Comparison of classroom training and Virtual Learning Environments

When classroom training is provided to staff dispersed in different geographical locations, they often suffer from constraints not found when training is done using Virtual Classrooms.

  1. Barriers to Participation
    • – Transportation costs of participants in training sites limit the participation. .
    • Visas are increasingly difficult to obtain, some applications are rejected.

    These constraints do not apply to online learning in real time, only the cost of acquisition of an Internet-connected computer with sufficient bandwidth or a smart phone are required.
    The fee for online training can often be more affordable (free or a few dollars an hour ) .

  2. Partial relevance of participation
    In some cases, the training room is very expensive (several hundred dollars to over $ 1000 per day in some cases) . At this price, it is not possible to involve all members of an organization that may benefit. If only one or a few representatives of an organization are involved, the participation level is far from the critical mass required for a change in behavior within a team, department or organization .

    And organizations do not always sennd a ” champion ” or a hierarchical leader or influencer who, on his return from training , can mobilize colleagues to their ownership also learning.

    Since, online training in real time is much less expensive ( tens of $ per hour session ) , participation is much more accessible and affordable training. It is thus more economical and faster to engage a critical mass of participants that can more easily implement the ideas in their respective practices in the workplace .

  3. Impact of training related to expert ratio / participant
    Training sessions are often held in room with large groups ( several dozen people in a hotel room). The pedagogical approach used in these circumstances often proves to be rather conference style , a monologue of the trainer, a few short interactions of questions and answers, almost no exercises or returns on learning.

    By cons , online training in real time has an array of interactive tools (emoticons , survey and test results in real time , chat with presenters and between participants , whiteboard, annotations , screen sharing , co- presenters , editing in applications participants subdivision into sub- groups , dissemination of electronic documents to upload, video, links to websites ) .

    If these functions and tools are used with relevance timely, it greatly enhances learning by doing, formative assessment and the application of learning in the workplace .

  4. Limited impact of the application of learning in the workplace

    On their return to classroom training , participants are often left to themselves to train their colleagues. Indeed, when participants return to their place of work, to in turn train their colleagues , they must develop their own courses and deliver them in masterly fashion, which is not enough to develop real skills .

    Using online learning in real time, you can easily and quickly organize sessions post-training . During these sessions , the facilitator training or specialized coach transfer of learning post-training may inquire from participants about their difficulties and their application challenges of learning in their workplace as well as in mobilizing their colleagues. Support for this can be provided to them and possible solutions can be quickly developed and supervised online during several subsequent sessions .

  5. No organized network monitoring and exchange

    Following classroom , once back in the workplace , participants who wish to continue their learning through discussions among themselves and with experts must do so through their own initiatives and resources.

    To assist participants in the continued application of their learning , developing their skills in single mode as a collective , it is relevant and effective to use a web platform social network. This platform contains the professional profiles of each of the participants in the training , skills and interests. The administrator of the platform and the participants can create groups, knowledge bases , including upload documents, videos, links to websites, feed frequently asked questions, identify materials and experts to improve in joining a virtual twinning program with an existing employee . This information is easily accessible as well as the interactions between the participants promote the updating of their knowledge , their skills and their professional network, more guarantees success of individuals and their organization .


Considering the constraints of conventional training room , training online in real time proves an obvious choice to organize and deliver faster at lower costs more events learning solutions that will develop skills more dynamic and interactive. Coupled with a web platform for social networking, skills development is more dynamic, rich and varied cognitive information relevant and sustained social interactions.

For more information :
Saba solution for online training are real-time

Solution Saba Enterprise Social Network

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How to write Better Tests

In one of my LinkedIn groups, someone posted this link to a handbook on writing tests.

It is very well done and has a lot of practical ideas on writing tests.
It is technology neutral and would apply to manual testing as well as automated testing.

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Reversing the Success – Happiness formula


This post is inspired and based on the TEDTalk speech of Harvard psychologist Shawn Achor.

You can watch his presentation here:

What is the ultimate goal of life?  The majority of people will answer with one word: Happiness.

