9 Cloud-Based Learning Platforms That Can Help Educate Your Workforce

One of the least popular places that small businesses like to invest in is continuing education for their employees. Experts who study this phenomenon are puzzled at why this is so commonplace. A more highly trained workforce provides better value to the company, yet when it comes to spending the time on it, companies are reluctant to send their workers away for training.

Of course, this isn’t true in all industries. Public works and utilities are constantly training their employees to use new technology, better health and safety practices, as well as internal training that helps spread new and better procedures to all employees. Medical professionals are constantly studying (and practicing) new techniques that can help save lives and improve their patients’ conditions. Law enforcement and fire safety employees requires frequent training, as do scientists and engineers.

Workforce education no longer means that you have to send your employees away on expensive trips or to learning centers. Interactive, online learning platforms are available that make it easy for your employees to spend time learning without having to leave their desks. Many learning courses are available for people to study at their own pace, which improves retention of information.

There are many different online platforms available for educating your workforce. There are downloadable options which can be accessed anywhere your device is available, and there are cloud-based educational systems which can be accessed any time you have internet access.

You can also choose between different types of e-learning platforms. “learning management system” keeps track of the education materials as well as participants, while “distance learning/collaboration” systems provide the mechanisms for people to run or attend classes virtually or work together in real time using video and audio within the program.

Learning Management Systems

The basic paradigm of cloud-based learning software is a learning management system, also known as an LMS. Every LMS platform works using the familiar terminology and processes of a typical school. Schools have students and faculty, as well as administrative staff. Schools have departments that help categorize courses, courses that students register to attend, and individual classes that students take where a different topic is taught each session. The LMS can provide instructors with the ability to set assignments, quizzes, and tests, as well as provide resources for each class that is relevant to the lesson. LMS platforms can also have discussion forums where students can ask questions and interact with other students around the globe.

Instructors prepare for their classes by adding course materials to the course or individual classes, so that students can access the material easily. They can run reports on the courses and students to track attendance, progress and other metrics.

Instructure Canvas

This cloud-based LMS provides an easy and intuitive interface so teachers can set up courses and classes easily. The company provides mobile applications so teachers and students can access their class information from wherever they may be. Companies and schools pay for their LMS to be hosted by Instructure, so once you sign up and configure your school, your LMS is ready to be used. It is available not only as a cloud-based LMS, but also as an Open Source project you can install on your own server if you have the resources to do so.

Moodle

One of the oldest and most popular LMS platforms, Moodle is the standard by which others are judged. It has a mature interface and is used by hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. It is available in 140 languages and is used by universities and small companies alike. Moodle has a built-in calendar, robust tracking and reporting features, and supports educational standards like SCORM. Moodle also features a plugin architecture, so developers can add functionality to the system to manage specific needs and features for an online learning environment.

TalentLMS

Aimed more towards corporate customers, TalentLMS is a popular and easy-to-use LMS. It prides itself on mobile accessibility, as well as popular user experience. If corporate branding is an important element in the decision of which LMS to use, TalentLMS provides a white label option, where you can remove their branding and replace it with your own.

Edmodo

One of the most popular LMS tools worldwide, Edmodo has millions of users around the world. It’s intuitive interface makes it easy for teachers to plan class lessons, enabling educators to reach their goals. Edmodo is also gamified, meaning it awards badges for performing specific tasks or achievements. This makes working in the platform fun and challenging for employees to “compete” against each other.

Docebo

Another commercial-centric LMS platform. Docebo boasts more than twenty different features so you can build a highly-customized learning experience for your employees. It integrates with Salesforce, a popular customer relationship management platform, as well a G Suite, Google Drive, and over a dozen other third-party services.

