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What is MLearning?
Mobile learning, or MLearning, is defined as the delivery of learning, education or training on mobile devices, such as mobile phones, tablets, laptops or PDAs. MLearning allows training and support to be taken anywhere, making it flexible and convenient for companies to use. Many businesses are taking advantage of this new technology to educate employees and clients more efficiently.
MLearning is most commonly used for training and education purposes. The majority of training or learning in the workplace occurs on the job. However, it can be costly and time consuming to require employees to attend meetings, conferences or other training sessions away from work. Recently, many businesses have begun to implement MLearning, which allows employees to stay in the workplace to acquire additional training or knowledge. With MLearning, employees can gain new knowledge faster and be more up-to-date on any changes or company additions.
MLearning has also become a helpful tool in training new employees, since it allows for the company to reduce group or individual training sessions and allow the employee to learn on their own terms. Not only does this allow the company to save on training hours, but allows the training manager to evaluate which employees are ready to begin work and which ones may need more help before starting on their own.
The MLearning environment refers to the manner in which information is available for a particular session, such as how it is organized, what information is available and how it can be accessed. The environments in MLearning are different with every use and can be customized to a particular learner’s needs. The environment should be flexible and adjustable among different devices – meaning what can be seen/accessed on a mobile phone should also be accessible on a tablet or laptop computer. If the MLearning environment is not user-friendly or if the information is hard to read or download, the learner won’t be able to gain anything from their session, which cancels the point of training at all.
Tips for MLearning environment:
- Keep information organized
- Ensure all information is easily accessible on all mobile devices
- Always have a contact for technical support
Technology has changed the way we receive information. Computers have replaced reference books when it comes to learning new material, and now mobile devices are changing how we access information that has already been digitized. One of the key aspects of MLearning is using these mobile tools to access new information for education and training purposes. These MLearning tools allow learners to access the information needed from anywhere and at any time. Many of the devices used have become a common household need, such as mobile phones, notebook computers and even MP3 players. With technology on the rise, employees are more than likely to own at least one mobile learning tool they can use for future MLearning.
Common MLearning tools:
- Mobile phone
- MP3 players
- Notebook/laptop computers
- Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs)
The prospect of MLearning has created a long list of the advantages it can bring to a company. One of the most obvious advantages is the flexibility and convenience of using MLearning and accessing information at any time – anywhere. But MLearning also allows the content to be customized to the learner, and can benefit different types of learners (i.e. visual learners, auditory learners, spatial learners, etc.). Since people take their mobile devices wherever they go, MLearning allows users to make use of their spare time, or ‘dead time’, such as while standing in line at the bank, waiting for the bus or even in between meetings/projects.
- Convenience and flexibility
- Customized learning
- Makes good use of spare time
- Tailored to different learning styles
- Larger access to information
Managers Learn by Being Managed Well
If you ask a good manager where he or she learned how to manage, the answer is likely to be from a manager who was important to their own career. While courses and trainings on management skills are valuable and should be used, people appear to learn the most about managing by being managed. And while a bad manager can provide valuable lessons in what not to do, people learn more about management by being managed well. Employees who are managed effectively tend to be happier and more productive. As a result, when they enter management, they want to recreate that environment for their own employees or direct reports.
Pair New Managers with Mentors
Mentoring is invaluable when developing new managers, whether they are freshly in the position or on the management track for the future. Identify the top managers in your organization, and encourage them to mentor up and coming managers. When you hire a new manager, or identify an employee with management potential, pair him or her with a manager who has a track record of effectiveness. Encourage employees who aspire to management to seek out mentor relationships with managers they admire as well. Mentoring relationships give employees a chance to see good management “in action” and also to seek feedback from someone they respect. Mentors can help provide development opportunities and can also serve as valuable sounding boards for new managers.
Reward Effective Managers
One of the surest ways to promote and reinforce effective, quality management is to reward effective managers. Recognizing and rewarding those managers who demonstrate the skills and competencies valued by the organization reinforces that good management is itself valued. When employees at all levels see effective managers being recognized and rewarded, they aspire to demonstrate the same traits they see from these individuals. Depending on your company culture, rewards for effective managers may be financial (as in raises), incentives (such as extra vacation time), symbolic (such as plaques or certificates) or a mix of the three. Finding out what motivates individual managers and tailoring the rewards is also an effective strategy. Whatever reward system you choose, take the time to not only reward effective managers but recognize their efforts in a public way.