But how do we become happy?  What is the most effective path that will lead us to the Happiness paradise?

I am pretty sure you are wondering the exact same thing.

Well, the Happiness model of our society lies on the Success – Happiness formula. This formula has been driving the West for the last 300 years. It is the heart of capitalism.

Its motto is very simple: Do you want to be happy?  Then, you have to be successful first.

Success leads to happiness. Success is the necessary condition to feel and be happy. It is a very simple formula. Why is it so widely accepted in our society? Simply because Success can be measured! Capitalism is based on performance and measurable achievements. This is the only way for the system to survive and grow. It needs to have control of every process. Capitalism needs to create successful people according to its criteria, not happy people. Happiness is a very vague concept. It can mean anything and give space to people to be “off track”.  It is a broader concept that encompasses the individual holistically, whereas success is a much narrower concept that focuses on measurable achievements in specific areas.

Capitalism has successfully managed to associate and directly correlate the achievement of Success as the necessary condition for Happiness. Do you want to feel this vague thing called Happiness? Then you have to accomplish very concrete and measurable achievements. After that, everybody will be happy!

Does this formula work? Yes and no. It absolutely works regarding the Success part of the formula and mainly fails for the Happiness part.  The formula succeeds to produce successful but mainly unhappy people.  Stress seems to have a twofold role: to be the motivator for more success and, at the same time, the reason for people remaining unhappy. How can this happen though? How can people be unhappy after achieving so many great things?

The answer is that in the present formula, Happiness is placed outside of our selves. We are waiting for something else to happen in order for us to feel happy. We must first succeed. Success is placed in the center of our lives. However, when we succeed, we always postpone the Happiness moment, since we re-establish, time after time, the definition of success. For example, I get a good job, but now I want a better job. I get a car and now I want a better car. I get good marks but now I want higher marks.

When we succeed in something, we feel a deep satisfaction. The feeling is really fulfilling ..for the moment. At times, one could even claim this is Happiness! Is it though?

Since I now have this fantastic dream job, I can buy the new car I always wanted and I can afford this huge mortgage to purchase the house of my dreams. Now, I am very tight in my calculations and I better keep my job with satisfactory results so as at the end of the year I can receive a good bonus and, if I demonstrate an outstanding performance, maybe I will get another promotion or, at least, a good salary increase in the next two years. It is only two years… I know I can do it!  Oh, I forgot, I hope there will be no surprises with the US and /or world economy!

Does this scenario look familiar to you? Does this person sound happy to you?

Do you recognize this way of thinking in every aspect of your life?

I will / would be really happy when / if:

–  I lose these extra 2-3 kilos.

–  I will get this bonus / promotion

–  I have this car / home

–  I do this plastic surgery …and the list is endless and always renewable…

This formula has reached its limits. The whole system will collapse if we continue to work and live based on this Success – Happiness formula.

But is there anything else to compete with it?

Many would claim as a solution a Buddhist approach, that is, a complete detachment from the materialistic world and its fake values.

Others will claim a Christian approach with the Christian values at the forefront of all our actions.

Although these approaches may be working and can lead to a state of mind of peacefulness and happiness, I really do not think that the complete adoption of their traditional forms, without the necessary transformations, is practical in the working society of the 21st century. We must always keep in mind the social context of the situation we want to improve, because nothing happens in a social vacuum.

However, there are Buddhist practices such as meditation, and Christian values such as gratefulness, that can be used very effectively to provide a new way to approach the Success – Happiness formula.

The new formula cannot be completely detached from a capitalistic approach. It must contain the notion of ROI (Return on Investment). Either way, we have to persuade the technocrats that this will work. We have to demonstrate measurable results. We have to provide a formula where Success will still be a part of the equation.  In other words, the new formula has to speak the language of measurable achievements, the language of numbers, and the language of science.

Based on scientific evidence, it seems that there is a better way to work with the Success – Happiness formula. What we should do is simply reverse the formula, making Happiness – Success its new format.  Whereas the old formula puts Success as its input and Happiness as outcome, this one puts Happiness as input and Success as outcome.