Distance Learning/Collaboration Systems

There are platforms that allow students and teachers to interact live with each other during a scheduled class. Using video and audio connections, distance learning and collaboration systems provide instructors and educators with a virtual classroom experience. In addition to providing multimedia elements, these platforms also provide digital mechanisms that are commonly found in classroom environments. Digital whiteboards allow teachers and students to show live work, videos can be viewed as well as slide presentations, Web links can connect students to resources on the web, and other features.

Jigsaw Interactive

This cloud-based platform for virtual corporate training has a robust classroom interface that allows instructors to present to multiple attendees using browser-based multimedia or using a dial-in number. It provides different panes within the virtual classroom so students can see slide presentations, access Web links, write on a whiteboard, and view videos.

WebEx

Once the only choice for online video collaboration, WebEx is a popular Web conferencing tool used by distance educators. WebEx has a suite of online tools so instructors can manage their classrooms, schedule class sessions in advance, and offer either small, interactive classrooms or larger virtual auditoriums to allow a greater number of participants.

Zoho ShowTime

The Zoho brand provides a wide array of cloud-based tools for companies. ShowTime is their web conferencing and online training tool that provides virtual classroom services so companies can provide training sessions to participants in remote locations. As with other software platforms for e-learning, ShowTime provides all of the tools necessary to present educational materials, including screen sharing and recording, group and private chat, presenter control of participant audio and video, as well as testing assessment and report analytics.

Grokworx Virtual Classroom

Virtual Classroom provides instructors with a comprehensive set of tools to manage their classrooms and participants. In addition to videoconferencing, it offers a private, audio-only room where you can communicate with participants on a one-on-one basis. Instructors can annotate presentations in real time, and offers desktop sharing and text chat. It provides assessment tools so instructors can quiz participants and grade assignments.

Educating your workforce is an investment in your company’s future success and your employee knowledge base. By creating an online learning resource for your company, you are making sure that your company stays competitive to meet all your business challenges.

Remote SSH Connection Cursor Problem – Solved!

I’ve been dealing with an annoying problem for a while, and I finally decided to do something about it. The solution, gratefully, was simple, but it had eluded me for quite a while.

I have a server at home that I no longer use as a desktop machine. I have a number of useful graphical programs on it that I need to access from time to time. The main one is question is Calibre.

Calibre is an eBook library that I am absolutely in love with. It gives me remote access to my library of eBooks in every format: PDF, mobi, and epub. The Calibre interface is primarily graphical, meaning, I haven’t been able to do as much from the CLI as I’m used to.

Logging into a server with graphic capabilities is pretty straightforward:

$ ssh -X user@host

Open up an SSH connection to host as user user and forward all X session data to the local computer. Now, to be honest there is a bit of setup involved. The remote ssh server has to have X11Forwarding enabled, and it would help if you have SSH keys available for public key authentication. But that’s an article for another time.

Once I was logged in to the remote server, I would type:

$ calibre

at the prompt, and it would display the Calibre interface from the remote server on my local laptop. There was one problem: the cursor wouldn’t render. It would work, I just couldn’t see it. This got to be more than a little annoying after a while.

I tried a number of solutions to try and resolve this problem, even installing (gasp!) VNC to try and get a desktop session started. Nothing seemed to be working.

I just stumbled across two other solutions that put me on the path. The first was a recommendation to someone having a similar problem with the cursor. The advice was to disable their .profile and .*rc scripts, where the problem most likely was hiding.

The second was to run the bash script with the --noprofile and --norc flags.

It then dawned on me that I was being an idiot. There was no reason why I couldn’t simply run Calibre immediately, without the need for a prompt! I modified my command to run:

$ ssh -X user@host calibre

and Calibre started right up, with a cursor I could wiggle around to my heart’s content. It was a simple, almost newbie solution, but I believe most of us who use the command line are so used to doing things from the prompt, we don’t often think about running commands remotely. By running the remote command from the local command, there was no need for SSH to have to think beyond what it was meant to do.