Emulate Effective Managers
Who was the best manager you ever had? What qualities did he or she demonstrate? Managers who have been managed well often emulate behaviors and practices they’ve learned from past managers, which in turn give their own employees the experience of being managed well. Emulating effective managers whether they are currently inside your organization or not, is another way to model desired behavior and develop new managers. When working with new managers, encourage them to emulate the best traits and practices of managers they’ve had in the past, whether at your organization or another. Encourage new managers or those aspiring to management to reflect on the best bosses, supervisors, or other managers they have ever worked with. Have them list the qualities, behaviors, or practices that made them so memorable and so effective. Encourage employees to emulate these qualities, behaviors, and practices. Also encourage them to look to managers they see as effective in your organization, and identify traits of those individuals they can emulate as well.
Create and Document Best Practices
There are many ways to be an effective manager, and each organization’s culture will influence the type of management it values. Creating and documenting a set of best management practices helps to reinforce the organizational culture and serves as a resource for new managers – and indeed for all managers as they grow and develop in their careers. A best practices document need not be long or exhaustive, and it should be a living document which can change as new practices emerge as effective. Working with employees at multiple levels, identify what management practices and behaviors are consistently identified as effective, engaging, and motivating. Also review organizational policies (such as around hiring and termination) and develop a set of best practices based on these. Adopting a central set of best practices helps to ensure consistency, and also serves as another guidepost for managers as they develop and grow. Make the best practices document readily available.
For more on the Developing New Managers Course from Corporate Training Materials, please visit:
– Tips for Successful Business Writing Collaboration –
Even with exceptional team members, collaborative writing cannot be done without good project structure. Collaborative writing is most successful when a clear outline or guide for the project has been established and used a tool of reference for everyone. Once the various tasks of assigning the group leader and outlining team responsibilities has been completed, the group is much more prepared to work and will know what is expected of them.
Before any collaboration process can begin, the purpose of the project must be identified. One of the most common questions a leader can receive is “Why are we doing this?” or “What’s the point?” Once the collaboration team has been assembled, it is best to have some sort of group meeting to discuss the purpose of the project and what their role in this purpose is. Take this time to define the group goal and what specific objectives you hope to accomplish over the course of the project. The goal of the introductory meeting is to ensure that everyone is aware of the purpose of the project and will have the same goals/purposes in mind. It is best to start everyone out on the same page now than trying to reach a consensus after the ball has started rolling.
Formulate Outline and Organizational Format
Once a collaboration project has been introduced and team members are aware of what needs to be done, they can then move on to outlining and organizing the project. Determine the major parts of the project and outline how they are linked together. Although this is not the stage in which to assign tasks and duties, it is alright to introduce team members to the area they may be working on and prepare them to be more informed about it later. Once the format and outline are determined, lay out any standards for aspects such as heading, titles and general format rules. Explain to the group that while it is reasonable to stray from the outline to some degree, the structure is firm and will need to be followed as close as possible so the group can collaborate smoothly and effectively.
When Choosing a Team Leader, Remember…
Before the team can be divided into different task areas and responsibilities, there must be a team leader assigned to manager and oversee the group as a whole. When addressing the group and introducing the team leader, define what this leader’s roles and responsibilities will be. In many cases, the team leader is someone who does not necessarily have more power over any other team member or have the ability to make stand-alone decisions, but they are responsible for organizing the project, facilitate team progress and help coordinate team member activities and tasks.
Common responsibilities of a team leader:
- Keeping the project flowing over time
- Define tasks and duties for other team members
- Enforce deadlines and group communication
- Help mediate conflict and disagreements
Assign Writing Tasks and Associated Duties
One of the final steps of establishing the collaboration group is determining what writing tasks need to be completed and which employees will be assigned to do them. When making the assignments, remember to consider the talents and areas of expertise of each team member as well as any background experience in the current field. It is also not uncommon to assign some of the more complicated or complex assignments to more experienced personnel. For the writing crew, determine who will be content writers and if there will be separate editors to assist them. Each writer may need to be given a different portion of the task if the project is larger. For the staff not directly involved in the writing portion, don’t forget to assign any other various duties needed, such as conducting research, gather information from different sources, distributing/making copies, or producing document samples. When the team knows what part they play in the project ahead of time, they are more likely to realize the value of their contribution and will be more willing to participate.