The new formula is based on the scientific evidence that our brains work in a specific way and if we want to maximize people’s performance, we must first align our actions according to our brain’s way of functioning. More specifically, it has been found that if we raise someone’s level of positiveness in the present, the brain then experiences what is called a happiness advantage.

What does this mean?

Simply that when our brains are in a positive mood /state, we perform in every aspect of our lives significantly better! We learn more easily, we focus better, our intelligence, creativity, and energy levels rise and, according to studies, every business outcome improves (superior productivity, less burnouts, less turnover, greater sales, etc.).

The above findings indicate that we can reverse the formula of Success – Happiness. If we can find a way to become positive , a way to feel happy in the present, then our brains will work even more successfully in every aspect of our life, resulting in us working harder, faster and more intelligently.

Here is the good news: Research finds that there is a way to rewire our brains so that we feel happy.

If we do the following things for 21 days in row, we will actually reprogram our brain to act more optimistically and, as such, more successfully.

For 21 days in row:

–   Write 3 new things you learned about your job and that you are grateful for

After doing the above for 21 days in row, the brain starts to retain a pattern. It is scanning the world not for the negative but for the positive things first. The brain develops the habit of looking and asking for positive, challenging, transformative, motivational information first. Also, you program / teach your brain to be able to perceive every situation as a half full rather than a half empty cup, to be able to recognise and find the positive, promising, and good elements in any given situation.

–   Journal about one positive experience you have had in the past 24 hours

This activity allows the brain to relive the positive experience, enhancing the level of positiveness in your day.  At the same time, you also create a long-term memory for these events, to the point where, after a while, they seem to be the only things happening in your life.

–    Meditation

Meditation enhances the brain’s ability to better focus on the task at hand. The list of benefits of meditation is actually endless. I would simply state here that it is a must do, everyday practice for everyone. For a more detailed list of benefits that meditation offers, you can visit this site:

where you will find a list of 100 benefits at a physiological, psychological and spiritual level.

–    Exercise

Exercise teaches the brain that behavior matters. If you want to have specific results, then you better follow specific behaviors. Exercise changes your attitude towards everyday challenges. Our brains and bodies are connected and therefore any action on our body affects our mind and vice versa. When we exercise regularly, a series of actions take place: we boost our metabolism, we regulate stress hormones like cortisol, and we promote the release of endorphins, substances which make us feel euphoric. I would say working out is the best way to make you feel high, thinking positive, and in a good mood, all of which, depending on the exercise intensity, can last up to 12 hours.

–    Random acts of kindness

By committing random acts of kindness (you can also plan your acts of kindness in advance) you will feel a deep satisfaction and happiness. Science finds that helping others and being altruistic releases endorphins in the brain which results in experiencing happiness emotions. It doesn’t have to be something big and extreme. Small acts and even beautiful thoughts expressed for another person can be equally powerful.

For example:

  • Give someone a hug
  • Say “I love you” to your spouse
  • Bring something to offer at the office
  • Buy a friend a coffee
  • Give money to the homeless
  • Hold the door for someone
  • Donate old books to the library
  • Give a compliment


The above 21-day program will help you develop a pattern for being positive in the present and harness the happiness advantage it causes. Being positive and feeling happy most of the time is the best warranty that we are going to better perform in any endeavour we undertake. Success will come as a natural and effortless consequence of just being happy with our lives.

Although the above program has demonstrated an evidence of change for the people who followed it, for more sustainable results one should follow a complete program of Emotional Intelligence coaching.

A complete Emotional Intelligence analysis of oneself will reveal the strengths and the weaknesses that one has to work with in order to maximize the power of the Happiness – Success formula.