The underlying problem was most likely that I didn’t have the specific cursor theme from the remote computer available on my local one. My suspicion is based on the very different cursor that appears within the window. Whatever the reason, I can now access any of the remote graphical programs from my server without any more cursor difficulties.

I hope this helps you if you’ve been having the same troubles as I had. If you need help with anything, find me on my Facebook page and drop me a line!

Stopwatch, a Handy Linux Utility

2 mins 31 secs

Estimated read time:

I’ve started timing my article writing, so I have an idea of how long an article takes. I use that to figure out what my per-word rate is, and whether I can accept a writing gig based on what it pays. In order to do this, I needed to find a timing utility application for Linux that would suit my needs.

I found the solution in Stopwatch.

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Beyond Leads: A CRM for Every Business

Getting good leads is a vital element in any business. A steady supply of potential customers will ensure that your business continues to grow. But what happens after you get the lead? How do you convert them into customers? And how do you stay engaged with your existing customers?

Following up on leads is one of the harder tasks a sole business owner faces. After all, owners are usually the subject matter experts, not the salespeople. In small businesses, however, owners have to do everything, sometimes all at once. And that means having a streamlined and optimized customer relationship management system so they can take care of the “other” business tasks quickly and efficiently.

Most small business owners I’ve spoken to say the same thing, “Why do I need a CRM? It’s just me.” That’s precisely why a CRM system is crucial for sole ownership businesses; it’s just one person doing everything. Spending your time on repetitive tasks takes away from focusing on your core business activities, and that can lead to lost business, work backlog, and frustrated customers.

A CRM is an essential tool for your business, no matter what business you’re in. Do you have customers? Do you offer products or services? It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, a good CRM tool can be adapted and customized for your business’ specific needs.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the tasks a CRM can do for you automatically, besides lead generation.

Data Organization

One of the primary jobs of a good CRM is to help you organize your customer data, including both potential and existing customers. It’s been estimated that people spend as much as 30% of their workday searching for the information they need. Being able to sift through your customer data quickly and efficiently will free up time to do more critical work.

Sales Pipeline Tracking

If you have multiple customers at different stages of your sales process, it’s helpful to know where you are with which customer, and on which customers you need to focus your immediate attention. It can also help you plan your marketing and advertising strategy for the coming quarter.

Quotes and Invoicing

Customers who need price quotes for approvals will appreciate the speed at which you can send out a price quote. By setting up a template directly in the CRM, you’ll save time copying and pasting information from the CRM to a price quote template in a word processing program.

Newsletter Mailing

Use your CRM to automate mailings to your customers to inform them of specials, new products, and so on. A good CRM will be able to create a dynamic list based on customer preferences that you’ve entered into your CRM.

Realtime Data

If your business needs to supply up-to-the-minute information to your website, you can have your CRM automate the process, rather than having to enter the data in two places, which could lead to out of sync or data errors.

By making sure your CRM is doing all of the repetitive work that takes up valuable time, you can focus more on your business.

CRM: The Same Difference for All Businesses

A Customer Relationship Manager is the most significant, and in my opinion, the most underutilized business tool. Practically overlooked by small businesses, a CRM should be what most small businesses invest in first, well before business cards, office space, or even a Web site. Having a good CRM can help you visualize, plan, execute, and fine tune your sales process, business workflow, communications, marketing and customer service – all from one place. Being able to do all of that, as a small business owner, will make you all that more organized when you’re ready to open your doors, real or virtual.

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The Importance of Information Architecture

Information is the sole reason people visit your site. Making certain your information is accessible, searchable, categorized and available, and that your design doesn’t interfere with that, is a critical element of your user experience.

We need to teach people that information architecture (IA) decisions are just as important as the look and feel of technology stack choices. We need to teach people the importance of semantics and meaning. We need to teach people to look past the way the rest of the web is structured and consider instead how their corner of the web can be structured to support their own unique intentions.

Source: The Pain With No Name http://alistapart.com/article/pain-with-no-name