For more on our Collaborative Business Writing course, please visit:
Guidelines for Managing Ethics in the Workplace
Managing ethics in the workplace requires certain tools. Every organization needs a Code of Ethics, a Code of Conduct, and Policies and Procedures, which is discussed within the CTM Business Ethics course. These tools direct the organization as leaders attempt to manage ethics.
Guidelines for Implementing and Managing Ethics:
- Give it time: Managing ethics is a process-oriented activity that requires time and constant assessment.
- Focus on behavior: Do not give vague requirements; make sure that ethics management has an impact on behavior.
- Avoid problems: Create clear codes and policies that will prevent ethical problems.
- Be open: Involve different groups in ethics program and make decisions public.
- Integrate ethics: Make sure that all management programs have ethical values.
- Allow for mistakes: Teach employees how to behave ethically, and do not give up when mistakes happen.
Roles and Responsibilities
The roles and responsibilities necessary to effectively implement workplace ethics will vary with each organization. A manager should be in place to oversee the ethics program, but he or she will need the support provided by other positions. Smaller organizations may not need to fill all of the roles listed below; determine what your company needs before executing an ethics program.
- CEO: The CEO of every company needs to support business ethics and lead by example.
- Ethics committee: An ethics committee will develop and supervise the program.
- Ethics management team: Senior managers implement the program and train employees.
- Ethics executive: An ethics executive or officer is trained to resolve ethical problems.
- Ombudsperson: This position requires interpreting and integrating values throughout the organization.
Developing a Tracking System
Although there are many time management systems out there, we have found that most systems boil down to a few key principles. Here are our top three ideas.
Electronic Solutions: Most e-mail applications (including Microsoft Outlook and Lotus Notes) actually fall into the category of a PIM (Personal Information Manager) application. This means that they can store calendar, task, e-mail, and contact information all in one place.
To make the most of your electronic solution, follow these tips:
- Keep personal and professional information in two separate locations. (For example, you might have a computer at home and one at work, or two e-mail profiles on the same computer.)
- Take the time to learn about the features of the application and how to use them to be more productive. We’ll look at this a bit more later on in the course.
- Try to use just the application as much as you can. Switching between your computer and your day timer will waste time and increase the risk of missing information.
Productivity Journal: If you’re more of a traditionalist and prefer using something similar to an old-fashioned day timer, try this solution.
To start, get yourself a spiral notebook and label it as your Personal Productivity Journal or your Professional Productivity Journal. (We recommend keeping a separate journal for work and for your personal life, so you can focus on them at separate times, thus maintaining your optimal work/life balance.) Label each page with the day and the date and what needs to be done that particular day. Next, prioritize each task in order of importance. Highlight the top three items and focus on those first. Cross off items as you complete them. Items that are not completed should be carried over to the next page.
You can keep a long-term calendar in the back of the book (or use a three-ring binder with sections) to record upcoming events.
The Urgent/Important Matrix: Managing time effectively, and achieving the things that you want to achieve, means spending your time on things that are important and not just urgent. To do this, you need to distinguish clearly between what is urgent and what is important. This concept, coined the Eisenhower Principle, is said to be how former US President Dwight Eisenhower organized his tasks. It was rediscovered and brought into the mainstream as the Urgent/Important Matrix by Stephen Covey in his 1994 business classic, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
Here is a breakdown of each quadrant.
- Urgent and Important: Activities in this area relate to dealing with critical issues as they arise and meeting significant commitments. Perform these duties now.
- Important, But Not Urgent: These success-oriented tasks are critical to achieving goals. Plan to do these tasks next.
- Urgent, But Not Important: These chores do not move you forward toward your own goals. Manage by delaying them, cutting them short and rejecting requests from others. Postpone these chores.