The modern way to facilitate on-boarding

Companies that are in a rapid growth phase or facing a large-scale restructuring of the workforce through retirement, should look at a top-rated SaaS solution that has all the tools in place to support rapid on-boarding of new employees and accelerated integration of new people.
Take a look at the Saba suite ( which is transforming the workplace by offering top-rated integrated solutions that encompass traditional LMS features, Social Networking and Virtual Classrooms.
Before SaaS, Saba was only affordable by large organizations. With per user pricing and a good rapid implementation methodology, it can be cost-effective for companies with hundreds of employee as well as million user organizations.

Imagine an on-boarding platform that automaically assigns new employees all of their required training, provides a pre-built social network of the people in the organization that they should follow and pre-registration in corporate forums based on their job requirements. Add in a convenient integrated virtual meeting function that supports full classroom functions as well as ad hoc meetings. That is Saba’s vision of the right way to support the modern organization that needs to grow while staying lean and agile.
With SaaS you do not have to worry about scaling up.
If you later decide to include external users, Saba has a pricing model that makes this cost-effective as well.
I may be a bit biased since Artifact sells and implements Saba in organizations with under 3000 employees but I am quite enthusiastic about the product philosophy that Saba has adopted. It really seems to fit the modern organization where learning takes on so many forms, knowledge needs to flow fast and young employees expect information to be available on-demand regardless of its source or format.

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What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is such a popular term that one might think it has always existed. It is this weird feeling we have, of being familiar with the term, using it, but in the end, if someone were to ask: “What is Emotional Intelligence?”, then we would find ourselves wondering the same question.

In simple words, EI is how “smart” someone is when it comes to emotions.

That is, EI is the skill that allows us to: a) recognize at all times ours as well as others’ emotions, b) recognize the real reasons that cause them in us as well in others, and c) manage them in such a way so as to always have a positive outcome for ourselves and for others.

Are you really emotionally intelligent?

  • Are you really aware of your emotions at every moment?
  • Are you selective to the emotions that you are aware of?
  • Do you understand what really causes every emotion you feel?
  • Do you know beforehand what emotional climate your actions and words are going to create?
  • Can you control your thoughts after feeling something?
  • Can you alter your way of thinking in order to change your way of feeling?
  • Do you know what or who triggers you automatically to negative thoughts and feelings?

– Is it your boss?
– Is it that direct report of yours who continuously tries to sabotage your authority every chance he gets and in every indirect way?
– Is it that arrogant new colleague who thinks he knows everything after his first month at work?


Whatever your level of EI you can always reach a higher state of understanding of yourself as well as of others.

I hope that during this wonderful trip of self-exploration, I will provide you with the right mental stimuli to help you reach your maximum potential of EI.

Welcome aboard!

Vasileios Bourmpounis
HCM specialist – Certified EI consultant
Artifact Software

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Saba Social Demonstration Recording is available

The recording from the latest Saba Social demonstration is available at Saba Social Demonstration.

Saba Social is an award winning enterprise social networking solution that transforms the workplace by enabling rapid innovation, knowledge sharing, and highly connected communities of employees, partners and customers.

Saba Social uniquely, and securely, integrates social business software features such as ideas, discussion forums, questions, video channels, expert location and social bookmarking with online collaboration features like chat and integrated web conferencing with rich HD video and audio.

Saba’s social solutions help the most innovative organizations in the world transform their business by enabling:

• Rapid innovation to increase revenue and outpace the competition

• Highly connected customer communities to increase repeat business

• Informed partner communities to accelerate channel pipeline

• A social intranet that creates a culture of motivated and engaged employees

• Decreased support costs and increased customer loyalty by crowd sourcing

• Faster and smarter product development with direct feedback from customers

• Faster on-boarding with social mentoring, recommendations and virtual job shadowing.

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Social Networking promotes recognition of KM participants

At the executive breakfast to which I referred in my previous posting, there was mention of another benefit of private social networks that I found interesting.

The ability of the system to track followers and their impressions of the people that they followed as well as the ability to specifically “+1” on discussion comments, provides a new way for management to recognize people who are contributing useful ideas and providing help to others in the organization.

For those involved in knowledge management, this may be the first time that there is an easy means to recognize contributions outside the hierarchical structure.

Currently people tend to be measured by their contribution to their boss’s goals and achievements inside their own team.
In a social network, contributions across the organization are measurable and the influence of an individual on the organization’s overall success is tracked.

If management takes advantage of this, it provides an incentive for mentors and corporate “knowledge keepers” to take the time to help others, publish useful articles and to develop a reputation as a source of good advice.
Management can now see who the informal leaders are in the organization and may be pleasantly surprised to find people whose value as an organizational resource might be much higher than others with better managerial and political skills whose contributions are rewarded by promotion and increased managerial responsibility.

This could be a way to measure the value of the contribution of knowledge management practitioners at the individual level in conjunction with recognition of their contribution to projects’outcomes in which they are involved in.

It also helps the KM group to identify people that they should be recruiting or at least supporting.

If the knowledge management group is proactive in implementing and promoting social networking, it will have a measurable impact on the organization.
The growth of contributors with followers and the growth of articles and discussion threads can be a way to measure the effectiveness of the knowledge management group.

This may be very helpful in retaining a knowledge management momentum, if large initiatives can not be funded.

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Social Networking as an On-Boarding Accelerator.

At the recent Saba executive breakfast in Montreal, there was an interesting discussion about how organizations can use private social networks to accelerate the on-boarding process.

In the scenario that was discussed, new employees arrive at their desk and are shown how to log into the organization’s portal.
On login, their home page pops up with their formal training identified in one window and a pre-seeded list of “friends” and mentors in another with an welcoming introduction video in a third.
They are instructed to take the formal training that was prescribed for their job and to start following the mentors and “friends” in their network.
The selection of friends would likely include peers doing similar jobs in their own team or in other similar teams as well as people in other areas that can help them understand how to get things done.

They are also pre-registered in the forums that relate to their job function and have the ability to join additional forums as they determine their need for information and assistance.

The portal also included a search capability that would let them find documents that would help them learn their job and integrate into the corporate culture.

By connecting to those who their initial contacts connect to and by reading the same articles that their mentors read, it was hypothesized that new employees would more quickly discover the corporate knowledge that is encapsulated in the network of key people.

The formal on-boarding training plan gives the new employee the minimum formal knowledge that a new employee needs.
The pre-seeded network of mentors and peers, articles and forums, is designed to accelerate their discovery of the informal knowledge that is often the key to being successful.

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Project TinCan

In the Spring of 2011, key developers from Artifact were interviewed by a researcher from Project Tin Can.
The results of this research is now being published.

Project Tin Can is sponsored by ADL, the Department of Defense’s group that is responsible for the SCORM standard. Tin Can’s goal is to create a specification that will replace the current SCORM standard with a more modern platform that solves a lot of the problems that plague SCORM.

The project is documented at the Project Tin Can web site.

The Tin Can Overview Presentation given by Mike Rustici at Harrisburg University is a 1 hour presentation that describes the current environment and standards such as SCORM, AICC, LETSI and IMS and gives an detailed overview of what Tin Can is and how the Tin Can framework works.

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Quotes worth remembering

Three quotes from Andrew Carnagie

“Here is the prime condition of success: Concentrate your energy, thought and capital exclusively upon the business in which you are engaged. Having begun on one line, resolve to fight it out on that line, to lead in it, adopt every improvement, have the best machinery, and know the most about it.”

“The average person puts only 25% of his energy and ability into his work. The world takes off its hat to those who put in more than 50% of their capacity, and stands on its head for those few and far between souls who devote 100%.”

“The only irreplaceable capital an organization possesses is the knowledge and ability of its people. The productivity of that capital depends on how effectively people share their competence with those who can use it.”

From George Box
“All models are wrong. Some are useful.”

From Zig Ziglar
“What’s worse than training your workers and losing them? Not training them and keeping them.”

From Mark Twain
“The trick is to glean from an experience exactly the knowledge that is
contained in it. A cat which sits down on a hot stove will never do it
again, but it will never sit on a cold stove again either.”

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