer and send a ‘5 minutes left’ message), the organiser can also close the virtual rooms and ‘pull’ everyone back into the main room.

There’s a good ‘blow by blow’ description of how to use breakout rooms here, but before you get going, here’s just a few tips to bear in mind based on my work with breakout rooms so far:

A few top tips

1. Have an idea ‘up front’ who you want to be in each team

In the first release* you can’t pre-configure your breakout rooms and who’s going to go in them.  You can only do this once you’ve started your first meeting. 

So the first bit of advice here is that if you want to be in control of who goes into what team (for example, you want to ‘mix up abilities’), have a rough plan as to how you’re going to split folk out in advance.  

For example, if you have clear-cut learning ‘tracks’ (a great example is where you might want to deep dive into ‘sales’ or ‘technical’ content in a conference), it’s a good idea to have all the relevant names grouped accordingly, ready to refer to.

Otherwise your delegates are going to be sitting, watching you peer at your screen and scratching your head for a long time whilst you pick and choose your breakout team members.

By all means, if you don’t care who’s in what team, you can automatically assign delegates – you just need to specify how many rooms you want.

By default, your rooms are numbered 1,2,3 etc but it’s a good idea to assigned names that are descriptive or ‘fun’, and as in ‘real life’, getting delegates to choose their ‘group name can be part of an icebreaker session.

2. Get any documents for your teams ready in advance

Each virtual room can be used to share files, whiteboards, etc. and the individuals involved can connect and follow-up after the meetings, and access all the resources worked on.  This includes the ability for the groups to present the outcomes of their breakout sessions to the rest of the team, when everyone is reconvened.

Again – to avoid waiting around, have your individual ‘handout’ documents in a folder on your desktop or in OneDrive ready before the meeting commences.  Once the rooms are assigned will need to add your documents into the individual breakout room chats (after which the participants in that ‘room’ will be able to work collaboratively with the file(s) in question).

Note that you won’t be able to upload the same file for use in different breakout rooms (Teams will tell you that the file is already in use).  You’ll have to create separate copies.

Also you can’t drag and drop a folder of files – you’ll need to move individual files.

3. Practice in advance

It might seem easy when you read the instructions, but as with Teams Live Events, you’ll need at least a few dummy runs with ‘tame’ colleagues to become proficient.  Note that you’ll need a minimum of 5 participants on a call (otherwise the breakout rooms feature won’t be available to you).

Also setting expectations to delegates on the call is important, otherwise the experience ‘on the receiving end’ can be confusing.  To help with this, it’s a good idea to have someone in each breakout room that knows what’s going on and can advise the rest of the team accordingly.

Will features like this in Teams ever get to replace classroom training?

In short, no.  But until the time we can get back to classroom-based scenarios, we need to make it work for us.  Also I predict we will see a lot more blended or ‘hybrid’ training, which combines distance course work with in-person sessions.

The good news is that there’s lots more features to come in Teams that can be used to transform how training can be delivered to your workforce.

Along with the other recently-introduced Teams features such as the ability to view meeting participants in a shared background (as though they’re in the same room), live transcriptions (including who said what) and better powers for the meeting organiser and presenters when it comes to muting delegates, Microsoft is working hard to make your virtual workforce feel better-connected and better-supported.

For more details on breakout rooms, this video is a great resource.  Fast forward to minute 13:30 for information on future enhancements when it comes to managing breakout room members and inviting the different presenters that might be involved in delivering content for each ‘room’ or ‘track’.

If you are planning to deliver remote training to your workforce and would like to find out how we can help ‘boost’ the capability of Teams, with services that include converting and migrating legacy training content, tracking how well-engaged delegates are with the content you deliver (e.g. compliance training and automated on-boarding for new starts) and providing a great Netflix style learning content experience that leverages Teams collaboration, get in touch.

*You can track enhancements to the breakout rooms feature here.

Motivate, re-train, track progress:

Discover how your enterprise can build on native SharePoint & Teams collaboration capability to create a learning academy for your remote workforce

The mute story so far

As a Teams meeting participant, the mute button has proved to be a pretty useful feature during lockdown to mask out the various screaming baby/dog barking at the Amazon delivery guy/cheese-and-Marmite-toastie-munching interruptions.

And, it’s comforting to know, that if you have gone ‘on mute’ but later need to chip in with your two-penneth’s, there’s an AI feature that automatically detects that we’re talking mainly to the dog to remind us to unmute.

If you’re using Microsoft Teams as a training platform, however, the power of the mute button for role of the teacher has been sadly lacking.

So, for example, did you know that anyone can mute anyone else in a regular Teams call?    If there’s more than 3 meeting on a call, you’ll see a ‘Mute All’ button.  You can also mute individual participants ‘at will’.

As you might imagine, many a student has played this prank on their lecturer or fellow students in a Teams-based lesson, if only to alleviate the boredom of lock-down.

Additionally, even though the meeting organiser can mute all when they start the meeting to as to avoid late-comers disturbing a meeting in full flow, participants have always had the option of unmuting themselves whenever they wanted to.

Coming soon to a Microsoft Tenant near you

Initially rolled out to the Edu sector, and being generally rolled out through September/October 2020, there is a new ‘Hard Audio Mute’ feature that will give you the ultimate power to get folk to shut up.

This is how to set it up.

  1. You start by creating your Teams meeting and inviting the attendees:

Teams Mute Button

2. Next, you Edit your Teams meeting, where you get to see your original meeting details along with a new ‘Meeting Options’ link:

Teams Mute Button

3. The meeting options now include an option called ‘Allow attendees to unmute’:

Teams Mute Button

4. The other thing you’ll need to consider is who, besides yourself, needs to be able to present on the call (as presenters, by definition, need to be able to speak!).  In our example here, it’s just me:

Teams Mute Button

5. Attendees joining this meeting will now not be able to unmute themselves – like poor Charles here!

Teams Mute Button

6. His unmute option will be greyed out, and he will need to ‘raise his hand’ when he wants to speak (I love the power).Only myself as the meeting organiser (or a meeting presenter if I had specified any) can enable him to talk to the rest of the team.  To do this, I will need to raise Charlie’s status to ‘presenter’.Once I’ve made a presenter, he’ll be able to unmute himself and start shouting at me:

Make presenter in Microsoft Teams Mute Button

7. Once I’ve let him have his say, I can set him back to an attendee to make him permanently muted again:

Make attendee in Microsoft Teams Mute Button

So there you have it!  The Teams platform is being enhanced all the time and the fact that it is widely used in the education sector is a huge influence when it comes to enhancing it for the purpose of collaborative training.  Watch this space for more functionality.

The Teams platform

Read more about making the most of Teams for your learning management & training

With the GDPR and other industry-specific regulations in full force, it’s not a good idea to take it on faith that your employees are up to date on their compliance responsibilities.

For a lot of organisations, it’s mandatory for employees to be regularly retrained on organisational codes of conduct and industry regulations or compliances. That can be a time-intensive and costly exercise using traditional training methods, and a monotonous chore for employees.

Thankfully, the increasing availability and adoption of Learning Management Systems (LMS) for corporate and compliance training, has made these issues far easier to overcome. We’re particular fans of Microsoft’s LMS365 for corporate and compliance training, let’s take a look at some general LMS benefits and why you should be using LMS365 for compliance training but first let’s outline what we will be covering in this article:

What is a Learning Management System?

A learning management system (LMS) is essentially a software application or platform that enables the creation, administration, delivery and tracking of eLearning or online training programs. Depending on which LMS you’re using, these programs can have varying degrees of integration into your existing environment. They can be completely standalone experiences or seamless components of daily workflows.

We are fond of Microsoft’s LMS365, find out more about our learning management software for the modern workplace.

Major benefits for corporate training

There are several benefits of LMSs over more traditional learning environments. One of the most obvious is that they are unaffected by time zones or geography and can accommodate a variety of learning styles and schedules.

Even more important for corporate applications, however, is the ability to deliver enterprise-wide training in an easy-to-manage, easy-to-track, and centrally managed way.

Targeted and scheduled training modules with completion reminders and comprehension tracking make it simple to monitor user progress and address any shortfalls quickly. Course content delivery that leverages gamification also encourages learner participation, and tight integration into existing work environments (available on platforms like LMS365) minimises “barriers to entry”.

It’s also very useful to be able to deliver training programmatically, making it possible to streamline and automate processes like onboarding new staff.

Find out more about how our LMS can benefit your compliance and procedure training needs.

What makes LMSs a great fit for compliance training, specifically?

When your company’s reputation and well-being is on the line, you don’t want to take chances on employees forgetting or neglecting their compliance training. However, ensuring everyone (organisation-wide) is up to date on their responsibilities isn’t easy – even if it is essential to prevent potentially expensive litigation. Learn more aboutdelivering collaborative learning.

Using an LMS helps overcome these challenges in a variety of ways:

Quick, easy course creation and roll-out

Most LMSs have intuitive course creation interfaces that make it easy to create – and adapt – courses as your corporate needs change. This is very useful in the compliance space, which is constantly evolving.

For example, Microsoft recently extended sensitivity labelling functionality to Office applications on Windows. Labelling can be a potent tool in an organisation’s compliance toolbox, but requires a fair amount of understanding and labelling expertise from users. Since labelling policies vary dramatically from business to business, standardised training is of little use. Using an LMS would make it relatively easy to build a custom course around your corporate labelling policies and help you make the most of this powerful, built-in functionality.

Flexible and Fun Course Content Delivery

Let’s face it, reading corporate policies and legalese isn’t anyone’s idea of fun. LMSs can help you deliver learning content through a variety of media and interactive learning activities. Implemented well, these can entice and incentivise employee engagement, making the whole experience more enjoyable for everyone involved.

Most LMSs also offer mobile device compatible training for participation on-the-go. The flexibility to engage whenever and wherever they learn best can have very positive effects on employee information retention and long-term outcomes.

Pro tip: Remote employees and mobile device use can increase a company’s risk of data breaches – make sure you secure these channels and provide adequate training on out-of-office safety protocol.

Automated Reminders and Notifications

With the help of an LMS, you can ensure compliance training is completed on time, every time, with convenient, customisable and trackable automated reminders and notifications.

Even better, some LMSs (like LMS365) let you tie training modules to activities that form part of a normal workday. For example, context-sensitive mini-modules or procedural reminders can be triggered when a user navigates to a specific SharePoint page. This is a great way to relate training to real-world applications and develop the right habits to ensure ongoing compliance.

Comprehensive Assessments and Reporting

LMS assessment and reporting capabilities tend to be extensive, including live tracking of engagement and completion, as well as automatic grading of performance.

Depending on your chosen system, your LMS may also be able to leverage advanced analytics to highlight specific trends and statistics from course modules. These can be integrated into business intelligence platforms to draw some very useful insights, including:

  • Learner engagement, timelines and completion levels
  • Performance on an individual and/or group level
  • Potential knowledge gaps that need further reinforcement or clarification
  • Areas in which course material could be adapted to better serve its purpose

Having access to this kind of comprehension-level reporting is particularly valuable in the compliance space. A lack of understanding can seriously hinder the adoption of new behaviours – a frequent requirement as legislation continues to evolve.

Auditable reports also help organisations prove due diligence in their compliance training remit, further minimising the risk of falling foul of legislation.

Easy Certification Management

For industries or organisations with mandatory certification requirements, keeping track of who has successfully completed what can be an ongoing headache. With the help of a good LMS, however, you can automate most of the certification management and retraining processes, including:

  • Tracking course completion and understanding
  • Enforcing regular retesting
  • Automatically updating procedural content to reflect latest corporate protocol

In which compliance areas can LMSs be of help?

LMSs are extraordinary tools for almost any type of education or training. When it comes to compliance, their application is particularly useful for organisations in financial services, law, healthcare etc. which have very specific compliance regulations. However, an LMS can be useful to virtually any organisation for training in the following areas.

The GDPR and other data protection legislation

Using an LMS to train employees on their role in safeguarding data makes it far easier to accommodate the evolving nature of this space. Periodic training updates can be actioned for a relatively low financial and time investment, and regular reminders can be triggered to reinforce good habits (such as securing company mobile phones and laptops).

LMSs also make it possible to track employee training and measure understanding to make sure users (both remote and in-office) are genuinely equipped to handle all relevant data-related situations. This reduces the risk of employee data breaches, for which employers may be held vicariously responsible (as in the case of UK supermarket company Morrisons). In these cases, an LMS’s comprehensive training records could also be of use in proving due diligence to strengthen an employer’s legal defence.

Pro tip: Your LMS also needs to be GDPR compliant, so make sure you’re using a reputable platform that conforms to international data privacy standards.

Health and safety

Mandatory health and safety training often comes at a high cost, and isn’t always as effective at minimising incidents as organisations may like. LMSs can offer a more effective way of driving the necessary knowledge home through engaging and flexible learning environments that encourage and incentivise learner participation.

They’re also able to track engagement and assess understanding to give employees the strongest possible foundation on which to build long-term behavioural change.

Information governance

The need to correctly label data items according to their sensitivity and data retention requirements is something that end users are becoming increasingly involved in.  Its processes tend to be a lot more nuanced (and frequently affected by technology advancements and updates) than other areas. This makes the flexibility of an LMS extremely valuable, particularly when using a platform that ties into your existing infrastructure and can trigger updates and policy reminders based on user activity.

Codes of conduct

Data breaches aren’t the only areas employees can be held vicariously liable for their employees’ conduct. Discrimination, bullying and harassment in the workplace can all have serious repercussions for employers as well. By providing training on appropriate workplace behaviour, anti-discrimination and equal opportunities policies, employers can demonstrate an active commitment to a non-toxic work environment and reduce their likelihood of liability.

An LMS can not only make this training easier to implement, update and monitor organisation-wide, it can also deliver content in a compelling manner that supports genuine understanding and drives real change.

Why introduce an LMS which uses existing technology to manage training

One of the biggest reasons we love LMS365 (apart from its great functionality) is because it integrates so seamlessly with the Office 365 environment.

Users don’t need to sign into a different learning platform to access their training or reminders. Instead, access management is aligned with their active directory entry. That means learning plans, courses, personal progress reports, certificates and more are all automatically accessible through completely familiar Office 365 channels.

That familiarity can make a big difference to user engagement and adoption.

Pro tip: LMS365 can also tap into Office 365’s productivity and social apps to add an element of friendly competition – or teamwork – to the training environment.

Choosing an LMS that integrates with your environment is about more than just learners’ user experience, however. It also makes the creation and administration of courses far easier. With LMS365 you can build, deploy, track and schedule everything relating to your training programme using Office, Outlook and SharePoint. No need for third-party web services or ongoing maintenance fees, and no integration costs.

Have you used (or considered) an LMS for compliance training? Leave a comment below and let us know the pros and cons that affected your experience or decision.

Learning management 365 solution

Manage compliance and all other training activities effectively with LMS365