- Not Urgent and Not Important: These trivial interruptions are just a distraction, and should be avoided if possible. However, be careful not to mislabel things like time with family and recreational activities as not important. Avoid these distractions altogether.
For more information on the course Personal Productivity, please visit:
Critical thinking is akin to the study of logic. Critical thinking relates to how we make decisions and use our judgment. Critical thinking is more than just thinking about thinking or metacognition. It is also about how we take action. Critical thinking involves many components, lets have a look at four:
The ability to reason is often considered one of the characteristic marks of being human. Further, the individual’s ability to reason well is a critical thinking skill. Many of the definitions of critical thinking tend to focus on this ability to reason. Reasoning occurs when we use our knowledge of one thing, process, or statement to determine if another thing, process, or statement is true. When we apply reasoning, we use logic to determine “what follows what.” Human reasoning does not always follow logic and is often based on emotional bias.
Open-mindedness is the virtue by which we learn. In particular, being open-minded means taking into account relevant evidence or argument to revise a current understanding. It means being critically open to alternatives, willing to think about other possibilities even after having formed an opinion, and not allowing pre-conceived notions to constrain or inhibit reflection on newly presented information. Open-minded inquiry is a central theme in education.
In critical thinking the step of analysis helps us to discriminate and access information. Going back to Bloom’s taxonomy, remember that learning occurs in three domains: cognitive, affective, and psychomotor. In the cognitive domain, analysis is the fourth level and a higher ordered thinking skill. Analysis involves the process, as previously mentioned, of discriminating or separating.
Logic and reasoning are similar but not the same. Logic is the branch of philosophy that gives the rules for deriving valid conclusions. A conclusion is valid if it follows from statements that are accepted as facts. For instance, a logical statement might be, 1 + 1 = 2. This is a rule based on fact. Factual statements are called premises. When reasoning does not follow the rules, we say it is illogical.
For more information on our Critical Thinking course, please visit:
Budgets are critical for businesses. Many stakeholders within the organization require that budgets be submitted for review every year. The budget sets spending limits and usually is broken down to the individual departments or business units. Typically, budget numbers are reviewed every month to determine how well the company is keeping within the budget.
In order to begin a budget, you will need the following three pieces of information:
- Goal: Identifying a goal is the first step to creating a budget. Think about what you need to accomplish. This could be a sales goal, an efficiency goal or quality goal. No matter what the goal is, it is important to think carefully about the feasibility of the goal. Use the SMART technique for goal setting, which is making the goal Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time driven.
- Money: How much money do you have? In the corporate environment, you may need to review the financial reports to determine how well the company is doing. When things are financially tight, the monies allocated to the budgets may be limited. Knowing how much is available will help you determine what you should request in terms of the business environment.
- Costs: You will need to determine how much are the costs related to your goals. This may require you to breakdown your goals in to smaller components so you can put a price on each of them. Knowing how much things will cost will help weed out unnecessary expenses in your budget.
These three items will point you in the right direction when you are ready to begin your budget.
For more information on our Budgets and Financial Reports course, please visit:
Dealing with Difficult Situations
A difficult person can be your boss, your co-worker, or anyone else. He or she behaves in a way that is disruptive to business or life outside of work. In a work setting, often the functioning of a team is disturbed leading to a disruption of the work flow, flared tempers, and gossip. The bottom line is that work suffers and difficult situations cost organizations money.
To deal with difficult people, we innately try to apply coping filters, such as:
- Removing virtually all positive attributes about the person. (“He was my worst hiring mistake…”)
- Defaming him or her (We build consensus with others against the person
- Explaining the person in negative terms.
Anger also plays a big part; feeling angry, we instinctively use anger to try to manage the situation.
To break the cycle of negativity, take time to answer the following questions:
- What observable behaviors or statements did the person perform or say?
- What is the most positive interpretation an outside witness would make? The most negative?
- What will you gain by interpreting the difficult person’s actions or words in as positive a light as possible?
- What would you do or say when you respond to the difficult person if you viewed his or her actions in a positive light? What is stopping you from responding this way?
For more on our Assertiveness & Self Confidence training course, please visit: